And the tens of thousands rolling up to Old Trafford had the opportunity to clap eyes on the bronze statue of Sir Alex Ferguson, unveiled the previous day in the company of the likes of his former charges, including Eric Cantona, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Edwin van der Sar, Peter Schmeichel, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Bryan Robson and Gary and Phil Neville.
The nine-foot statue was commissioned 2011 to mark Fergie’s 25 years at Manchester United, when the North Stand was also renamed the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand.
“Normally people die before they see their statue, so I’m out-living death,” said Ferguson, words that Sir Bobby Charlton and Denis Law will have been especially pleased to hear, given that Fergie was on hand to see them unveil the ‘Holy Trinity’ statue – dedicated to the Englishman, the Scotsman and their partner George Best – back in 2008.
So Fergie joins the array of footballing talents – like Charlton, Law, Best, Sir Matt Busby, Sir Alf Ramsay, Bobby Moore, Jock Stein, Bill Shankly, Brian Clough and Peter Taylor, Joe Mercer, Billy Bremner, Billy Wright, Thierry Henry, Tony Adams, Herbert Chapman, John Greig and Jimmy Johnstone – cast in various metals, around the country.
Yes, after winning 37 trophies including 12 Premier League titles and two Champions Leagues during his 26 years at Manchester United, Fergie is deserving of the accolade for his impressive records. And it’s for impressive records most people have statues outside football grounds. Like Michael Jackson at Fulham …
Sad news today with the passing of Dave Sexton, the former Chelsea, QPR and Manchester United manager, aged 82.
He almost did the unthinkable in the 75/76 season, by taking the unfashionable QPR to the Championship title, pipped in the end by just a single point by Liverpool. He later managed at Old Trafford, but he was best known for his achievements at Chelsea, or at least he was by some. In 1970 he led them to victory over Leeds United in the FA Cup, a passport into Europe where he guided the Blues to a Cup-Winners-Cup final win over Real Madrid.
Twenty-plus years later, I was in a queue with Stephen Hendry, waiting to collect our tickets outside Stamford Bridge. The chap in front stepped forward.
“Could I have my ticket please. For Dave Sexton …”
“Who?” came the question from the geek behind the glass.
“Sexton, Dave Sexton,” he replied, half-turning to look behind to see if anyone had noticed what had just happened. We had.
So too did the bloke behind us, who enquired with words and expletives in equal measure, who exactly had given this youngster his job. Without looking behind, Sexton raised his hand, waved it slightly, hushing the ranting fan. He took his ticket, turned, and gave an embarrassed smile.
“He’s only young,” Sexton said as he walked into the night.
Words lost on Mr Angry once he got to the head of the queue …
The early phone call was a booking for me to give an interview to STV News following the abdication, sacking, resignation, call it what you will, of Andy Robinson as coach of the Scotland rugby team. Robinson goes the way of Craig Levein, his one-time counterpart with the national football team, so leaving the top managerial positions for both major team sports in Scotland vacant.
As I said in my STV interview, questions need to be asked of the SRU and SFA for employing these men in the first place, and, for leaving them in charge when it was evident neither was up to it. You really couldn’t see it ending any other way for Robinson after the Scots were beaten by Tonga at Pittodrie on Saturday. A bad loss any day of the year, but especially given the 12 months Robinson had endured, with a Wooden Spoon in the Six Nations, three straight home losses in Autumn Tests, and relegation into Pot 3 for the World Cup draw.
Despite the catastrophic record, Robinson – just like Levein before him – reckoned he had left Scotland in a better place. I can only think that after a while fulfilling such roles eventually leaves you delusional. Robinson can lay the blame where he likes, and claim the stats didn’t match the team performances, something most people would dispute. What was indisputable was that on Saturday, Scotland lost to an island nation that has only half the population of Aberdeen.
Or put another way, there is probably a household in Tonga with a better scrum than Scotland …
And Elgin City are fined £25,000 by the Scottish Football League following the postponement of the match against Rangers at Borough Briggs. Elgin were forced to call the game off after printing 1100 more tickets than their ground would hold. A hefty price to pay. But pay they should.
I can’t really feel too sorry for those who had turned the visit of Rangers into some kind of circus. If they’d spent more time concentrating on ticketing and less on churning out commemorative scarves, badges and whisky, they would have had their profitable day.
The one thing Elgin did avoid was a points deduction. That was never on the card to be honest. You wouldn’t be wanting to hand anyone an advantage now, would you …
On a day when it was revealed that Gareth Bale’s favourite goal was the winner he scored against Scotland for Wales in the recent World Cup qualifier, I couldn’t help but think that some kind of justice (or is it vengeance) was done tonight during the Spurs game against Liverpool.
See what I mean here
Twitterland is debating whether Rangers should accept an approach from Newcastle owner Mike Ashley so that he can rebrand Ibrox the Sports Direct Arena. This was a subject ironically enough, that I touched on at the start of the month while discussing similar plans for Murrayfield.
Going by most fans reaction, Rangers should take the money, just as they did with the other million Ashley has apparently invested with the Ibrox club already. Most people see it as I have always viewed renaming initiatives, in as much as fans still call the ground by its original name. Only rival fans will ever mention the venue by its brand name, and that is just to get under the skin of some of the home support.
Only rival fans, oh, and at least one news corporation who seem intent in putting ‘new’ ahead of Rangers at every mention …
Former England cricket captain Andrew Flintoff makes his professional boxing debut tonight against American heavyweight Richard Dawson in Manchester.
The contest, over four, 2-minute rounds, will see Flintoff face Dawson who has an impressive CV. He knocked out his first challenger in just 19 seconds, then in this second bout, he broke the ribs of his opponent.
Flintoff’s fight is sponsored by Jacamo, who do a wide and varied selection of clothing for the fuller-figured gent. Denims, tops, shirts, jackets all part of the range. I really do hope for Flintoff’s sake, we don’t need to find out if they do hospital dressing gowns …