170

Sir Alex Ferguson’s legacy looms over Old Trafford

England — Three hours before kickoff, vendors staked out little pieces of concrete in front of Old Trafford, doing steady business selling scarves that honored various Man United figures past and present. A fan walked up and asked for two of Sir Alex Ferguson, who remains a powerful presence around the club despite being five seasons and four managers removed from the touchline. That presence has been especially poignant during the past eight days, fueled by the first real fear of his permanent absence. Last Saturday, Ferguson was rushed to the hospital for emergency brain surgery to repair a hemorrhage.official nfl jerseys cheap

He remains hospitalized but is awake and asking about United.

Sunday was the last game of the season at Old Trafford, played on a beautiful afternoon with a little breeze and the temperature in the high 50s. Fans poured into the streets surrounding the stadium, stopping to pick up cheeseburgers and bacon rolls to eat while they walked. Game day around Old Trafford creates one of the most magical feelings in sports, the rare experience to surpass the hype. The hours passed quickly. Pints of bitter and longnecks of lager. Styrofoam boxes of chips. Soon it was time.170

The stadium DJ played the usual hits: The Pogues, Herman’s Hermits, a version of John Denver’s “Country Roads” with the words changed to be about United. The players took the field. The fans crowded into the terraces. Ferguson was on their minds. It sounds crazy unless you grew up a Manchester United fan, but it has been demoralizing this past week to realize that Sir Alex won’t live forever. Supporters unfurled a new banner in the Stretford End honoring Ferguson, and seconds before kickoff, the fans began singing the words on that banner, chill bumps spreading around Old Trafford. This was the first home game since he entered the hospital.

Sir Alex Ferguson is 76. He was born in a blue-collar, union stronghold of Glasgow the year after the Battle of Britain. That time and place has shaped nearly everything about him. So many of his traits now admired around the world — his steely resolve, his aggression,nfl authentic jerseys cheap his plain-spoken ease — began in a world trying to stand up after surviving the apocalypse. His father worked in the Glasgow shipyards, helping to build many ships, including an oil-burning freighter named the Queensland Star. For some reason, that name always stuck with Ferguson, the idea of raw iron fashioned into something powerful and beautiful. It looked sleek and immortal at anchor.

When Ferguson came of age, he got a job in a factory, too. That’s where he might have worked forever if not for his talent with a ball at his feet and for his ambitious, curious mind. As a young man, he went from saloon to saloon, raising money for striking workers, and when he got rich and famous, he remained a solid left-winger, the most important parts of him still connected to the streets of Glasgow. He wrote about his homeland and its people in his autobiography: “When they leave Scotland it tends to be for one reason only. To be successful. Scots don’t leave to escape the past. They move away to better themselves.”