'I can't believe I've missed the 4.27 to Sevenoaks'

British Rail have revised their train schedules ahead of this Sunday’s Community Shield clash at Wembley between United and City after blundering so spectacularly with the corresponding fixture in the FA Cup semi-final last April. Then the company laid on additional transport, with the huge numbers of supporters in mind, but were left red-faced by not anticipating the early departure of thousands of United fans desperate to return home to stick on a Cantona DVD and reassure themselves that they could still do what they wanted.

Peter Jenkins, the timetable planner for all south-bound trains that day, explains,

‘The semi-final was due to finish around a quarter to five – assuming there wasn’t extra time or penalties of course – so we duly increased the volume of trains significantly for that time period. I received a call around quarter past four from a very harassed sounding colleague who insisted there was close to twenty thousand Manchester United fans all trudging down to Wembley Station. The game was still on – I knew because I was watching it on a television set in the staff canteen – so I was perplexed as to what he could be talking about. Then the camera panned to an abyss of empty seating in the stadium and I thought ‘Oh shit, we’re in trouble here’.

‘To be fair to them there was little trouble – the odd protest and nothing more – at discovering there was no transport immediately at hand. At the time I reasoned that this was because they’d been soundly beaten and had little fight left in them but looking back in hindsight I realise it’s mainly because they were all daily London commuters anyway so were well aware of…shall we say, the idiosyncrasies of our capital’s transport system.’

‘However, we are determined not to get caught out again. This time all trains to Kent and Surrey will be running every ten minutes from half-time onwards.’

We asked a passing Manchester United fan for his reaction to the news but he wasn’t aware there was a game on this weekend.