Sir Alex reflects on Bleachfield and Firs Park at Falkirk’s training base in Stirling

Sir Alex Ferguson met Steven Pressley and Alex Totten at Falkirk's STirling Uni training base.  Pics by Michael Gillen.
Sir Alex Ferguson met Steven Pressley and Alex Totten at Falkirk's STirling Uni training base. Pics by Michael Gillen.
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Sir Alex Ferguson says Falkirk’s set-up at Stirling will give young players the best start in football, just like the club handed him in coaching.

The training ground at Stirling could be a future victim of the club’s cost-cutting, but the Manchester United boss was suitably impressed when he looked around the Bairns’ base as he collected an honourary doctorate from the University,

Steven Pressley shows Sir Alex Ferguson 'Alex Smith's Hill' at Striling University. Pic by Michael Gillen

Steven Pressley shows Sir Alex Ferguson 'Alex Smith's Hill' at Striling University. Pic by Michael Gillen

He enthused about the benefits of the facility and recalled the club’s previous arrangements when he was a player and branded Bleachfield “a disaster.”

“This centre here at Stirling is fantastic – any young player would be motviated by this,” he said.

“Facilities are one of the ways to motivate young players and that’s something that’s been sadly lacking for several years in Scotland.

“When I was a player, and for a while as a manager, they didn’t have the facilities. It’s a very progressive step for Falkirk.

“You have to give a young player proper preparation to be a player – it can’t get better than this.

“There has to be more like this. It can only help Falkirk produce young players and work technically, it’s a real advantage.

“Harking back to when I was a player, training was at Bleachfield – it was a disaster.”

And Steven Pressley’s Stirling Uni ground is a far cry from the training ground Ferguson began his own managerial career with at East Stirlingshire.

“We had the pitch. That was it, and we trained on it every day.

“By the time I left, the club was third in the league, and the players had improved, but the next manager inherited a bad pitch.”

Sir Alex, back in his managerial roots in Central Scotland , reflected on the start Falkirk district gave him on his coaching career that has spanned Champions League and Cup Winners’ Cup finals and 25 years at Manchester United.

In his last year at Falkirk he became player-coach, but a club takeover saw his coaching privileges removed and Ferguson moved on to Ayr United.

Had things been different, Ferguson may have been one step away from the Bairns’ hotseat. “It could have been a lot different but you never know fate, it might have been the best thing that ever happened to me, but I went to Ayr United and met a fantastic manager there, Ally McLeod.

“I had enjoyed it at Falkirk though, I had complete control of the training and coaching and it was a good start for me, but it was Ally who told me to take every opportunity and that was when East Stirlingshire came in for me.”

Ferguson’s rise has seen him move from Scotland’s struggling ‘Shire to one of the richest, and most supported clubs in the world.

But after meeting former team-mate Alex Totten, and Falkirk manager Steven Pressley, before accepting his honorary doctorate for services to sport at the University’s graduation ceremony yesterday, he insisted clubs like Falkirk and East Stirlingshire must keep the community they represent at their heart.

That’s something the new volunteer committee taking over the running of the Bairns has pledged to do and Sir Alex added: “You can’t do without the community – it is the lifeblood of the club and creates a link and spirit between the club and the town, that’s important.

“Most clubs now are better than they were, it’s progress.

“Falkirk were a well supported club, Brockville was a small ground with a great atmosphere – it was a great little club,” said the honourary doctor of sport.

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