Ramsbottom United Football Club are very sad to have been informed of the passing of supporter and great footballing influence on the club, Mr. Eric Whalley. He was 74 years old and passed away on Friday following a long struggle with diabetes.
More renowned as the man who guided Accrington Stanley back to the Football League when he took over the ailing club in 1995, Eric was also a passionate follower of Ramsbottom United in recent years and travelled home and away watching the team, offering his support and advise to Chairman Harry Williams and co-managers Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson.
A former player, manager and chairman of Accrington Stanley, Eric was known locally for his enthusiasm for non-league football, which commenced in 1995 when he took over as Chairman of the club and oversaw their rise back to the Football League in 2006. He guided the club through the non-league pyramid, winning the Northern Premier League in 2003 and the Football Conference and promotion three years later.
In a statement on their website, current Accrington Stanley chairman Peter Marsden paid tribute to his predecessor, who is also credited with redeveloping the club’s ground.
Marsden said, “Eric was Accrington Stanley. His tireless efforts made the club what it is today and we will forever be grateful to him. Our Football League status is a continuing reminder of everything he did for the club. Eric Whalley put Accrington Stanley back on the football map. He will never be forgotten.”
Ramsbottom United Chairman and long-term friend Harry Williams added, “I have lost a very good friend,” he said. “What he did for non-league football was incredible, taking a club from where it was into the Football League shows what can be done.
“I have known him a very long time – not only from football but also from cricket – and he was a great person to speak to about all sorts of things. He was knowledgeable and helped me and the two managers over the more recent years with his expertise and advise.
“I will certainly miss him and my thoughts, as well as everyone at the club, is with his wife and family.”