Former United Manager O'Farrell dies aged 94

Torbay Weekly

Frank O'Farrell, one of the greatest managers in Torquay United's history and also former manager of Leicester City and Manchester United, has died at the age of 94.

Born in Cork, O'Farrell played with distinction as a wing-half for West Ham United and Preston North End, winning nine caps for Eire, before turning to management first with Weymouth and then, in the summer of 1965, with Torquay.

Over the next three-and-a-half years O'Farrell, backed by chairman Tony Boyce, galvanised the club.

United were promoted to the old Third Division (League One) in his first season, finished seventh and fourth in the next two years and they were going well again when, after several other clubs had tried and failed, Leicester persuaded O'Farrell to join them in December 1968.

In his time at Plainmoor he had built one of the best teams in their history, and average gates had doubled to 10,000.

O'Farrell could not save Leicester from relegation, but he led them to the FA Cup Final in his first season there, losing 1-0 to Manchester City, and took them back into the First Division as champions in 1971.

Manchester United saw him as the man to take over from Sir Matt Busby and he moved to Old Trafford in July 1971.

He soon had the Reds at the top of the table, but when he started to try and rebuild an ageing side living on past glories, he met with resistance.  He later described his time as United as 'death by a thousand cuts'.

He was sacked after a 5-0 defeat at Crystal Palace just before Christmas 1972 and, as if to prove him right, United were relegated to the Second Division 18 months later.

O'Farrell went on to manage Cardiff City, the Iranian national team, winning the Asian Games and laying the foundations for the side which surprisingly reached the 1978 World Cup Finals.

He returned to Torquay in various managerial roles from 1976-1980, also coached in the UAE for a while, and finally retired in 1983, just before the ever-supportive Boyce sold the club.

O'Farrell became a scout, he and his wife ran a Torquay nursing home for a while, and he also threw himself into church and charitable affairs with all the commitment he had brought to his football career.

He had been cared for, with his wife Ann before her death three years ago, at Torquay's Warberries Nursing Home where he passed away, with his family at his bedside, on Sunday morning.

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