Dunfermline Athletic

Fergie's dropping feeling

Wednesday, 1st Jun 2011

"I gave him and the Chairman a blast at the time in the dressing room in front of all the players because the anger was there.

It has been a week of top goalscorers being omitted from teams on the occasion of big matches.  First it was Dimitar Berbatov missing out on the Wembley Champions League Final v Barcelona and then it was former Pars keeper Andy Rhodes son, Jordan, left out of Huddersfield's play off final against Peterborough.

On both occasions their teams lost and of course in 1965 when Dunfermline Manager Willie Cunningham left out his top goalscorer for the Scottish Cup Final, Celtic won 3-2.  Then the player on the receiving end was none other than Alex Ferguson.

Fergie's autobiography "Managing My Life" describes his emotions on discovering fifty minutes before kick off that Willie Cunningham had decided that his top goalscorer would not play for Dunfermline Athletic in the 1965 Scottish Cup Final against Celtic. There was an outburst but in an interview with the official website after Willie Cunningham's death Alex reflected that his boss had been quite correct:-

"You have to get on with things, I never hold grudges long. I have a terrible temper at times but it usually blows over after a couple of hours. It doesn't last for long and I don't hold grudges against anyone, especially people I respect.I respected Willie, he had a difficult job that day. I missed a sitter the week before when we could have won the League against St Johnstone.

"It was a sitter, so I can understand the Manager going into the Final that day with a player who has maybe cost the League the week before - do you trust him in that particular game? The experienced players were coming back; Harry Melrose had been out, John McLaughlin had been out and came back. It is unfortunate because I played in all the rounds and missed the final.

"I gave him and the Chairman a blast at the time in the dressing room in front of all the players because the anger was there. I think he would have preferred that rather than someone saying 'Oh thanks boss I didn't really want to play today'.

Sir Alex's Tribute to Willie Cunningham


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