THE REAL-LIFE SIDESHOW BOB?: Fundraising clown criminalised by UK council


Manchester – VIJAY SHAH via SWNS digital

A man dressed as a clown who was fundraising for victims of terrorism found himself accosted by council workers who confiscated his donations bucket, SWNS news agency reported this Friday.

Pensioner Tommy Armstrong, from Greenock in Inverclyde, Scotland, had visited the city of Manchester in England to collect spare change for victims of the recent suicide bombing there, when employees of the Manchester city council approached him while he was about to collect donations for a special charity 10-kilometre fun run he was due to take part in. The council staff demanded to see Tommy’s fundraising permit, which he did not have. They then allegedly emptied his bucket and confiscated the donations. Armstrong was said to have been left ‘close to tears’ by the incident. At that time, he was dressed in full clown costume and face make-up.



Armstrong has raised nearly £200,000 for charity in a fundraising career spanning thirty years and has frequented the streets of Manchester for the past decade. He was renowned in his native city for his habit of dressing in complete clown regalia to entertain shoppers and tourists and gather money for charity. He had even appeared on a daytime TV show ‘This Morning’ with the ITV terrestrial station last year. He told SWNS: My race didn’t start until 3pm, so I went to St Ann’s Square first to see the flowers that have been left there in tribute to the victims.

‘I was wearing my clown’s gear and pushing my usual pram with the bucket on it.’

‘I didn’t ask anyone for money at that stage, but many people had put notes and coins into the bucket.’

‘Two officials came up to me and asked if I had a permit to raise money for the fund.’

‘I told them I had been raising money at Manchester and other big races around the country like the London Marathon for years, and I had never heard anything about a permit.’

‘They took my bucket and counted all the money on a wall. People were walking past wondering what was going on.’

‘It was really embarrassing and made me feel like they thought I was trying to collect money for myself. They were very rude and treated me like a criminal.”

The donations confiscated by Manchester council was believed to be in the region of £44. Tommy Armstrong also told SWNS that he felt the council’s rough treatment of him was unwarranted and that they should offer an apology. He added: They gave me a piece of paper with their names and a phone number for Manchester Council, asked for my name and address and said they would send a receipt, but I still haven’t received a thing.

‘These guys hounded me. I was really angry about it and close to tears. They even took my sign away from me.’

‘I travelled down there at my own expense on an overnight bus to try and help, but their attitude seemed to be that I was dressed as a clown so they would treat me like a clown. I think I should get an apology.”

Manchester City Council said that they had required fundraisers collecting money for victims of the Ariana Grande concert attack to carry officially issued permits after a number of fraudulent fundraising drives were reported to them in the days after the atrocity, in which local man Salman Abedi detonated an improvised shrapnel bomb at the Manchester Arena, killing himself and 22 concertgoers, many of whom were parents and children.

A spokesperson for the council told SWNS: “Difficult though it is to countenance, some unscrupulous individuals do exploit the name of charitable funds for their own personal gain.

‘To protect the public from these bogus collectors, people wishing to collect cash donations at public events need to apply for and carry an official permit.’

‘Members of our team spoke with Mr Armstrong to explain that because he did not have a permit, the money he had collected from the public would be taken and deposited with the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund on his behalf.’

‘There is no suggestion that Mr Armstrong’s motives were anything other than good, and we hope that he will understand that the permit process exists with the important aim of protecting the public from rogue collectors.’

‘The money he raised will help to support those who have been injured or bereaved by the attack.”


“Charity Clown Treated Like a “Criminal” By Council Workers” – SWNS digital/72Point (9 June 2017)


“Hobo the Clown” – Shawn Tron (12 November 2011)


PHOTO MOMENT: Indie music end of year party poster by Tacheless Promotions

(c) Tacheless Promotions

An independently produced poster by an independent music label.

This poster combines alternative art (seemingly influenced by Instagram) combined with the visuals of a vibrant Northern indie music scene, getting right to the core of what music is all about: good times and appreciation of non-mainstream bands.

The poster is for the ‘Twisted Wheel‘ end of year music party being held at IndiePendent café on the High Street, Scunthorpe on the 5th December 2014, featuring indie acts Danny Mahon and the band The North. It was produced by Tacheless Promotions using Fused.

