Today is the 80th Anniversary, to the day, of the date when James W Gibson saved Manchester United. That is no exaggeration as the economy was in meltdown and the club was in huge debt.
Eighty years on you might be forgiven for thinking little has changed. However, in December 1931 the club was literally on the brink of extinction and was only saved days before Christmas when club secretary Walter Crickmer went to the house of a Manchester businessman to ask for help.
That man was James W Gibson. After little more than an hour, Crickmer left Gibson’s house in Hale far from empty handed. The generous sum he received was not only enough to pay the backlog of player’s wages and keep the club’s debtors at bay over the festive period but there was even enough left over to buy the players a turkey each for Christmas.
This was the beginning of Gibson’s involvement in Manchester United and his lifetime contribution was immense. Not only saving the club from extinction but going on to invest in the club, become Chairman and play an instrumental role in the development of the innovative youth system and the Busby era. It is fair to say he set Manchester United on a course which created perhaps the greatest football club in the world.
Reading the history of Gibson, one cannot help but note the stark contrast between 1931 and the owners of many Premier League clubs today. Gibson was a man who only ever gave to Manchester United Football Club and its fans – clearing the debt and expecting nothing in return. A real local hero who deserves proper recognition for his selfless acts.
And today that contribution was recognised when the Embling family (James Gibson’s relatives), along with the Mayor of Trafford, lay flowers at the James Gibson Plaque on the Railway Bridge on Sir Matt Busby Way.