All eyes will be on the Manchester Derby in Manchester, New Hampshire this Saturday (watch live, 8:30am ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the New England town is ready to become blue or red.
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If Manchester United wins, City Hall in the New Hampshire town will be lit up red. If Manchester City wins, it will be blue.
Earlier this week NBC Sports held a soccer clinic and event for youth players in Manchester, NH, where local residents are excited for the Manchester Derby almost 4,000 miles away.
That connection with Manchester, England is a strong one as the extremely enthusiastic Mayor of Manchester, NH, Joyce Craig (who dressed up as USWNT legend Megan Rapinoe for Halloween) explains.
“In 1810, our city was renamed Manchester by Samuel Blodgett, our city’s founder who envisioned Manchester, New Hampshire would become just as much of an industrial powerhouse as Manchester, England,” Craig explained.
“His vision came true, at one point, Manchester, New Hampshire was home to the largest textile manufacturing operation in the world. Today, our Millyard has transitioned from textiles to biomanufacturing and higher education — but is still reminiscent of the industrial manufacturing powerhouse of its namesake, Manchester, England.”
Red or blue? Manchester, NH is split too
The similarities of Manchester, NH and Manchester, England don’t end there, either.
One half is blue and one half is red.
“Just like the residents in Manchester, UK, residents of Manchester, New Hampshire are split down the middle,” Craig laughed when asked about the level of support for both Premier League teams.
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“We’ve definitely seen soccer growing in popularity, especially among our younger residents,” Craig continued. “Soccer is one of our most popular high school sports, and we just installed a new mini-pitch in partnership with Southern New Hampshire University, Major League Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Federation.
“In the warmer months, pickup soccer games are played constantly, you can see it anytime you drive by any one of our city parks and support for the U.S. women’s national team is growing all of the time too.”
Game continues to grow in New Hampshire
Earlier in the week NBC Sports put on a soccer clinic in the New Hampshire town as local youth players were enjoyed coaching and more.
There were t-shirt giveaways of the red of Manchester United and the blue of Manchester City, plus life-size player cut outs and murals for photo opportunities, plus the gigantic Premier League ball stood pride of place at Gill Stadium.
The gap between Manchester, England and Manchester, New Hampshire has well and truly been bridged.
“We’re thankful for the connection that we have all the way across the Atlantic Ocean, and can’t wait to take part in this historic rivalry,” Craig added. “It’s always fun to see kids playing sports and staying active. We have eight different youth soccer leagues in Manchester. I know our young soccer players loved to participate in the youth clinic hosted by some of their favorite teams.”
So, will Manchester, New Hampshire be Red or Blue this Saturday?
“Fans of the winning team will be excited to see City Hall lit up in their team’s colors. Although, most folks might think the blue and red is in honor of the most popular American football team here, the New England Patriots!” Craig joked.
Premier League hometowns
This initiative continues the drive from NBC Sports to showcase how American towns with the same name, or other connections, have embraced the PL and its clubs, who are based thousands of miles away.
Here are just some of the stories we’ve highlighted during the 2021-22 season:
- Brentford, South Dakota is all-in on the Bees
- Liverpool, NY gets warm welcome from Jurgen Klopp and Co.
- Chelsea NYC goes all-out to support the Blues