Hilton, Park Lane, LONDON: On Tuesday, 17th November 2009, the LMA Hall of Fame 1,000 Club Dinner celebrated the success and longevity in the volatile world of professional football, those football managers who have managed 1,000 or more domestic league or cup matches in first team competition in English League Football - arguably the most competitive football environment in the world.
At the event, guests obtained an amazing insight into top level football management challenges and pressures from many 1000 club managers in attendance, with the highlight of the evening, Sir Alex Ferguson CBE, 'undergoing' an extended question and answer session, which was arguably the high point of the evening!
The evening started calmly enough, with a Champagne reception and with tickets costing £299 per person or £3999 + VAT for a very limited table availability. This event was only for the lucky few!!
In keeping with this very special event, the carpet was a special Astroturf, laid over the whole floor of the dining room, the reception area and the foyer.
In keeping with the football occasion, the 'delicacies' were of a football flavour. First course was sausage and mash, the second course was chicken and mushroom pie and chips, whilst the third course, the desert, was a choice of flavoured chewing gums, that Sir Alex chews throughout his matches. In fact both the sausages and the chips were produced out of chewing gum, making this really three courses of chewing gum specially chosen, as Sir Alex Ferguson is fast approaching the remarkable milestone of 2000 matches.
After the 'dinner', an insight into how top level football managers 'overcome' the tremendous challenges and pressures of 'managing' in the top flight was given by Harry Redknapp and Graham Taylor OBE!! The evening warmed up with Harry Redknapp giving everybody a talk about the importance using 'brown envelopes', then Graham Taylor OBE talked about the cultivation of turnips in the garden… However, that was all 'small beer' compared to events that occurred when Sir Alex Ferguson got up and spoke!!
Sir Alex Ferguson's stress management derived from chewing gum. Sir Alex, never one to waste words, "Ladies and Gentleman, I want you all to spit out the chewing gum that you have been chewing onto the turf, like I do at the matches!"
We all did as we were told, but Sir Alex was not impressed! "Ladies and Gentleman, you can do better than that! I told you all to spit it out, not dribble out your chewing gum! When I am in a rage after a football match, I spit out my chewing gum with venom! Now recharge your chewing gums, have a good chew and we will try that again!"
Again, we all did as we had been ordered by Sir Alex and had another good chew. This time Sir Alex asked us all to stand up. "This time Ladies and Gentleman, I want you to envisage that you are the Manager of Manchester United, the referee hasn't given you any penalties that you deserve, your side is 1-0 down and you haven't got the regulatory 10 minutes extra time that you need to have win the match!"
Everybody was silent, thinking of what Sir Alex had just said. "Ladies and Gentleman, I want you to voice you anger. Come on, I want to hear your frustration!"
"You cheating ref!", somebody shouted, then if by cue there came a torrent of rage. "You ba$**rd!", "Get off the pitch!", "Call yourself a Ref!", "Go home and play at home!", "You Schweinhund!" "Stop being a tart!"
Then Sir Alex shouted out, "Spit out the chewing gum and kick it into the astrograss carpet and get rid of your rage!"
On cue, everybody spat out their chewing gum and started kicking the carpet. The effect was 'electric', all the guests kept shouting out and they released their pent up rage as Sir Alex Ferguson had predicted. "Well done!" shouted Sir Alex above the din, but it didn't stop there! One guest got a chair and started smashing the chair into the floor, so everybody else did the same!! There was so much frustration released that after all the furniture had been smashed, the event had to be stopped and the Police were called!
Sir Alex Ferguson CBE made the following statement afterwards. "I would like to thank everybody who made the LMA Hall of Fame 1,000 Tribute Club Dinner in my honour, a special three course dinner of chewing gum at Hilton, Park Lane, London on Tuesday, 17th November 2009, such a 'smashing' success!!"