A beautifully poignant story about an elderly Manchester United fan and Alex Ferguson has been tugging at heartstrings on Twitter.
The former Manchester United manager underwent surgery this week after suffering a brain hemorrhage and is recovering in hospital. While the extent of his football genius was previously known, his character as a person is being revealed through the countless personal tributes being shared by those who knew him.
One such story was that of Jeremy Clay. Now a novel writer, Jeremy was once a Leicester based reporter and on Monday he shared his tale of how a Leicester based, London woman hounded him to write stories about the Red Devils
Jeremy explained that before the days of social media, if a reader wanted to criticise your work or offer advice they would “ring you up, twisting your ear through the handset like the General to Dick Dastardly”.
There was one woman however who went beyond this. Alice was a reader of the Leicester Mercury, the publication for whom Jeremy worked, but instead of ringing him, Alice would turn up at his office making demands about the stories he wrote.
“She was nice, was Alice,” he wrote on twitter.
“But steelier than a submarine hull. She told me several times, in tones reserved for explaining daybreak to an idiot, that I should be writing stories about Manchester United.”
While Jeremy tried to explain that his Leicester based publication wrote stories about events in Leicestershire, Alice wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Upon enquiring about Alice’s obsession with Manchester United, Jeremy learned that she was their oldest season ticket holder. While a remarkable story in itself what came next was the most amazing part.
Jeremy also learned that Alex Ferguson had personally organised transport for Alice every weekend so that she could follow her beloved Reds.
“Alex Ferguson used to send a minibus to Leicester to pick her up and take her to Old Trafford,” Jeremy wrote.
“Every game. All the way to the East Midlands. All the way back. Repeat every other Saturday/Sunday/whatever day Sky demanded.”
Alice’s wish was finally granted when the Mercury wrote about Manchester United. It was her story that was being told however.
“We did write about that. That was about her. Although in hindsight, it was more about him.”
Sadly Alice’s days of following United were numbered. Well into her 90s, her eyesight began to fail and she could no longer enjoy the games she once loved. The character of both of these remarkable people were once again revealed.
When Ferguson offered to pay for surgery on Alice’s eyes, she wanted Jeremy Clay to know just how good a person he is, but she refused the publicity of a story written on the events of her extraordinary relationship with football’s greatest ever manager.
Jeremy concluded with a final solemn note.
“I think that was the last time I saw Alice. She’ll be long gone now,” he reflected.
“Had she lived to know what Twitter was, she probably wouldn’t want me writing about it on here either.
“She would have been worried sick about Alex Ferguson. So I thought I’d write this anyway.”