Joe Carolan.

United pay tribute to Joe Carolan

Wednesday 26 September 2018 12:19

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that everyone at Manchester United has learned of Joe Carolan’s death, aged 81.

His passing represents another link with the magical and traumatic time that the club experienced in the late 1950s. Carolan joined the club in February 1956 from the famed Home Farm club in his native Dublin.

Initially, the Irishman was a half-back (midfielder) when he first arrived at Old Trafford, but gradually he converted into an effective and reliable full-back.

It was as a half-back that he helped United win the FA Youth Cup, beating Chesterfield, 4-3 on aggregate over two legs. That team, which was managed by the legendary Jimmy Murphy, also included such luminaries as Bobby Charlton, Wilf McGuinness, Alex Dawson, Mark Pearson, and Kenny Morgans.

Joe Carolan poses with the squad for the team photo in 1960.

Carolan was, of course, on the playing staff during the dark days that followed the terrible tragedy that befell the club at Munich Airport in 1958.

Later that year, he made his Football League Division One debut against Luton Town on Saturday 22 November, in front of 42,428 supporters at Old Trafford. He proceeded to appear in a further 22 league matches that season and was also in the side that went out of the FA Cup in the third round, losing 3-0 to Norwich City in arctic conditions at Carrow Road.

On 26 October 1960, the defender deputised for Shay Brennan when United faced Exeter City in a Football League Cup first-round replay – the first-ever game in that competition to be staged at Old Trafford. United won 4-1 before a crowd of 15,662.

Carolan went on to make 71 appearances in all competitions before moving on to Brighton & Hove Albion in December 1960. He represented Republic of Ireland on two occasions and also played for non-league clubs Tonbridge and Canterbury City.


Everyone in the Manchester United family extends their sincerest condolences to all of Joe Carolan’s family and friends at this extremely sad and upsetting time.