Dillon Hoogewerf.

Under-23s record friendly win at Stalybridge

Tuesday 27 July 2021 22:16

Manchester United's Under-23s beat Stalybridge Celtic 5-1 at Bower Fold in a special match to honour former coach Bert Whalley, who tragically lost his life in the Munich Air Disaster.

Organised by the Professional Footballers’ Association, the match was preceded by the unveiling of a plaque, close to the main entrance, with former Reds legend and skipper Bryan Robson doing the honours.

Before the kick-off, there was an exquisitely observed minute’s silence in memory of the player who also plied his trade at Stalybridge.

Bower Fold must be one of the most picturesque enclosures in football, surrounded as it is by trees. Celtic also added a touch of nostalgia to the proceedings by wearing their new kit which is an exact replica to one their players donned when they were founder members of the Football League Division Three (North) 100 years ago.

Bryan Robson helps to unveil the Bert Whalley plaque.
The match itself provided a good workout for United’s young players against the proud Tameside club who these days play their football in the Northern League Premier Division.

Zidane Iqbal scored the only goal of the opening half in the 17th minute, producing a top-class finish, in what unfolded into a pretty balanced contest with both sides enjoying time in their opponents’ territory.

Striker Charlie McNeill was a real threat and could easily have added to the scoreline with a little more luck in front of goal.

After the break, played out at times in torrential rain, United pulled out all the stops to move swiftly into a three-goal lead.

Twelve minutes after restart, Dillon Hoogewerf raced down the wing to put United two-up and, six minutes later, he produced a repeat performance.

Celtic pulled one back through Scot Bakkor with slightly more than 20 minutes to go, following a free-kick.

However, further goals from substitute Alejandro Garnacho, after a solo run, and Noam Emeran, who had hit the underside of the bar with a rasping free-kick at the start of the second half, put an end to any revival by the hosts.

Watch all the goals from Bower Fold, courtesy of MUTV.
Whalley’s status in the Manchester United pantheon slots neatly into the file labelled ‘unsung heroes’. Being largely an unknown figure to many supporters doesn’t, in anyway, dilute his lengthy and important contribution to the club either side of the Second World War.

A local lad from Ashton-Under-Lyne, (born on Tuesday 6 August 1912), he joined United from Stalybridge Celtic, then of the Cheshire League, in 1934. Normally a wing-half, (midfield in modern terms), he made his debut against Doncaster Rovers at Old Trafford on Saturday 30 November 1935.

It’s true to say that he never really established himself in the side, making just 32 league & cup appearances before the outbreak of War. However, he was a member of the team which played in United’s last fixture, at Charlton Athletic on Saturday 2 September 1938, before the season was abandoned. And he was the club’s first line-up, when peacetime football resumed, in an FA Cup tie at Accrington Stanley on Saturday 5 January 1946.

In between times, he amassed more than 200 appearances War-Time league and cup matches while football was retained to provide a distraction, and some normality, amidst the horrors that the population were experiencing.

He made just seven league and cup appearances post-war and then joined United’s backroom staff as a trainer and then first-team coach.

In conclusion, this was a great occasion and a perfect tribute to the memory of Bert Whalley.

Dillon Hoogewerf finds the net as the Reds turn on the style in the second half.


United: Mee (Vitek 60); Wellens, McShane (Pye 60), Hardley, Fernandez (Jurado 73); McCann (Hansen 73), Savage; Hoogewerf (Garnacho 73), Iqbal, Emeran; McNeill. 

Scorers: Bakkor 69 | Iqbal 16, Hoogewerf 57,63 Garnacho 79, Emeran 82.

Attendance: 918.