Fusiliers of Interest
Lancashire Fusilier National Service Sergeant
and Manchester United Footballer"
Ian Greaves Busby Babe turned successful manager
Greaves won his championship medal as a right-back, initially standing in for the injured Bill Foulkes. Greaves did so well that he kept out Foulkes out for the rest of that season.
Born in Oldham, Greaves was an effective rather than a stylish defender. He played 15 championship games for his medal, altogether making 67 first team appearances for United. A knee injury undermined his form at Old Trafford, and in 1960 he dropped down the leagues to Lincoln City, playing just 11 games during 1960-61. He also played 22 times for Oldham Athletic, before going into management with Huddersfield Town (1968-74).
The Yorkshire team's glory days were history, but in his second season he took them back up to the top division as champions, with star striker Frank Worthington scoring 22 goals. Huddersfield could hardly compete in the transfer market with more affluent clubs, but he kept them in the top division until 1972. In 1974, he succeeded Jimmy Armfield at Bolton Wanderers.
Bolton had beaten Manchester United in that 1958 Cup final. They had slipped out of the first division 10 years earlier but Greaves brought them back again, with Worthington reunited with Greaves, after a spell at Leicester City, contributing 11 goals. The uncompromising centre-back was Sam Allardyce, while another future manager, Peter Reid, was the tireless engine of the midfield. Bolton's 58 points put them one ahead of Southampton and two before Tottenham.
So successful was Greaves at Bolton that he was briefly a contender to succeed the volatile Tommy Docherty as manager of Manchester United. He kept Bolton in the top division until the end of the 1979-80 season, when they were relegated in last place.
He took charge of Oxford United, (1980-82), had a very short spell at Wolverhampton Wanderers (relegated in 1982) and finally moved to fourth division Mansfield Town (1983-89). He got them into the third division in 1986.
There was even a less glamorous return for him to Wembley, where Mansfield won the 1987 Freight Rover Trophy. Bill Dearden, his assistant then, would later manage Notts County. He called Greaves "a true gentleman, whose man management was second to none. He gave the people of Mansfield a great weekend when we won at Wembley." Greaves, recalled Allardyce, "was the man who gave me the chance to fulfil my boyhood dreams. You really wanted to play for him. He had a fantastic rapport with his players and long after he retired, he was always there for advice ... many of us have a lot to thank him for. He was a special man."
He is survived by his wife and daughter.
Ian Denzil Greaves, footballer and manager,
born 26 May 1932; died 2 January 2009