By Michael Kachitsa
The Old Trafford stadium, commonly known as “The Theatre of Dreams,” was originally opened on February 19, 1910 with a capacity of approximately 80,000. During the Second World War, Old Trafford was used by the military as a depot, and on March 11, 1941 was heavily damaged by a German bombing raid. The stadium was rebuilt following the war and reopened on August 24, 1949.
The addition of floodlighting, permitting evening matches, was completed in 1957 and a project to cover the stands with roofs was completed in 1959. After a series of additions during the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, capacity at Old Trafford reached 56,385 in 1985. The conversion of the stadium to an all-seater reduced capacity to approximately 44,000 by 1992, the lowest in its history. Thereafter, we began to expand capacity throughout the stadium, bringing capacity to approximately 58,000 by 1996, approximately 68,000 by 2000, and approximately 76,000 in 2006. Current capacity at Old Trafford is 75,454.
In the late 1940s, we returned to on-field success, winning the FA Cup in 1948 and finishing within the top four league positions during each of the first five seasons immediately following the Second World War. During the 1950s, we continued our on-field success under the leadership of manager Sir Matt Busby, who built a popular and famous team based on youth players known as the “Busby Babes.”
In February 1958, an airplane crash resulted in the death of eight of our first team players. Global support and tributes followed this disaster as Busby galvanized the team around such popular players as George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law. Rebuilding of the club culminated with a victory in the 1968 European Cup final, becoming the first English club to win this title.
In 1986, our club appointed Sir Alex Ferguson as manager. In 1990, we won the FA Cup and began a period of success that has continued until the present day. Since 1992, we have won the Premier League 13 times. In total, we have won a record 20 English League titles, a record 12 FA Cups, 4 League Cups, 3 European Champions Cups and 1 FIFA Club World Cup, making us one of the most successful clubs in England.