Bill McGarry

William Harry McGarry (10 June 1927 – 15 March 2005) was an England international association footballer and manager who spent 40 years in the professional game. He had a reputation for toughness, both as a player and as a manager.

Bill McGarry
Personal information
Full name William Harry McGarry[1]
Date of birth (1927-06-10)10 June 1927[1]
Place of birth Stoke-on-Trent, England[1]
Date of death 15 March 2005(2005-03-15) (aged 77)
Place of death South Africa
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)[2]
Position(s) Right-half
Youth career
Northwood Mission
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1945–1951 Port Vale 148 (5)
1951–1961 Huddersfield Town 363 (25)
1961–1963 Bournemouth 78 (2)
Total 589 (32)
National team
1954 England "B" 1 (0)
1954–1955 England 4 (0)
Teams managed
1961–1963 Bournemouth (player-manager)
1963–1964 Watford
1964–1968 Ipswich Town
1968–1976 Wolverhampton Wanderers
1976–1977 Saudi Arabia
1977–1980 Newcastle United
198?–198? Power Dynamos FC
1982–1983 Zambia
1985 Wolverhampton Wanderers
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

A right-half as a player, he joined Port Vale following the end of World War II, and spent the next six years with the club. He then moved on to Huddersfield Town in 1951, where he would spend the next ten years of his career. He was an ever-present as Town won promotion out of the Second Division in 1952–53. He retired in 1963, after spending two years as Bournemouth's player-manager. In all he scored 33 goals in 617 league and cup games in an eighteen-year career in the Football League. After winning one England "B" cap in 1954, he went on to win four senior England caps.

He also found success as a manager, moving from Bournemouth to Watford in 1963, he was appointed as Ipswich Town manager the following year. There he led the club to the Second Division championship in 1967–68, before moving on to the vacant position at Wolverhampton Wanderers later in 1968. He spent eight years with "Wolves", leading them to the UEFA Cup final in 1972 and to League Cup glory in 1974. He became an international manager with Saudi Arabia in 1976, only to return to the domestic game with Newcastle United the following year. He failed to find success at Newcastle, and left the club in 1980, before finding work in Zambia with Power Dynamos FC. He spent two months as Wolves manager in 1985, before leaving his management career behind him. After a long battle against illness, he died on 15 March 2005, aged 77.[3] He had one son and one daughter.[4]

Club career

McGarry began his career at local non-league club Northwood Mission, based in Hanley, before joining David Pratt's Port Vale as an amateur in April 1945, signing professional forms in June of that year.[1] He was handed his debut by Billy Frith at the Old Recreation Ground on boxing day 1945, in a 1–0 defeat by Walsall.[1] Under Gordon Hodgson's stewardship, he played seven Third Division South games in the 1946–47 season.[1] He forced his way into the first eleven by November 1947, and scored his first goal on boxing day in a 5–0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion.[1] He played a total of 27 games in the 1947–48 campaign.[1] He featured 41 times in the 1948–49 season, scoring one goal against Torquay United.[1] He was an ever-present throughout the 46 game 1949–50 season, and found the net once on the final day of the season, in a 2–1 defeat to Ipswich Town at Portman Road.[1] He played 35 games in the 1950–51 season, and scored in games away at Millwall and Torquay, before he was sold on to First Division side Huddersfield Town for a £12,000 fee in March 1951.[1]

"Terriers" manager George Stephenson bought McGarry to play in a defensive partnership with Laurie Kelly. He built a reputation as a tough-tackling, sturdy wing-half,[4] and featured ten times towards the end of the 1950–51 season. He then scored twice in 43 games in 1951–52, as Huddersfield suffered relegation. New boss Andy Beattie led the club to immediate promotion out of the Second Division with a second-place finish in 1952–53. McGarry played all 44 games, in an extremely settled defence that featured himself, Kelly, Don McEvoy, Len Quested, Ron Staniforth, and goalkeeper Jack Wheeler; remarkably, the six men played every minute of the campaign, and had the best defensive record in the Football League with just 33 goals conceded in 42 league games. Town's solid defence then helped them to finish third in the top-flight in 1953–54, just six points behind champions Wolverhampton Wanderers; McGarry was again an ever-present, scoring four goals in 43 appearances. He then scored once in 38 games in 1954–55, as Town posted a 12th-place finish. He then scored four goals in 41 games in 1955–56, as their once solid defence leaked goals and cost them relegation as they finished below 20th place Aston Villa on goal average. Bill Shankly took charge at Leeds Road in November 1956, and took the club to 12th in the Second Division in 1956–57; he kept faith with McGarry, who scored twice in 36 appearances. He scored six goals in 36 games in 1957–58, as Huddersfield rose slightly to ninth place. His goal tally included a successfully converted penalty in the 7–6 defeat to Charlton Athletic at The Valley on 21 December; ten-man Charlton came back from 5–1 down in what The Guardian described as "the most remarkable comeback in football history".[5] They then dropped down to 14th in 1958–59, with McGarry scoring four goals in 32 games. He scored once in 38 games in 1959–60; Town posted a sixth-place finish under new boss Eddie Boot, who took charge after Shankly left the club to manage Liverpool. McGarry scored once in 20 appearances in 1960–61, as Town dropped down to 20th place.

