Eric Harrison (footballer)

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Eric Harrison
Personal information
Full name Eric George Harrison
Date of birth (1938-02-05) 5 February 1938 (age 80)
Place of birth Mytholmroyd, Yorkshire, England
Playing position Wing half
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1957–1964 Halifax Town 199 (10)
1964–1966 Hartlepools United 81 (4)
1966–1969 Barrow 130 (1)
1969–1971 Southport 75 (0)
1971–1972 Barrow 32 (1)
1972 Scarborough
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Eric George Harrison MBE (born 5 February 1938) is an English former professional football player and coach. He is probably best known for being the man behind the Manchester United youth setup that produced the group of players known as "Fergie's Fledglings", including David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes.[1]

Harrison began his football career as a player with his local club, Halifax Town.[2] Interested in coaching from the outset, Harrison set about earning his coaching badges as soon as possible.

Hired from Everton in June 1981 by new Manchester United manager Ron Atkinson, with whom Harrison had played for the Royal Air Force football team,[3] Harrison took the post of youth team manager.[4] It was his responsibility to help guide the club's young players and mould them into future first-teamers. When Atkinson was sacked in 1986, his replacement, Alex Ferguson, decided to keep Harrison on as youth coach. Dissatisfied with the number of players coming through the United youth system, Ferguson called a meeting with Harrison to discuss potential improvements. Harrison pointed out that he had already made Norman Whiteside and a couple of others into first team players, but Ferguson argued that this was still not enough. Harrison retorted "Right, we'll do a deal. You get me better-quality players, and I'll get you more youngsters in the first team."[3] Ferguson agreed and set about increasing the club's scouting network two-or-threefold.[5]

In 2014, Harrison was diagnosed with mixed dementia, a condition that his own father had also lived with in his later years, and now lives in a nursing home.[6] Harrison was awarded an MBE for his services to football in the 2018 New Year Honours.[7] As he was unable to travel to London, he received his honour at Halifax Town's ground, The Shay.[6]


  1. ^ "From boys to men". The Football Association. 6 April 2004. Archived from the original on 26 March 2006. Retrieved 2 January 2009.
  2. ^ "Eric Harrison". Post War English & Scottish Football League A - Z Player's Transfer Database. Retrieved 2 January 2009.
  3. ^ a b Malam, Colin (10 February 2001). "The other Eric behind rise of United". Telegraph Media Group. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2008.
  4. ^ "History by Decade - 1980-1989". Manchester United. Retrieved 13 January 2008.
  5. ^ Mathieson, Stuart (6 November 2006). "Stars pay tribute to Fergie". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 13 January 2008.
  6. ^ a b Kelly, Ciaran (17 September 2018). "The devastating decline of Manchester United Class of 92 hero Eric Harrison". Manchester Evening News. MEN Media. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  7. ^ Duncker, Charlotte (29 December 2017). "Former Manchester United coach Eric Harrison awarded MBE". Manchester Evening News. MEN Media. Retrieved 2 January 2018.

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