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FRANK LAMPARD: Ex-Chelsea footballer to sign short-term contract with Man. City

The English and ex-Chelsea footballer Frank Lampard has announced this past Friday that he is planning to sign up with rivals Manchester City in a short-term contract, reports the Guardian newspaper. The ‘shock’ move could occur within the next week or so and will mean that Lampard could end facing the Blues (Chelsea, his old team) twice while playing in City’s kit. Lampard will then switch nations to play for an American team being developed by the Mancunians. City will be squaring off against Chelsea, and Lampard’s former teammates, at their Etihad Stadium on the 21st September, which he may well feature in if his contract is signed and stamped.

Manchester City currently has an investment in the US soccer leagues, running a team, New York City, who will appear for fixtures in the new Major League Soccer tournaments. However the New Yorker eleven, which will begin kicking about in March next year, may well have Lampard back on their team sheet once his temporary contract with owners City is rolled-up, meaning they can transfer him to their MLS franchise. Lampard signed a two-year contract previously with NYC FC, after vacating Chelsea and English football earlier this year. The former Chelsea midfielder had previously turned down an opportunity to appear in Melbourne, Australia for another of City’s international club ventures, while also becoming a signing priority for Queen’s Park Rangers, who he also declined. The 36-year-old has now made it clear that he favours a spell with Manuel Pellegrini’s side. According to Metro, Lampard has rejected the prospect of playing football in Australia as he had expressed a desire to remain in England,which will seem confusing for many as Lampard will be flying across the Atlantic once his stint in Manchester has run its course. He had also previously stated that he would not want to appear for any other Premier League team apart from the Blues after leaving Stamford Bridge.

The move to New York will see Lampard keeping his levels of fitness up as he nears the end of his active career and will also benefit Manchester City in making him free and available for their Premier League and Champions League squads. He is likely to sign a six-month contract which will run until he begins pre-season training with New York. The Lampard signing also means that City can increase the number of English players on their teams to counteract criticism that English clubs are too reliant on foreign players and not making enough use of home-grown talent. For Lampard, who is only a handful of years from making his retirement from the game, it will also keep him fresh in the eyes of England national team manager Roy Hodgson, who has considered him one of his star players. City hopes to have Lampard on the training field with them before their Community Shield clash against Arsenal, on Sunday 10th August.

Frank Lampard recently spoke about the importance of keeping fit ahead of making his debut in MLS, scheduled for March 2015 at the earliest.

I will have to keep fit. I’ll have to train at the very top level, whether that’s on my own or with a club somewhere, I’ll have to see,’ he said at his New York City unveiling.

‘Of course I’ll keep fit and make sure my levels don’t drop too much. When we come here for pre-season I want to be ready to go. I want to fly out of the blocks. I don’t want to come out sluggish.

The ‘shock move’ by Lampard is bound to raise eyebrows among many in the Premier League, especially at his old side Chelsea, where he became a legend of the team affectionately known as ‘Chelski‘ after thirteen trophy-packed years with them. The move may well be even more of a shock for Chelsea’s fans, who worshipped him in his days playing for the south London side at their hallowed home in Stamford Bridge. Many may well see his joining of one of their biggest Premiership rivals as a Judas move and a betrayal, while others have described it as a chance for Lampard to make his last few years playing professionally a success and an guiding inspiration for the young and fresh-faced American footballers he will encounter in the ‘Big Apple’.

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“Frank Lampard set for shock short-term move to Manchester City” – Steve Brenner, The Guardian – Sport/Guardian News and Media Limited (1 August 2014)
“Frank Lampard to make shock loan move to Manchester City to maintain fitness ahead of MLS debut” – Vaishali Bhardwaj, Metro – Sport/Associated Newspapers Limited (1 August 2014)
“Frank Lampard Close to Shock Move to Manchester City” – Chris Deeley, FTB PRO (1 August 2014)
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IBRAHIM TOURE: Brother of famous footballers passes away

Ibrahim Toure, the younger sibling of world-class Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) footballers Yaya and Kolo Toure, has died. The Cote d’Ivoire football team announced the passing of the third Toure brother yesterday in an official statement witnessed by the Bleacher Report.

