Ken Ramsden started working for Manchester United as a 15-year-old office boy. Over the next 50 years he worked his way up through the ranks at the club, moving up to ticket office manager, programme editor, press officer, assistant secretary all the way up to club secretary.
He got the job two years after the Munich Air Disaster, so was a part of the club as it started rebuilt and the next great team was formed.
The disaster had an impact on all those who were living in Manchester and Ken felt it like anyone else. His family were very much involved with the club and his mum having to cope with the devastation at Old Trafford following Munich.
“All the coffins came back from Munich and they turned the gym at Old Trafford into a mortuary,” said Ramsden on the 50th anniversary in 2008. “One week my mum and auntie were washing the players’ shirts, the next they were polishing their coffins. It’s hard to imagine that now, but to them it was life. You just got on with it, there was no option. You couldn’t opt out just because you were too upset. My mum and auntie were like foster mums to the boys because a lot lived in digs.”
Ramsden also reflected on what effect Munich had on United.
“I suppose Munich made the club unique,” he continued. “It made it different from every other club. It maybe gave it a sense of its own destiny, something that was very important to United and that was a legacy to the boys who died.”
He had started off in the United family because of his mother and auntie who were laundry ladies at Old Trafford and he lived on the same road as club secretary Les Olive.
“One of the first things Les Olive ever said to me was, ‘Don’t ever let me hear you say that is not my job because whatever you are asked to do is your job’. It was a good lesson.”
There aren’t many men who claim to work with the people he has. In his early days, Ramsden worked on the pay-roll, sorting out the wages for the likes of George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law. He has worked for Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Matt Busby and speaks fondly of them both.
“Fergie and Busby are both very humble men,” he said. “I really, really think that United is a humble club. I know there are those outside who think there is an arrogance about the club but I truly don’t think that is the case.”
After 50 years with United, Ken has now retired. We wish him all the best.