Tony Collins – the first black manager in English Football League history – dies aged 94

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Tony Collins – the first black manager in English Football League history – dies aged 94
CREDIT: Rochdale FC Press Release

Tony Collins – the first black manager in English Football League history – dies aged 94.

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TONY COLLINS, who was appointed as player/ manager of Rochdale Football Club in 1960, becoming the first black manager in English league football, sadly passed away on February 8 at the age of 94.

Collins started his professional career at Sheffield Wednesday before moving to York City, Watford, Norwich City, Torquay United and Crystal Palace, ending up at Spotland in 1959 where after just one season he was promoted to player/manager.


He continued in the dual-role for a short-time before hanging up his playing boots and he stayed in charge of the side until 1967.

During his seven years in charge at Rochdale, Tony led the club to the 1962 League Cup Final, losing 4-0 to Norwich on aggregate over two-legs. To this day, it ranks as one of only two League Cup final appearances by a fourth-tier side.


In addition to his roles as assistant manager and caretaker manager at Bristol City, he worked as a scout for a number of clubs, including Leeds United and Manchester United.

Former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson sent his “deepest condolences”, adding: “His family should be very proud of all he achieved.”

League Managers Association (LMA) chairman Howard Wilkinson said: “Tony was a true pioneer of the sport.”

He continued: “He was known throughout the game for his ability to recognise and nurture talent, a skill which enabled him to have a huge impact on the lives of others.”

Nottingham Forest boss Chris Hughton, a LMA board member, added: “Tony has always been an inspiration to me as I continue alongside my colleagues to campaign to see more diversity in management and coaching across the game. He will be very sorely missed.”


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