Former Manchester United manager Ron Atkinson is set to visit Carlisle.

"Big Ron" will be the star attraction at a sportsman’s dinner for Carlisle Reivers Football Club – formerly Thompsons FC – on May 10.

It will be held at the Shepherd’s Inn in the city, and will be hosted by Ian Milburn, of IM Events, with comedian Brian Sharpe also on the bill.

“Carlisle Reivers were Thompsons Football Club, so they had [former England and Manchester United midfielder] Lee Sharpe at a sportsman’s dinner last year. That was really successful,” said popular events organiser Milburn.

“They seem to have a few Manchester United fans at the club so, when Ron became available, they fancied him.

“From what I hear, Ron is very good, so I’m quite looking forward to it.”

Atkinson, now 79, spent the majority of his playing career at Oxford United and still holds the record for most club appearances, having played 562 games for the U’s between 1959-71.

He then started his managerial career at Kettering Town in 1971 as player-boss of the Northamptonshire club.

After his success at Kettering, a club he returned to in 2007 for a brief stint as director of football, he went to Cambridge United and then West Brom.

In charge of West Brom, he helped the club finish third in the First Division in the 1978/79 season and fourth in the 1980/81 campaign, as well as enjoying UEFA Cup success, before Manchester United came calling.

He took over the hot-seat at Manchester United in 1981 and quickly signed Bryan Robson for a British record fee of £1.5m.

In his five years at Old Trafford, he won two FA Cups but failed to live up to the high expectations of the fans, who demanded league success. They failed to win the title in 1986, despite leading the table by 10 points after 15 games – as his time with the Red Devils came to an end that year.

Atkinson went to Spain and had a whirlwind spell in charge of Atletico Madrid before returning to England with spells at Sheffield Wednesday, Aston Villa, Coventry and Nottingham Forest.

Alongside the likes of Arsène Wenger, Graham Taylor, Brian Clough, Harry Redknapp and Sir Alex Ferguson, Atkinson is part of a select band of bosses to have managed in more than 1,000 matches in the English Football League.

Milburn said: “If you look at all the clubs he has managed, he was pretty successful as a manager.

“He seemed to always improve teams when he went there. He was also a very big character as well, wasn’t he?”

Milburn also says he feels it is important to show support to Cumbrian grassroot football clubs by holding events such as this.

He added: “They [Carlisle Reivers] want to grow as a club. 

“They give a lot of opportunities to kids of all abilities by giving them an environment that they can flourish in.

“That helps them to enjoy their football. They are a good group, and they are very committed.

“So, fingers crossed we will be able to sell a few tickets for the night and put on another good night for them again.”

Call Amy Hickson on 07510 747868 for tickets or further information.