Behind enemy lines: Builder wins award for Etihad spirals – despite being Man Utd fan

A construction worker from Manchester has been handed a national award for his work on the iconic spirals at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium – even though he’s a United fan.

Mark Callaghan, a Red Devils diehard from Urmston, will be honoured at the Pride of Construction Awards in London later today for his work on the stadium that was built in time for the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

The Urmston resident has expressed his pleasure and surprise at winning the Construction Industry Training Board’s ‘I Built That’ competition.

He said: “I’m actually a Man United fan, believe it or not.

“I’ve been down there to see a few games, but usually only when United are playing.

“My mates gave me a lot of stick for it. But I’ve learnt to live with it!”

Mark has now worked in construction for fifteen years, but his work on the four access ramps around the stadium was his first job since completing his three years of training.

And the trademark round design of City’s east Manchester home – which they moved to after the Games in 2003, leaving their ground for 80 years, Maine Road – threw Mark a curve ball.

“It was a big step for me because I had never set out to work on a curve or radius before. It was a really big step,” said Mark.

“You felt like you were working on a really good building, even though it was City’s ground.”

But while noisy neighbours City may have usurped their more traditionally illustrious rivals on the pitch in recent times, Mark has become managed to bag some silverware – to his surprise.

 “I was honestly shocked when I heard I had won the competition,” he said.

“I didn’t expect it at all when I entered because so many people worked on the build.

“It was definitely a nice surprise and feels good to be recognised for my contribution.”

Although The Etihad continues to expand – and is set to move behind only Old Trafford in the Premier League attendance stakes – the instantly-recognisable shape of the stadium continues to stand tall.

And Mark’s boss believed that his contribution to the Manchester skyline should be noted.

“My director Jim Ness put us forward for the award,” he said.

“I wasn’t expecting to win in any way shape or form, although I was proud to have worked on something like that.

Since his work at the former Commonwealth Games venue, he has worked as a Project Manager at the Athlete’s Village for the 2012 London Olympics.

Mark’s work has also given him the chance to run into royalty, as he met the Queen and Prince Phillip at the topping off ceremony for the Liverpool One shopping complex, which he also worked on.

Mick Hamill, CITB Regional Delivery Manager for the North of England, said: “We are pleased to honour Mark’s contribution to the Etihad Stadium and to the construction industry in the north of England.

“CITB is delighted to recognise him and his work on one of the country’s most iconic buildings.”

Image courtesy of Mikey with thanks

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