Sir Alex Ferguson has told how he retains a strange memento of his time as a
Glaswegian schoolboy – the belt used to beat him when he stepped out of
The former Manchester United manager keeps the belt in his study as a reminder
of the discipline meted out by his favourite teacher.
He said that the “gritty determination” of the formidable Elizabeth Thomson
rubbed off on the young Ferguson and helped propel him to greatness.
Sir Alex, 72, reveals that he now keeps the belt in his study – much to the
terror of his grandchildren.
The comments were made in the latest edition of the Times Educational
Supplement as the legendary manager recalled his schooldays at Broomloan
Road Primary in Govan.
Sir Alex tells how the belt was bequeathed to him after the death of Mrs
Thomson, who he kept in touch with long into his playing and managerial
“Her nephew sent it to me along with a letter that said: ‘You’ll know more
about this belt than anyone’,” he said. “It’s in my study. My grandchildren
are terrified of it.
“Six from that belt and you were in absolute agony. I used to try to draw my
“But that was the sort of punishment you had if you stepped out of line.”
In an interview for the magazine’s My Best Teacher feature, Sir Alex says that
Mrs Thomson “was an inspiration to me”.
Corporal punishment was banned in British state schools in 1987, but Sir Alex
fondly recalls his schooldays in the 1950s when teachers did not “spare the
He also suggests that Mrs Thomson may even have been the source of his famous
“hairdryer” – locker room rages fired in the direction of underperforming
“Did she help to form my character? Well, she had a gritty determination about
her; a competitive nature,” he said.
“On a Friday afternoon, she’d always give us an hour of playing rounders.
“Once, I was batting and I tapped the ball, then did the bare minimum to get
to first base. ‘Ferguson!’ she roared. ‘You tap that ball again and I will
“So I battered the next ball out of sight and ran like hell. She was good like
that. She got you performing, you know?
“Yes, I think there’s part of me that comes from her. That determination and
that sense of drive. That ‘never give in’ attitude she had about all her