‘Mr Manchester City’ Bernard Halford dies

OLDHAMER Bernard Halford, a giant in the world of football administration, has died at the age of 77.

Bernard, who waged a lengthy battle against cancer, passed away on Tuesday (Mar 26) at The Christie.

While Bernard had a 47-year association at Manchester City where he was life president, it was at Oldham Athletic where he began his life in football.

Bernard was appointed assistant secretary to the legendary Frank Buckley at Oldham Athletic aged only 18.

And when Ken Bates bought Latics and had a major cull of staff, Bernard found himself club secretary at the age of 22, the youngest person to hold such a post in football.

After 13 years at Latics, Chadderton-raised Bernard was lured away in 1972 to become secretary at Manchester City – he had followed them and Latics since the age of six watching the two teams on alternative Saturdays.

Bernard revealed he had turned down the job as City secretary four years earlier out of loyalty to Latics who were in a transitional period as he had recruited Bury businessman John Lowe to replace Bates who had quit the club.

Bernard, who lived with wife Karen in Failsworth, was so revered at City that when they won the FA Cup in 2011 by beating Stoke City 1-0, Bernard led the team and coaching staff up the steps to the royal box at Wembley to receive the iconic trophy.

After retiring, Bernard was made a life vice-president by City in recognition of his services.

It was a measure of the esteem in which he was held that City manager Pep Guardiola visited him in The Christie.

Bernard had witnessed it all at City from the lows of life in the third tier of English football 20 years ago to the unbridled joy of winning the Premier League in 2012 and also moving from Maine Road to their new home at the Etihad Stadium.

While Bernard was a football man, his early sporting years were spent playing rugby league and he once turned out for Roughyeds’ ‘A’ team.

Bernard retained his love of rugby league through his work with Roughyeds’ former players’ association of which he had served as chairman, secretary, treasurer and social organiser.

Bernard leaves wife Karen, son Carl who was a former professional footballer, daughters Nicola and Claire and grandchildren.

In a tribute on the City website, it read: “By his admittance, Bernard “ate, slept and breathed” City – in fact, his nickname over the years was indeed ‘Mr Manchester City’.

“He was a key figure at the club for more than 40 years and by way of a tribute to Bernard’s enormous contribution to the club, here are a selection of images profiling Bernard’s amazing career at his beloved City.”

Stalybridge Celtic director Bill McCallum paid tribute to Bernard with whom he went on regular holidays.

“Bernard was a total football man and a great friend of not only Stalybridge Celtic but football at all levels,” he said.

One Reply to “‘Mr Manchester City’ Bernard Halford dies”

  1. Howzat! We must have rolled those dice thousands of times in your home on Lancaster St. Chadderton. Playing make-believe cricket. Then on TV we watched England decimate India: they had them at 0 for the loss of four wickets when your mother turned the TV off and made us go out and play. Your mum and dad took me on holiday with you a couple of times to Scarborough. Where we lodged opposite Peasholm park. Went to the corner cafe each day and sometimes had a dip in the open-air swimming pool. Roundabout this time we were both learning to play the piano, your mam and Dad took us to listen to Rawicz and Landauer at the Floral Hall.
    If I remember rightly you were the youngest person ever to enter the ‘Green Final’ bowling handicap and you received a special cup for it. As we grew older we were allowed to go into town, Saturday nights we spent our pocket money at the snooker hall on Union St. Oldham. Your father (my uncle Harold) persuaded and insisted that I wrote a letter for a job vacancy at the Oldham Evening Chronicle, thanks to your dad I became an apprenticed photo-engraver. Slowly we drifted apart, then one evening you called at my mother’s on Coalshaw Green Rd. to inform her that her brother, your dad had passed away. A few years later you called at my house. Your local pub the ‘Free Trade’ were after a piano player, was I interested? I played there for a few years and you often got up on stage and sang the song ‘I Like It’. The Free Trade had a compulsory order to close slapped on it. When it finally shut down you presented me with a bolt of cloth from which to have a suit made up. The years passed and the next time we met was for John O’Grady’s stag do. We started off at the King George on Hollins Rd. Then a small party of us carried on to a night club that used to be the Gaumont Cinema. Jimmy Frizzell was in our party and managed to get us all in ‘free of charge’. Time seemed to fly by, I occasionally visited your mother Winnie and this is where I briefly met your Karen. We lost contact, then, someone who knew my relationship to you saw you in a cafe and acquired your mobile number for me.
    You visited me at my home on the Coppice, Oldham. on Friday the 6/4/18 and we reminisced for over three hours: I took this photo of you:

    R.I.P Bernard. You had a wonderful life.
    Your cousin, DAVID RENSHAW.

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