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Harry Stafford

August 22, 2010

Harry Stafford was born in Crewe in 1869.
He served as an apprentice boiler-maker, probably working in the Engine sheds at Crewe railway yard, but Harry also played football for Southport Central on a Saturday afternoon.

In 1892 Stafford signed for Crewe Alexandra and three years later he played an important role in Crewe’s good FA Cup run.
It wasn’t until the end of the 1894 -95 seaason that Stafford was approached to play for Newton Heath, the game at that time was still amateur and the actual purchasing of a player from one team to play for another wasn’t allowed, Newton Heath however were a works side, and had the backing of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, steam engines had boilers, so it’s not hard to work out that Stafford would have been given a substantiaal inducement in his paypacket to play for Newton Heath LYR, Stafford was also appointed as the first recorded captain and became the dominating force at the club.

Apparently he was known for being a snappy dresser, with a liking for white hats, and bright colourful waistcoats.

Harry is often regarded along with his St Bernard dog “Major” to be the saviour of Newton Heath and therefore Manchester United, the series of events are well documented an need no elaboration here.

Stafford, along with Davies, became a director of Manchester United and James West was appointed as manager. Davies arranged for J.J. Bentley to be appointed as president of the club. However, at the end of the 1902-03 season West and Stafford were suspended by the Football Association for making illegal payments to players. In his defence, Stafford claimed: “Everything I have done has been in the interests of the club.”

With the help of John Henry Davies, Stafford ran an hotel in Wrexham. Later he moved to Canada where he owned a large hotel where the Ottawa and St. Lawrence met. By 1922 the amenities of the hotel included pitches for football, baseball, lacrosse and cricket. There were also tennis courts and a 250 yard track for whippet racing.

In total harry made 182 div 2 appearances and 17 FA cup appearances for Newton Heath, his debut was as RB against Darwen in Dvision 2 on the 3rd April 1896, at Bank Street.

A noted to add to the myth that was Harry Stafford the truth be known is that he never actually retired from the game, at a time when when most dealings were done under the table in brown envelopes Stafford in 1904 faced charges of financial irregularities when trying to keep Newton Heath afloat, his defence being that he had not lined his own pockets in his fraudulent book keeping and did it all for “the good of the club”, was dismissed, he was banned and never played for United again.

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