Ferguson honoured with CBE

Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, was yesterday made a CBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours List on his 53rd birthday.

Ferguson receives his reward for steering his team to only the fourth championship and FA Cup Double this century - following in the footsteps of Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool.

His recognition - exactly 10 years after he was awarded the OBE - caps a memorable and emotional year for the Old Trafford club, which began in sombre mood following the death of the club's father-figure, Sir Matt Busby.

But playing the style of football which was the hallmark of Busby's great teams of the 1950s and '60s, Ferguson's team fought off Blackburn's challenge to retain the Premiership title and then defeated Chelsea 4-0 at Wembley.

Football also had three other honours bestowed upon it. Jimmy Hill, whose fight as head of the Professional Footballers' Association led to the abolition of the maximum wage and who has infuriated and entertained television audiences for two decades, is awarded an OBE, while MBEs were given to two of Scotland's leading lights, Hugh Allan and William Milliken.

Hill is not the only pundit honoured for his services to television sport. ITV's renowned boxing commentator, Reg Gutteridge, also becomes an OBE, as does the head of BBC Television Sport, Jonathan Martin.

Rugby union features prominently in the list, with a CBE going to one of the game's leading administrators, the Rugby Football Union secretary, Dudley Wood, who retires in July, and an OBE to the former Welsh RU secretary, Raymond Williams.

New Zealand's goalkicker supreme, Grant Fox, who retired this year after scoring an All Blacks record 645 points from 46 Tests - the second-highest total in the history of international rugby - is made an MBE.

An MBE also goes to a man who has blown the whistle on many of the great games of recent years, the international referee and Belfast headmaster Stephen Hilditch. Another is awarded to perhaps the most successful recent convert to the paid ranks of rugbyleague - Warrington's former Wales international, Jonathan Davies.

Davies, whose loss to rugby union is still bemoaned in the Principality, scored the Wembley try which raised hopes of an Ashes series victory in the autumn.

Javelin-thrower Steve Backley, who came back from a catalogue of injuries to retain his European title in Helsinki, beating the world record holder Jan Zelezny, is made an MBE. Backley later moved on to Victoria, Canada, to win his second successive Commonwealth title before coming up with a winning performance in front of his home fans in the World Cup final at Crystal Palace. There was also an OBE for Arthur McAllister, the president of the British Athletic Federation.

Neil Thomas, the British gymnast who won a World Championship silver medal on the floor in 1993 and the Commonwealth title in Victoria, is made an MBE as is Lisa Opie, the Guernsey squash player who in 1991 became the first Brition in 30 years to lift the Open title.

Pragmatic Ferguson, page 46

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