In case you didn’t know, I am rugby obsessed. Football, really does not interest me, as far as I’m concerned! Manchester United may as well be contesting the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers, with my school day football knowledge proving the bedrock of my knowledge. However, rugby on the other hand, is a different matter! And since moving to the North West, I have firmly adopted Sale Sharks as my team.
With the recent Rugby World Cup taking place just over the channel, both Mila and Sam have equally been gripped by the matches. Sam, who can barely sit still and watch more than five minutes of any film or TV series watched the whole of the South Africa semi-final.
Making Memories with Family
Some of my best memories over the years have been spent with my dad at various sporting events. Starting off watching Weymouth FC in the Conference South before moving on to watching 3 of the Old Trafford Ashes in Manchester in 2023. We saw England knock France out at the semi-final stage of the Rugby World Cup at the Stade de France in 2007 in a thrilling 14-9 triumph and saw Chris Ashton score a marvellous 94m try against Australia at Twickenham in 2010.
Ever since I’ve had kids, it has therefore been my dream / ambition to start creating similar memories with them. With Mila turning seven and Sam now four, I’ve been getting to the point where I’ve thought this is a realistic proposition. I had thought it would have to be Mila that would be the first of the two kids that I would be able to take to a match – I had actually been thinking watching either Man Utd women’s, or Stockport County may be her first game. But after having seen Sam get so engrossed with the rugby, I’m thinking whether we could manage to get to the AJ Bell Stadium for a Sale Sharks game.
Parking Up and Getting There
Firstly, Sale Sharks make it impossibly easy to be able to park up and get to the match. Although parking at the AJ Bell Stadium is limited, there are a huge host of options that making it really easy and accessible.
Whenever I have gone, I always tend to park up and use their park and ride facilities. It’s best to pre-book as you get a slightly cheaper price and are then of course guaranteed a space, however whenever I have decided to go at short notice, I’ve never not been able to park.
Most recently the option I’ve been using has been to park up at the LSE Park and Ride Facility which opens three hours before kick off and closes and hour after full time. At most I’ve had to wait about 10mins for a bus to take me to the stadium. The return journey at the end of the game has buses going every few minutes and although the drive to the parking is a good 5-10mins, once you are at your car it’s easy to get out.
Other options include parking at the City Airport and walking (this does require pre-booking) or taking a park and ride from the Chill Factor-e / Trafford Centre. I’ve never used either of these options, but they always seem as equally well organised.
At present, parking up at the LSE Facility costs £10 per car including transport to the ground (for all occupants of the vehicle).
Matchday Tickets for Sale Sharks
For those of you familiar even with non-league football price tickets, let alone English Football Premier League prices, Guinness Premier League matchday tickets are cheap in comparison.
I like to stand in the Northern Stand. IF! The sun is shining, it’s the best place to catch whatever sun may be there. To get a ticket for myself and Sam for the Sale Sharks v Gloucester Rugby game on 3 November 2023, it would cost £36 for the two of us. £30 for me and £6 for Sam. Very reasonable! However, often there will be cheaper tickets for other games. It’s not unusual to pay £5 for a trophy game, and I’ll have to scrawl through my credit card statements, but I’m pretty certain that I only paid £20 for the Sale Sharks v Leicester Tigers Guinness Premiership Semi Final in May 2023
Match Day Experience at the Sharks
As soon as you approach the AJ Bell Stadium, there’s an electric atmosphere that’s palpable, even for those who might not share my avid love for rugby. The chatter of fans, the distant hum of the pre-match warm-up – it’s intoxicating.
I know that the first time Sam or Mila start walking up to the stadium, heading into the club shop and experiencing some of the outside events (the kids will be staring wide-eyed at the AJ Bell Stadium. It’s not huge by any stretch of the imagination, but would be impressive enough for any youngster yet to discover a live sporting event.
Food Stalls and Atmosphere
The aroma of food stalls wafted our way as we neared the entrance. Classic match day treats like pies, burgers, and the ever-inviting scent of freshly made chips. I remember my dad buying me my first hotdog at a Weymouth game back in 1994, a memory that am now keen to recreate with Sam and Mila.
Inside the stadium, the ambiance is electric. The Sale Sharks team really put on a great show. At the recent game against the Saracens in March 2023, they had all of the youth teams parade at half time having been invited to the match. Clearly it was both to fill out the stands, but also to give the kids a taste of what it’s like to walk out in front of a near capacity stadium. On top of that, prior to the players heading out onto the pitch, Sale now have their indomitable “Jaws” style theme tune blasting out whilst the logo is being electrified on the big screens! A sound to behold!
As the game starts, the roar of the crowd is deafening. Every try, every tackle met with a mixture of gasps, cheers, and the occasional collective sigh..
And at halftime, you can pretty much wander through the whole stadium, exploring the stadium’s various offerings.
While the roar of the crowd and the thrill of the game are undeniable, for me, it’s always about the shared experiences. Those moments of bonding, laughter, and sometimes shared disappointments – they’re what make match days at Sale Sharks truly unforgettable.
I cannot wait until the first time I take both / either of the kids to their first game. And I’ll definitely be coming back here to update this page with how we get on.
In the meantime, please do share your experiences of either attending Sale Sharks; alternatively fond memories of games / experiences past or any tips or tricks that other readers may benefit from that I haven’t covered.