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Chris McGrath

Name: Roland Christopher McGrath
Born: 29 November 1954, Belfast
Height: 5.09 ft
Weight: 10.11 st
Position: Winger

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 21 Full Caps / 4 Goals (1974-1979), 2 Schoolboy Caps (1970).
Club Honours: (with Spurs) UEFA Cup Runner-Up 1973/74.

Club Career:
FA Cup
FL Cup
Tottenham Hotspur
30 (8)/ 5
15 (0)/ 3
Manchester United
12(16)/ 1
1981 - 1982
44 (-)/ 3
South China
(Hong Kong)

When the teenage Chris McGrath burst onto the scene with Spurs in the 1973/74 seasons bright things were predicted for him. He made his League debut in a 2-0 win over north-London rivals Arsenal in October 1973, and by the end of the season had played 25 League games, scoring five goals. More impressive was his form in Europe as he scored five times in just eight appearances as Spurs reached the UEFA Cup Final only to lose out to Feyenoord 4-2 on aggregate.

At the end of that season McGrath was called into the Northern Ireland side for the Home Nations series. His debut proved to be perhaps the best performance he ever put in in a green shirt, as he terrorised the Scottish defence in a 1-0 win, Tommy Cassidy scoring the only goal.

Almost inevitably the teenage McGrath couldn’t sustain those early performance levels. His second season in the Spurs first team brought just nine League appearances and in his third, 1975/76, when he also spent time on loan at Millwall, he played just four times.

McGrath’s place in the Northern Ireland side also came under pressure, Bryan Hamilton, Sammy McIlroy, Dave McCreery and Trevor Anderson all vying for similar roles. He was recalled for Danny Blanchflower’s first game in charge, against Holland in Rotterdam. In a game that saw the return of George Best to international football, McGrath scored the opening goal in a 2-2 draw – and Best outshone Johan Cruyff. McGrath really shone under Danny Blanchflower’s “beautiful game” management style, scoring four times in the sixteen games he played under the legendary ex-captain.

In October 1976, just days after that Dutch match, McGrath became a surprise capture for Manchester United who forked out £30,000 for his signature. He was mainly used as an impact substitute at Old Trafford, his pace and ability to beat a man striking fear into tiring defenders. His failure however was that once the full-back was left for dead he was unable to deliver the killer ball or would simply run himself out of play.

As the seventies drew to a close, McGrath fell from the reckoning at United. He played just four times in his final three seasons at Old Trafford, the last against Birmingham in August 1980, before his contract was cancelled in February 1981. He moved to the NASL with Tulsa Roughnecks where he starred for two seasons before the American soccer scene began to fall apart.

Northern Ireland Cap Details:

11-05-1974 Scotland.... H W 1-0 BC
15-05-1974 England..... A L 0-1 BC
18-05-1974 Wales....... A L 0-1 BC
04-09-1974 Norway...... A L 1-2 ECQ
24-03-1976 Israel...... A D 1-1 FR. sub
13-10-1976 Netherlands. A D 2-2 WCQ 1 Goal
10-11-1976 Belgium..... A L 0-2 WCQ
27-04-1977 West Germany A L 0-5 FR
28-05-1977 England..... H L 1-2 BC. 1 Goal
01-06-1977 Scotland.... A L 0-2 BC
03-06-1977 Wales....... H D 1-1 BC
11-06-1977 Iceland..... A L 0-1 WCQ
21-09-1977 Iceland..... H W 2-0 WCQ 1 Goal
12-10-1977 Netherlands. H L 0-1 WCQ
16-11-1977 Belgium..... H W 3-0 WCQ 1 Goal
13-05-1978 Scotland.... A D 1-1 BC
16-05-1978 England..... A L 0-1 BC
19-05-1978 Wales....... A L 0-1 BC
29-11-1978 Bulgaria.... A W 2-0 ECQ sub
07-02-1979 England..... A L 0-4 ECQ sub
19-05-1979 England..... H L 0-2 BC. sub

Summary: 17(4)/4. Won 4, Drew 4, Lost 13.


Anonymous said…
I saw him play in Hong Kong in The mid-80s for South China Athletic Association which is the most successful club there. He played well enough to be given the captaincy of the team which also included Keirh Robson at that time.