- Sir Alex Ferguson (1942 - ?)
Alex Ferguson has come far since he was born in working class Govan where he became an apprentice tool-maker in the Govan shipyards. He became a trade union shop steward and led an unofficial walk-out over a pay dispute. He has never forgotten his roots and the socialist values which he learned on Clydeside. He started playing football at senior level with Queen's Park, an amateur side. He moved on to play for St Johnstone, Dunfermline, Rangers, Falkirk and Ayr United during a 14-year playing career as a hard-working striker, who was never selected to play for Scotland at national level.
He was only manager of East Stirling for four months before he moved to the Paisley club, St Mirren. He steered the team to promotion to the top division in 1977 (and increased the average attendance at St Mirren games by a factor of ten in the process). But he was dismissed by the club over a dispute over bonus payments to his players. He was immediately snapped up by Aberdeen who had not won a Scottish championship for over 20 years. Under Ferguson they won three League titles, four Scottish Cups, one League Cup, and the European Cup Winners Cup (beating the mighty Real Madrid) in 1983.
He was coaxed to Manchester United in 1986 and his start was not auspicious - the team lost to Oxford United. The team struggled for a few years (losing 5-1 to local rivals Manchester City in 1989). But the team won the 1990 FA Cup and as the policy of developing young players paid off, the club went from strength to strength during the 1990s.
Under his managership the club has won six English Premier titles, four FA Cups, one League Cup, a European Cup and a European Cup Winners Cup. In the process, Manchester United became only fourth team this century to complete the championship and FA Cup double. The 1998/99 season saw Manchester United winning an amazing "treble" - English League, the F.A.Cup and the European Cup in the same season. The Queen could do no less than award a knighthood to him.
He has a fierce competitive spirit and a temper to match. Players have described the "Ferguson hairdryer" when he blasts them in a head-to-head tongue-lashing. But he has the ability to measure the qualities of the players he has nurtured and (as the club became wealthy) expensive players he has brought in. He is well known for being dour and getting a smile is like a getting sunshine on a wet Glasgow Fair weekend. A workaholic, he often works an 18-hour day but he does own a racehorse and campaigns for Tony Blair and the Labour Party. He also has an inate honesty which comes over during the many interviews he has to give to the media.
Return to the Index of Famous Scots>
Where else would you like to go in Scotland?
News & Views>
All Features Index>
Search This Site>
Scottish Pictorial Calendar>
Places to Visit>