The Ivory Coast Football Association also stated that the remaining brothers have been deeply affected by Ibrahim’s passing away, which happened in the English city of Manchester this past Thursday. Further in the statement, the ICFA offered its deepest condolences to the Toure family.

(c) R. Gorączniak/Wikimedia Commons

The Cote d’Ivoire national side before a match against Poland in 2010.

The statement reads:

Kolo and Yaya Toure just heard about the death of their young brother, Toure Oyala Ibrahim. The entire Ivorian delegation want to show their support to the players.

The football Ivory Coast federation president (FIF) and the Executive Committee announced to the entire family of Ivorian football the death of Toure Oyala Ibrahim, the younger brother of Toure Kolo Abib and Toure Yaya Gnegneri, which happened on the 19th of June in Manchester (England).

In such a sad situation, the players from the Ivory Coast national team, and the entire delegation here in Brazil, show their support to the Toure brothers and their whole family. The president of Football Ivory Coast Federation and the Executive Committee ask Ivorians for their prayers.

Ibrahim had like his brothers become a shining star in the world of football. Aged only 28 at the time of his death, the professional player had played in Egypt for Misr El-Maqasah, before relocating across the Mediterranean to play for Lebanese side Al Safaa where he featured as one of that team’s strikers. As a centre forward, Ibrahim also featured highly for many Far Eastern sides while his brothers sought their chances developing their sporting careers in the top flight clubs of England.

Born in the Ivory Coast town of  Bouaké on the 27th September 1985, the youngest Toure brother first appeared on the international scene for Ukrainian side Metalurh Donetsk in 2003, before starting with a French club.

He began a globetrotting career, seeing action on the pitch in Ukraine, Syria and France, but was never able to join the roster for his country of birth. Fans and clubs have expressed their shock on Twitter and forums, with Kolo’s team, Liverpool, tweeting “The thoughts of everybody at #LFC are with Kolo Toure following the news of the passing of his brother, Ibrahim…” Kolo is currently a defender for Liverpool. Yaya’s club, Manchester City, also expressed their condolences: “Ibrahim was a regular visitor to Carrington and was a popular figure among the staff and players and was extremely close to his two older brothers...the thoughts of everyone connected with City are with the Toure family at this most difficult time.” Condolences were also sent in by Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president as well as teammates of the surviving Toure brothers.

Kolo and Yaya are both currently in Brazil with the Cote d’Ivoire national side. The west African nation’s first match in the tournament had Yaya in action for the whole ninety minutes, which saw Les Éléphants slide to a comfortable 2-1 victory over Japan. Their next match against a respectable Colombian side saw them defeated 2-1 at Brasilia. The death of Ibrahim was notified to his brothers a few hours later.

Ibrahim died after a short battle with cancer. He was undergoing chemotherapy treatment to battle his tumours at the Christie clinic in Manchester. The specialist cancer facility describes itself as “one of Europe’s leading cancer centres” according to an ITV News bulletin published in the wake of the death announcement.

A video of Ibrahim Toure being interviewed by an Arabic news channel after he was signed by Al-Safaa FC of the Lebanese Premier League last year.

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“Ivory Coast Statement Confirms Death of Ibrahim Toure, Brother of Yaya and Kolo” – Rob Blanchette, Bleacher Report UK – World Cup 2014 edition/Bleacher Report, Inc./Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (20 June 2014)
“Ibrahim Toure dies: Liverpool and Vincent Kompany among those to pay tribute to late brother of Kolo and Yaya” – Bruce Archer, Mirror (20 June 2014)
“Ibrahim Toure dies aged 28 as brothers Kolo and Yaya represent Ivory Coast at the World Cup” – David McDonnell, Mirror – World Cup 2014 edition (20 June 2014)
“Ibrahim Toure ‘died after battle with cancer’ ” – ITV – News/ITV plc (20 June 2014)
“Yaya and Kolo Toure’s younger brother Ibrahim, 28, dies in Manchester” – via Sky Sports – World Cup  (20 June 2014)
“Ibrahim Touré” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
“File:Cote d’Iviore NT 2010.jpg” – Roger Gorączniak, Wikimedia Commons (17 November 2010)’Iviore_NT_2010.jpg
“Ibrahim Toure aiming for trophies with Safaa” – SNTV (Sports News Channel), YouTube GB (19 September 2013) – via The Mirror.

