Mr Manchester United
Supremely knowledgeable and dedicated, a teenage Walter Crickmer joined Manchester United as a clerk in 1919. A born administrator, Crickmer soon became secretary and would remain with the club, through thick and thin, for the next 39 years. Nicknamed ‘Mr Manchester United’ Crickmer was a man of tremendous energy who, although he never officially assumed the title of manager, would twice take charge of team affairs.
Walter Crickmer's club secretary contract signed on 26th August 1947.
His first stint in charge came during the yo-yo years of the early 1930s. Following the departure of Herbert Bamlett, who left the club on the brink of relegation, Crickmer (along with chief scout Louis Rocca) managed the team to 12th place, taking them out of the danger zone. Crickmer is regularly credited with persuading James W Gibson to invest in Manchester United, saving the club from bankruptcy.
Crickmer’s trusted top of the range Underwood typewriter.
Together with Gibson, and new manager A Scott Duncan, Crickmer forged the club’s youth policy. This early work saw players like Jack Crompton and Henry Cockburn come of age in the post war era, ensuring that Matt Busby would inherit the makings of a great side. The legacy of Crickmer’s foresight is still felt today.
As a result of the bombing of Old Trafford in 1941, Manchester United lost much of their kit. Supporters kindly offered their help and were met with thanks from Crickmer.
Crickmer’s second time at the reins came after the departure of Scott Duncan in 1937. Crickmer led the team through the difficult war years; organising matches and ensuring that the team had kits to wear. Meanwhile, the energetic man held down two wartime positions, one at Cornbrook Cold Storage which dealt in lards and frozen foods, and the other as a police special constable. Following the bombing of Old Trafford in 1941, Crickmer was one of the first people on the scene, unable to do anything but watch the stadium burn.
Special Constable Badge, c.1940. Crickmer reached the stadium whilst it was aflame. “I tried to reach the dressing rooms to save the kit and boots but could not get anywhere near” - Crickmer.
After serving as club secretary for 32 years, Crickmer received a Football League long service medal shortly before his death. His loss left an administrative void at the club, his knowledge and ability sorely missed.
Walter Crickmer pictured with the Busby Babes.