Eloise, rampant red sweater and raging three-tone hairdo sat motionless on the bus. Although careering round the streets of Manchester in a double-decker, her lithe body somehow rode the bumps and sways and her face remained immobile. One hand steadied the large handbag on the seat beside her, enabling the Pekinese inside to maintain a similar composed dignity. The bow on the dog’s head in matching red was the finishing exquisite touch. Eloise was nothing if not elegant and serene.

Except when it was match day. As a fan of Man Utd for over 50 years, there was nothing she loved better than to stand with her fellow fans on the Stretford End, hurling abuse at the Red Devils’ opponents.  Eloise lived alone in a house in Didsbury, inherited from her parents when they died in the Airport disaster of 1985, so getting out on a Saturday was a welcome opportunity to meet up with other people and, if not exactly converse with them, engage in discourse alongside them.

Today, however, was different. Her calm exterior belied her inner turmoil at having to miss the match. Her sister was unwell and Eloise was on her way to see her in the Royal Infirmary. Most of the emotional torment she suffered was caused by missing the afternoon’s titanic fixture with Liverpool. Some of it was caused by trying to work out what she was going to do with Giggsy when she got there: dogs, obviously, were not allowed.

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