Walter Crickmer was Mr. Manchester United. If anyone deserves that honour, it is he. He lived and breathed the club for 40 years working behind the scenes and even sometimes managing the team.
Walter joined Manchester United in 1919 after the Great War. He worked as an administrator in several office functions. In 1926 he was appointed to the board as Club Secretary. The club secretary was the equivalent of a Chief Operating Officer in those days and he effectively ran the business side of the club. His duties encompassed everything from arranging travel plans, booking hotels to organizing finances and administrating player contracts and club records.
Walter twice stepped into the managers hot-seat when United were "between" managers. The first occasion was in 1931 following Herbert Bamlett's dismissal. The second occasion made Walter one of United longest serving managers as he filled the void left by Scott Duncan’s sudden resignation in late 1937. With the onset of World War, Walter stayed at the post through to January 1946 when he appointed Matt Busby to the role.
Walter never held the title of manager however he sure knew how to manage people. And footballers were no different. He also knew the game, as his official record was better than some managers that he preceded. Between 1937 and 1940 (matches played during the war are not official matches) he managed the team in 70 games, winning 30 and drawing 24, losing 22. He also led United to promotion from the second division (1937/38) by finishing second behind Aston Villa.
Whilst everyone will credit Matt Busby with developing youth teams, it was in fact Walter who started the youth policy and developed a youth academy in 1938.
If that was a good decision, then a great one was appointing Matt Busby to manage the team after the war. Walter stepped back into managing the club and rebuilding Old Trafford after it was bombed during the war. He was a massive help in fighting the Football Association to allow English clubs to enter European Competition in the mid 1950's that led United into Europe.
Walter travelled with United to every game and was on the fated Munich flight.
Walter Crickmer died February 6th, 1958 at Munich.
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