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FC United to make a “fitting tribute” to a Manchester footballing legend

03/12/2017

When I was growing up one of the footballers who my dad used to bang on about, perhaps more than any other, was the great Nobby Stiles. So it was an honour to be asked to write this piece for the FC United of Manchester match day programme about how the club are paying their respects to a Manchester footballing legend.

FC United are proud to announce that the award for the club’s Academy Student of the Year will be renamed the Nobby Stiles Shield in honour of a Mancunian footballing legend and in recognition of our own deeply founded Manchester United roots. Fitting too that Nobby’s name should be linked to youth football at FC United as he was youth team coach at Manchester United in the early nineties playing a key role in the development of the likes of Giggs, Beckham, Butt, Scholes and the Neville brothers.

Nobby played for United, mostly under the guidance of Matt Busby, for eleven years from 1960 to 1971 and made well over three hundred appearances for the club winning two league titles, the FA Cup and the European Cup. He made his name as a fierce tackling midfielder with tremendous vision, always able to read the game, sniff out any danger and make it easier for those around him to operate at the top of their games.

Many thought of Nobby as the often unsung fourth great United player of the sixties alongside the trinity of Law, Best and Charlton. Indeed Bobby Charlton said of Nobby “no one I would ever know in football was prepared to do so much for his team mates”. More than forty years since he retired from English football Nobby remains the only Mancunian to hold League Championship, European Cup and World Cup winners’ medals.

FC United were invited by Nobby’s family to an unveiling ceremony in May last year when a street in Collyhurst, where he was born, was renamed Nobby Stiles Drive in his honour. The ceremony attracted large crowds and was attended by many former United team mates including Bobby Charlton and Denis Law and took place shortly before the 50th anniversary of England’s 1966 World Cup triumph. He played every minute of England’s 1966 World Cup campaign and the famous picture of gap toothed Nobby dancing a jig with the Jules Rimet trophy remains one of the most iconic images in sport.

Many will be aware of the recent sad news of Nobby’s decline in health as he suffers from advanced dementia. In light of this the board approached FC United member John Bentley who had previously raised the issue of commemorating Nobby at Broadhurst Park. John has been in touch with Nobby’s family and one evening recently John and Karl Marginson and Danny Cooney met with Nobby’s son Robert to show him round Broadhurst Park and chat about how the club can best pay its respects to Nobby.

Robert described the proposal to name our Academy Student of the Year award the Nobby Stiles Shield as a “fitting tribute” to his dad and added that his mum Kay and brothers John and Peter would be honoured. Robert said his dad would be particularly proud given that one of the things that gave him most satisfaction in football was seeing young players he had coached go on to enjoy success in the game.

As we approach the end of a season in which we’ve buzzed off performances by young players like Kieran Glynn, Nathan Lowe, Jason Gilchrist and Sam Baird and the club’s youth team progressed to the first round proper of the FA Youth Cup for the first time it feels apt that we pay our respects to a Mancunian legend in this way.

The recipient of this season’s Nobby Stiles Shield will have been born long after Nobby ceased playing but maybe a few older Reds will be able to pass on their stories of watching Nobby. And with the power of the world wide web the recipient of the award will be able to look up that name on the shield and learn of how a quiet, selfless lad born only a few miles from Broadhurst Park, who couldn’t see properly and had bad knees, went on to become not only a Manchester United great but a well loved footballing figure all over the world. There’s a glorious red, white and black thread that connects those of us stood on the terraces of Broadhurst Park to the wonderful Nobby Stiles. The Nobby Stiles Shield proudly acknowledges that.

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2 Comments
  1. Keith Marsden permalink

    Fitting tribute to a lovely guy. Came and helped us open Bedians new clubhouse in Diidsbury in 1993 after fire destroyed the old building in 1990. Totally self-effacing individual who deserved more from the game

  2. Peter wharton permalink

    Top article👍👍

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