Ballymena man’s un-Ferg-ettable night with Sir Alex

THE chairman of the Ballymena branch of the Manchester United Supporters’ Club has admitted that Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure from the club feels “like a death in the family”.

Ballymena United Youth Academy Under 12 prize winners with Boyd Black, Janice Hunter and Martin Etherson. BT24-245AC

Diehard Red Devils fan Martin Etherson and the other 70-odd members of the local club are still coming to terms with the events of a whirlwind week which saw the legendary manager announce his retirement and Everton boss David Moyes named as his successor.

“I scarcely got anything done on the day of the announcement for looking at the internet and getting phone calls, texts and other messages from club members and other United fans.

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“It was one of those things that you knew was going to happen some day but yet it still came as a surprise.

“I described it to someone as being almost like a death in the family - he has been part of the lives of Manchester United fans, in an outside kind of way, for so many years,” added Martin.

Ferguson never attended any United-related functions in Ballymena but Martin and fellow club member Gerard Kelly did get to experience

“I met him a couple of times, the last of them was about three or four years ago at a fans’ forum event at Old Trafford.

“He was the sort of guy who, when he walked into the room, the whole place just became hushed - he had that sort of aura, that presence about him.

“People, particularly supporters of other clubs, have a perception of him based upon what they see on television but he can be a very charming man with a dry sense of humour, what a lot of people would call Glasgow wit.”

Martin has also given his blessing to Moyes as Ferguson’s successor.

“I think it’s a first class appointment. He’s in the same mould as Sir Alex and he has served a good apprenticeship at Everton and knows the Premiership inside out.

“The fact he hasn’t won a trophy at Everton doesn’t bother me because he will be working with a completely different calibre of player now.

“I would have been gutted if we had gone for Mourinho - the whole ethos of Manchester United is that the good of the club and I don’t think someone with Mourinho’s personality would have fitted in to that,” added Martin.