It was something you don’t see every day – Premiership footballers training at the ground of a north Northumberland football club.
But for Alnwick Town, that’s exactly what happened. Back in 1996, Manchester United used Alnwick’s ground to prepare for a crucial title decider against Newcastle United.
Gracing the hallowed Alnwick turf were the likes of Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs and Sir Alex Ferguson.
Now, some 17 years later, and the Red Devils have said thank you for the gesture – by donating footballs to the Northern League Division Two club.
And chairman Tom McKie, who was not in charge of Alnwick back then, is delighted.
“I would like to say thank you to Manchester United.
“They have given us the footballs which can be used for practising. It is a great gesture.”
And how did Town manage to secure the balls?
By writing directly to Sir Alex himself at the Trafford Training Centre.
Tom said: “Our secretary Cyril Cox wrote to Sir Alex in February.
“Under the previous management, the club was promised some footballs from Manchester United to say thank you, but they never arrived.
“So we wrote to them to give them a gentle reminder and we enclosed some pictures from that day. Then we got a call from the United kitman, who came to Alnwick in 1996.
“He said he had been given our letter by Sir Alex and he said Manchester United would give us the footballs.”
First team manager Paul Yeadon collected the balls in Sunderland, on the evening before United beat the Black Cats at the Stadium of Light last month.
United were originally due to train at Morpeth Town but too many people had found out, so it was hastily arranged for Alnwick to host the club instead.