John McGrath (English footballer)

John McGrath (English footballer)

:"For the former Kidderminster Harriers, Weymouth & current Tamworth player see John McGrath (Irish footballer)."

Football player infobox
playername = John McGrath

fullname = John Thomas McGrath
dateofbirth = birth date|1938|8|23|df=y
cityofbirth = Manchester
countryofbirth = England
dateofdeath = death date and age|1998|12|25|1938|8|23|df=y
cityofdeath = Manchester
countryofdeath = England
currentclub =
clubnumber =
position = Defender
youthyears =
youthclubs = Miles Platting Swifts
Bolton Wanderers
years = 1956–1960
clubs = Bury
Newcastle United
Brighton & Hove Albion (loan)
caps(goals) = 148 (2)
170 (2)
168 (1)
003 (0)
manageryears = 1979–1983
managerclubs = Port Vale
Chester City
Preston North End
Halifax Town

John Thomas McGrath (23 August 193825 December 1998) was an English footballer and manager in the Football League.

Playing career

Early career

McGrath started out as an amateur player with local team Miles Platting Swifts and then Bolton Wanderers, but it was with Bury that he began his professional career in 1956. In 1960 however McGrath found himself the subject of a bid by Newcastle United and after nearly five years with Bury, in which he made 148 appearances scoring two goals, he left for St James' Park.

Newcastle United

Because of his no nonsense attitude and uncompromising style as a defender John soon became a real favourite with the Toon Army and in seven years with the geordies played 170 games scoring two goals before making the long trip to Southampton in 1967.


John again became somewhat of a cult hero with The Dell faithful during what was a difficult time for the club not only playing 168 games(1 goal) but also making his mark as a very shrewd coach. He also during this period played three games on loan at Brighton & Hove Albion.

Coaching and management

Port Vale

After retiring from playing at the end of 1973-74 season John joined the Southampton coaching staff but it was after becoming Port Vale manager in December 1979 that he really found his true vocation. After steadying the ship at Vale Park McGrath eventually led the club to promotion in 1982-83. The following season however McGrath was sacked as Vale struggled.

Chester City

He became manager of Chester City in January 1984, who were struggling at the foot of Division Four but some improved results (including a derby win over Wrexham) gave cause for optimism for the following season. McGrath added experience in players such as John Butcher (footballer), Steve Fox, Mick Speight and Nigel Walker but Chester continued to struggle at the wrong end of Division Four. He lost his job in December 1984, after a 5–1 loss to Stockport County. Although results were not always impressive, McGrath began to mould the side that would to go on to win promotion in 1985–86 after further strengthening by Mick Speight and Harry McNally. McGrath gave future England international Lee Dixon his first taste of regular first-team football when at Chester.

Preston North End

Twelve months later though that changed as Preston North End came calling. This once proud club was dying on its knees and after ending the 1985–86 season in 91st position they needed some new blood and new ideas.McGrath was just the man for the job, although it has to be said not first choice with Preston courting the services of Tranmere manager Johnny King and Port Vale boss John Rudge before settling on McGrath. With the newly laid plastic pitch already installed McGrath assembled a squad of free transfer old pros,lower league journeymen and young cast offs to fire the team to promotion in his first season. He was a hero. However after 4 years of relative success McGrath departed in February 1990 leaving Preston in a far healthier position that when he'd found them and apart from a short spell in charge of Halifax Town in 1992 he never managed again.

Career after football

John became for a while a much sought for after dinner speaker but on Christmas Day 1998 he died suddenly at his Manchester home.


External links

*soccerbase (manager)|819|John McGrath
* [ Profile on English football cards]
* [ Feature on SaintsChat]
* [ Newcastle United profile]

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