After a decade of service at Huddersfield Town, he headed south to become Bournemouth's first player-manager.[6] He spent two years at Dean Court, scoring twice in 78 league games, before hanging up his boots and devoting himself to management.

International career

McGarry's performances at Huddersfield won him first an England "B" appearance,[7] and then a place in the England squad for the 1954 World Cup. Despite having never featured for the national team before, he played two of England's three games in the tournament (against hosts Switzerland and Uruguay[8]). He won two further caps the following year in a 5–1 victory over Denmark and in a Home International 2–1 defeat by Wales.[8] He also played for the Football League and went on the FA's 1956 South African tour.[6]

Style of play

Former teammate Roy Sproson said that: "he was everything that a manager could want in a player. Magnificently fit, Bill was aggressive, busy, good in the air and a player of tremendous enthusiasm for the game. He gave 100 per cent effort for all of 90 minutes" and that he also used to "underrate himself".[9] Freddie Steele stated that "McGarry is a tough bugger. He wasn't born, you know – he was cast at Shelton Bar!".[10]

Management career


His post as player-manager as Don Welsh's successor at Bournemouth (then Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic) in 1961 was the start of a long career in management for McGarry. He led the "Cherries" to a third-place finish in the Third Division in 1961–62, just three points behind promoted Grimsby Town. They went on to finish in fifth place in 1962–63, six points behind promoted Swindon Town, in his final season at Dean Court.


In July 1963, McGarry took the reins at Watford following the dismissal of Ron Burgess. He took the "Hornets" to third in the Third Division in 1963–64, his only full season in charge at Vicarage Road. They finished just two points behind Coventry City and Crystal Palace, who were both promoted.

Ipswich Town

McGarry left Watford (who appointed Ken Furphy in his place) to take charge at recently relegated Ipswich Town in October 1964, following Jackie Milburn's brief and unsuccessful tenure. He led the "Blues" to a fifth-place finish in the Second Division in 1964–65. However they dropped to 15th place in 1965–66, before posting another fifth-place finish in 1966–67 after he signed proven forward Ray Crawford. He finally won promotion as a manager in 1967–68, when he took the Portman Road outfit back to the First Division. Ipswich won the Second Division title, though were only one point clear of third place Blackpool. One of McGarry's signings was Charlie Woods who later became coach at Ipswich Town.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Just months into the 1968–69 campaign, he walked out on Ipswich (who appointed Bobby Robson in his stead) to take charge at fellow First Division club Wolverhampton Wanderers, who had just sacked his former teammate Ronnie Allen.[6] He appointed Sammy Chung as his assistant, who he had previously taken on at Ipswich.[4] He built a team around speedy winger Dave Wagstaffe, central midfield duo Mike Bailey and Kenny Hibbitt, and strike partners Derek Dougan and John Richards.[11]

After a 16th-place finish in 1968–69, he took Wolves to 13th place in 1969–70 and then up to fourth place in 1970–71. They won the first ever instalment of the Texaco Cup, in 1971, with a 3–2 victory over Heart of Midlothian. They dropped to ninth in the league in 1971–72, but went all the way to the UEFA Cup final, recording victories over Juventus and Ferencvárosi. They lost 2–1 to Tottenham Hotspur in the home leg of the final and could only manage a 1–1 draw at White Hart Lane, and were thereby denied European silverware.

They again qualified for Europe following a fifth-place finish in 1972–73, and McGarry also led the club to the semi-finals of both the FA Cup and League Cup. They were beaten 1–0 by Leeds United at Maine Road in the FA Cup, and lost 4–3 on aggregate to Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup. They dropped to 12th place in 1973–74, but finally won a major trophy after beating Manchester City 2–1 in the League Cup final at Wembley. He later admitted that he would have resigned had Wolves lost in the final.[12] Wolves dropped back down to 12th in 1974–75, though they did record a 7–1 win over Chelsea at Molineux. However the club suffered relegation at the end of the 1975–76 season, and McGarry was promptly fired after nearly eight years at the helm.[13] He was replaced by long-time assistant Sammy Chung.

"The older players like Mike Bailey, Derek Dougan and Waggy [Dave Wagstaffe] were leaving and he tried to replace them like for like, but you couldn't do it. He tried to make Steve Kindon into a centre-forward but he wasn't a Dougan type of centre-forward. He brought in John Farley to be a Waggy and he wasn't that, and he never replaced Mike. If there was ever a criticism of McGarry, it was that he could not adapt his tactics to different players."

