On Sunday 4 February 2018, a special event is being planned to honour Manchester United’s well-loved trainer, Tom Curry.
Tom Curry was a professional footballer-turned-coach, who became Manchester United’s trainer in 1934 until his untimely death in the Munich air disaster on Thursday 6 February 1958, when Tom and 22 other people tragically lost their lives.
To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Munich air disaster, Trafford Council have kindly approved a Blue Plaque in Tom Curry’s name.
For 24 years, Tom lived with his wife, Elizabeth and their three children, George, Thomas and Elizabeth opposite St Teresa’s School in Firswood, Manchester He was well loved by his friends, neighbours and football colleagues – many of whom regularly came to visit him at his home. Most of the young Manchester United players at the time lived nearby in digs, which – like Tom’s home – was just a short walking distance to Manchester United’s ground at Old Trafford.
Tom’s granddaughter, Jennie Dixon used to stay at the house when she was a young child. She recalls her mother, Betty (Elizabeth) telling her about the Manchester United players coming round to visit:
“My mum told us how she would come home from work to find one or more of the players sitting at the dinner table ready to have tea with them. She said they all looked up to my grandfather, who was a very kind and mild mannered man and he was fiercely protective of them all.”
Tom Curry was the trainer to the 1948 Great British Olympic football team and served Manchester United through the early cup successes of 1948 and on to the emergence of the title-winning team of the mid-50s. He is often seen in the team photos, with his familiar white coat on (see above).
Born on Sept 1, 1894, in South Shields, Tom played for two local sides (St Michael’s and Parkside) before attracting interest from Newcastle United and signed with them in 1912. But the start of his professional career was delayed by the First World War in which he served as a Sergeant with the Royal Engineers.
Newcastle United – like many other clubs – closed down for the duration of the war so Tom had to look elsewhere for a game. Like a number of his Tyneside colleagues, he spent a period at Leeds United making an appearance at Elland Road on 8 March 1919 against Sheffield United.
On the resumption of League football after the war, Tom made his debut with Newcastle United in the first game of the 1919/20 season, at Arsenal. He played as a half-back for the Magpies for ten years, making 221 appearances.
In 1929 Tom left St James Park on a free transfer to Stockport County, a year later becoming the trainer for Carlisle United.
Four years later, Tom joined Manchester United under Scott Duncan in 1934 as their trainer, which – in those days – was half fitness coach and half technical coach.
When (Sir) Matt Busby took over in 1945 after the Second World War, Tom was already a stalwart member of the backroom staff and known as ‘Tosher’ to everyone at Old Trafford. Sir Matt held Tom in such high regard that he asked him to stay with the club under his management – he described Tom as ‘the best trainer in Britain’.
After almost twenty years service – on 30 September 1953 – Tom was granted a testimonial by the club. (Manchester United v Hibernian).
Aside from the Manchester United players, Tom received many visitors to his home in Firswood. A regular guest was Bill Shankly, who knew Tom from his days playing for Carlisle United as a young player when Tom was the trainer. As a gesture of thanks to Tom – who’d loaned Bill some money to help him out when he was left penniless after a card game – Bill used to bring round a dozen eggs, which were still scarce since the Second World War.
Jennie and her sister, Liz will be unveiling the Blue Plaque – along with a special guest – at midday on Sunday 4 February. It is expected that Tom’s family and friends, Manchester United representatives as well as members of the general public – will all be in attendance.