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Busby Babes coach Bert Whalley to be honoured by PFA

Bert Whalley

Busby Babes coach Bert Whalley to be honoured by PFA on a special night featuring both his former clubs, Manchester United and Stalybridge Celtic. 

Bert Whalley, the former Stalybridge Celtic and Manchester United player and coach who lost his life at Munich, will be honoured by the unveiling of a PFA plaque to him at Stalybridge Celtic at 6pm on Tuesday 27 July. 

There will then be a special match involving Bert’s former clubs, Stalybridge Celtic v Manchester United under 23s. The game will kick off at 7.45pm. 

Born in Ashton-under-Lyne on 6 August 1912, Herbert (Bert) Whalley played as a central defender for Stalybridge Celtic in the Cheshire League during the second half of the 1933/34 season. 

He then moved in May 1934 to Manchester United as a player. When he was forced to retire early from playing the game he was recruited by Matt Busby as a coach. In this role he was central to developing the talents of a series of young players known as the Busby Babes, many of whom tragically lost their lives along with Bert Whalley at Munich on 6 February 1958.

A list of speakers for the unveiling will be out shortly. For more details contact: Mark Metcalf on 07392 852561 and at metcalfmc@outlook.com 

Match ticket details will be released shortly by Stalybridge Celtic.  

Christian and Lindsay Vare 

“On behalf of the family, we are so proud to be a part of the unveiling of a PFA blue plaque in memory of our grandad, Herbert Whalley. His daughter Linda, our mum who sadly passed away two years ago started the process, and would be absolutely delighted to see a public acknowledgement of her dad’s achievements. 

To have both teams that Bert played for, Stalybridge Celtic and Manchester United playing on his behalf is a great honour. Bert’s passion was developing young football talent and watching the game would definitely have made both him and mum smile.” 

Gordon Taylor OBE, PFA Chief Executive  

“As a “fellow Ashtonian” I am proud of our football legacy and none more so than Bert Whalley who left his mark on our great game as a player with Stalybridge Celtic and Manchester United but especially as a crucial part of the backroom staff who played such a vital role under Sir Matt Busby in making the Busby Babes household names and always remembered and never forgotten!”

Bryan Robson, OBE, Manchester United Ambassador 

“Bert Whalley, along with all of the victims of the Munich Air Disaster, will always be remembered by everyone connected with Manchester United. Bert’s passion for football and his abilities as an elite coach are widely acknowledged, the fixture between Manchester United and Stalybridge Celtic will be an excellent occasion which I know will suitably honour his contribution to the game. Memorial events such as this one are important to ensure that the legacy of the Busby Babes is passed on to the next generation and serve as a poignant reminder of the achievements and work of those at the club through the years who helped it to rise again.”

Stephen Tate, Stalybridge Celtic  

“Stalybridge Celtic Football Club would like to thank Herbert Whalley's family for choosing Bower Fold as the place to install the Blue Plaque honouring his contribution to Football and Community. The match between his two former clubs, will be a celebration of his love for playing and coaching association football .”

Heather Brown

“Tameside Local History Forum are delighted that a Blue Plaque is to be unveiled in honour of Bert Whalley, a man who served his local community so well.”

John Doherty (1935- 2007) - a member of the Manchester United side that won the title in 1955/56

“What a lovely man. It was a pleasure to have known Bert and I don’t think I’ve ever heard a single soul say a wrong word about him…. it was clear that he had been a useful performer in his time, a stylish central defender who was comfortable on the ball and invariably had time to move it on without panicking. 

“He was not big for a centre-half, standing perhaps two inches under 6ft, and certainly he didn’t go around kicking people, but he carried authority because he had a certain presence about him…

“The hierarchy when I arrived was Matt Busby at the top, with Jimmy Murphy and Bert doing most of the coaching and sharing an office until Bert died at Munich.

“He was terrific to all the young players, always ready with a kind work to lift our spirits. A Methodist lay-preacher, he was a quiet man, in contrast to Jimmy, who was more fire-and-brimstone in his approach, likely to singe the hair on the back of the neck. 

“Bert offered a buffer zone where we could recover our equilibrium after feeling the Murphy wrath, although he was nobody’s fool and people couldn’t take advantage of his good nature.…looking back, I loved them both.” 

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