The old age pensioner, challenging the politicians, stood his ground as he faced the barrage of photographers and journalists. Megaphone in hand, he was not going to be dissuaded by anyone from saying what he had to say. And boy was he riveting, as he made an impassioned plea on behalf of the elderly, who have been clobbered in yet another budget. It was a feisty performance by 72 year old Patrick Touher.
Across the water, another old age pensioner, Sir Alex Ferguson was launching his controversial book, pompously entitled My Autobiography. In a hubristic style, worthy of an Irish banker, Ferguson answered questions and stared down the phalanx of paparazzi and reporters.
I confess, Ferguson makes me bristle at the sight and I have read enough quotes from the book to know that I’ll never get round to reading it.
Ferguson didn’t hold back in trashing some of the players who brought him such tremendous success in his stellar career. Shabbily he recounts Roy Keane, his one time general on the field, being ousted overnight by Ferguson for criticising his fellow players on Man U closed TV. Ferguson saw a threat to his authority in the dressing-room and axed Keane.
“I remember having conversations with the manager about loyalty” says Roy. “In my opinion, I don’t think he knows the meaning of the word.”
However it seems David Beckham suffered the most scorchmarks from Ferguson’s acid pen. Beckham, who, Ferguson says, was “more like a son to me,” disappointed his”father” by his attitude and his work ethic and his “Daddy” attributed both ills to Beckham’s attraction to the celebrity lifestyle. Ferguson was never going to understand the celebrity circus and signs on, throughout his career he was a permanently drab figure on the touchline, colourless, except for a Rudolphian nose in the cold days of January.
Ferguson says his reason for getting rid of Beckham was because “David thought he was bigger than Alex Ferguson.” Well, the fact of the matter is that Beckham IS bigger than Ferguson, who at the end of the day, was just a football team manager, who stayed at the same club for 26 years and was renowned for winning trophies and shouting at people.
With his impossibly squeaky voice and his impossibly preposterous wife, the Beckhams adventurously moved on.Together they had to overcome all sorts of obstacles on their road to success. First there were David’s lurid tattoos, including the gross one of a cross on his back and neck. Secondly there were the preposterous names they loaded onto their children, Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz for the boys and Harper for their daughter. Thirdly, Posh, tottering absurdly from gossip magazine to gossip magazine on skyscraper heels, slowly overcame her reputation for being aloof, unapproachable and moody.
What Posh was really up to was learning the value of letting her work speak for itself and to the surprise of many, she has grown in status to become a successful worldwide fashion designer. And together Posh and Becks have struck a rich seam of gold that reaches from Hollywood to Hanoi. Brand Beckham is a roaring success.
For sheer doggedness, it is, however, to David Beckham that I doff my hat . He was never my favourite footballer, but he has nurtured his image and stayed in good physical shape, both as a model and as a footballer. In the process of melding the two, he has also become a positive role model for young boys. And he’s still playing well enough to captivate the American soccer fans. Not bad for a man who was regarded as a 40 Watt Bulb in a 100Watt world.
Ferguson’s shabby tome is about as far as he could get from pensioner Patrick Touher’s two books, Fear of The Collar and Hell of a Boy’ Life At Artane. They grimly record how he was virtually imprisoned in the notorious Artane Industrial School. I heard him talking to Joe Duffy on Thursday and the stories of sexual and physical abuse by the Christian Brothers, who were supposed to be caring for them, sent cold shivers down my spine.
Compared to Patrick’s books, the tone of Sir Alex Ferguson’s book is vengeful, undignified, hollow and unnecessary. Why he thought anybody needed another book from him, points to an ego that doesn’t want to let go of power. He is an applause junkie, who likes his slice of celebrity, but only on his terms. Control at all cost.
It’s a terrible irony that Patrick Touher was unjustly incarcerated in Artane when he was just eight years old, about the same age that young David Beckham first began attracting the attention of the big English football scouts. Fate can be a cruel mistress. One eight year old goes on to be a millionaire, while the other eight year old lives a life of hardship and unrelenting stress.
Still, I think I’d rather spend the night with Patrick than with carping curmudgeon, Sir Alex. His exit from Manchester United has been graceless and ugly.
There’s an old football adage, “Form is temporary-class is permanent”
If you can consider twenty six years as form, the rest will explain itself.Article Written by Shay Healy First Published in The Irish Daily Mail, Saturday 26th Oct 2013 Shay Healy’s latest eBook ‘The Danny Boy Triangle’ is Out Now on Kindle 2.99 Free Kindle Reader – download app