Bert Whalley: A father figure for United
Former Manchester United player and legendary coach Bert Whalley was honoured by the PFA on Tuesday night, when Bryan Robson unveiled a commemorative plaque at Stalybridge Celtic, where he began his professional playing career in 1933.
To mark the occasion, we're recalling the career of this incredible man, whose work ethic and father-figure persona left a lasting legacy at the club.
Born in Ashton-Under-Lyne, Bert began his football career with local sides Droylsden and Stalybridge Celtic, before moving to Old Trafford at the end of the 1933/34 season. In the midst of their yo-yo years, the Reds had come close to relegation to the Third Division and were looking for fresh talent.
The resumption of peacetime football allowed Whalley to make another seven first-team appearances, although most of his time was spent in the reserves. In late 1947, he injured his eye whilst running a coaching session for a schoolboy side. Hospitalised, the worried player came to realise that the issues he was experiencing with his sight meant that his playing career was over.
Having already trained as a coach, Bert joined Busby's staff at Old Trafford.
Working predominantly with youth sides, Whalley became a knowledgeable father figure to a generation of United footballers, offering a contrast to the more tempestuous approach of Jimmy Murphy.
You can hear former reserve-team player Graham Smith reminiscing about his first encounter with Bert in the video below.
After Murphy officially became assistant manager in 1955, Bert stepped into the position of chief trainer. Whalley was serving United in that important coaching role in February 1958 when he was among the 23 people - including eight players and three club officials - who lost their lives in the Munich Air Disaster.
We will never forget them.