It’s not just on the pitch that the club are blessed with longstanding and loyal servants, it’s off of it as well. Big or small, regardless of geography, or industry, successful organisations invest in talent. Success requires visionary leaders, exceptional talent at all levels, and the right strategies to keep that talent current, motivated, and focused.
Kath Phipps, the receptionist at the Aon Training Complex, recently celebrated an incredible 45 years with Manchester United having joined the year the club first lifted the European Cup, back in 1968.
Here, the Aon Training Complex receptionist reflects on almost half a century working for the Reds…
What do you remember about your first day at United?
Even though it was over 45 years ago I remember it like it was yesterday! Sir Matt [Busby] was the first person I met and he gave me a kiss on the cheek and said ‘welcome to the family.’ He made me feel at ease straight away and it’s something I’ve never forgotten and why I always do my best to make everyone I meet feel as welcome as possible. I initially worked at Old Trafford on the switchboard, well I was the switchboard! I dealt with every call that came into the club, no matter what it was about – I’d be exhausted by lunchtime on some days because I’d been on the phone constantly! I later worked on the Old Trafford reception, before moving here [Aon Training Complex] in January 2000.
Are you still in touch with any former players and which do you miss most?
There are so many, but I’d have to say David [Beckham] and Bryan Robson, both of whose fan mail I used to look after, and Peter Schmeichel and Edwin [van der Sar]. They ring me every now and again to say hello and it’s always lovely to hear from them. I always look forward to seeing Eric [Cantona] – he’s always been my favourite player to watch and he’s a lovely man – we always give each other a big cuddle whenever we see each other!
Aside from the players, you must have come across some pretty interesting people during your time at the club…
I was lucky enough to get two kisses off Maradona when he visited once which was exciting. Roger Moore was another I enjoyed meeting, both here and at Old Trafford, where I work on matchdays on the Directors’ Box entrance. I get to see and meet a lot of interesting people and I feel very lucky to work with such lovely people every day. The club is my second home and the players and staff are like my family.
What day is the busiest for you at the Aon Training Complex?Fridays are usually the busiest because it’s the day the manager holds his weekly press conference and the players often do their pre-match interviews. So there are always a lot of visitors to deal with.
You must have so many great memories, but what stands out as the best?
I’d have to say the Treble in 1999. I didn’t go to Barcelona [for the Champions League final], I watched the game at home instead. I was getting so nervous towards the end I decided to go and make a cup of tea and ended up missing the equaliser! Like everyone, I thought we’d be going into extra time so I went back into the kitchen and then missed Ole’s [Gunnar Solskjaer] winning goal.
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