ALEX FERGUSON: End of an footballing era as Manchester Utd. manager hangs up boots

In the past week, the football news in the U.K. was heavily dominated by the announcement of the retiring of legendary Manchester United club manager Alex Ferguson. Fergie, as he was affectionately known by players, fans and the media, had been managing one of the country’s most powerful sides for twenty-six years, and his remarkable leadership and footballing savvy helped define a new and unforgettable era in the history of British and international football.

Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United F.C.
Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United F.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scottish-born Ferguson was a manager who knew exactly what he wanted from his squad, even if his methods of ensuring the continuing unbridled success of Manchester’s number one clubs caused some controversies. Players feared his “hairdryer” treatment and his anger-fuelled rants in the dressing room, but they also had immense respect for him as a more-than-capable leader, steadfastly devoted to the success of Man U. Not since the golden era of the Busby Boys in the Fifties had Manchester United achieved so much. Ferguson’s unique management style brought out the best in such big-name football stars as Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. He helped bring United from the doldrums that caused the team to sag to the bottom of the tables in the 1970’s, steering the team through victory after victory, trophy after trophy. Ferguson had his eye constantly ‘on the ball’, developing player talents and spending big cheques and transfer fees, all of which soon poised United as the go-to team for professional footballers all over. His successes gained millions of loyal fans chanting “Glory, glory, Man United” . A simple chant that reverberated from the home crowd in the stands of Old Trafford and from thousands of miles away – from the bustling metropolises of the People’s Republic of China to the sun-kissed beaches of Mauritius. A whole generation of these fans have only ever known Sir Alex, and his sudden retirement at the age of 71 in preparation for a hip operation has been a huge shock to the world of football.

Old Trafford
Old Trafford (Photo credit: edwin.11)

Fergie was living the dream and proved that you could be successful regardless of where you came from. It took a special kind of hard work and sacred dedication to the religion of football that propelled a working-class boy from the tough neighbourhood of Govan in Glasgow, to cross borders and social classes to become one of the best bosses in the sport, charting the fortunes of a top-flight English club. When other teams were hiring and firing their managers at the drop of a hat, Fergie was never in doubt of the future of his illustrious career, as the Manchester United cabinet swelled to the rafters with silverware. From playing in the Glasgow streets to guiding his boys as they ran across the hallowed turf of Old Trafford, Fergie had that charisma and determined grit not seen there since Sir Matt Busby a generation before him. His earthy language and close-to-the-bone humour brought him to the level of the younger Jose Mourinho, and just like the “Special One”, Fergie’s pearls of wisdom were highly sought after by the red-top press. Even before his career at Old Trafford had begun, he had already scored a European title while managing his previous club, Aberdeen. Although it took him a few years to replicate that success at Manchester, by 1990, accolades and titles soon were the hallmark of Fergie’s days at work. That the Red Devils’ then owners were prepared to give Fergie the benefit of the doubt even in his less-than-fruitful twilight days showed how much faith they had in him to deliver the silver. He frustrated Liverpool’s mission to be the club with the most titles and  ended Merseyside domination of the beautiful game. His superb set of players frustrated other top teams and coaches, most notably Londoner sides Arsenal and Chelsea, and even held back fiercely rivalled fellow Mancunian side Manchester City from establishing themselves as forces.

The Manchester United Facebook page published a special image of Sir Alex Ferguson as its cover photo as he calls time on an eventful 26-year career.

Sir Alex Ferguson will step down as manager at the end of the current season, to be replaced by David Moyes, who is currently with Everton with an 11-year stretch under his belt. His last game as manager will take place against West Bromwich on May 19 2013, before Ferguson takes on a new role as a club director and ambassador.

