Football

Alex Ferguson's Ghost-Writer Recalls The Time He Lost It With Sun Reporter

Alex Ferguson's Ghost-Writer Recalls The Time He Lost It With Sun Reporter

Alex Ferguson's impatience with journalists is well-renowned. The Former Manchester United boss routinely clashed with the press as he strove to create the perfect working conditions for a success-laden club.

A man who knew all too well about Ferguson's idiosyncrasies is former Manchester Evening News journalist David Meek. He passed away last week after over 50 years of expertly covering the Old Trafford beat.

Last weekend, The Sunday Independent published an interview Meek gave to Journalist Colin Young earlier this year which covered a wide range of topics including the Munich air disaster and Matt Busby's reign.

It included an eye-witness account of a row between Ferguson and Sun reporter, Neil Custis. Custis has referenced it in the past but Meek explained that the Scottish manager was determined to come out on top, no matter what.

It was a Friday press conference and Alex had a pop at Neil Custis, The Sun reporter, over some story and Neil kept saying "yes, but" "yes, but" but Alex wouldn't let him speak and he kept saying "never mind, yes, but". Until in the end Neil had to shout at him "but I didn't write the story, it was my brother Shaun who wrote that story!" Alex realised then he had gone off on one and couldn't justify it and he said, "Well that's the problem, isn't it? There's too many bloody Custises!" So he still had the last word.

Ferguson famously banned a section of Daily reporters. When they were invited back he addressed them directly before a press conference: "Your job is to tell the truth!"


However, Meek explained he didn't always deliver his message so serenely.

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"A young guy who worked for PA who wore his hair long and curly onto his shoulders, which didn't enamour him to Ferguson. One day there was five of us at The Cliff. Alex was talking about the restriction on foreign players and this journo interrupted and contradicted him on the permitted number. "

"Alex ignored him, carried on and then he was interrupted again and the PA guy was adamant he was wrong. Then Alex suddenly exploded and he said, 'Right. I've never liked you. Fuck off out of here.'"

His temper was renowned, but Ferguson was capable of recognising his mistakes as well. A few months ago, Irish sportswriter Vincent Hogan told Off the Ball about an occasion where the Man United boss lost it at him for a question, only to return after the press conference and apologise.

The 76-year-old retired back in 2013, although his legacy lives on as his reign remains the standard bearer for current and future managers.

Meek actually ghosted the programme notes for Ferguson, who paid tribute to the writer in a statement on the Man United website.

"I’m very sad to hear of the passing of David Meek, a well-respected journalist who served the Manchester Evening News with great loyalty and dignity.

"David was an old-fashioned journalist who relied on the accuracy of his reporting and his connection with Manchester United stretched over decades."

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Maurice Brosnan

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