The Oldham lad who became an England legend

Reporter: Lucy Kenderdine
Date published: 26 March 2013

A BIOGRAPHY of England’s first manager, Sir Walter Winterbottom, has been released in time for the 100th anniversary of his birth in Oldham.

Written by his son-in-law, Graham Morse, “Sir Walter Winterbottom: The Father of Modern English Football” gives a unique insight into one of the most influential figures of the beautiful game.

Drawing on family possessions such as diaries, interviews, letters and photographs, it paints a personal portrait of a forgotten hero with an extraordinary career.

Born in 1913 in Oldham, Walter took up a teaching post at Alexander Rhodes school in the town, playing football in his spare time for Royton Amateurs and Mossley FC.

It was there he was spotted by Manchester United and he was signed up to the club in 1936, playing 23 first-team games in the 1936/37 season.

He also served as an officer in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and, upon his return, he was appointed by the FA as national director of coaching and England team manager in 1946, becoming the only manager to have taken the side to more than two World Cup finals.

After resigning from the FA in 1962 he set about revolutionising the provision of sports facilities and coaching as the first director of the newly-founded sports council.

He was knighted for his services to sport in 1978 and he died on February 16, 2002, aged 88.

His centenary year is also being celebrated by the FA with the unveiling of a bust of him at the National Football Centre in Burton upon Trent.

The new biography examines his life in detail and looks at the way he became an innovator of modern coaching and administration.

The book costs £17.99 in hardback from John Blake Publishing Ltd.