Lady Cathy Ferguson was the power behind Fergie's Man United throne

CHRIS WHEELER: Lady Cathy Ferguson was the power behind Fergie’s throne, and talked him out of quitting Manchester United in 2001

  • Lady Cathy Ferguson, who has died aged 84, was the power behind Fergie
  • She was the reason he did not quit Manchester United back in 2001
  • Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off’ 

She was the power behind the most successful manager in the history of English football.

The woman who talked Sir Alex Ferguson out of retirement in 2001 and the reason he eventually stepped down as Manchester United manager 11 years later.

Throughout her husband’s unparalleled success, Lady Cathy remained out of the spotlight, content in her role as a mother to their three boys and, later, as a grandmother and great-grandmother.

But Ferguson was in no doubt how important his wife’s quiet influence over 57-and-a-half years of marriage was to his achievements in the game.

‘Without her down-to-earth attitude to life and unstinting support, none of it would have been possible,’ he wrote.

Lady Cathy Ferguson, right, was the power behind one of football’s most successful managers

Sir Alex Ferguson said his achievements in football would not have been possible without her 

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The flags at Old Trafford are flying at half-mast in tribute to Lady Cathy after the Ferguson family announced she had died at the age of 84.

United will wear black armbands when they play Brentford at home on Saturday afternoon.

A statement from the club read: ‘Everyone at Manchester United sends our heartfelt condolences to Sir Alex Ferguson and his family on the passing of Lady Cathy, a beloved wife, mother, sister, grandmother and great-grandmother, and a tower of strength for Sir Alex throughout his career.’

Ferguson met Cathy Holding when they were working at the Remington Rand typewriter factory in Glasgow, where he was an apprentice toolmaker while playing part-time for St Johnstone.

He remembered setting eyes on her for the first time at a strike meeting, while she thought he looked like a ‘thug’ because he had just had surgery on a facial injury.

They began going out after he walked her home from the Locarno dance hall one Friday night and had their first date at the cinema.

‘He bought me a box of Liquorice Allsorts at the movies, of which he ate all of them. That was my romantic day!’ she recalled.

They were married at Martha Street Registry Office in Glasgow on March 12, 1966, the venue a necessity because he was a Protestant and she was Catholic.

When Ferguson moved into management at St Mirren, Cathy raised their three sons — Mark, Jason and Darren — almost single-handedly while he combined the job with running a pub.

After Alex made his name at Aberdeen, Cathy scuppered a deal for him to take over as Tottenham manager in 1984 because she did not want to move to London.

Instead, Ferguson joined United two years later and the rest is footballing history.

She scuppered a deal for him to be Spurs manager because she didn’t want to move to London

She helped nurse Sir Alex back to health after he suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2018

It was Cathy who informed him in the lounge of their Wilmslow home on Christmas Day 2001 that he had to make a U-turn on his decision to retire. ‘I’m not having you in the house,’ she said.

However, the death of Cathy’s twin sister Bridget in October 2012 convinced Ferguson that it was time to quit for good to spend more time with his wife.

More recently, she helped nurse him back to health after he suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2018.

A statement from the family read: ‘We are deeply saddened to confirm the passing of Lady Cathy Ferguson, survived by her husband, three sons, two sisters, 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.’


It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football, launching with a preview show today and every week this season.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube , Apple Music and Spotify

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