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A TOUCH OF CLASS - Lewis Unwin presented with the Nobby Stiles Shield

A TOUCH OF CLASS - Lewis Unwin presented with the Nobby Stiles Shield

On Saturday 29th April, FC United welcomed the Stiles family, together with former United player Carlo Sartori and a number of Nobby Stiles’ old United friends to Broadhurst Park, to present The Nobby Stiles Shield to Lewis Unwin, FC United’s Academy Student of the Year. Unfortunately Nobby himself was not well enough to attend.

The presentation took place on the pitch prior to FC United’s final home match of the season and saw Lewis Unwin, the club’s Academy Student of the Year, walking out to a guard of honour, before being presented ‘The Nobby Stiles Shield’ by the Stiles family.

FC United are proud that the club’s Academy Student of the Year Award has be renamed the ‘Nobby Stiles Shield’ in honour of a Mancunian footballing legend and in recognition of our own deeply founded Manchester United roots.

Fitting too that Nobby’s name should be linked to youth football at FC United as he was youth team coach at Manchester United in the early nineties playing a key role in the development of the likes of Giggs, Beckham, Butt, Scholes and the Neville brothers.

Many will be aware of the recent sad news of Nobby’s decline in health as he suffers from advanced dementia. In light of this the board approached FC United member John Bentley who had previously raised the issue of commemorating Nobby at Broadhurst Park. John has been in touch with Nobby’s family and one evening recently John and Karl Marginson and Danny Cooney met with Nobby’s son Robert to show him round Broadhurst Park and chat about how the club can best pay its respects to Nobby.

Robert described the proposal to name our Academy Student of the Year award the Nobby Stiles Shield as a “fitting tribute” to his dad and added that his mum Kay and brothers John and Peter would be honoured. Robert said his dad would be particularly proud given that one of the things that gave him most satisfaction in football was seeing young players he had coached go on to enjoy success in the game.

Following the presentation on Saturday Robert Stiles contacted FC United to thank all those involved.

"Just wanted to say thanks from myself and my mum and the rest of the family.

You made us feel so welcome and it was a fantastic day. You did everything with a touch of class.

I know my dad would have been very proud and honoured to have his name associated with the award and with such a good club.

Thanks again
Rob Stiles"

Nobby Stiles played for United, mostly under the guidance of Matt Busby, for eleven years from 1960 to 1971 and made well over three hundred appearances for the club winning two league titles, the FA Cup and the European Cup. He made his name as a fierce tackling midfielder with tremendous vision, always able to read the game, sniff out any danger and make it easier for those around him to operate at the top of their games.

Many thought of Nobby as the often unsung fourth great United player of the sixties alongside the trinity of Law, Best and Charlton. Indeed Bobby Charlton said of Nobby “no one I would ever know in football was prepared to do so much for his team mates”. More than forty years since he retired from English football Nobby remains the only Mancunian to hold League Championship, European Cup and World Cup winners’ medals.

FC United were invited by Nobby’s family to an unveiling ceremony in May last year when a street in Collyhurst, where he was born, was renamed Nobby Stiles Drive in his honour. The ceremony attracted large crowds and was attended by many former United team mates including Bobby Charlton and Denis Law and took place shortly before the 50th anniversary of England’s 1966 World Cup triumph. He played every minute of England’s 1966 World Cup campaign and the famous picture of gap toothed Nobby dancing a jig with the Jules Rimet trophy remains one of the most iconic images in sport.

Lewis Unwin, the recipient of this season’s Nobby Stiles Shield, was born long after Nobby ceased playing but maybe a few older Reds will be able to pass on their stories of watching Nobby. And with the power of the world wide web Lewis will be able to look up that name on the shield and learn of how a quiet, selfless lad born only a few miles from Broadhurst Park, who couldn’t see properly and had bad knees, went on to become not only a Manchester United great but a well-loved footballing figure all over the world.

There’s a glorious red, white and black thread that connects those of us stood on the terraces of Broadhurst Park to the wonderful Nobby Stiles. The Nobby Stiles Shield proudly acknowledges that.

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First Posted ~ 14:39 Thu 4 May 2017
News ID ~ 7439
Last Updated ~ 09:44 Thu 18 May 2017