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Revealed: The forgotten Man United star who saved Barca but now lies in a pauper's grave

Discussion in 'Sports' started by Rutashubanyuma, May 28, 2011.

  1. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

    #1
    May 28, 2011
    Joined: Sep 24, 2010
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    Revealed: The forgotten Man United star who saved Barca but now lies in a pauper's grave

    Published 08:08 28/05/11 By Laurie Hanna - EXCLUSIVE

    [​IMG]


    He captained Manchester United and managed Barcelona – yet lies in a pauper’s grave.
    Patrick O’Connell is the football legend who starred for both of today’s Champions League finalists but few modern-day fans know his name.
    His life story was one of fame, controversy, war, success and, ultimately, tragedy.
    Born in Dublin in March 1887, he was one of nine children and had a tough upbringing.An uncompromising centre-back, his talent was obvious and led to him signing for Belfast Celtic where he starred for the Irish League team’s defence.
    At just 21, his girlfriend Ellen was pregnant with their child, Patrick Junior.
    His appearances for Belfast Celtic meant he was soon spotted by English scouts and he signed for Sheffield Wednesday in 1909, with team-mate Peter Warren, for a combined fee of £50.
    Patrick found it difficult to break into the Wednesday team – but did make his international debut in 1912 – before signing for Hull, where he established himself in the first team.
    After two seasons there, Manchester United came calling and in 1914 – aged 27 – he moved for the grand fee of £1,000.
    An instant hit, he scored on his debut against Oldham and became the first-ever Irish captain of the club.
    International success followed, and Patrick was a member of the Irish team that won the British Home Nations Championship in 1914.
    But – as ever in his life – drama was not far away.
    In March 1915, he became embroiled in an infamous betting scandal that saw relegation-threatened United defeat Liverpool.
    Patrick missed a penalty in the game, and it later emerged that a small group of players from both clubs had fixed for the score to finish 2-0.
    Seven players were banned for life, and although Patrick was never implicated, his name remains indelibly linked to the shameful episode.
    “Patrick may have known what was going on, but he decided he didn’t want to know about it and didn’t get involved,” says Sue O'Connell, wife of his grandson Mick, who has spent years researching Patrick’s life.“We know he ended up as a supervisor at Boland’s Mill in Dublin before football came calling.”
    The outbreak of the First World War meant that the Football League was soon suspended, and Patrick guested part-time for other clubs while working in a munitions factory.
    The league did not resume until 1919–20 - by which stage Patrick had signed for Dumbarton in Scotland.
    After a season there, he moved on to Ashington in the north-east of England - where he eventually became player-coach and started to hone the skills that would serve him so well in management.
    But his personal life was not going quite so smoothly, as his marriage to Ellen began to dissolve.
    So, in 1922, he took the chance to leave his family and take up the role as manager of Racing Santander in northern Spain.
    He managed the club for seven years, guiding them to five regional titles. In 1928, they became founding members of the Spanish top division, La Liga.
    His reputation soared in Spain, where he became known as Don Patricio and was admired by fans all around the country.
    He went on to manage Real Oviedo for two years and then spent three seasons at Real Betis - where his legendary status became guaranteed.
    He lead Betis to the La Liga title in 1935 - it remains their only top-division success and he is still a hero to the club’s fans.
    Soon, Barcelona were in touch and a move to Catalonia followed. He guided the club to the Spanish Cup Final in his first year in charge - only to lose 2-1 to bitter rivals Real Madrid.
    Then, for the second time in Patrick’s life, the outbreak of war impacted on his football career.
    La Liga was suspended when the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936-37, but clubs in the Republican regions of Spain competed in their own ‘Mediterranean League’ and Barcelona triumphed there.
    The Civil War ultimately meant falling finances - but then, out of the blue, an unusual business opportunity was offered to Barcelona.
    Manuel Mas Soriano, a Mexican former basketball player, asked the club to tour his homeland and the USA for a guaranteed fee of $15,000 - a huge amount in 1937.
    They travelled for two months, and won eight of their 10 games - as well as an army of global fans that exists to this day.
    “Patrick was very proud to be in charge of the team when they went from Mexico to New York,” says Sue.
    “That trip earned them a lot of money, which essentially saved the club from financial ruin.”
    Patrick remained as Barca manager until 1940, then moved back to Betis for two years before taking over Sevilla.
    He finished his management career in Spain, where it all started - back with Racing Santander from 1947-1949.
    He was briefly reunited with his son Daniel during his last years, but the two discovered they had little in common and he never fully reconnected with any of his children before he died at age 71 in February 1959.
    Revered as the man who helped save Barcelona, there remains a bust of him in the club museum and he is remembered on their website.
    His death certificate records he was killed by pneumonia, and he was buried alongside his sister Christina in a graveyard in Kilburn, north-west London.
    “It is very sad to think that he lies in an unmarked grave,” says Sue.
    Now, Mick and Sue intend to approach United and Barcelona and ask both clubs if they are prepared to contribute to a proper memorial to be placed at his grave.
    “We hope they will agree,” says Sue. “Given the remarkable role he has in football history, he deserves a lot more.”
    ***
    BRITS AT BARCA: MANAGERS AND PLAYERS WHO SWAPPED UK FOR CATALONIA
    Managers:
    Patrick O’Connell: 1935-40
    Jack Greenwell: 1917-24 and 1931-33
    Ralph Kirby: 1924-26
    James Bellamy: 1929-31
    Vic Buckingham: 1969-71
    Terry Venables: 1984-87
    Bobby Robson: 1996-97
    Players:
    Steve Archibald: 1984-88
    Mark Hughes: 1986-88
    Gary Lineker: 1986-89
     
  2. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

    #2
    May 28, 2011
    Joined: Sep 24, 2010
    Messages: 61,381
    Likes Received: 490
    Trophy Points: 180
    Code:
    Revered  as the man who helped save Barcelona, there  remains a bust of him in  the club museum and he is remembered on their  website.
     His death  certificate records he  was killed by pneumonia, and he was buried  alongside his sister  Christina in a graveyard in Kilburn, north-west  London.
     "It is very sad to think that he lies in an unmarked grave," says Sue.
     Now,   Mick and Sue intend to approach United and Barcelona and ask both  clubs  if they are prepared to contribute to a proper memorial to be  placed at  his grave.
     "We hope they will agree," says Sue. "Given the remarkable role he has in football history, he deserves a lot more."
    Kwetu hapa wachezaji kutelekezwa ni jambo la kawaida................
     
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