Fergie’s career as manager presided over an astonishing 894 games won, netting a total of thirty-eight trophies spanning from 1990 to 2013. The impressive haul included:

During more than a quarter of a century, Sir Alex turned around the fortunes of Manchester United and made it into a global power finding himself as one of British football’s most successful well-known managers. Upon announcing his retirement last Wednesday, Ferguson stated “The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly…It is the right time”. Ferguson’s career won him respect across the board. Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore commented “His drive, ambition, skill, passion and vision have not only shaped Manchester United, but in many ways the game of football as we now know it“. His ability to sniff out the best in footballing talent and mould his acquisitions from other top clubs into world-class sportsman earned him grudging respect even from rival teams and their managers, many wishing they had his magic touch. Under his legacy, Manchester United is now listed on stock exchanges and earns a multi-million pound revenue from the sales of football strips, sponsorship and memorabilia alone. The club is now believed to be worth around US$3.2 billion as one of the world’s most high-profile sports brands. 

Fergie first spilled the beans on his impending retirement during a corporate golf match. Upon officially stating his departure from the most desired of management positions in football, a flurry of tributes and platitudes from other major personalities in football’s higher echelons paid homage to him. Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA and no stranger to controversy himself, tweeted that Ferguson’s achievements “…in the game place him without doubt as one of the `greats’ “. UEFA president Michel Platini hailed Ferguson as one of football’s “true visionaries“. Outside of the footballing world, even the UK government applauded him. The announcement grabbed the British media spotlight from the buildup to the State Opening of Parliament, where Queen Elizabeth II, who knighted Ferguson in 1999, was setting out the government’s planned legislation. Prime Minister David Cameron, a member of the Conservative Party, hailed Ferguson as “a remarkable man in British football who has had an extraordinary, successful career.

As passionate as Ferguson was about the game and the team, his notorious Glaswegian temper meant a youth fighting with other boys on the streets and then as manager one that exploded when his players were not performing up to scratch. His ‘hairdryer’ treatment sent shivers running down the spines of his charges – a stream of in-your-face invective said to make one’s hair stand on end. At pitch-side, photographers were never short of pictures of Ferguson storming  the sidelines, his reddened face etched in anger and frustration with fists firmly clenched. He would be irked by not just the eleven players on the turf, but also club officials, referees, rival coaches and the media, with whom he had a classic love-hate relationship. He would ban reporters from further interviews with him if they published anything or asked any questions that riled him.

In one infamous 2004 incident – dubbed ‘Pizzagate’ – Ferguson was said to have hurled a slice of pizza across the changing room or near the tunnel in a heated exchange with Arsenal. In another involving former Los Angeles Galaxy star David Beckham, Sir Alex, furious at a poor performance against Arsenal lashed out, kicking a boot across the changing rooms that struck Beckham above the eye. This led to bad blood between the two, and tension between David and his wife, former Spice Girl and singer Victoria, and eventually was sold to Real Madrid. Ferguson was allegedly fed up with Beckham’s celebrity lifestyle. Despite this, Beckham who is now back from the United States and playing for French side Paris Saint-Germain said on a Facebook tribute to his ex-manager, “The boss wasn’t just the greatest and best manager I ever played under he was also a father figure to me from the moment I arrived at the club at the age of 11 until the day I left,…Without him I would never have achieved what I have done in my career…He understood how important it was to play for your country and he knew how much it meant to me.

Ferguson not only made an impact in football, he even changed its lexicon. He introduced the phrase “squeaky bum time” to describe the tense feeling noticeable at the finale of the season. Receiving additional minutes by a referee at the end of match stoppage time became known as getting a bit of “Fergie Time”, especially as that was when United’s strikers would sink in a killer coup-de-grace of a goal, a sweet speciality that Fergie adored.

Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that Ferguson has quit the dugout for good, Manchester United, especially its players must face the challenge of life without the Scotsman. David Moyes, who was especially chosen by Sir Alex himself, above the widely expected favourite Jose Mourinho, will be the successor to Fergie’s enviable legacy. A fellow Scot who comes from the same city as Ferguson, Moyes has managed Everton for just over a decade and while he has not delivered much in the way of trophies there, he has held together a tight team on a budget far smaller than the tens of millions at United’s disposal. Ferguson enjoys a long-standing relationship with his successor, and last year described him as a “first-class manager”. However it is a tough calling to fill the boots of someone as accomplished as Sir Alex Ferguson – and it will be a strong challenge for Moyes to keep the Red Glory flowing and to satisfy fans who have only ever known success. 


