Lifelong Huddersfield Town fan Darren Haigh kept a dark secret for 30 years – he’s a closet Manchester United supporter.
Darren, 39, of Crosland Moor, has been a regular on the Town terraces since he went to his first game at the age of five.
But he has always had a favourite second team from the wrong side of the Pennines.
This week Darren and wife Lindsay, 35, who both work for Kirklees Council, were on holiday and decided to take two-year-old son Sam to Old Trafford, known to soccer fans as the Theatre of Dreams.
The family visited the Manchester United Museum and were shocked when TV crews and photographers pounced as they walked in.
Unbeknown to them, Darren was the museum’s five millionth visitor and the family became instant celebrities.
Darren, a customer services officer, was showered with prizes and Sam, who is three in August, was bowled over to meet United mascot Fred the Red.
Darren said he was “gobsmacked” and added: “It was just an unbelievable experience and a day we will never forget. We were treated like celebrities.”
The family were filmed for the club’s television channel MUTV and interviewed by Capital Radio before being treated to a private tour of the stadium.
In a rare privilege Darren and Sam got to walk on the hallowed Old Trafford turf.
Darren’s prizes included a VIP visit to meet the players at the AON Training Complex followed by a two-night stay in a five-star hotel with hospitality tickets for United’s Premier League opener against Swansea on August 16.
He was also presented with a special “five millionth” shirt and a shirt worn by former England defender Rio Ferdinand last season.
Darren, who attended about half Town’s home games last season and went to a couple of United matches, said: “I’ve been a closet Manchester United fan but it’s all out in the open now and I might get some stick about it.
“It was just a fabulous experience.”
Even soccer widow Lindsay, an administrator, loved it. “I’m not really a football fan but I’ve always enjoyed going to Man United matches,” she said.
“Sam met Fred the Red and was going nuts. We were totally spoiled.”
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