Going To Your First Game? Things To Know Before You Go
Cover Up To Get Served - Some bars and restaurants in Manchester don't allow people wearing City colors on match days. So have something to cover up if you want to go out before or after.
City Square - The area just to the north of the stadium has a large merch store and a stage where they host interviews with pundits, minor local celebs and former players and showcase a local live band. There's also food and drink available. City Square starts two and half hours before kick-off and is probably the best place to hang out pre-game. See the City Square on Twitter for more details. Mary D's just across the road offers a pub experience if that's more your thing.
Player Arrival - The player bus arrives around 90 minutes before kick off and pulls up to the Colin Bell Stand (west side of the stadium). There's usually a crowd by the blue carpet. Even if you get close, players won't stop for autographs before the game but you can get some early cheering in.
Away Fan Section - All UK football stadiums have separate sections for away fans. Security staff and police will form a line between the two sets of fans inside the ground that you'll not be allowed to pass through. You may also find your access is limited immediately outside the stadium where away fans enter, so allow extra time to get past south east corner of the Etihad.
Bag Policy - Check the stadium bag policy before you travel. Allow extra time for back checks at entry.
No Alcohol In The Stands - Alcohol is not allowed in sight of the pitch. You're allowed booze down in the concourse but you can't take it back to your seat. However, can take non-alcoholic drinks and food back. I recommend a Bovril and a Balti pie.
Bovril - You should definitely try the Bovril if it's a cold day. It's a beefy hot drink served like coffee - but it's a thin, salty, beef-flavored gravy.
Sports Betting - Unlike at US stadiums, you'll find betting kiosks throughout the concourse. Pick up a slip and a tiny pencil, and bet a quid on something at 250/1.
Walk Home - After the game the whole stadium pours out. The police close down the streets around the stadium and loads of people walk back into town. Join the crowd and walk because the buses, taxis and trams all get jammed up. You'll get back quicker.
Going To Away Games - Be even more cautious about showing colors when going to away games. Locals won't want to see your colors anywhere in town and may give you hassle. This should be mostly light-hearted, but any away town will treat you like Philly treats a Cowboys fan. Be sure to check online guides to find away-fan friendly pubs as well as stadium and travel information:
There are general sites that have information about each ground like footballgroundguide.com, awaygrounds.com and footballtripper.com
There will usually be a page on the home team's site, e.g. City's Visiting Fan's Guide.
Review Wiki Travel to see which parts of a town to avoid. Usually these areas are around the stadiums, but it's best to be informed as to where you should keep your head down and keep moving.
Beer Nerds - If you're a beer fan, you should go to Cloudwater Brew Co (or Track Brewing next door) on the way out to the ground or another day while staying in Manchester.