In honour of Ferguson’s colourful 26 years at the helm of United, here is a selection of some of his finest (and most controversial) quotes and one-liners.

On Ryan Giggs “I remember the first time I saw him. He was 13 and just floated over the ground like a cocker spaniel chasing a piece of silver paper in the wind.

On Gary Neville “If he was an inch taller he’d be the best centre-half in Britain. His father is 6ft 2in – I’d check the milkman.

On Italians “When an Italian tells me it’s pasta on the plate I check under the sauce to make sure. They are the inventors of the smokescreen.

On the 1999 Champions League triumph “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. Football. Bloody hell.

On Liverpool “My greatest challenge is not what’s happening at the moment, my greatest challenge was knocking Liverpool right off their f*****g perch. And you can print that.

On Arsène Wenger “They say he’s an intelligent man, right? Speaks five languages. I’ve got a 15-year-old boy from the Ivory Coast who speaks five languages!

On the referee Alan Wiley “The pace of the game demanded a referee who was fit. It is an indictment of our game. You see referees abroad who are as fit as butcher’s dogs. We have some who are fit. He wasn’t fit. He was taking 30 seconds to book a player. He was needing a rest. It was ridiculous.

On José Mourinho “He was certainly full of it, calling me boss and big man when we had our post-match drink after the first leg. But it would help if his greetings were accompanied by a decent glass of wine. What he gave me was paint-stripper.

On whether Liverpool would win the title in 2007 “You must be joking. Do I look as if I’m a masochist ready to cut myself? How does relegation sound instead?

On Old Trafford “The crowd were dead. It was like a funeral out there.

On Manchester City’s Carlos Tévez poster It’s City, isn’t it? They are a small club, with a small mentality. All they can talk about is Manchester United, that’s all they’ve done and they can’t get away from it.

On City again “Sometimes you have a noisy neighbour. You cannot do anything about that. They will always be noisy. You just have to get on with your life, put your television on and turn it up a bit louder.

On Wayne Rooney’s transfer request “Sometimes you look in a field and you see a cow and you think it’s a better cow than the one you’ve got in your own field. It’s a fact. Right? And it never really works out that way.

On Manchester United’s 19th league title “It’s not so much passing Liverpool. It’s more important that United are the best team in the country in terms of winning titles.”

And on their 20th “Look at me – it’s taken 10 years off me today. It’s these tablets, they’re great!”

Fergie on United’s infamous grey kit, following United’s loss to Southampton in 1996.The players couldn’t pick each other out. They said it was difficult to see their team-mates at distance when they lifted their heads. It was nothing to do with superstition. This club went 26 years without winning the league and we didn’t think about changing the red shirts. It’s nothing to do with that at all.

Commenting on the change in David Beckham after his departure to Real Madrid in 2003.He was blessed with great stamina, the best of all the players I’ve had here. After training, he’d always be practising, practising, ­practising. But his life changed when he met his wife. She’s in pop and David got another image. He’s developed this ‘fashion thing’ – I saw his transition to a different person.

Giving it both barrels to Arsene Wenger after Pizzagate, 2004.In the tunnel Wenger was criticising my players, calling them cheats, so I told him to leave them alone and behave himself. To not apologise for the behaviour of the players to another manager is unthinkable. It’s a disgrace, but I don’t expect Wenger to ever apologise, he’s that type of person.

Many thanks to Sunny Atwal for suggesting today’s article…and to Sir Alex Ferguson, I wish you the best in your retirement and future endeavours. Thank you.

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“Alex Ferguson retires” – The Sun – Football (8 May 2013) LINK

“Alex Ferguson retires: his major achievements in graphics” – Mark Oliver, The Telegraph (8 May 2013) LINK

“Sir Alex Ferguson: A career of achievement at Manchester United” – 3 News/MediaWorks TV (9 May 2013) LINK

“Sir Alex Ferguson’s best quotes” – The Guardian (8 May 2013) LINK

“Classic Sir Alex Ferguson quotes: From squeaky bums to noisy neighbours” – Simon Head, Mirror Football (8 May 2013) LINK


Manchester United Official Facebook fan page (8 May 2013) LINK