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Capturing the fusion of football and rave culture in MUFC Rotterdam 91′ photobook

32 years ago, Manchester United achieved a remarkable victory over Barcelona in the Cup Winners Cup final held in Rotterdam.

The match not only marked Sir Alex Ferguson’s second major trophy, but it also played a pivotal role in relaunching Manchester United onto the European stage.

What made this triumph even more unique was the convergence of British football fandom with the vibrant Madchester rave scene, resulting in a spectacle that photographer Richard Davis beautifully captured in his MUFC Rotterdam 91 photozine.

Richard Davis was present to document the extraordinary atmosphere as United fans flocked to the fan parks surrounding the Feyenoord Stadium in Rotterdam.

He has covered a wide range of subjects with his photography, including taking snaps of Steve Coogan early on in his career.

The scenes he captured on film resembled more of a Glastonbury music festival than a football match, with bucket hats, painted smiley faces, flags, beers, and cigarettes aplenty.

The images vividly portrayed the fusion of football and rave culture, as fans exuded an infectious desire to revel in the moment.

We spoke to photographer Richard Davis about the exhibition.

He said:  “The rave and dance culture was massive at the time and definitely encouraged football fans to approach games with a feeling of wanting to have a good time.

“People wanted to party, not fight,” explained Richard, reflecting on the ambiance that characterized that era.

“We were coming out of the 1980s, a really dark period for the country and I think people were just tired of fighting.

“The city was at the forefront of U.K culture again with football, fashion, and music coming together at the right time.

“There was a lecturer from Manchester Technical who was writing a book called “Football with Attitude” based on football and its connections to music and fashion, like the emergence of a new football fan.

“I was approached to do a series of photographs around the northwest showing these links, and during that time, Manchester United reached the final of the Winners’ Cup in Rotterdam.

“So I went there and documented what I saw.”

MUFC Rotterdam 91, a limited edition A5 photo zine published exclusively by Lower Block, features 28 black and white archival photographs that capture the essence of this unique convergence.

Each image tells a story of joy, camaraderie, and the spirit of celebration that permeated the fan parks on that historic day.

Richard continued: “The thing that struck me was the number of young people present, kids as young as 14 or 15, along with teenagers and young adults.

“It was different from what I had experienced in the ’80s, especially outside of England. There was definitely a shift in the culture.”

From jubilant supporters raising their pints to raucous groups with painted faces, the exhibition serves as a time capsule, encapsulating the passion and exuberance of British football fans in the early 1990s.

Richard explained that the final really marked a turning point not only in United’s fortunes but the city’s emergence onto the world stage.

He said: “One thing to consider is that Manchester City is now the dominant team, but these photos were taken 32 years ago during the start of Manchester United’s dominance.

“It’s an important part of Manchester’s history, and it’s great to document these events because things are always changing.

“It’s also a story of positivity, a shift from the negative perceptions of football in the ’80s to a more positive and fashionable approach in the ’90s. This was an important moment for English football as well.

“It was kinda like taking ownership back. It was ownership back from the hooligans, really, you know? Because the eighties were very violent.

“I think it’s important to highlight the shift in the times and the newfound positivity in the mix of football, music, and fashion.”

Richard cites the release of “World in Motion” by New Order in 1990 as a major event that contributed to this shift.

“Manchester played a leading role in shaping this culture, from the Hacienda to Tony Wilson, the Stone Roses, the Happy Mondays, and New Order. It’s an important part of Manchester’s history.”

“I believe the overriding emotion that people should take away from this exhibition is nostalgia mixed with a sense of optimism.

“It’s a chance to look back and appreciate the positive transformation that occurred during that time.

“It’s a reminder that even in the face of difficult periods, like the ’80s, there is always the potential for change and growth. It’s a celebration of how football, music, and fashion can create a vibrant and exciting culture.”

Overall, this new collection offers a glimpse into a unique moment in Manchester’s history, where football, music, and fashion converged to create a new and positive experience.

It highlights the shift from negativity to celebration, and it’s a chance to reflect on the changes that have occurred over the years. It’s a story of cultural evolution and the power of unity and joy.

You can get your copy of the book by clicking here.

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