Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, has visited Gibraltar to inaugurate the new supporters’ club premises.
Arguably Britain’s greatest ever soccer coach must have had mixed feelings about the trip. If my memory serves me right, and it rarely does, Sir Alex was in a legal rumpus with former horse racing friends over the ownership of a successful nag called ‘Rock of Gibraltar’. However I believe that for much of his racing career, Rock of Gibraltar ran in the colours of Sir Alex, who was named as a part-owner along with Susan Magnier, wife of Coolmore owner John Magnier. When the Rock of Gibraltar retired and was sent for a lucrative time at stud, Ferguson and John Magnier were involved in a dispute over the exact nature of the ownership of the horse which was eventually settled out of court.
Still that didn’t deter Sir Alex from going to the Mons Calpe Suite at the top of the Rock to meet local supporters and to sign various memorabilia for them, the GBC charity day and a sick lad who couldn’t be present.
If Man U had 30,000 people at Old Trafford for a match the alarm bells would ring but that is around the same number of people who live on the Rock. Of them 560 are supporters of the ‘Reds’ so it is to the club’s credit that not only Sir Alex but team legend Bryan Robson and Mike Phelan also made the trip.
By coincidence I was writing a brief history of Algeciras CF at the weekend. Algeciras lies just across the bay from Gibraltar and in the late 1890s and onwards it was soccer fanatics of the British Forces and dockyard workers who lit the flame for the sport in the Spanish town. Indeed after Algeciras CF was formed in 1912 their first match was against Gibraltar side, Alexandra – the result 0-0.
There is another link between Algeciras CF and Britain. When the club was looking for a strip there were no sports shops in the town. So off they went to the Rock and chose a very striking shirt – red and white stripes – the famous kit of Southampton United which they play in to this very day.