'Everyone was wondering what was going on' - Irish Man Utd fans caught up in bomb scare describe 'moment of fear'
Published 16/05/2016 | 09:35
Irish fans have spoken about the confusion that swept though Old Trafford following a bomb scare at the stadium.
Manchester United's clash with AFC Bournemouth was abandoned after security announced a "code red" and asked supporters to evacuate.
Louise Berney (33) was among a big group of irish fans who had travelled over to the game.
"Everyone was wondering what was going on, but no one could tell us," Ms Berney, membership secretary of the Manchester United Supporters' Club Ireland (Dublin), said.
"We were all checking our phones and texting people to see if there was anything on the news.
"When I heard that something had been found there was that moment of fear, but since we hadn't been told anything officially it was just hearsay at that point."
Fans in two stands were asked to leave while a decision was made.
"All they kept doing was making announcements for those fans in the South and East Stands to stay put," Ms Berney said.
"After about 20 minutes we were told the game was called off and everyone just left. As we did we spied police moving in, but we were told to keep going.
"Obviously, a lot of fans like myself are disappointed after coming over but safety comes first," she said.
"They took the right security measures, so I don't think anyone could complain. There wasn't any pandemonium, no madness or running. Everyone stayed calm and some of the fans were singing, which kept us all in good spirits.
"Still, I've no idea how someone could have gotten anything into the stadium," she added.
"Everyone knows what security is like at Old Trafford. If something did get through, I do think there are questions to be asked about safety."
Greater Manchester police later confirmed they had carried out a controlled explosion of an "incredibly lifelike explosive device".
"A full assessment followed and we have concluded that the device was not viable."
Speaking moments after the stadium was emptied, Irish fan Gareth McCann (30) told the Herald that no stewards or officials at the game had spoken to supporters about what was happening.
"The atmosphere was very relaxed considering what was going on. No one was running about or causing trouble, the fans just filed out of the stadium very calmly," he said.
"When word started circulating that a suspect package had been found there was no panic.
"Everyone just seemed to understand the situation and headed away from the area.
"Still, nobody official said anything to us. Everything we got, we were reading online or getting it by word of mouth."
Fans in the Sir Alex Ferguson and Stretford End stands were asked to evacuate after an object was discovered ahead of the game.
The package was found in the north-west quadrant of the 76,000-seater stadium less than 30 minutes before kick off.
The Premiership game against Bournemouth, which was to be Manchester United's final outing of the 2015-16 season, was delayed for 45 minutes before news came that it was to be abandoned.
A decision has not yet been made as to when the fixture will be replayed, though the Premier League said in a statement that a date would be found "as soon as practically possible".