Former Manchester United and Bolton Wanderers scout given all-clear in groundbreaking cancer trial

Around 100 people are now taking part in the trial.

Danny Jones Danny Jones - 22nd November 2023

An ex-Manchester United and Bolton Wanderers scout has been given the all-clear from cancer in what is being called a groundbreaking clinical trial.

Tom Critchley, 76, served as a corporal in the Royal Engineers before going on to become a key figure in Man United, Bolton and Huddersfield Town’s academy systems, but after retirement was sadly diagnosed with early-stage rectal cancer in April 2022.

Based in Astley near Leigh, the former head of player recruitment was sent to Wigan Infirmary after spotting blood on his toilet paper and then to The Christie NHS Foundation for his treatment, where he ended up being part of a pioneering new clinical trial simply named, ‘Aphrodite’.

Funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research, the trial tested whether higher doses of radiotherapy would increase the likelihood of successfully treating rectal cancer and avoid the need for surgery. After undergoing a rigorous 28-day period of radiotherapy and a chemotherapy tablet twice a day, Tom was thrilled to be given the all-clear earlier this year.

The United scout was one of the first to undergo the cancer trial.

Being told he was cancer-free back in February, Critchley has been able to return to his beloved pastimes, such as entertaining crowds as a talented pub and club singer.


Tom tragically lost his wife Eileen to pancreatic cancer at the age of 54 just five weeks after her diagnosis, so when the opportunity to take part in a clinical trial presented itself, rather than be fearful like many understandably are with experimental trials, he didn’t hesitate.

One of the other benefits of the treatment is that patients may also avoid the need for a stoma, where an opening in the abdomen is connected to the digestive or urinary system to allow them to pass waste out of the body.


Nevertheless, his month-long treatment was still intense and did result in some side effects such as skin peeling from the radiotherapy but the grandfather of three’s scans continue to show no signs of the cancer having returned. Wonderful news.

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Following the successful clinical trial, Aphrodite is now recruiting more patients — more than 100 across 10 different sites in Britain.

While The Christie is still the highest recruiter, with a third of all patients taking part being treated there, the University of Leeds’ Clinical Trials Research Unit is leading the trial and helping offer the alternative treatment method to others with similar diagnoses around the UK.


We’re so glad you’re back on the mend, Tom, all the best.

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Featured Images — Handouts (via The Christie)