Rivals unite in grief for popular Greaves

Reporter: Tony Bugby
Date published: 05 January 2009

ATHLETIC and Huddersfield Town fans shared a common grief following the death of Ian Greaves at the age of 76 after a lengthy illness.

Mr Greaves, who was a native of Shaw, played for Athletic and was one of Town's most successful managers, passed away on the eve of Saturday's derby between the two teams at The Galpharm Stadium.

And both sets of supporters honoured a true footballing great – Mr Greaves was one of the less well-known members of the Manchester United's legendary Busby Babes – with one minute’s applause.

Mr Greaves, a former pupil at Crompton House School, enjoyed considerable success during a seven-year stint at Old Trafford though that was punctuated by his National Service when he was deployed to the Middle East during the Suez Crisis.

The full-back – he played both right and left – made 75 first-team appearances for the Reds, winning a league championship medal in 1955/56 and appearing in the 1958 final of the FA Cup when they lost to Bolton, a team he would later manage.

Indeed, it was fate that Mr Greaves was not a victim of the Munich air disaster, which claimed the lives of so many of the Busby Babes, as he was injured and missed the trip to play Red Star Belgrade.

He later appeared for Lincoln City and Athletic, for whom he made 22 appearances in 1961/62.

He then embarked upon an illustrious career in management spanning 25 years in which he won three promotions with Huddersfield and Bolton.

He later had spells managing Oxford United, Wolves and Mansfield.

Alan Gowling, a striker Mr Greaves signed for both Huddersfield and Bolton, paid tribute saying: “Ian played a big part in my life and one of his greatest attributes was that he was a good man manager.

“He had the ability to be close to the players, yet retained that required distance and he was greatly respected by the players.

“Ian was a man’s man and excellent company. He was not averse to calling a spade a shovel, but there was also a softer side and he oozed charisma.”

Mr Greaves’ sporting exploits were not confined to football as he was also a talented cricketer who played first-team cricket in the CLL for Crompton during the summer months.

Cec Wright, who joined Crompton as their overseas professional in 1959, became close friends with Mr Greaves.

He said: “Ian played in the days when there were a lot of the world’s top cricketers in the league. And it was a measure of what a good batsman he was that he was able to hold his own in such company as well as being a gentleman.”

Mr Greaves, who died at his home in Ainsworth, Bury, leaves his second wife Vera, only daughter Christine, step-children Simon and Jason and grandchildren Paul and Louise.

The funeral will take place at Bolton Parish Church later this week, though the date has yet to be finalised.