Sir Alex Ferguson’s wife Cathy has sadly passed away aged 84 leaving behind the former Manchester United manager and their three sons.
The Ferguson family issued a statement today which read: “We are deeply saddened to confirm the passing yesterday [Thursday] of Lady Cathy Ferguson, survived by her husband, three sons, two sisters, 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. The family asks for privacy at this time.”
Lady Cathy – formerly Holding – met Alex in 1964 and they were married in 1966 before giving birth to son Mark two years later, followed by twins, Darren and Jason, in 1972. She was incredibly supportive of her husband throughout his career at Old Trafford before he stepped down from his role and retired from football in 2013 to spend more time with her.
In fact, were it not for Cathy’s intervention, Ferguson might well have ended up at one of United’s rivals in north London when he was approached by Tottenham. “The directors, to a man, were enthusiastic endorsers of the choice (Ferguson). All aspects of the contract agreed,” a book about Spurs, titled Still Dreaming, previously claimed.
Ferguson, 81, has not been present at the last of United’s home matches. He revealed previously that he would have continued in the United hot-seat beyond his retirement at the end of the 2012/13 season were it not for the death of Cathy’s twin sister and best friend Bridget.
“I definitely would have carried on,’ Ferguson told the Daily Telegraph . “I saw she [Cathy] was watching television one night, and she looked up at the ceiling. I knew she was isolated. Her and Bridget were twins, you know?”
Ferguson explained how Cathy had persuaded him not to call time on his career when he announced his retirement many years earlier in 2002, reasoning: “One, your health is good. Two, I’m not having you in the house. And three, you’re too young anyway
But officially retiring in 2013 after 27 years as United’s manager, he recalled: “When I told her this time I was going to retire she had no objection whatsoever. I knew she wanted me to do it.”
Cathy was by his side when he suffered a life-threatening brain haemorrhage in 2018, before making a full recovery. Son Jason recalled that Ferguson had even written goodbye letters during his recovery for fear he would leave Cathy and his family behind.
“He’d written to my mum, to me, my brothers and all his grandchildren. They were, basically, goodbye letters,” Jason told The Guardian . As well as their three children, the couple also share 13 grandchildren. “Cathy is fantastic with the kids,” Ferguson said. “It’s a military operation with her. If any of them misbehave, they’re in the doghouse.
Ferguson paid tribute to his wife after his farewell speech to United following his final home match in charge. He said: “I think a lot of the time, for 47 years, she’s been the leader of the family, looked after our three sons and sacrificed herself for me.”
One of Ferguson’s former players, Michael Carrick, revealed the United players were informed of his retirement in the dressing room where his boss became “emotional”. Carrick recalls Ferguson telling his team: “I feel that I owe it to my wife to be with her and look after her.”
Manchester United issued a statement paying tribute to Cathy, which read: “Everyone at Manchester United extends their sincere condolences to Sir Alex Ferguson and his family following the death of Lady Cathy. Lady Cathy was a beloved wife, mother, sister, grandmother and great-grandmother, and a pillar to Sir Alex throughout his career.”
United have lowered flags at Old Trafford and confirmed that players will wear black armbands for this weekend’s Premier League clash with Brentford. The women’s team, who play on Friday night against Arsenal, will also wear armbands.
Aberdeen – where Sir Alex Ferguson worked as manager from 1978 to 1986 – have also sent their condolences. The club said: “Everyone at Aberdeen FC sends their deepest condolences to Sir Alex and the Ferguson family at this very sad time.