Episode Three: John Henry Davies

The third episode of the all-new United Through Time podcast has been released. It focuses on John Henry Davies and is available on all good podcast networks, including:

iTunes acast Spotify

Podcast description

United Through Time looks at John Henry Davies – the man who saved Manchester United from extinction in 1902.

Davies was a wealthy brewer who discovered the trials and tribulations of a local side called Newton Heath in 1901 after finding a St Bernard dog and then knocking an accountant off his bike.

The portly, bespectacled Davies oversaw the rapid rise of Manchester United. Within his first six months at the club, Newton Heath changed their name to Man United and colours to red and white. Davies also invested £4,000 in the Reds’ Bank Street ground.

Within a decade, United had won three major trophies, had gone on a tour of Europe and moved to Old Trafford, the largest and grandest stadium in the country.

This is the story of a portly and bespectacled man who had a gentle smile overshadowed by a walrus-moustache. This is the man who saved Manchester United, who financed the club’s first ever league and cup glories and whose legacy lives on every time Manchester United play because he funded and inspired the move to Old Trafford.

This is the story of John Henry Davies in episode three of United Through Time. This episode is released as a two-parter because of the sheer size of Davies’ contribution to the club.

United Through Time is the new podcast delving into Manchester United’s long and famous history. Going in chronological order, United Through Time will focus on the most important individuals at the club since Manchester United was founded as Newton Heath in 1878.

Hosted by Harry Robinson, four guests are heard on this episode as United Through Time covers the themes of breweries, British paternalism, World War One, corruption, trade unionism, the Manchester Ship Canal and much more, as well as the more general football stuff.

Guest One: Iain McCartney is the author of ‘Old Trafford: 100 years of the Theatre of Dreams’, looking at the history of Manchester United’s great stadium.

Guest Two: Jo Jones is the great-granddaughter of John Henry Davies. She has looked into his story with her late mother, has been a guest of the Manchester United board in recognition of Davies’ significance and saw her mother unveil a plaque at Old Trafford in honour to Davies.

Guest Three: Ean Gardiner is the author of ‘Harry Stafford – Manchester United’s First Captain Marvel’. This book is the story of Harry Stafford’s life. The book is a must-read. You can buy it on Amazon, eBay and from Empire Publications.

Guest Four: Gary James is one of the definitive authorities on Manchester’s football history. He’s an honorary research fellow at De Montfort University and has written a number of books and will have a new one coming out next year on the city’s football history up until 1919. It will be a must-read.

If you enjoy the episode, please take the time to leave us a review on iTunes. You can even do it while you’re listening! You can also follow us on Twitter at @UtdThroughTime or check out our website at unitedthroughtime.com

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Harry Gregg receives an OBE

Harry Gregg will be awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours list, six decades after he showed immense heroism at the Munich Air Disaster during his playing career for Manchester United.

He has proved to be a humble and kind man who has, despite having to overcome personal tragedy on far too many occasions, dedicated much of life to helping others, particularly since 2015 with the Harry Gregg Foundation.

Gregg received an MBE in 1995. Now 86 years old, he thanked his family and others upon the announcement of an OBE.

“I owe so much to my wife Carolyn,” he said, as per the Belfast Telegraph. He also thanked the Busby Babes “who mean so much to me”.

A man hit by tragedy at Munich, Gregg also suffered due the death of his first wife Mavis in 1961 and his daughter Karen in 2009. In 1958 on that snowy runway, Gregg ran straight back into a burning aircraft to save a mother and her daughter from the flames.

He turned out for United less than two weeks later alongside Bill Foulkes, another member of the team who had been on the plane that crashed at Munich on February 6th, 1958.

Gregg’s footballing ability

While Gregg is famous for his selfless heroism, his footballing ability is forgotten too often.

In the same year as Munich, Gregg kept goal for Northern Ireland at the 1958 World Cup finals. The team reached the quarter-finals and Gregg was named Goalkeeper of the Tournament. That was despite Lev Yashin, widely regarded as the greatest of the era, playing for the Soviet Union. Gregg made 25 appearances for his country and is still loved by the Northern Irish.

He moved to England at the age of 18 to sign for Doncaster Rovers and signed for United in 1957. The transfer cost the Reds £23,000, a world-record fee for a goalkeeper.

