FORMER football manager Ron Atkinson came to the rescue of the SAS in the specialist regiment’s hour of need.

Sir Alex Ferguson had been due to speak to a crowd of 300 at the Credenhill headquarters last Saturday.

But when the Scot pulled out at the last-minute, “Big Ron” answered an emergency call from SAS bosses.

The night was organised to raise funds for the widows and partners who had lost loved ones serving abroad.

Guests had paid almost £200 a ticket for the event and were expecting to hear from Manchester United’s most successful manager.

But they actually heard from the man who was in charge at Old Trafford before Sir Alex.

Big Ron, who won the FA Cup twice while managing the Red Devils from 1981 to 1986, was picked up and driven to the camp at the last minute.

He proved a great success on a night that raised tens of thousands for military families.

A signed Lionel Messi shirt and tickets to watch a Manchester United game from an Old Trafford VIP box were among the star auction items.