OLDHAMER Bernard Halford, a giant in the world of football administration, has died at the age of 77.
Bernard, who waged a lengthy battle against cancer, passed away on Tuesday (Mar 26) at The Christie.
While Bernard had a 47-year association at Manchester City where he was life president, it was at Oldham Athletic where he began his life in football.
Bernard was appointed assistant secretary to the legendary Frank Buckley at Oldham Athletic aged only 18.
And when Ken Bates bought Latics and had a major cull of staff, Bernard found himself club secretary at the age of 22, the youngest person to hold such a post in football.
After 13 years at Latics, Chadderton-raised Bernard was lured away in 1972 to become secretary at Manchester City – he had followed them and Latics since the age of six watching the two teams on alternative Saturdays.
Bernard revealed he had turned down the job as City secretary four years earlier out of loyalty to Latics who were in a transitional period as he had recruited Bury businessman John Lowe to replace Bates who had quit the club.
Bernard, who lived with wife Karen in Failsworth, was so revered at City that when they won the FA Cup in 2011 by beating Stoke City 1-0, Bernard led the team and coaching staff up the steps to the royal box at Wembley to receive the iconic trophy.
After retiring, Bernard was made a life vice-president by City in recognition of his services.
It was a measure of the esteem in which he was held that City manager Pep Guardiola visited him in The Christie.
Bernard had witnessed it all at City from the lows of life in the third tier of English football 20 years ago to the unbridled joy of winning the Premier League in 2012 and also moving from Maine Road to their new home at the Etihad Stadium.
While Bernard was a football man, his early sporting years were spent playing rugby league and he once turned out for Roughyeds’ ‘A’ team.
Bernard retained his love of rugby league through his work with Roughyeds’ former players’ association of which he had served as chairman, secretary, treasurer and social organiser.
Bernard leaves wife Karen, son Carl who was a former professional footballer, daughters Nicola and Claire and grandchildren.
In a tribute on the City website, it read: “By his admittance, Bernard “ate, slept and breathed” City – in fact, his nickname over the years was indeed ‘Mr Manchester City’.
“He was a key figure at the club for more than 40 years and by way of a tribute to Bernard’s enormous contribution to the club, here are a selection of images profiling Bernard’s amazing career at his beloved City.”
Stalybridge Celtic director Bill McCallum paid tribute to Bernard with whom he went on regular holidays.
“Bernard was a total football man and a great friend of not only Stalybridge Celtic but football at all levels,” he said.