On 6th November 1986 I was a pale and gangly 16 year old. I’d done my Highers and was headed to University. I was in 6th year and life was good. For me, it was my zenith of optimism. Everything was ahead and everything was rosy.
That was the day Sir Alex Ferguson was appointed manager of Manchester United. Everything was ahead and it would be rosy.
With his retirement this week, I am compelled to look back on what is my entire adult life to date and offer a few words of thanks.
My adult life has been a mix of highs and lows. Such is the way for us all. When I look back at the 27 years, I refuse to complain about any of it but I will glory in a large number of magic moments that helped me along the way. Moments given to me, in no small part, by one man.
Two years before my Mum died, I watched the last game of the season with her and my Dad back where I grew up in Wester Hailes. We lost the league that day to Blackburn, our inability to beat West Ham handed them the trophy. I was going nuts. We had many chance, the ball just wouldn’t go in. As I got more agitated, I got louder. As I got louder, my Mum got more anxious. She didn’t like to see me in any distress. Even fake football distress. She didn’t care much about football but you would think she did. She was joined to it through me.
Two years after she died, we won the European Cup(sic). I watched that in the same room as we’d watched the 1995 West Ham game with my Dad. It was a dreadful game with a beautiful end. When the equaliser went in. My sister phoned from a pub in Glasgow, I screamed down the phone, she screamed back. The second goal went in while we were still on the phone. I heard the noise in the pub. I went nuts.
Many years later and my life had changed a lot. And Edwin saved the penalty. I leapt across the room and head-butted my wife ( accidentally your honour ). Sorry love. It was great to watch that with her.
I could go on with any number of (probably increasingly maudlin) reflections of life and football but the simple summary is this. The one constant I can point at through all my adult life is football, Manchester United, Alex Ferguson. From being in the Stretford End in the womb through to today, I’ve always been a United fan and thanks to Sir Alex, I have had many, many highs and very memorable lows (often more memorable) – Aguero anyone? Can’t really forget that, can you? I know me and my brother won’t. I left the room. He went quiet. We still talk about it all the time.
I don’t need to reflect on his achievements and longevity, there is enough of that going on. I simply want to have a moment of self-indulgence to recognise what it has meant to me. A haven. A distraction. A joy. A constant. And it will continue but probably never be the same.
Football, bloody hell.
( don’t for a moment think I’m reading too much Buchowski )