Sir Alex Ferguson sails into Oban on Hebrides tour

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RETIRED football manager Sir Alex Ferguson arrived in Oban yesterday after a boys’ sailing trip round the Hebrides.

Last week Andy Murray rev­ealed that Sir Alex had been unable to attend the Wimbledon men’s final because he was going on his dream retirement cruise around the Scottish islands.

But the former Manchester United boss made sure he didn’t miss the match by following it on television on board the chartered cruise ship Glen Tarsan.

Sir Alex had been expected to sail with his family on luxury cruiseship the Hebridean Princess, which the Queen chartered for her 80th birthday celebration cruise around the Hebrides.

But he hired the 80ft cruise boat Glen Tarsan, which can only carry 11 passengers, instead, because the Hebridean Princess was full.

Sir Alex declined to comment on his cruise but was happy to sign autographs for fans as he got off the boat and into a waiting taxi. He later boarded a helicopter at Oban Airport.

Cushla Thoms, general Manager of The Majestic Line, which operates the Glen Tarsan, said: “The Hebridean Princess did not have availability so we got lucky. His PA phoned my daughter Marie, our sales manager, and said she had Sir Alex Ferguson on the phone. Marie wasn’t sure if somebody was winding her up, but then she spoke to him and he took the whole boat on charter.”

The Glen Tarson is full of traditional character and enjoys a relaxed atmosphere. It has six double ensuite cabins, with an indoor dining deck sal­oon and three outdoor decks.

Thoms said: “It was an all-male holiday. I think he had intended originally, on the Hebridean Princess, to take the wives and children, but we didn’t have availability because we are that much smaller, we are restricted to 11 people so he had his brothers, sons and friends.

“Some of them came and went during the week. It was a six-night cruise, from Sunday to Saturday and the boat stayed on the mooring in Oban last Sunday, so that Sir Alex could watch the Wimbledon final.”

She added: “The crew said he was a lovely person to have on board and as far as I know he really enjoyed it.

“He particularly wanted to go to Iona. They went to Mull, Iona, Inverie, Rum and other places.”

At Oban Airport Sir Alex signed T-shirts for football fans Daniel MacCuish, 13, and Cameron Rowan, 8, from Oban.