Tributes have been paid to former Buxton manager Colin Whitaker, who passed away last week aged 82.
He was one of only two men to serve more than one spell in charge at the Silverlands, and on each occasion he inherited a mediocre team and transformed it into a unit that brought considerable success despite limited financial resources.
Buxton released a comment last week, saying: “Colin’s strengths as a manager were numerous but obvious to supporters was his player strategy of building success on sound defence; that came first when constructing a team.
“Patience and excellent judgement in player recruitment were likewise evident.
“We send our sincere condolences to Colin’s’ family and friends, notably his sons Graham and David both of whom played for Buxton.”
Colin enjoyed a distinguished playing career in the lower divisions of the Football League, notably at Shrewsbury Town in the late 1950’s and then with Rochdale, figuring in the two-legged League Cup final of 1962 against Norwich City.
In 1964, at the age of 32, he moved into non-league with Ashton United then joined the Bucks for the second half of the 65-66 Cheshire League season.
During his stint at the Silverlands he scored eight goals in 21 games.
It was in December 1970 that Colin took charge at the Silverlands, inheriting a mid-table team from previous incumbent Les Moore.
He brought in just a few players that he had previously known, such as central defender Mick Charlesworth and later his midfield dynamo Geoff Sleight, but he showed his managerial quality by bringing the best out of men already at the club.
Colin’s impact was immediate, taking the team to an FA Trophy quarter-final two years in a row.
The 1972/73 campaign proved to be the pinnacle of Colin’s success at Buxton, with the championship title (Buxton’s one and only in 40 years in the Cheshire League) achieved and three cup finals reached in an epic season of 74 competitive matches.
Buxton joined the NPL in 1973 but found the going tougher in encounters with big hitters such as Wigan, Altrincham and Macclesfield and Colin decided in October 1974, despite the best efforts of the club’s committee, to end one of the Silverlands most exciting eras during which the manager had declined approaches from first Altrincham and then Rochdale.
That however was not the last Buxton saw of Colin for, after a spell in charge of Droylsden, he was to return as manager in 1978, succeeding Peter Swan.
At the time the team stood second bottom of the NPL but a rebuilt side the following season finished sixth and then fourth.
Unfortunately the collapse of the scratchcard boom caused a financial crisis and a cost-cutting programme began with Colin’s departure at the end of his contract in January 1982.
Apart from his football accomplishments, Colin was also a cricketer good enough to play Minor Counties cricket for Shropshire while golf became a primary interest later on in life.
His funeral was held last Thursday at Oldham Crematorium.