Manchester City Life President Bernard Halford has sadly passed away at the age of 77.
Former long-serving Club secretary, Bernard had been suffering from ill-health for some time but continued to be a regular visitor at the CFA and the Club he loved up until his final days.
By his own admittance, Bernard “ate, slept and breathed” City – in fact, his nickname over the years was indeed ‘Mr Manchester City’.
Club Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak led the tributes to Bernard, saying: “The loss of Bernard Halford marks an extremely sad day for our football club.
“Bernard was an incredibly dedicated, loyal and wonderful part of the City story for almost five decades. I was fortunate and privileged enough to know him for ten of those years. He lived and breathed Manchester City and was a tireless advocate for us.
“His depth of knowledge about Manchester City was unparalleled and his enthusiasm for the Club infectious. Even as his health deteriorated, he was a familiar face at the City Football Academy or at the Etihad Stadium.
“In reflecting on his life, I am reminded of the enormous pride he – and we - took from him being able to realise a boyhood dream by lifting the FA Cup in 2011. It was a special moment not only for Bernard, but for everybody connected with Manchester City.
“Though this is incredibly sad news for everyone, I know that his love of the Club and his many friends here were a constant focus for him, particularly over a difficult last year.
“He is irreplaceable, and we will ensure that his legacy lives on. Our thoughts are with his wife Karen and his family at this most difficult time.”
City boss Pep Guardiola added: “It is such sad news to hear of Bernard Halford’s passing.
“It was an honour and a privilege to meet and talk football with him and his knowledge of this football club was amazing.
“He was a great man, but moreover, he was also a great football man with a complete understanding of the game from grass roots level up.
“His whole life was dedicated to the game, but mostly to Manchester City and we were lucky to have him.”
A lifelong City supporter, Bernard – who was born in May 1941 - watched his beloved Blues from the terraces of Maine Road as a child, watching the Club’s fluctuating fortunes of the 1950s and 60s.
Born and raised in Chadderton, he completed his education at St Gregory’s in Ardwick in 1956 - and after a spell in the cotton industry - Bernard joined his local club, Oldham Athletic, as secretary, before fulfilling a boyhood dream by taking up a key role with his beloved Blues 13 years later.
He joined City during the 1972/73 season, initially as ‘Company Secretary’, eventually becoming Club Secretary and remained in the role for nearly 40 years, seeing dramatic shifts in our fortunes on and off the pitch, chairman and ownership changes and numerous managerial appointments.
It was a role he thrived in and he was key to hundreds of transfers in and out of the Club, from Denis Law’s shock switch from United in 1973, to the Club record transfer of Brazilian Robinho in 2008 after the Abu Dhabi United Group had completed their takeover that August.
His list of achievements and overall contribution to the Club are almost incalculable.
As well as his main Club duties, Bernard was also a tireless champion for City’s work in the community and forged close and pioneering links with our many supporters’ clubs where he was a hugely influential figure in the creation of the Club’s supporters’ organisations. Bernard was also instrumental in the founding of the Junior Blues – later called Live4City
In addition, Bernard worked closely in establishing City’s famed Academy, helping it become viewed with huge respect and admiration throughout the game.
Furthermore, Bernard’s widespread football knowledge and ceaseless commitment to the sport also saw him become a hugely significant figure within the grassroots football scene in Manchester, especially with the Manchester FA where his work was hugely appreciated.
In 2006 was elected to the Club’s Hall of Fame - the only non-player to be bestowed this honour.
And in 2010, Bernard became only the Club’s second Life President as he approached 40 years of service with City.
Former CEO Garry Cook said: “Many have made a commitment and shown dedication, loyally playing their part in the Club's history. None more so than Bernard Halford.
"He was unique and he will remain ‘one of a kind’ and a great servant and fan of Manchester City. He should never should he be forgotten."
In 2011, having seen City win just one trophy in his 39 years as secretary, Bernard was invited to lift the FA Cup after the Blues beat Stoke 1-0 at Wembley.
Last year, he recalled: “On the day of the match, I got told that if we won the Cup, I was going up to receive it. The only person, other than a player or a manager, to lift the Cup at Wembley!
“I was 69 years old and I lifted the FA Cup in front of 90,000 people at Wembley. Can you imagine? I remember sitting watching Stanley Matthews win it in 1953. Fifty-eight years later, it’s Alice In Wonderland stuff.”
Club ambassador Mike Summerbee added to the tributes, saying: “Bernard was a fantastic man and a fantastic servant for this football club.
“His knowledge of the game was incredible, and he lived, breathed and slept Manchester City.
“For more than 40 years he worked tirelessly for City and there was nobody prouder than he when we won the Premier League in 2012, but the FA Cup in 2011 was even more special because Bernard got to lift the trophy at Wembley – that’s how highly thought of he was by everyone at the Club.
“I always felt Bernard deserved recognition for his service in the shape of an MBE or similar.
“His work with local football at grassroots level often went unseen, but even up to last year just before he became poorly, he was going to local schools with trophies and doing fantastic work.
“I have lost a dear and trusted friend. He was an amazing man who will be sorely missed, and I send my sincere condolences to Bernard’s family at this very difficult time.”
Pablo Zabaleta said: "Mr Halford was there when I first joined City and he was always fantastic with me.