Striker John Richards explains his theory as to McGarry's decline at Wolves.[14]

Newcastle United via Saudi Arabia

He headed abroad and replaced Ferenc Puskás as coach of the Saudi Arabian national team, but soon returned to England. Port Vale tried to hire him after sacking Roy Sproson in October 1977, but he rejected their terms.[1] He was appointed as manager of Newcastle United the following month, after Richard Dinnis's brief and unsuccessful reign at St James' Park. He gave Kenny Wharton his first professional contract, who would go on to play for the club for eleven years. He also signed Peter Withe, Alan Shoulder, and Bobby Shinton. He could not stop the "Magpies" suffering relegation out of the First Division in the 1977–78 season.[15] He could only take United to two mid-table finishes in the Second Division in 1978–79 and 1979–80, before he was fired just weeks into the 1980–81 season after his team were knocked out of the League Cup by Third Division club Bury. Arthur Cox was appointed as his successor.

Later career

McGarry then served in a variety of posts, with spells as a scout at Brighton & Hove Albion, Zambian Power Dynamos FC as a coach, the Zambian national team as manager, and a period as a coach in South Africa. He returned to former club Wolves in September 1985, but walked out after just 61 days after a fall-out with the Bhatti Brothers.[16] After a spell outside the game, he returned to South Africa and coached in Bophuthatswana.[6]

Style of management

Journalist Pat Murphy described McGarry as a "fearsome character when crossed" who was a "hard taskmaster".[11] Murphy and Alan Oliver both noted that McGarry could often give journalists a hard time.[11][17] Former Wolves player Kenny Hibbitt said that "I didn't necessarily like him, but I respected him."[14] He also instigated rules on players diet, long before the trend became standard practice within the footballing world.[18]



Club statistics

Club Season Division League FA Cup Total
Port Vale[20]1945–46Third Division South200020
1946–47Third Division South700070
1947–48Third Division South26110271
1948–49Third Division South40110411
1949–50Third Division South42140461
1950–51Third Division South31240352
Total 14851001585
Huddersfield Town1950–51First Division10000100
1951–52First Division42210431
1952–53Second Division42120441
1953–54First Division42410434
1954–55First Division32160381
1955–56First Division40410414
1956–57Second Division35210362
1957–58Second Division34620366
1958–59Second Division32400324
1959–60Second Division35031381
1960–61Second Division19110201
Total 3632518138126
Bournemouth1960–61Third Division800080
1961–62Third Division38210392
1962–63Third Division32010330
Total 78220802
Career total 5893230161933

International statistics

England national team[21]

Managerial statistics

Team From To Record
Bournemouth March 1961 July 1963 112 47 38 27 041.96
Watford July 1963 October 1964 68 29 21 18 042.65
Ipswich Town October 1964 November 1968 181 76 58 47 041.99
Wolverhampton Wanderers November 1968 May 1976 358 135 101 122 037.71
Newcastle United November 1977 August 1980 118 37 33 48 031.36
Wolverhampton Wanderers September 1985 November 1985 12 2 3 7 016.67
Total[22] 849 326 254 269 038.40



Huddersfield Town


Ipswich Town

Wolverhampton Wanderers


  1. Kent, Jeff (1996). Port Vale Personalities. Witan Books. p. 192. ISBN 0-9529152-0-0.
  2. "stats". Archived from the original on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  3. "McGarry dies after long illness". BBC Sport. 17 March 2005. Retrieved 26 May 2009.
  4. "Bill McGarry". The Times. London. 23 March 2005. Retrieved 26 May 2009.
  5. Henderson, Jon (7 October 2001). "The 10 greatest comebacks of all time". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  6. "1968/1976 Bill McGarry". The Wolves Site. Archived from the original on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2009.
  7. "Bill McGarry". The Independent. London. 19 March 2005. Retrieved 26 May 2009.
  8. "Bill McGarry". Retrieved 26 May 2009.
  9. Harper, Chris (10 February 1975). "Sproson's Eleven". The Sentinel. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
  10. Kent, Jeff (December 1991). Port Vale Tales: A Collection Of Stories, Anecdotes And Memories. Witan Books. p. 4. ISBN 0-9508981-6-3.
  11. Murphy, Pat (22 March 2005). "McGarry did Wolves proud". The Birmingham Post. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  12. Murphy, Pat (22 March 2005). "McGarry did Wolves proud. - Free Online Library". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  13. May, John (26 January 2006). "FA Cup flashback". BBC Sport. Retrieved 26 May 2009.
  14. "The picture painted of Bill McGarry". Express & Star. 29 September 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  15. "Bill McGarry (1977–80)". Newcastle United official site. 3 August 2002. Archived from the original on 15 June 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2009.
  16. Cooper, Steve (17 March 2005). "Bill McGarry Dies". Retrieved 26 May 2009.
  17. Oliver, Alan (19 March 2005). "Raising a glass to hard man McGarry". Evening Chronicle. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  18. Glanville, Brian (22 March 2005). "Bill McGarry". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 26 May 2009.
  19. Bill McGarry at the English National Football Archive (subscription required)
  20. All stats from: Kent, Jeff (1993). The Port Vale Record 1879–1993. Witan Books. ISBN 0-9508981-9-8.
  21. "Bill McGarry". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmermann. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  22. Bill McGarry management career statistics at Soccerbase