That alone shows that Gregg’s ability should not be forgotten. In fact, although he never won a medal as a United player due to a number of reasons, he is one of the club’s best ever goalkeepers on the pitch, regardless of his bravery off it.

As Wayne Barton pointed out on Twitter on Friday, Gregg was a unique goalkeeper at the time and helped to formulate the ‘United way’ because of the way he pushed the defensive line in front of him forwards.

Although a goalkeeper dominating their box is the norm these days, and in fact sweeper-keepers are becoming more and more frequent, Gregg was one of the first to demand his defenders moved forward on the pitch and left him to do the work inside his own box.

That meant, according to Barton, that United’s defensive line shifted forward by about 20 yards. Goalkeepers had previously been seen as just a shot stopper, but Gregg’s ideas ensured that all future United ‘keepers had to have a similar style where distribution was a key factor.

Episode Two: Harry Stafford

The second episode of the all-new United Through Time podcast has been released. It focuses on Harry Stafford and is available on all good podcast networks, including:

iTunes acast Spotify

Podcast description

United Through Time looks at Harry Stafford – the saviour of Manchester United. A player, captain and then director, Stafford saved the club from bankruptcy in 1901 and 1902 before falling on his sword to stop the FA crippling Man United in 1904.

This is the story of a railwayman, a son of a hatter, a pub landlord, a hotel owner, a distinguished full-back, a disgraced footballer, the saviour of a club. This is a man who is not remembered through a statue outside Old Trafford but who, along with his St Bernard dog, is responsible for the very existence of Manchester United.

This is the story of Harry Stafford, an Edwardian man who wore a white top hat and loved the spotlight but who, having told everyone he was headed to Australia, boarded a boat to the USA in 1911.

United Through Time is the new podcast delving into Manchester United’s long and famous history. Going in chronological order, United Through Time will focus on the most important individuals at the club since Manchester United was founded as Newton Heath in 1878.


Hosted by Harry Robinson, two guests are heard on this episode as United Through Time covers the themes of railway towns, British emigration, working-class unemployment, the Great Depression and much more as well as the more general football stuff.

Guest One: Ean Gardiner is the author of ‘Harry Stafford – Manchester United’s First Captain Marvel’. This book is the story of Harry Stafford’s life. Without it, that story would be a completely different tale. Ean’s decade-long research has been utterly invaluable and without his work, this podcast would be nothing. The book is a must-read. You can buy it on Amazon, eBay and from Empire Publications.

Guest Two: Gary James is one of the definitive authorities on Manchester’s football history. He’s an honorary research fellow at De Montfort University and has written a number of books and will have a new one coming out next year on the city’s football history up until 1919. It will be a must-read.

If you enjoy the episode, please take the time to leave us a review on iTunes. You can even do it while you’re listening! You can also follow us on Twitter at @UtdThroughTime or check out our website at unitedthroughtime.com

Chronology

Harry Stafford tales: signing Charlie Roberts

Charlie Roberts would become the first ever Manchester United player to represent England. He was brought in by Harry Stafford (the subject of episode two of United Through Time) in a game-changing transfer for Manchester’s football scene. It was a sign that the new Reds in town meant business and could do that business well.

United chairman JJ Bentley was also chairman of the Football League. It was a fact that often caused quite significant controversy, although Bentley was actually a Bolton fan.

Bentley travelled down to London with the Manchester City party in his role as Football League boss. The Blues of Manchester were going to play in the FA Cup Final of 1903. Unbeknown to them, Bentley had arranged an appointment at the plush Holborn restaurant in London. He was meeting with Mr Joseph Bellows, the chairman of Grimsby Town.

Grimsby had a fantastic central defender called Charlie Roberts. He was the sought-after man of English football. Everyone wanted him, including City. While Bentley and Bellows met in London, Harry Stafford was on the end of a telephone line with Charlie Roberts beside him. He had gone on what was called a ‘fishing trip’ and managed to catch Roberts rather than a pike or a cod.

The deal was done for £600, Stafford got Roberts’ signature and the following morning, on Cup final day, Stafford took Roberts to Manchester. While City were ‘distracted’ by becoming the first Mancunian club to win the Cup, United had pounced and it was a sign that things might be beginning to shift very slightly in Manchester.

