08 May 2013
An invitation to a high profile stamp launch, at the home of football, days before the cup final, with seven living legends present and eager to talk stamps? Such opportunities rarely come around, so Matt Hill eagerly made his way to Wembley for the 'Football Heroes' stamps launch ...
Was this the perfect storm for Royal Mail or a PR disaster? None of the team behind the latest high profile stamp set could be sure, but the event at North London’s famous 90,000-seater stadium was sure to be spiced up by the breaking news that Sir Alex Ferguson had decided to retire.
Hours before the official launch of Royal Mail’s 'Football Heroes' stamps, rumours of Fergie's retirement after 26 years in charge of Manchester United were confirmed, leaving the football world in shock.
Suddenly what looked like a run-of-the-mill press junket for many of the journalists from the nationals and TV turned into a prime opportunity for a scoop, with an impressive group of former players, including Manchester United Director Sir Bobby Charlton, happy to provide opinion on Fergie's decision.
Thankfully, the stars also found time to speak to Stamp & Coin Mart about the stamps…
For Jimmy Greaves, the former Spurs and Chelsea striker, his inclusion in the stamp set is an unexpected honour but one he certainly appreciates. 'If my headmaster at school when I got kicked out at fifteen had said "well, Greaves, one day you'll find your face on a stamp representing Great Britain" you would have thought he was daft, and he would have been wouldn't he? But it's happened. It's never been an ambition, but once you've got that recognition it's a great feeling.'
Obviously proud of his inclusion in the set, John Barnes will definitely be using the stamps. 'I'm going to be sending them to all of my family in Jamaica,' he explains, 'and to friends and family in the USA, who have been asking when the stamps are coming out. I was hoping for them not to have known about it, so I could have sent them an envelope with the stamp on it and no letter. They would have asked me why I had sent an empty envelope and I could have told them to look at the stamp.'
The effervescent Denis Law, known as 'the King' during his time at Old Trafford, is certainly one of the shoe-ins for the stamps, but he’s still very enthusiastic, happy to talk about the honour in between the barrage of questions concerning his former employers.
'This has got to be one of the finest honours you could ever get,' Law says. 'To be one of eleven on a postage stamp, you don't really get any better than that. You pick eleven, but you could pick fifty. You've got to be very proud to be one of the eleven and very lucky because there's so many other players who could have been in there.'
Sir Bobby Charlton, as a Director of Manchester United, is asked about every aspect of Fergie's departure, but finds time to discuss the stamps, agreeing that the honour is something to be proud of. 'The stamps are phenomenal. It's the most fantastic compliment. The choice of players reflects on what a fantastic game we have,' he says.