Warren Bradley R.I.P.

Discussion in 'Manchester United: History' started by TomClare, Jun 9, 2007.

  1. TomClare

    TomClare Member

    Aug 25, 2006
    Houston, Texas
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Bishops' hero dies aged 73
    The Northern Echo - Darlington
    June 9 2007

    WARREN BRADLEY, the only footballer to win amateur and professional England caps in the same season, has died two weeks before his 74th birthday.

    Mr Bradley had twice won FA Amateur Cup winners medals with Bishop Auckland before, with Bishops colleagues Derek Lewin and Bob Hardisty, being asked to help out Manchester United following the Munich air disaster in February 1958 which killed eight of the so-called Busby Babes.

    The circumstances were terrible but it was an incredible honour, he once said. During the 1950s, Manchester United were undoubtedly the greatest team in the world.

    Though United found him a job as a teacher (he once played in a friendly against Real Madrid after a tough day at school) he became a semi-professional during 1958-59, scoring on his full England debut in May 1959. Bobby Charlton got the other in a 2-2 draw against Italy.

    A Durham University graduate and former pilot officer at RAF Middleton St George, near Darlington he was one of only seven players to win both amateur and professional England honours.

    Few, also, have scored for three different teams at Wembley Bishop Auckland, Englands amateurs and the full international side.

    Though Mr Bradley underwent a quadruple heart bypass seven years ago, former team mates reported him fit and well at a dinner in April called by Wycombe Wanderers to mark their losing appearance in the 1957 Amateur Cup final.

    "If you'd seen him on the field, you wouldnt have realised what a mild mannered person he was," said Derek Lewin yesterday. "He wouldn't say boo to a goose but his speed and his ability were tremendous."

    "He found it quite difficult at Manchester United at first, but obviously there was a big difference between that and the Northern League, and he also found it quite hard in the full England side.

    "At Manchester United he had Dennis Violett inside him. He always said that that was the big difference with England.

    "The funny thing was that, though he was bright as a button, he could remember almost nothing about playing football."

    The three Bishop Auckland men had made their debut together for Uniteds reserves, a 15,000 Old Trafford crowd watching a 1-1 draw with Burnley.

    United lost to Bolton on Mr Bradley's first team debut but were unbeaten in their next 20 games.

    Born in Hyde, Cheshire, he played university cricket alongside legendary fast bowler Frank Tyson and also met his wife Margaret, from Chester-le-Street, while at Durham.

    At university he also played Northern League football for Durham City while lodging with the club secretary.

    At Bishop Auckland, the amateurs were said to have received fifty bob a week. At Old Trafford he earned £20 but still insisted on remaining a teacher.

    "I wanted to be a headmaster like other boys want to be an engine driver," he once told the Backtrack column and, by 33, he had achieved his ambition. Later he became a self-employed schools inspector, and ran his own company.

    He won 11 amateur caps and three as a professional, scoring 20 goals in 63 League appearances as Manchester Uniteds outside right before a handful of games with Bury.

    "Manchester United came out of the blue, but it was fairly normal because their professional staff had been decimated," he said.

    "I was looking for a job at the time. The Munich disaster changed my life, like a lot more. If that hadn't happened, Id happily have settled in the North-East and played for Bishop Auckland."

    Fellow amateur international Bob Thursby, the Bishops right half in the 1957 final, yesterday recalled a real gentleman.

    "He never sought to be the centre of attention. Away from the pitch he was really quiet, softly spoken, almost introverted.

    "On the field he was like a little quicksilver, incredibly fast, very direct and because of his low centre of gravity, very hard to knock off the ball. He was a wonderful footballer."

    Bishops right back Dave Marshall, another amateur international, spoke of a bustling, rugged outside right with a wonderful ability to cross the ball.

    "If ever there was a case of good stuff coming in little bundles, it was Warren Bradley."

    Mr Bradley, whose wife survives him, lived in Cheshire. Though he was an enthusiastic treasurer of Manchester United's former players association he seldom watched matches, preferring to play golf. Details of his funeral have not yet been announced.


    Amateur footballer propelled to the Manchester United forward line following the Munich air crash
    Published: 09 June 2007
    Warren Bradley, footballer, teacher and headmaster: born Hyde, Cheshire 20 June 1933; played for Manchester United 1958-62, Bury 1962-63; capped three times by England 1959; married (three children); died Manchester 6 June 2007.

    It was a storyline which the scriptwriters for Roy of the Rovers, the enduringly popular comic-strip which riveted readers' attention with rousing yarns of footballing derring-do for several decades in the second half of the 20th century, surely would have rejected as too far-fetched.

    In February 1958 Warren Bradley was a whole-hearted and bold but hardly remarkable amateur outside-right in his middle twenties. A mere 15 months later he was a key member of the prolific Manchester United forward line that propelled the Red Devils to within touching distance of the League championship and had also scored for England on his full international début.

