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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Dave Blatt's tribute to Sir Alex Ferguson

In the days before the PLC, one of the pleasures of attending the AGM was having a “one-to-one” with the manager once the press had departed. Holding court in front of an admiring throng, we would engage in a two way exchange that made us believe we were an integral part of the decision making process, whilst secrets were revealed that massaged our egos no end. For me this started with the Atkinson era and at AGMs and Euro aways us regulars built up quite a rapport. To be fair to Big Ron, before most Euro aways he would stroll over to wherever the United fans were being caged and exchange a few pleasantries with us.

At the 1986 United AGM I had my close encounter of the first kind with (pre Sir) Alex Ferguson. The word was out that he didn’t like long hair, so yours truly stood behind a pillar when I posed my first question, referring to my long hair and raising a laugh in the process. I remember his reply included the observation that there seemed to be more fans at this United AGM than Aberdeen fans at most home games. At the end of proceedings I followed my usual ritual of licking and groveling by asking each and every board member, including Bobby Charlton, if they would like to join fellow Reds, Michael Shenton, Graham Wyche and myself for lunch.

Wisely they all claimed to have made prior arrangements, except the new boy, Alex Ferguson.

“Hold on lads. I’ll join you in a minute.”

Trousers turning a collective brown, we followed the great man through the bowels of Old Trafford to one of the staff restaurants where we all ordered spaghetti. Once he opened up in our company we waxed lyrically for what seemed like hours. During the meal someone came over to our table to remind Alex that a Mr and Mrs Bosnich had flown in all the way from Australia and were waiting in his office, together with their son, Mark. Alex said he would be along in a few minutes, yet we continued to converse for well over an hour, discussing up and coming young players, especially Ryan Wilson, how the three of us had become United fans, and what we hoped for the future.

In the end it was I, Davidius, that had to remind Alex of the Australian family in his office. And thus he shook each one of us by the hand and left. The three of us sat back in awe, rewinding the last two hours. Then reality struck as the waiter came over and we paid for Alex’s meal.

The man’s reputation secured from day one.

Taken from "Manchester United Ruined My Wife" by David Blatt. David's new book, "The Red Eye - a United Fan's Distorted View Of The World" will be out later this year


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