LSSC Legends – John McGrath
John McGrath took no prisoners – a collusus of a man in the mould of so many centre-halves of the early seventies.
‘Jake’ was an imposing figure on the field who gave everything to the cause; a centre half noted for his no-nonsense challenges, but a man who also possessed the ability to play himself out of trouble.
He signed for Bury in October, 1955, after a short spell as an amateur with Bolton Wanderers, and won a Third Division Championship medal with the Shakers in 1961, even though he was prized away by Newcastle in February of that year, following 148 League games and two goals.
In March, 1961, he made his England Under-23 debut against West Germany and celebrated as the intermediates won 4-1 John enjoyed further success at St James’ Park, winning a Second Division Championship medal in 1965.
After amassing 170 League appearances for the Magpies he was sought by Southampton and arrived at The Dell in February, 1968. He was a colossus at the heart of the Saints defence, which included other never-say-die performers like Dennis Hollywood, Jimmy Gabriel and David Walker. A young Paul Bennett eventually took his first team place in December 1972, after 168 League games and one goal.
He went to Brighton and Hove Albion, but only for a short three match loan spell. John returned to Southampton to take up a coaching position in 1975. His 4 year spell included being part of the backroom team when Saints won the FA Cup in 1976. In 1979 he was appointed boss of Port Vale and achieved promotion from the Fourth Division in 1983. In January 1984 he took the vacant manager’s job at Chester, but moved on to Preston North End two years later, and won promotion to the Third Division in 1987. He departed North End in 1990 and took over at Halifax the following year where he remained until resigning in December 1992.
John McGrath died on Christmas Day 1998, aged just 60.
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