On the beers at 9am for a United away. Jibbing into the VIP area at an event to meet your United heroes. A massive ‘Red Army’ flag hanging up at your wedding.
The above will sound quite normal to some Reds; intriguing to others. But maybe not what you’d expect to hear from United fans over in Mumbai, India.
But dig a little bit deeper into the lives of the characters who follow us from afar and you might be surprised at what you find, as we found out when we sat down with Karn, Shyam and Sunil from India’s first official United supporter’s club – MUSC Mumbai.
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MUSC Mumbai was officially founded in 2014. Its home is the Three Wise Monkeys, a pub in the City which founding member Sunil owns and runs. Karn is the current Secretary of the club and Shyam is President. They currently have well over 300 official members and pack between 150-180 inside the Three Wise Monkeys for every United game.
We start by chatting with Karn and Shyam about a story that fascinated us as soon as we heard about it. A few years back, the lads decided to re-create their own United away day by coach across India;
“We decided to do a screening in Pune for the Tottenham away game,” recalls Karn. “It’s about a three-and-a-half hour journey from Mumbai so we got together and decided to take the coach to recreate an away day. We set off at 9am and packed the bus completely. We even had to sneak our drinks on board and buy ice from a local vendor on the way.”
“We’re all passionate about United and wanted our own experience,” says Shyam. “We drank all the way down there and even got stopped and searched by the police en route!”
Finding Giggs & Scholes
We’ve all done mad things when it comes to following United, and this next story shows just how dedicated the Mumbai lot really are. It’s also proof that you get out what you put in.
“A few years back, Giggs and Scholes came over for a Futsal tournament in Goa,” Sunil tells us. “This was probably the biggest player appearance we’d ever had in India, so one night after a few beers in the pub, a group of us booked flights to Goa to go on a mission to personally meet the two United legends.”
You can see how much this meant to the lads from this poster they had made before the trip:
Sunil goes on to tell us; “I’d wrote a letter to Scholesy before the trip telling him we were coming to see them. Luckily, I had VIP tickets at the Futsal tournament and managed to sneak past security to go and have a word with him. When I got to him, he told me he’d been trying to get back to me, but I hadn’t left my number on the letter!”
“Anyway, I gave him my number and the next day about 10 or 12 of us met up with both of the lads at their hotel. Then, later that night we’re all in a pub still on such a high and who turns up in a limo outside? Giggs and Scholes. We sat and had beers with them all night and it was unbelievable. The fact we had planned the trip with the hope of meeting them and then for this to happen. It was a reward for the effort.”
A United Wedding
Any top red worth their salt will have some reference to United at their wedding, even if it’s just a late night sing-song. But we have to take our hat off to Sunil for this one, who flew the red flag high at his traditional Indian wedding when he married his wife Runa in 2019.
“The flag you can see in the photo was gifted to me by a friend. It was very special to me and was at the Champions League Final in 2008,” Sunil says. “Unfortunately, I ended up losing it when an old pub I had changed ownership and the new owner threw it away. I was very embarrassed and couldn’t even tell my friend.”
“Luckily though, another friend of mine somehow managed to track it down six months after I lost it and gave it back to me as a wedding gift, so I just had to put it up. My wife knows how important United are to me, so she went along with it!”
And there you have it. If these three short stories are not Proper United, then we don’t know what is.
And this is what our ‘Top Red’ series is all about; shining a light on our loyal fans all around the world, as let’s be honest – as United supporters we’ve all been given stick for having a global fan base – when in reality it’s something we should be proud of.
Thanks to Karn, Shyam and Sunil for taking the time to chat to us and we look forward to catching up again soon.
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