Sez Les: Fergie and his caring side

Sir Alex Fergsuon
Sir Alex Fergsuon

The tributes and the recollections have been countless since the originator of Fergie Time called time on Wednesday.

To those countless ones I can only add a solitary contribution but it showed the other side of the man who departs this week as Britain’s greatest football manager.

It stemmed from a horrific injury to John Buckley, now coach to Doncaster Belles but then skilful Scottish winger with Rotherham United.

John was concussed and suffered a fractured skull in a sickening collision when playing at Millmoor against Plymouth in 1993. I well recall the widespread fears for his life that Saturday evening.

John never played for the club again and a Testimonial was arranged and various clubs were asked if they could offer help, notably with signed shirts, balls etc.

Former club secretary Gerry Somerton, by then working as a local journalist, got a call at his desk asking to speak to him. The surprise was the identity of the caller - Alex Ferguson.

He’d received Gerry’s request for any assistance and he was calling to offer it whilst inquiring how John was - as a youngster in Scotland, John used to do babysitting duties for a member of the Ferguson family.

The Man United assistance, via Ferguson, was subsequently forthcoming.

Certainly he’s the most successful manager ever with 49 major trophies which reflects his insatiable appetite for success and for winning. He may not have been the most gracious loser but was the ultimate winner and expected nothing else from his team.

Imagine then, the dressing room scene before his final Old Trafford appearance on Sunday.

Minutes before kick off, but ahead of a final word from Sir Alex, it’s Rio Ferdinand (who else) who steps forward and pipes up.

“Right lads, we all know what today means for one person, so let’s get out there and win this one for the Gaffer,” he says to much nodding and agreement from his teammates.

Ferguson wipes away a tear as he ponders Ferdinand’s exhortation.

“In that case,” he growls, “you f****** well better win then!”