    Yet the irony was that Bradley had never intended to make his living from football; to him it was a game to play for fun on a Saturday afternoon. Unlike most lads with his talent for sport, what fuelled his boyhood dreams was a passionate ambition to teach; and so he did, eventually excelling in a trio of challenging inner-city headships.

    Alas, the catalyst for the diminutive flankman's meteoric progress as a footballer was one of the most tragic events in the history of the game. When United's plane crashed at Munich on the way home from a European Cup tie in Belgrade, eight top players lost their lives and two more were maimed so that they could never take the field again.

    Jimmy Murphy, the inspirational Welshman who kept the Old Trafford flag flying while the grievously injured manager Matt Busby fought successfully for his life, sent out an SOS for emergency recruits. Bradley was one of three amateur internationals with Bishop Auckland to answer the call.

    Initially it was envisaged that he, Derek Lewin and Bob Hardisty would bolster United's reserves, but such was the positive impact of the industrious winger that in November 1958, when he made his senior entrance, he signed a part-time professional contract and took the First Division - the equivalent of the modern Premiership - by storm.

    In their first full campaign after the disaster, United might have been expected to struggle, but a free-flowing attack consisting of Bradley, Albert Quixall, Dennis Viollet, Bobby Charlton and Albert Scanlon plundered 82 of the side's 103 League goals as they finished as title runners-up to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

    Bradley was a revelation. Sturdy and tough, pacy and irrepressibly determined, he was ever willing to chase back and harass opposing defenders in the feisty manner of his illustrious predecessor in the United number-seven shirt, Johnny Berry, one of those invalided out of football by wounds received at Munich.

    He packed a rasping shot, too, which flashed past goalkeepers a dozen times in his 24 appearances that season, and if he wasn't endowed with the flair and pure skill of Berry, there was no doubting the immense value of his contribution. Indeed, so eye-catching was his form that the England amateur - he garnered 11 caps at that level as well as two FA Amateur Cup winner's medals during his three-year tenure with the Bishops - was rewarded with a call-up by his country's professional team in May 1959.

    In truth this elevation startled some observers, who questioned his class, but he confounded them by introducing himself to the full international arena with a goal in a 2-2 draw with Italy at Wembley, then netted again against the United States three weeks later in Los Angeles on his third and final outing. This strike was greeted with enormous relief as it equalised an early goal by the hosts that had raised the spectre of a second humiliation at the hands of the humble (in footballing terms) USA. The first had come in the form of a shock defeat during the 1950 World Cup tournament; this time, though, the final tally was 8-1 to England.

    Thereafter Bradley never played for England again, and although he performed creditably for United during 1959/60, the irresistible rise of the young Johnny Giles was dimming his first-team prospects. Soon it became apparent that he was not part of Matt Busby's long-term reconstruction plan and, following a knee problem that limited his effectiveness and demanded an operation, he was sold to Second Division Bury for £2,500 in March 1962.

    Now his football career petered out with a brief stint at Gigg Lane followed by enthusiastic service to non-League Northwich Victoria, Macclesfield Town and Bangor City.

    But Bradley was not dismayed. As he said in 2005:

    Even when I signed schoolboy terms for Bolton Wanderers as a 14-year-old, I never saw myself spending too long at Burnden Park, although I enjoyed myself there in the junior teams for quite a few years. All I really wanted was to be a headmaster.

    After Hyde Grammar School, there followed a degree in Geography at Durham University, National Service as an officer in the RAF and a first teaching job at the Great Stone secondary modern school at Stretford, Busby having persuaded him to take a job in Manchester while commencing his Old Trafford sojourn. Then came a few years of living a double life, teaching by day, training for United on two evenings a week, all the while playing top-level matches. Eventually the conflicting demands of work and football dictated a full-time move into education, and he relished it.

    In 1968 Bradley became a head teacher, presiding over the conversion of a large secondary modern into a comprehensive school. In his next job he oversaw the change from single-sex to co-ed, and then he was responsible for the successful amalgamation of three schools in Bolton - one grammar and two secondary moderns - into a 2,000-pupil comprehensive.

    He trained as a school inspector in 1988 and set up his own educational management consultancy, contracting work from the newly formed Ofsted until retirement in his sixties.

    However, throughout his distinguished teaching career, Bradley - a meticulously courteous, gently humorous man - never stopped loving football, and served as treasurer of the Manchester United Former Players Association from its inception more than 20 years ago, also putting in a stint as chairman.

    Ivan Ponting
  2. MtP07

    MtP07 BigSoccer Supporter

    Jan 3, 2005
  3. Devil500

    Devil500 New Member

    Mar 7, 2006
    Section 101
    New York Red Bulls
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    United States
  4. United Pumps

    United Pumps New Member

    Apr 15, 2007
    come from?
    "If you'd seen him on the field, you wouldnt have realised what a mild mannered person he was," said Derek Lewin yesterday. "He wouldn't say boo to a goose but his speed and his ability were tremendous."

    I love some of these old phrases.

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