Manchester’s AO Arena is being filled with thousands of tonnes of dirt ahead of a truly epic, high-octane night of dirtbike racing, freestyle motocrossand stunts you’ll only be able to watch through your fingers.
That’s right: whether you can picture it or not, one of Manchester’s most iconic and beloved venues, where many of you will have watched countless gigs and live performances over the years, is set to be turned into one big dirt track, complete with giant makeshift ramps, jumps and more.
With the AO set to host one of the Arena‘s most action-packed and biggest nights of extreme sports in the UK for just the third time in the event’s history, fans can expect everything from seven-year-old racing starlets to top pros competing for coveted titles.
Taking two days to build from start to finish including moving the dirt, the multi-discipline motocross event’s visit to Manchester on Saturday, 6 January has seen a total of 5,000 tonnes shipped from Bolesworth Castle in Tattenhall, Cheshire — the home of the Arenacross Festival — to assemble the full track and all its various aspects.
Requiring huge 25 dump trucks working around the clock (we’re talking loading the dirt until gone midnight and hauling it to the city centre by 5am that same day), a core team of 60 people and plenty more Arena staff chip to bring this gloriously muddy and petrol-fumed wonder to life.
Now into just the second round of Arenacross British Championship, Mancs will get to see the likes of reigning Champion Tommy Searle and last year’s runner-up Conrad Mewse battling it out for the 2024 title, as well all lots of tricks and bikes flying over 60 feet high in the air.
More than 500,000 people have come along to watch these events over the past decade and, considering what’s on show, it’s no surprise.
As you can see, it isn’t just about what people are doing on two wheels either: there’s plenty of pyrotechnics, light shows and general fanfare to be enjoyed.
It’s the only indoor event of its kind anywhere in the UK and with this being their 78th show and their 10-year anniversary year, the organisers are determined to make this Manchester date bigger and better than ever.
It’s been five long years since Arenacross last came to Manchester and they’ve shifted over a quarter of a million tonnes of dirt to bring this thing to life since it started. Even witnessing the mountains of dirt being dumped into the middle of a floor we’re used to dancing on was pretty surreal.
This is definitely one of those things where you need to see it to believe it, so if you’re interested in experiencing the only indoor motocross event in the country this Saturday, you can grab your tickets for the event HERE.
Man United striker Rasmus Højlund set to miss Manchester derby as muscle injury rules him out for ‘two to three weeks’
Man United have suffered a pretty big short-term blow as their in-form forward Rasmus Højlund has been diagnosed with a muscle injury which is set to see him out for “two to three weeks”, meaning he will likely miss the upcoming Manchester derby.
The Danish striker has been running red-hot of late, scoring seven in his last six league games for Man United and now sitting as the club’s top marksman with 13 goals and two assists across all competitions, but just as Erik ten Hag’s side look to have got going, they will now be without him for a spell.
Issuing an update on Friday, 23 February, United confirmed that a muscle injury is “expected to rule him out for two to three weeks”, meaning he will miss this weekend’s fixture against Fulham, the FA Cup fifth round against Nottingham Forest and most likely the Manchester derby.
The Red Devils are currently unbeaten in 2024 and on a run of six wins out of their last seven, with Højlund making the difference in many of them.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s game at Old Trafford, ten Hag went on to explain: “It is a small injury. That is what happens and the risk [when you are] playing at high intensity and training.”
The Dutchman reiterated, “As I say it is not a big injury, but he has to wait for one, two, three weeks”, though Reds will nevertheless be gutted to see the 21-year-old sidelined after having now started finding the net and putting together such an impressive run of performances.
While he emphasised that it is not a “big injury”, the timing couldn’t be more frustrating for a team that looks to be finally gathering some momentum, not only in and around the European places already but right on the trail of those chasing down the Champions League spots.
Højlund’s injury only adds to the club’s ever-growing list of players on the physio’s bench, including Tyrell Malacia, Mason Mount, Lisandro Martinez and another huge setback in Luke Shaw’s long-term hamstring problems.
In contrast, Manchester City have been lofted by comebacks from both Erling Haaland, who is getting back on the scoresheet once again, and midfielder maestro Kevin De Bruyne as they look to step up the pressure on league leaders Liverpool.
The treble-winners were always going to be putting in a very strong title defence but the return of KDB has reminded football fans just exactly how good he is. The Belgian was left on the bench against Brentford due to “minor niggles” but you can fully expect him to be raring to go come derby day.
Stockport County create a new community mural with young street artists in Edgeley
Stockport County is creating a brand new mural with a group of young street artists from the local area and a little help from one of their squad members.
This past February half-term, the Greater Manchester football club enlisted the help of some schoolkids and aspiring artists, along with local creatives from around the area to create a brand new piece of artwork right in the heart of the community.
With some paint, plenty of spray cans and the expertise of Manc muralist and designer, Oskar With A K, and poet Ruth Awolola, a dozen local secondary school pupils helped write, design and paint the mural — taking inspiration directly from the club and the thriving fan culture in Stockport.
There is no chant more iconic and important to the Hatters than their famous ‘The Scarf My Father Worse’ song and that’s exactly what the local artists have decided to immortalise.
The painting process began on Friday, 16 February and, as you can see, they even managed to rope in County defender Ethan Pye came along to lend a hand with the mural, armed with a can of spray paint to help the young people bring their ideas to life.
Being developed by the Stockport County Community Trust in collaboration with North West organisations, GRIT Studios and The Writing Squad, ‘The Scarf My Father Wore’ project has received £14,800 from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
Popping in a prime location on the corner of Castle Street and Mercian Way — just metres away from the Edgeley Park stadium and right at the beginning of the local village high street — this vibrant work of art will be passed by thousands of commuters and pedestrians every day.
Being brought to life in brilliant blue and white in line with the club’s colour scheme and proudly printing the title of the famous chant on the wall along with stencils of the County crest, footballs and many other details, it sits pride of place in the Stockport suburb.
Much like the historic chant and the symbolic scarf itself, this brilliant piece of street art will be passed down and enjoyed by generations to come, as well as make sure the club continues to play a key role in local culture.
County’s Community Trust CEO Alison Warwood said: “This project shows how art and writing by young people can make a real difference to the local community, and I can’t wait to see the end result.”
John Macaulay from GRIT Studios added: “We’re thrilled to be involved in such a collaborative and community-spirited initiative. Our young artists will be helping to create a lasting landmark that will become a focal point in Edgeley for years to come.”
With the Hatters currently top of the League Two table and looking at yet another promotion season, there feels like no better time for fans to wear the club on their sleeve, their scarves around their necks and now up on the wall too.