Sporting upsets are no ‘disasters’

From John Inverdale, Daily Telegraph
Sir Alex Ferguson was on his way to Athens for a Champions League game. Frankie Dettori was on the M1 heading for Leicester races, and Martin Johnson was half way through scrummaging practice at Leicester Tigers’ training ground.

In the worlds of the sporting superstar, they were just routine days at the office. Until news came through from New York of 9/11.

“I remember all the players just being numb,” said Sir Alex yesterday. “My son Mark had been in the World Trade Center the day before, and I hadn’t even been aware he was in the USA. We all just stared at each other in disbelief.”

Dettori said: “I remember sitting in the changing room at Leicester watching the second plane crash into the twin towers. I remember going out to ride, thinking we all had a duty to carry on, but I can’t remember a thing about the races. All you were thinking about were the images of the buildings coming crashing down.”

Johnson: “I remember Geordan Murphy rushing on to the training pitch telling us to go and watch the television. We stopped scrummaging and went inside. It was probably the ultimate ‘where were you’ moment of most of our lives.”

Which is why all three of them and countless other sporting legends spent yesterday on the trading floor of BCG in the City of London.

The company lost 730 staff on 9/11, and since then all the profits from trading on each September 11 have gone to dependents of those who died and this year to a host of organisations, including the rugby charity Wooden Spoon.

The newspaper headlines in France over the past few days after Argentina’s victory at Stade de France in Paris in the opening game of the World Cup have spoken of catastrophe, disaster and desolation for French rugby.

A World Cup winner and many other sporting heroes spent yesterday acknowledging that those words are best kept for moments when words almost fail us all.

Pay your SJA subscriptions the easy way – click here for details and a bank mandate form