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Harry Stafford (1869-1940) was an English footballer who played a major role in founding Manchester United Football Club. Born in Crewe, Cheshire, Stafford became a locomotive boiler maker who worked for the London & North Western Railway (LNWR) in the expanding Crewe factories.

In addition to his football career, Stafford was a skilled athlete who ran various distances from 100 meters to half a mile. He was also an exceptional hurdler and represented the Crewe Alexandra Athletic Club for several years until he became a professional with Newton Heath and was thus disqualified from amateur sport.

Stafford made his pagan league debut with a 4-0 home win over Darwen on April 3, 1896, and immediately became the club's first right-back. The following year he turned pro and


appointed club captain after Caesar Jenkyns was sold to Walsall. In 1900 he left the LNWR to become the landlord of the Bridge House Inn in Wrexham, North Wales.

In 1901, the Gentiles were in financial difficulties and held a four-day fundraising bazaar at St. James's Hall on Oxford Street in Manchester in late February. After the show ended, Stafford's dog, a Saint Bernard he called "The Major," disappeared and was owned by wealthy brewery owner John Henry Davies through a restaurant manager named John Robert Thomas. Stafford was reunited with the major through an advertisement in the Manchester Evening News and turned down a generous offer from Davies to buy the dog for his daughter. Even so, JH Davies recognized that the Newton Heath skipper was a popular figure in North Manchester, and in July 1901 Stafford became the landlord of one of Davies' establishments, the Bridge Inn in Ancoats.

On March 6, 1901, Newton Heath played in New Brighton on Bank Street in Harry Stafford's five-year charity game. The game kicked off in the evening and was to be lit fifty years before the floodlights with Wells Lights, devices that produced gas from tar oil. The ball had been gilded to make it more visible, but unfortunately it was a particularly wet and windy night with the lights kept going out. As soon as they were lit again, others were put out and the game stopped after a quarter of an hour.

The birth of Manchester United
In January 1902, Newton Heath was served with a resolution to dissolve debt in excess of £ 2,600 and, despite the best efforts of Stafford, his teammates and supporters, the club appeared doomed. The pagan captain arranged a meeting with JH Davies and brought him into the club with Major as bait. In March 1902, Stafford took the stage at New Islington Hall during a fan meeting and announced that he and five local businessmen would each pledge £ 200 to save the club. A new committee was formed with JH Davies as president, and his daughter Elsie received a St. Bernard dog for her twelfth birthday.

On April 26, 1902, Stafford captained Newton Heath in their last game ever, a 2-1 win in the Manchester Senior Cup final against Manchester City on Hyde Road. It was his only winning medal in his time on Bank Street. On the same day, the club announced the name change to Manchester United Football Club.

Harry Stafford and Secretary James West were put in charge of football affairs and made Stafford captain / manager / director of the club. This meant that as a board member he had no choice but to return to amateur status.

On February 7, 1903, Stafford was the first Manchester United player to be expelled from the field in an FA Cup game against Liverpool on Bank Street. The following month he played his last first team appearance for Manchester United in a home game against Lincoln City.

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