Sir Alex conversation is a must-listen

Saturday 26 March 2022 14:00

Radio listeners will be able to get another fascinating insight into the life and times of Sir Alex Ferguson this weekend when a new documentary is broadcast on BBC Radio Four.

Sir Alex Ferguson: Made in Govan features the great man in conversation with his long-time friend, the veteran radio broadcaster Mike Sweeney, as the pair discuss how the legendary manager's upbringing and background set him on the right path in life and helped shape his success in football.

Through the hour-long show you’ll hear recollections of Sir Alex's life growing up in the tenements of Govan, the strong influence of his mother and father and how he would always look back to those days when dealing with and influencing his players in later life.
Sir Alex and old friend Mike Sweeney cover a lot of ground in their engaging hour-long chat.

“I’d ask them what their fathers did or what their grandfathers did,” he recalled.

“It was good to trace why they’re there… what got them to where they are – their upbringings, their values. Like when my mother would say ‘don’t steal, don’t lie,’ and my dad would say ‘don’t be late, always be early.’

“These values stick with you, and no matter what background you come from, I’m sure there are some values that stick with players.”

Listeners will also find out about his earliest days in youth football, from his first-ever team Govan Rovers – who played in Arsenal strips, believe it or not! – Harmony Row and Drumchapel Amateurs, before moving on to senior football while balancing the responsibilities of his toolmaking apprenticeship at the typewriter factory Remington Rand in Glasgow.

Sir Alex and Sweeney struck up a friendship following the Scotsman’s arrival in Manchester in 1986, when they both used to play a Friday night five-a-sides game at the Cliff – “How you got into my team on a Friday night, I’ll never know,” jokes Sir Alex. “You never passed to me!”

United fan Sweeney, now with BBC Radio Manchester, was then a Piccadilly Radio DJ and the pair bonded over their love of 1960s music, with the radio host getting into the habit of making ‘60s compilation tapes for the boss. Their love of music is discussed in the interview, with Sir Alex revealing the first record he bought – and even singing a few snippets of his favourite songs – and how his mum used to try and teach him to dance – “with these feet!”

The pair’s similar working-class backgrounds – Sweeney growing up a football-mad lad in working-class Salford, and likewise with Sir Alex in Govan – provides another connection, and the result is a beautifully warm hour of conversation that is supplemented with evocative BBC archive audio from old programmes about Govan, the shipbuilding industry and moments from Scottish football. 

Sir Alex Ferguson: Made in Govan will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 20:00 GMT on Saturday 26 March and will be available to listen on demand via the BBC Sounds app and website shortly after.