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Player Pages - a tribute to great players from the period 1965/66 to 1979/80, particularly highlighting their appearance in football cards.
John McGrath

A list of all of the appearances of this player in football cards in the period 1965/66 to 1979/80 appears at the foot of this page.

1967/68 FKS,
The Wonderful World of Soccer Stars No. 175

1969/70 A&BC Gum
Footballers (green backs), No. 146

1970/71 A&BC Gum
Footballers (orange backs), No. 23

1972/73 Top Sellers,
Football 72, No. 271

John McGrath was a big, rugged defender, known as 'Big John'.

He was born in Manchester in 1938. After a short spell as an amateur with Bolton Wanderers he signed for Bury in October, 1955 as a 17-year old. Bury, at that time, were in the old Division Two.

In 1957 the Bury side was relegated to what was then known as Division Three (North) which in 1958 (along with Division Three (South)) was split into Divisions Three and Four. Due to their high finish in 1958 Bury were placed in the Third Division.

In 1961 Bury won the Third Division Championship, with McGrath a significant contributor in their defence, although in February of that year the 22-year old McGrath was transferred to Newcastle United for 24,000. However, he had made enough appearances for Bury in 1960/61 to earn himself a Championship medal. His league tally with Bury was 148 games and 2 goals.

McGrath had been signed by Newcastle to help in their bid to avoid relegation from the First Division, but t'was in vain. For the next three seasons McGrath played in the Second Division before Newcastle were promoted back to the First Division in 1965.

1n March, 1961, he made his England Under-23 debut against West Germany, though he never went on to make a full international appearance.

McGrath had fought hard to hold his place at Newcastle but was not always the first choice in defence. In early 1968 the 29-year old was transferred to fellow First Division strugglers Southampton for a 30,000 fee. He had made 169 appearances for Newcastle, with 2 goals.

The 1968/69 FKS card states: "Spent six years with Bury where he developed into a rock-like pivot. Once on Bolton's books as an amateur he linked up with Newcastle United in 1961. Came to The Dell seven years later."

The 1969/70 A&BC Gum green back card states: "Tough-tackling centre-half, McGrath was rated as an outstanding midfield player when he started his career with Bury".

This period was relatively successful for the Saints, finishing 7th in the First Division in both 1968/69 and 1970/71, though they finished 19th in 1969/70 (see explanation why below).

The 1969/70 FKS card adds: "Well-built centre half who after winning Under-23 honours for England was also honoured by Football League recognition last term."

The 1970/71 A&BC Gum orange back card states: "The king pin of the Southampton defence, McGrath was unluckily injured in a Fairs Cup tie last season, thus missing several vital matches in Southampton's fight against relegation".

The 1972/73 Top Sellers card adds: "Rugged defender who keeps a tight grip on strikers".

McGrath finished his playing career with Southampton (167 appearances, 1 goal) before moving into a coaching role with the club. In 1979 he moved into management with Port Vale, then with a succession of clubs until his retirement from management in 1992.

John McGrath died on Christmas Day 1998, aged 60.

1968/69 FKS,
The Wonderful World of Soccer Stars No. 234

1969/70 FKS,
The Wonderful World of Soccer Stars No. 236

1969/70 FKS,
The Wonderful World of Soccer Stars No. 250

1972/73 FKS,
The Wonderful World of Soccer Stars No. 248

Football cards featuring John McGrath, issued in the period 1965/66 to 1979/80
(note: this is an incomplete list, and will updated as new information is obtained).
Season Maker Set Card ref.
1967/68 FKS Publishers The Wonderful World of Soccer Stars 175
1968/69 FKS Publishers The Wonderful World of Soccer Stars 234
1969/70 A&BC Gum Football Facts, Green backs, Series 3 (117-170) 146
1969/70 FKS Publishers The Wonderful World of Soccer Stars 236
1970/71 A&BC Gum Footballers, Orange backs, Series 1 (001-084) 23
1970/71 FKS Publishers The Wonderful World of Soccer Stars 250
1971/72 A&BC Gum Footballers, Purple backs, Series 3 (220-290) 255
1971/72 FKS Publishers The Wonderful World of Soccer Stars 249
1972/73 A&BC Gum Footballers, Orange/Red backs 156
1972/73 FKS Publishers The Wonderful World of Soccer Stars 248
1972/73 Top Sellers Football 72 271

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