Tony Whelan thankful to colleagues after landing Academy award


“I’ve been privileged to work with some wonderful people over the years,” he told us.  “People like Brian Kidd and Nobby Stiles, who brought me to the club many, many years ago – 1990, I think it was.

“Right at the beginning, all those years ago, they had the belief and trust in me. I just hope I justified that and maybe I have.

“There is Les Kershaw, the Academy manager when I went from part-time to a full-time coach in 1998, when the Academy started. Paul McGuinness, who I worked with for many years and is now working with the FA, and colleagues like Dave Bushell, who is still working for the club in education. Geoff Watson, one of our scouts, who recently deceased, was a wonderful man. Brian McClair, the Academy manager who succeeded Les Kershaw, and a lot of people who aren’t well known but do some tremendous work behind the scenes.

“One particular person is Graham Buckingham, who has been kit-manager and a number of different jobs at the club, helping with the coaches and being the first-aid man. Eamon Mulvey, from the foundation phase, who works with very young players in a demanding job and goes really under the radar. Wonderful people like the admin staff in the office over the years, such as Clare Nicholas and Marie Beckley. I couldn’t do the job without them. In my case, I’m not good with IT and writing letters, and all these things they do in making a wonderful contribution.

“Nick Cox, the Head of the Academy, has been so supportive since coming to the club. Last but not least, Sir Alex Ferguson. It was a privilege to work under him for a number of years and I learned so much from him in terms of leadership and how to deal with people. 

“When you get awards, you think about the club itself and we’re honoured to be the guardians of youth development here as it goes back a long way – to Sir Matt Busby and Jimmy Murphy. We’re following in their footsteps and are hopefully carrying the traditions forward.

“The young players still coming through are testament to this and a lot of people behind the scenes have made a contribution to that. I dedicate the award to them – the wonderful people who I work with at the club.”


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