Belfast Telegraph

New Year Honours: Football hero Harry Gregg in tribute to family after second royal award

 

Northern Ireland and Manchester United legend Harry Gregg
Northern Ireland and Manchester United legend Harry Gregg

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland and Manchester United legend Harry Gregg has paid a warm tribute to wife Carolyn and his family after being awarded an OBE for services to football.

The 86-year-old, who received an MBE in 1995, also thanked those who helped him during what was a wonderful career at club and international level.

Gregg won 25 caps and excelled for Northern Ireland in the 1958 World Cup finals when the team, managed by Peter Doherty, reached the quarter-finals. Named as the goalkeeper of the tournament, Gregg is still revered 60 years on by the Green and White Army.

Manchester United fans feel the same way about a man who has never been afraid to speak his mind. After starting his professional career at Doncaster Rovers he moved to Old Trafford in 1957, quickly establishing himself as a firm favourite with the United fans thanks to his stunning saves and bravery.

In 1958 Harry showed that fearlessness was not confined to the football pitch when in the aftermath of the Munich air crash he rescued fellow players and other passengers.

Modest about his heroic deeds, Gregg was deeply affected by the events in Germany which cost 23 people their lives, including eight of Matt Busby's famous side. Harry and Sir Bobby Charlton are the only players who survived the crash that are still alive.

Harry has also known family tragedy, losing his first wife Mavis and daughter Karen to cancer. This giant of Northern Ireland sport says he is grateful for family support through difficult times.

"I owe so much to my wife Carolyn," said the goalkeeping great.

"Carolyn has been through a lot with me and I appreciate everything she has done for our family. I'm actually happiest for my wife about this award. She deserves it and so do our children, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren.

"They are what matter most to me. When we lost Karen it was a difficult time for the family but we came through it together."

Harry Gregg, former Manchester United goalkeeping legend- OBE for services to Football. (Paul Faith/PA)
Harry Gregg, former Manchester United goalkeeping legend- OBE for services to Football. (Paul Faith/PA)
Willie John McBride- CBE for services to Rugby Union. Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy/BLL
Heather Smart, Northern Irelands first female Firefighter- MBE for services to the advancement of women in the fire and rescue service.
Gareth McAuley, Northern Ireland defender- MBE for services to Football in Northern Ireland. Nick Potts/PA Wire.
Crusaders Manager Stephen Baxter- BEM for services to Football in Northern Ireland. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
UUP MLA Andy Allen- MBE for services to veterans and their families in Northern Ireland. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Professor Anne Carlisle, vice chancellor of Falmouth University, has been appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in recognition of her services to Higher Education and the regional economy.
Adrian McAllister, Deputy Chief Constable, Lancashire Constabulary. OBE for services to policing, criminal justice and child protection.
Finlay Spratt, chairman of the Prison Officers Association- MBE for public service and charity
PSNI Inspector Rosie Leech- MBE for services to Policing and the Community in Northern Ireland. Credit: PA
Brian Ingram, Director of the Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre near Bangor- OBE for services to vulnerable children and adults in custody. Niall Carson/PA.
PSNI Superintendent Brian Kee- Queen's Police Medal (QPM). Credit: PSNI

On his footballing influences, Harry added: "I was fortunate to work with some wonderful people, none more so than Peter the Great (Peter Doherty). I would like to thank him for everything he did for me.

"I'd also like to thank Danny Blanchflower, the players I played with in the 1958 team that reached the last eight of the World Cup, our trainer Gerry Morgan and of course the Busby Babes, who mean so much to me."

In 2015, the Harry Gregg Foundation was founded which caters for all sections of the community to promote positivity for young people.

Harry will visit Buckingham Palace next year to accept his OBE.

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