Sunrise 16/12/1959 – Sunset 23/12/2019

“From kicking a ball as a kid under the streetlights of Middleton to standing in the Stretford end with my dad, to my first game for Manchester Boys, I was born head over heels in love with “the beautiful game” It inspired me throughout my life …. “

Gary Stephen Russell was born at the Royal Oldham Hospital on 16 December 1959, weighing in at over 10lbs he was at that point one of the largest babies to have been born there. He had a humble upbringing  in Middleton with his parents and older sister. He didn’t walk until his second birthday and after that couldn’t be caught, always running around with a ball at his feet.

He hated school, the only time he looked forward to were PE lessons and breaktimes when he could spend time with his mates having kick abouts. He did however love playing for the school team. He played in goal and was soon to make a name for himself there and in the local teams and was selected to play for Manchester Boys which at the time was a great honour.

He was always hard working and worked from a very early age on his uncles market stall. He would set off each day at 5am, help set up, walk to school, call back in on the way home to pack up then go to football training. This was to stand him in good stead for his future, he had a strong hard work ethic which stayed with him all his life.

At 16 Gary started his professional working life as a clerical apprentice working for the local electricity company. It was here that his hard work and commitment paid off and he very quickly progressed through the ranks. He worked in Human Resources and was to become an extremely competent and well respected manager within the company. He was an exceptional trainer and presenter, football analogies often made their way into his presentations and management meetings, he had flair and an abundance of energy and enthusiasm which was infectious. Always upbeat and happy, he whistled constantly and could be heard through the corridor of all the offices he worked in. He was popular with everyone and made many lifelong friends.

“ whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same”

It was here that Gary met Joanne.  They shared many interests and married in 1994. Children soon followed,  they became parents to Grace in 2000 and Lucas in 2004. His family meant everything to him, he was a family man at heart. It was at this stage in his life he  achieved a lifelong ambition in setting up his own Company , a very successful HR Consultancy of which he was immensely proud.

“the beautiful game”

In 2008 after taking Lucas to football training and matches, he made a decision to start football coaching. He joined Moss Bank Football Club and took over a team of six year olds which included Lucas. He was a natural, with an abundance of football knowledge and personal skills, Gary threw himself into the role of coach and mentor to the boys. He loved every aspect of working with the team and looked forward to both the the training sessions and matches.

“real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what”

The boys loved playing football with Gary. He lead them well, made each and every one of them feel that their contribution was valued  and they were all individuals but felt part of the team. He inspired them and taught them to be magnanimous in both victory and defeat. The team grew in ability and confidence and Gary’s mantra was that in order to win, you have to learn to lose first.

During his time at Mossbank Junior Football Club, Gary learned a lot about football coaching, made many friends and when the opportunity presented itself to become more involved in the running and management of the club, he was ecstatic. He took on the role of Chairman and relished the thought of helping to improve not only the facilities but the opportunities the club presented and his aim was to make football as accessible as possible to all children. Nothing made Gary happier than the sight of young children running and kicking footballs with big smiles on their faces.

He achieved great things as Chairman and was soon asked to become involved in a wider role as secretary to the Bolton, Bury and District Football League a role he relished. He loved the difference they could make to football in the wider community for the kids and enjoyed dealings with the governing bodies. Later he was to be offered the role of chairman for the league and he took on the challenge, making a massive impact on youth football. Sadly after a period of time, he decided to resign from the role, and move onto the next chapter in is life. The love for Mossbank Junior Football Club.

He took this opportunity to concentrate all his efforts on Mossbank Junior Football Club. He had big plans for the club and its wider role in the community. He was in talks with the local professional teams and was constantly looking at ways to collaborate with third parties and develop relationships for the benefit of the club.

Gary was a massive believer in people achieving in life no matter what background, walks of life or life experiences they had. Gary believed in people. He supported many people in work and out of work. One of the big drives in his life was to support Whysup – 2 local lads that had lived through addiction and were prepared to give back to the community and help others. Gary’s mantel. Gary loved this and he often talked about Mark and Liam and what they had been through and achieved in their venture to support others.  They were an inspiration to him and many others. This was the respect he had for them and others. He would be so proud of them now and how they are supporting people through addiction and COVID.

“football has to be FUN for kids or it doesnt make sense” –Johan Cruyff

Gary Stephen Russell left this world far too early but a much better place for having lived and he lived a great life, a successful life. He always carried himself with a positive open demeanor. He was a kind man,  generous beyond belief, genuine, popular, always happy to help anyone in need. He was a happy individual always full of fun ready with a laugh or a smile. This was reflected in the huge numbers in attendance at his funeral. It was more than evident that people wanted to show their respect for a great and lovely man. Joanne and the family were overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness, this amazing show of support brought them much comfort.

This is a testimony to Gary, who he was, what he did, he lived his dream and so that dream is now Gary’s legacy.


Gary & Stu