FEATURES

15/11/2008 08:00, Report by Adam Bostock

Half-century for Sir Alex

One of the greatest careers in British football history began with a bite 50 years ago today (15 November).

Sir Alex Ferguson made his playing debut for Queens Park FC, Scotland's oldest club but still an amateur team when he made his breakthrough in a game away to Stranraer.

"Queens Park were always competitive, even if they were an amateur team," Sir Alex recalled in his regular Friday press conference.

"They had doctors, teachers and other people with professions in the team but were they namby-pamby players? No, they were tough as nails! Every one of them was very, very competitive, as was the man in charge of us, Jackie Gardiner.

"I didn't do too well in the first half on my debut. Gardiner said to me at half-time, “What the hell's wrong with you?” I told him an opponent had bitten me. He said, “Well bite him back!”

"That was an indication of how we had to be at Queens Park - you didn’t sidestep players, you went through them. But it was a great upbringing - one or two of the older players looked after me when I was a young boy, like making sure I got the bus home at night."

Despite his early potential - Sir Alex scored in his next match - he almost left the game and his native Scotland when a chance to earn good money in his other trade presented itself.

"In those early years you’re never quite sure which direction you’re going to go in. When I was 21, I almost emigrated to Canada, where I had family. I was a qualified tool-maker and that was a well-paid trade in Canada at the time. But things changed and that’s fate."

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