Former Man City physiotherapist dies aged 92

FORMER Manchester City physiotherapist John Beeston, who lived in Royton for much of his life, has died at the age of 92.

John, who for many years ran a private practice from his home on Rochdale Road, died at the Royal Oldham Hospital.

John Beeston

In his day, John was described as ‘Britain’s foremost physiotherapist’ as he was at City when they reached the finals of the FA Cup in 1955 and 56 against Newcastle United and Birmingham City respectively.

In an interview, John said: “As club physio I had some unusual jobs to perform. In the 1955 Wembley final I carried Don Revie’s teeth in my pocket as he did not want to be presented to the Queen without them.

“In my other pocket were the light blue winner’s ribbons ready to be tied to the cup, but they had to stay there because we lost!”

In 1956 City reached the Wembley cup final again and this time they won in a game best remembered for Bert Trautmann breaking his neck.

John was photographed helping the injured goalkeeper off the pitch and was involved in his care and rehabilitation.

Trautmann’s story was not long ago made into a film ‘The Keeper’ and John was contacted to help with the research.

Whereas City today have a medical staff of around 30, in John’s time at the club in the 1950s and 60s it was a part time job as afternoons and evenings would see John back at his practice in the centre of Oldham treating his own patients.

He also had a weekly column in the Daily Express, writing hints and tips for keeping fit.

In more than half a century as a physio, John treated an estimated 40,000 people including football greats Matt Busby, Duncan Edwards, Denis Law, Revie and Trautmann and England cricket’s fast bowler Frank Tyson.

John, whose funeral took place at St Aidan and St Oswald Catholic Church, Royton, remained active after retirement as president of Middleton Probus Club and with the Queen Elizabeth School Association.

For his 90th birthday John, whose wife of 62 years Chris died in 2016, he went on a solo trip to Singapore, Australia (Adelaide and Sydney) and New Zealand (Christchurch) visiting friends, nicest, great nieces and great, great nieces.

And aged 91, John went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

“John signed up for a cookery course in November only weeks before he died but was never well enough to attend. That told you about his attitude to life. He was incredible,” explained one family member.

John, who was only nine months old when his soldier father died as a result of injuries sustained in combat at Gallipoli, was raised in Middleton where he was educated at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School.

In 1944, at the age of 17, John volunteered for the Army, where he used skills learnt in the Scouts to oversee physical training, boxing, running, and refereeing.

By the time he was 19, he was acting sergeant and had been to Malta, Libya, Egypt and Palestine before a childhood knee condition flared up and developed into Infected arthritis.

After spending five months in an army hospital John was put on a hospital ship home. Now, with a dodgy knee, John could no longer participate fully in the active sports that he so loved.

While in the army hospital, John became interested in pursuing a career in physiotherapy.

After qualifying with distinction from Salford Hospital School of Physiotherapy, John was accepted to study medicine at Trinity College, Dublin, but decided he had done enough studying and needed to earn money.

Ted Dalton at Salford Hospital was also the physiotherapist at Manchester United and asked John if he would assist him on a part time basis. It was the era of the Busby Babes and he treated many players who were later to be killed in the Munich Air Disaster.

During this time John was also doing some work at the Manchester Victoria Hospital and it was here that he met another young physio Chris Keiley and she was to become his devoted wife for 62 years.

In 1952, aged 25, John opened his first private practice in Oldham, making a name for himself treating sportsmen.

Two years later he was approached by Manchester City to become their physio, a part-time job in those days.  He would travel to the Maine Road every morning, including Sundays and matchdays, where he looked after a squad of 55 players, all by himself for £7 a week.

By 1970 John had moved his practice away from Oldham, setting up consulting rooms at his home in Royton.

John and Chris shared a passion for travel, short and long haul, many before foreign holidays became the vogue, and Chris once told relatives they had flown into Singapore airport 28 times.

John, who recovered from major heart surgery in 2006, continued to enjoy his hobbies of gardening, walking, birdwatching, reading and he loved listening to music, anything from Frank Sinatra to Mozart.

During the final 18 months of John’s life his health deteriorated but, despite many setbacks, every time he defied the odds and bounced back with determination right to the end.

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