Later that day, Roberts made his debut in a 2-0 home win against Burton United. He was 6ft, a mountainous man for the era, and wore short shorts, much to the frustration of the Football Association. Everyone else at the time was wearing shorts down below their knees.

Roberts went on to play 302 times for Manchester United in central defence. He formed part of the ‘Ducrobell’ back line of Duckworth-Roberts-Bell which had a brand of cigar named after it.

Episode One: Louis Rocca

The first episode of the all-new United Through Time podcast has been released.

It focuses on Louis Rocca and is available on all good podcast networks, including:

iTunes acast Spotify


Podcast description

United Through Time looks at Louis Rocca: the second-generation Italian immigrant who brought Matt Busby to Manchester United and created the country’s first ever organised scouting network.

This is the man without whom Manchester United could have been called Manchester Celtic and who helped to set up the Manchester United academy as well as helping to save the club from bankruptcy twice.

Louis Rocca dedicated 60 years of his life to Manchester United, starting out as an eight-year-old teaboy and progressing through every role you can imagine. The cornerstones of the club – its name, its stadium, its record of academy players, its colours – were all laid down during Rocca’s time of involvement.

United Through Time is the new podcast delving into Manchester United’s long and famous history. Going in chronological order, United Through Time will focus on the most important individuals at the club since Manchester United was founded as Newton Heath in 1878.

Louis Rocca timeline artwork.jpg

Hosted by Harry Robinson, two guests are heard on this episode as we cover the themes of Italian re-unification, life in 19th century Britain and much more as well as the more general football stuff.

Tony Rea is the utter authority on Italian immigration into Manchester and the Ancoats community which Rocca grew up in. You can read more from him at his website www.ancoatslittleitaly.com

Paddy Barclay, meanwhile, has written the “definitive autobiography” on Sir Matt Busby. It’s available to buy online and from all good booksellers.

If you enjoy the episode, please take the time to leave us a review on iTunes. You can even do it while you’re listening! You can also follow us on Twitter at @UtdThroughTime or check out our website at unitedthroughtime.com

Chronology:

00:00:00 Intro

00:04:37 Background to Rocca’s upbringing

00:11:25 How Rocca got involved with Newton Heath

00:16:34 Renaming Newton Heath -> Manchester United

00:25:40 Rocca’s scouting genius

00:32:40 How Rocca signed a player down a mine

00:33:26 The story behind Harry Worrall signing for Manchester United

00:34:36 Signing a player for 4 freezers of ice cream

00:37:57 Signing Johnny Carey

00:40:50 Man United’s second great financial crisis

00:48:00 Manchester United start their famous academy

00:49:42 The war at Old Trafford

00:53:42 Bringing Matt Busby to Manchester United

00:57:57 Providing Busby with a Cup-winning side

01:00:37 Rocca’s importance to Manchester United today

01:03:44 Outro

Louis Rocca tales: signing Harry Worrall

Harry Worrall was a young player in action for Windsford in a Cheshire League game. Rocca had sent trusted associate Ted Connor to watch him and report back. Connor did so, and told Rocca of Worrall’s talent. Rocca had watched him once before and with Connor’s report backing him up, decided to go and bring him to Manchester United. But half of the clubs in the country wanted Harry Worrall, or were looking at him, at least.

Rocca went to Winsford the following Wednesday. They had a game at 3PM. Arriving at the family home, Rocca was told by Harry’s father that he was out at his job as a bricklayer. Worrall arrived home for lunch at 1:30 with just over an hour until kick off and encouraged by Rocca, he pitched into steak, chips, bread, butter and then rice pudding. As he’d started his lunch, Rocca writes “I couldn’t believe my luck” and then said, “Go on Harry, that’s the stuff to feed on, you’ll show them all to play!”

Worrall went on to eat the “largest meal” that Rocca had “ever seen a lad eat”.

10 minutes into the game, stuffed full of a Rocca-inspired lunch, Worrall had hardly touched the ball and every scout but Rocca and one other had left.

Only the scout from Liverpool remained, having been convinced of his quality previously, like Rocca and Connor. Rocca now just need to beat one man to Worrall’s signature rather than 10. The price, too, was driven down by only two clubs being interested rather than many.