"He could never do enough to help you and I always held him in the highest esteem.
"It was fantastic to see him lift the FA Cup and then win the Premier League. He was a true gentleman and today is a sad day for Manchester City."
Former City player Fred Eyre added: “As far as I’m concerned, he means everything to the Club and has done for so many years. The Club wouldn’t have even functioned if Bernard hadn’t been guiding everything behind the scenes. As far as City are concerned, he’s been invaluable for what seems like forever.
“Every job he undertook, he did with Manchester City in mind and the benefits of the Club. He wanted to make Manchester City the biggest and best."
Adie Mike wrote: "Very sad news. Lovely man and always had time for a chat with you. Rest in peace Bernard."
Tommy Doyle added: "Very sad news. Rest in peace Bernard."
Luke Bolton echoed: "Very sad news to hear about the passing of Mr Man City, Bernard Halford. A true legend!"
The thoughts of everyone at Manchester City are with Bernard’s family at this difficult time.
Mr Manchester City, a true gentleman & an absolute legend 💙It was a pleasure & an honour to know you Bernard Halford, you will be sadly missed by all @ManCity & beyond 💙 Thoughts & prayers to all friends & family #RIPBernard 🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/hnJScbCbQy— Paul Dickov (@OfficialPDickov) March 26, 2019
RIP Bernard Halford. A true gentleman and City legend. pic.twitter.com/xqelljyMu2— Pablo Zabaleta (@pablo_zabaleta) March 26, 2019
Sad to hear the news that Bernard Halford my old Secetary @ManCity has passed away , thoughts and prayers with his family 🙏🏼 💙🙏🏼— Shay Given (@No1shaygiven) March 26, 2019
Devastating news about Bernard halford. He was Secretary at Oldham athletic when I signed amatuer forms in 1966.He then drew up my first contract as a pro footballer in 1967.A wonderful human being who will be very sadly missed by so many. Prayers with Karen and all his family💙— Les Chapman (@ChappyMCFC) March 26, 2019
Sad to hear the news of the passing of Bernard Halford @ManCity what a lovely lovely man, 🙏🏻 RIP 💙— Steve Howey (@stevehowey624) March 26, 2019
RIP Mr Halford what a fantastic Man always there for you 💙X. https://t.co/5loKDVnIwp— Mark Lillis (@marklillis7) March 26, 2019
Very sad news, RIP Bernard💙 https://t.co/OWD77r6e9b— Tommy Doyle (@tommydoylemcfc) March 26, 2019
A very sad loss.— Barrie McDermott 🏉 (@RLBarrieMc10) March 26, 2019
Bernard Halford was a true gentleman, who never forgot where he came from and who’s commitment to the RLFamily & Oldham Past Players Association was truly inspiring #RIP pic.twitter.com/nPbiAEa7qU
So sad to hear of the passing of Bernard Halford - a man of integrity, honesty, passion & loyalty— Ian Cheeseman (@IanCheeseman) March 26, 2019
Part of the fabric of our great club, someone I knew for many years & who was always kind and genuine
See you on the far post Bernard #ManCity #mcfc pic.twitter.com/M2QdS0qK4Y
So sad to wake up to the news about Bernard Halford after attending my grandmother’s funeral yesterday. A true football person and City to the core .... Love to family and friends. RIP— David White (@david_white7) March 27, 2019
The football family has lost an absolutely true gentleman in Bernard Halford, we supported each other with our illnesses and raising money in helping others battling cancer, Bernard was loved by everyone and will be sorely missed, RIP my good friend 💙💙💙@ManCity 😥😥 https://t.co/XWN9dyfdmI— Mark Halsey (@RefereeHalsey) March 27, 2019
Just heard the sad news about Bernard Halford who has passed away at the age of 77. Bernard was with MCFC since 1973 - his first Maine Rd game as secretary was a FAC tie v Sunderland that year. Condolences to his family. pic.twitter.com/W9pXGEEXTh— Gary James (@GaryJamesWriter) March 27, 2019
RIP Bernard Halford you will be sadly missed💙.— Richard Edghill (@RichardEdghill1) March 27, 2019
We are sad to hear of the death of Bernard Halford, Bernard was a very good friend to the club and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. pic.twitter.com/LzDF2yxWuT— Hyde United FC (@hydeunited) March 27, 2019
So sad to hear the passing of Bernard Halford... A man who was just MCFC through and through. A true gentleman.. 💙 pic.twitter.com/bpahMuOHZg— richard wright (@wrightys1) March 27, 2019
Deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Bernard Halford. He’ll forever be a part of Manchester City’s history #RIP— Paul Lake (@Paul_Lake) March 27, 2019
It’s a very sad day to hear of the passing of Bernard Halford after a short illness. We will all miss him even though he will continue to follow City every gamefrom that special seating area reserved for the “Greats”.— Franny Lee CBE (@FrannyLee7) March 27, 2019
RIP Bernard... an amazing man who always had time for everyone! Thoughts are with your Family and Friends! 💙 https://t.co/e0NpzsoOra— Steph Houghton MBE (@stephhoughton2) March 27, 2019
Rest in peace Bernard Halford, a true Blue 💙 My condolences to the family of this City legend. pic.twitter.com/z4tJHzqA9f— Fernandinho (@fernandinho) March 27, 2019