OLDHAM’S rugby league community was well represented when the world of football gathered at St Mary’s RC Church in Failsworth on Wednesday, April 10 to celebrate the life of Manchester City’s beloved former Life President, Bernard Halford.
A staunch man of faith, Chadderton-born Bernard passed away, aged 77, on March 26, 2019. He began his career in football as a young secretary of Oldham Athletic in the 1960s before moving on to City, whom he served as secretary for more than 40 years.
Though known throughout football as “Mr Manchester City”, he also had a love of rugby league, which he played in his youth before injury forced him out of the game.
In recent seasons he has served the Oldham RL (Past) Players’ Association as secretary and figure-head, forming a formidable double-act with treasurer John Watkins.
John was honoured to be part of the family cortege which, before the service, visited the Etihad Stadium where staff and fans stood to remember their much-loved and highly-respected colleague and friend.
Other members of the Oldham RL (Past) Players’ Association in a packed Church included Ray Hicks, Billy Broomhead, Dave Kenway, Ian Taylor and Bob Henthorn .
Current Oldham RLFC chairman Christopher Hamilton said: “It was a lovely, moving service and a wonderful send-off for Bernard, who was a great guy and a personal friend. City did him proud.”
Also there were a former Oldham chairman John Chadwick and an ex-Oldham, Salford and Huddersfield commercial manager, Ray Hill.
Among the Rochdale Hornets Past Players’ contingent was 82-year-old former Wales and British Lions centre Malcolm Price, who initially came north to sign for Oldham and who, only recently, was installed in Welsh Rugby’s Hall of Fame.
Otherwise, the occasion was like a Who’s Who of football. Current City manager Pep Guardiola was in attendance as were former managers Mark Hughes, Peter Reid, Tony Book and Brian Horton.
All-time City greats Colin Bell, Francis Lee, Mike Summerbee and Vincent Kompany also paid their respects as did many ex-City players including Joe Hart, Paul Dickov, Shaun Goater, Paul Lake, Shay Given, Joey Barton, Alex Williams MBE, Colin Hendry, Dennis Tueart, Peter Barnes, Joe Corrigan and Ian and David Brightwell.
Other well-known sporting figures included former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson and current City coach Brian Kidd.
Bernard will be sorely missed, not only by football and Manchester City but by lots of sports people in and around Oldham and particularly by Chris Hamilton and by the small band of enthusiasts who battle to keep the flag flying for the Oldham (Past) Players’ Association.