Originally born in Manchester, MUSC Cyprus secretary Bambos Loizou was handed two options as a five-year old by his father: Red or blue? It was a decision that paved the way for a lifetime of commitment to the Manchester United cause.
Bambos is a straight talker. A guy genuinely committed to doing whatever he can to help Reds in Cyprus make the pilgrimage over to Old Trafford, and this time last year during lockdown we had the pleasure of sitting down and having a beer over Zoom with him and his two good friends, Yiannos and Greg – who are both members of the Cyprus branch.
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“As a five-year old child in Manchester, my father asked me straight up, ‘Do you want to support City or United?” Bambos starts by telling us. “And in that moment I chose United.”
“Me and my family moved from the UK to Cyprus during the ’85/’86 season, which was a time when United had slowly started to see a bit of success again,” he says. “My best mate at the time (a Liverpool fan) used to taunt me by calling me a glory supporter and basically set me a challenge to become a “proper” fan. He’s regretted that day ever since!”
When Bambos got to Cyprus, there was already a United supporters club on the island. “I was on the committee there for a while, but unfortunately it wasn’t really working as I hoped, so I stepped down,” he says.
In 2016, after getting together with a group of friends to discuss what they felt United fans in Cyprus needed, Bambos helped set-up the second United supporters club.
“The main aim for us is simple,” he tells us. “To get members to Old Trafford to see United play. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, bringing people from all over Cyprus together and giving them a route to get to games without paying black market prices.”
Match-day in Cyprus is typically a family-like get together as you can imagine. The club has two pubs; one in the town of Larnaca at the Bull ‘n Gold Sports Bar, and the other in Nicosia at Murphy’s Pub – where members from across the country come together to watch the match.
“In Cyprus, we love our food and we always combine match-day with a big feast,” Bambos says. “And beer of course. Lots of beer!”
It’s not just games that members meet up for either. MUSC Cyprus has hosted a number of positive community initiatives in the past, notably a blood donation event on 6th February to honour the victims of Munich and a local environmental event – planting trees in a local park that they later named ‘Manchester United Park.’
As stated on the MUSC Cyprus website, the club’s main aim is “to provide official match tickets to our members for any home game that is played in the magnificent Theatre of Dreams.” But it’s a European away that stands out as a highlight for Bambos, as he missioned to Moscow for the 2008 Champions League Final and like many of us endured an unusual adventure to see us lift the trophy.
“It was an unbelievable trip but full of drama,” Bambos recalls. “I’d just got engaged at the time and ended up paying about £2000 for a ticket off the black market, but I just had to go despite what my fiancee might think. We travelled eight hours from Cyprus via Milan to Moscow, and if you remember the Russian government said we could use our match-tickets as visas, but when we got to the airport, it was chaos. We waited for another eight hours just to get into the country as there were so many other fans trying to get through immigration,” he says.
“We then get to the hotel only to be told there was no reservation, even though we’d already paid for one… In the end we had to pay for another room and the whole trip cost me about £4,000, but it was more than worth it after what we experienced. It was easily the best trip of my life,” he says.
The bulk of this interview was spent speaking to secretary of the club, Bambos, but we also briefly caught up with fellow members Yiannos and Greg.
Yiannos is the former marketing manager at MUSC Cyprus and gave us a few words about his introduction to United.
“My uncle was living in London in the 70’s and was a huge George Best fan,” he says. “He would bring me back United kits to Cyprus and that got me hooked. Then Alex Ferguson came, then Cantona came. Today I think we are in a good position and I hope Bruno can be our new Cantona. I think as supporters it is time to start focussing on the present as Ferguson was a one off. This new group has got a lot of potential.”
Yiannos also mentioned that – along with the latest United kits – his uncle once brought him back a United teddy bear when he was around 8 or 9, and we had to get him to send us a photo because quite frankly, the bear (Eric) – is cool as f***, as you can see below.
Finally, a few words from Greg, the current social media rep at the Cyprus supporter’s club.
Greg is an up-and-coming tattoo artist and recently tattooed Bambos with the MUFC Cyprus crest on his back (pictured, below). He also tells us that one of his first ever tattoos was covering up the United badge. “We hope you charged him double Greg.” “Triple” he replies!
Similar to Yiannos, Greg’s love affair with United was caused by a relative bearing United memorabilia:
“When I was a kid,” he says. “My dad walked in one day with two huge red coats. I was like ‘what are they?’ and he just said ‘Man United coats’. They were like these big, red pimp coats – and from that day on, I was a United fan. I love them both and still have them to this day (pictured, below)”
Greg is just as passionate as Bambos about bringing United fans over from Cyprus to Old Trafford.
“I last took a friend to United v Liverpool in 2018 (the Rashford double) and seeing his face throughout the trip was just amazing,” Greg recalls. We landed in Manchester at 2am in the pouring down rain and literally went straight to Old Trafford as he was so excited. It is a lot of people’s dream to watch United and the supporter’s club is able to make that happen.”
Finally, we were originally introduced to the lads over Zoom during lockdown last year by our friends in Malta, and we have a lot of respect for what they do. They dedicate themselves to the United cause from afar and do all they can to help others fulfil their dreams of getting to watch the Reds in person, something many of us take for granted.
We were buzzing to meet up with Bambos and Greg in Gdansk for the Europa League final in May (pictured, below) and this interview is just a quick introduction to the lads and their growing club. If you’re ever in Cyprus, give them a shout using the links below and they’ll no doubt be waiting with open arms, food and plenty of beer!