A Day with Tag Heuer and Manchester United
Tuesday 15th August 2017 is a day I will remember for a very long time, as I was fortunate enough to be invited to Old Trafford as a guest of Tag Heuer for a special event to celebrate their new partnership. The day included a stadium tour, lunch with a United legend and an opportunity to meet some of the first team players, as well as a secret event. On the morning I was like a little kid, so excited by the prospect of meeting some of the players who I’d watched demolish West Ham 4-0 just 2 days earlier.
My wife and I arrived at Old Trafford and were told that our tour would start at around 10.40am. Now I’m not going to lie, I have done the tour quite a few times yet I still enjoy it and get a buzz from being inside the ground. Our guides took us into the Sir Alex Ferguson stand and explained a little about the stadium before we moved into the lower East Stand. After a few pictures, we moved through the Press Area into the player’s tunnel and out along the side of the pitch into the dugout area. Everyone loves this part of the tour despite the warnings to not even think about touching the grass on the pitch! Due to filming commitments that day, our tour ended here. Although it might have been disappointing for members of the group that they didn’t get to see the changing rooms that day, the restricted access was understandable and we felt lucky to be touring at all given that only pitch viewings were available to the general public.
After our tour we were escorted into the Treble Suite for lunch. It was such a treat to see Denis Irwin inside ready to chat to everyone. I was lucky to meet Denis here in Qatar a few years ago and it was great to reminisce with him about his visit. After a chat about the current United squad and his hopes for the new season it was time to eat. I’ve got to say that the food put on was excellent and the United Pies are definitely worth having if you attend a game!
Following lunch we were quickly ushered to an area at the Stretford end that had been decked out for the Tag Heuer event. As we arrived there was a massive media contingent already there, and the event just seemed to keep getting bigger and bigger; what had started off as a nice tour and lunch turned into a massive Tag Heuer/Man United launch party. As we were waiting for the players to arrive, Alec Monopoly, an artist who does a lot of work with Tag Heuer, was painting a huge football scene depicting a Monopoly man diving into a save. It was, of course, done in his unique style, which I suppose you either love or hate. Regardless, it was truly awesome to watch this huge bespoke piece created live.
The arrival of Jean Claude Biver got everyone excited. Jean Claude is the CEO of Tag Heuer and is a very energetic and eccentric character. If you follow Tag Heuer on social media, you will see Jean Claude in attendance, livening up the event with his personality. I was thrilled to get a picture with him, and he was kind enough to sign the watch box I had with me.
Shortly after we met the presenter, Andy Goldstein of Soccer AM. He appears to be working regularly with MUTV these days and is obviously a massive United fan. Chris Smalling, Michael Carrick and Victor Lindelof arrived all kitted out in their United shirts and wearing the red strapped Tag Heuer Man United watch. The players helped Alec Monopoly complete his art by painting some of the hexagons of the football, whilst Andy Goldstein kept things very light hearted with his wit and sarcasm giving the audience a good laugh.
Jesse Lingard came next, speaking to us about art and his hopes for the season. Lingard demonstrated a few keep ups in a lead up to a friendly competition between Mr. Biver and Alec Monopoly. Mr. Biver won the entertaining contest with around 5 keep ups. Unexpectedly, Jose Mourinho wandered in to meet Mr. Biver. The two of them have been great friends for a very long time. I didn’t think he would be there, as Jose wears a Hublot watch, but it turns out that Mr. Biver is the CEO of both companies. I was able to get my watch box in front of Jose for him to sign, which was a very unexpected stroke of luck as no one had known that he was going to make an appearance.
Paul Pogba was the last player to arrive, stealing the show as always. He has a great personality for events like these, and the first thing he did was ask Alec Monopoly to paint his white Adidas trainers. He then joked about putting them on eBay later that night as a limited edition 1 of 1 trainer. Pogba speaks with extreme ease and you can see that he enjoys being in the limelight. He was asked questions about the Champions League and the new Premier League season and was calm and considerate in his answers. Unfortunately, being the star that he is, I was unable to get him to sign my watch box as he was heavily flanked by security, and after he had done his media work was taken away quickly for his next engagement.
With the event over and I had managed to get my watch box signed by Mourinho, Lindelof, Smalling, Carrick and Lingard. I was really happy about this and so we decided to stay a little longer, hoping to meet more of the players. We didn’t have to wait long before Antonio Valencia appeared, more than happy to sign items and take pictures with the 20 or so fans who were there. One by one a whole host of first team players followed: Matic, Mhikitaryan, Rojo, Herrera and finally, literally as I was leaving, Juan Mata with 3 security guards around him (who were not happy when I politely asked him to sign my watch box, but he is such a gentleman that he obliged as I walked alongside him). Getting Mata’s signature was a pure fluke as his security weren’t having any of it!
It was at this point we had to leave, as we had a 5 hour drive ahead of us up to Scotland. I was buzzing about the event for a long time afterwards, and the pictures from the day along with my signed watch box signed box will remain with me indefinitely.
A shout out and huge thank you to all of the people who made the day possible from Tag Heuer and Manchester United, particularly Zoe from the Manchester Tag Boutique who was the driving force and issued my golden ticket. Also a massive thank you to my wife who puts up with me on days like this and took some amazing pics of me getting the box signed and meeting the players. I know if I ever have the chance to attend another Tag event in the future I’ll be there with bells on…and surely another watch box in hand!