Fergie goes down a storm

The former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson with Kirkham Grammar's Charlotte O'Neill, head boy Ben Everson, Adrian Lang and Harry Weare.

The former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson with Kirkham Grammar's Charlotte O'Neill, head boy Ben Everson, Adrian Lang and Harry Weare.

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It’s been a while since this normally quiet part of the Fylde coast has seen anything quite like it.

It may be several weeks since the headlines surrounding Sir Alex Ferguson’s bombshell autobiography died down.

But it took just seconds after the former Manchester United manager’s arrival on stage at Kirkham Grammar School last night for the place to erupt.

A packed audience of 750 were at the school for the latest installment of Ferguson’s nationwide tour to promote the book, released following his retirement from the manager’s chair after 26 and a half years last season.

As Ferguson strode on to the stage to a standing ovation, the crowd were promised an entertaining night.

And throughout the 70 minute conversation with Manchester radio presenter Mike Toolan, there were new revelations, humour and personal stories aplenty to be had.

Sir Alex admitted he had been stunned by the reaction to his memoirs, now the fastest selling non-fiction book ever.

“Obviously the career I have had, it is an incredible journey. We expected good things but we didn’t expect the response, which has been amazing,” he said.

Indeed, even several hours before he walked on stage, the atmosphere at the venue was building.

Tickets for the event sold out in just a day and a half. Some people queued from 5.30pm for the 7.30pm start, desperate to get the best seats.

Elaine Silverwood, of Kirkham’s SilverDell bookshop, which was behind the event, said she took calls from as far away as Cuba and Tunisia from people wanting to be there.

Throughout the night, Ferguson also talked about his infamous temper, which led him to be known as giving the “hairdryer treatment” to players, and his often prickly relationship with the press, which he said was “never personal”.

“The interesting thing is success brings a certain myth about people that grows and grows,” he said, adding that a paper once printed the claim that while a manager in Scotland, he used to “go behind the stand and practice shouting”.

Ferguson also became famous throughout his career for playing mind games with opposing managers. Asked whether it was deliberate, he said: “In some cases yes, but in a lot of cases it was exaggerated. If you get to an important part of the season you are going to unnerve the opposition. It is up to them to deal with that.”

Referring to the fact he was often seen pointing to his watch at the end of matches, he added: “That was a perfect example – I never looked at that watch!”

Sadly, following the Q&A, there was no further opportunity to ask questions. No hint of Fergie time.

But it didn’t matter to those there. The packed crowd at Kirkham went home more than happy.

• The event was delayed 15 minutes after traffic was held up following a crash between a Vauxhall Corsa and a cyclist on Ribby Road, at 6.30pm.

Crowds queued for hours

People travelled from across the country to Kirkham last night and waited hours for the chance to see Sir Alex Ferguson on stage.

Manchester United fan Sharon Browell, 43, from South Shore, Blackpool, queued from 6pm to get in.

She said: “I was surprised (he was coming to Kirkham) but it is really good. The atmosphere is great. I am interested to hear what he has got to say.”

Ann Wainwright, also from South Shore, said: “It is nice that it is a local event. I just wanted to see what he is like in real life. He is a character.”

Linda Owen, 60, and Steve Shaw, 52, from Glossop, were the first people in the queue at 5.30pm.

Linda has supported United for 47 years and missed just six home games in that time.

“This was a 60th birthday present from my son,” she said. “I have heard him as a speaker before. He’s just such a lovely man.”

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