Saturday, May 18, 2013
As my friends will know I have a very limited knowledge of , or interest in Football: however every time I mention the subject for reasons that are lost on me the hits recorded by this blog sore through the roof !
But even I did not fail to notice the wall to wall coverage of the retirement of the Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson . No media outlet was immune from endless tributes to the great man and normally serious and rational journalists ( yes you Nick Robinson) were euogising the man as some sort of modern saint . Indeed as I write I suspect there is a Committee sitting in the Cabinet Offfice under the Chairmanship of Francis Maude drawing up plans for Sir Alex's eventual State Funeral at Paul's Cathedral complete with a gun carriage and Falklands veterans and presumably the obligatory demonstration at Ludgate Circus from a few die hard Socialist Workers supporters claiming Football is a Capitalist conspiracy to control the masses.
Sir Alex , along with Totteridge resident Arsene Wenger have defied the ridiculous trend in modern football that if you do not achieve instant success you lose your job . The merry go round of football league managers over the last six months has proved that many club owners have more money than sense . Indeed some league clubs have had so many managers in the last year or two that they make Harrow Council appear a model of stable Leadership .
Back in 2008 I reluctantly accepted an invitation to a Dinner at the House of Lords to mark the 125th Anniversary of the Boys Brigade . Why reluctantly you might ask because I have never had a reputation for declining a decent dinner ? Well the after dinner speaker was to be the aforementioned Sir Alex Ferguson and as I had no interest in football and Sir Alex is a well known and firm supporter of the Labour Party I had no particular desire to meet him or listen to his after dinner musings .
Indeed in my experience sportsmen are not necessarily the best after dinner speakers . I once endured Kris Akabusi at a Conservative function at the Savoy and after 20 minutes every time he paused for breath the audience applauded hoping he would take that as his cue to sit down , likewise Sir Steve Redgrave may well be a much decorated distinguished sportsman and indeed now earn his living from "motivational speaking " but on the night I heard him he appeared not to be able to motivate anybody to fight their way out of a paper bag .
However how wrong I was .
Sir Alex Ferguson turned out to be my sort of man ( Party Politics aside) . A rather competent after dinner speaker he explained how from his working class upbringing in 1950s Glasgow he owed so much to the Boys Brigade and the firm Christian Faith and ethos it installed in him . He produced from his pocket his small Boys Brigade Bible which he carries with him everywhere and which continues to be his inspiration . He may well have a reputation of not tolerating dissent and of throwing a football boot at David Beckham but all great men have a temper and without one you are a complete wimp. His practise of banning journalists who are disrespectful, of in the case of the BBC produce programmes insulting to members of his family seems a sound practise to me and one that other public figures should follow . Certainly Newcastle Football Club have done the same and locally Barnet Football Club have apparently refused to cooperate with the Press Group for many years because supposedly the Chairman took exception to something they printed.
So I wish a happy retirement to Sir Alex Ferguson , a Christian Gentleman of the first order and a man with a firm determination and a track record of achievement . A genuine "man's man" .
So what if he was nicknamed the "human hairdryer " , telling it how it is never did anyone an harm !