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PersonalFull Name: James Edward McGrory
aka: Jimmy McGrory
Nickname: "The Human Torpedo", the "Mermaid"(for his heading ability), "The Golden Crust"
Born: 26 April 1904
Died: 20 October 1982
Birthplace: Garngad, Glasgow
Height: 5ft 6"
Signed (as a player): 10 June 1921
Left (as a player): 1937
Position: Forward, Centre forward
Debut: Third Lanark 0-1 Celtic, League, 20 Jan 1923
International Caps: 7 Caps (!)
International Goals: 6 goals
Biog as a player
|"Shoulders like a young Clydesdale, neck like a prime Aberdeen Angus and a head the nightmare of every goalkeeper. He had the knack of connecting with his napper and directing the leather netwards with greater velocity and judgement than many a counterpart could accomplish with his feet."|
(Bill Paterson, ex-Arsenal May 23 1953)
When it comes to arguments over who is the greatest Celt of them all the name at the top of many people's list is the incomparable James Edward McGrory.
Born in the Glasgow Irish enclave of the Garngad in 1904 McGrory was to go on and rewrite the football record books with his unbelievable scoring feats for the club which he loved with all his heart.
Signed by Willie Maley in June 1921 from junior side St Roch as an inside-right McGrory spent a season loaned out to Clydebank where he was switched to centre-forward before returning to Glasgow and making his Bhoys debut in a 1-0 league defeat at Third Lanark on January 20th 1923. That day was to be one of the few occasions when McGrory didn't hit the back of the net.
The barrel chested forward was an immensely strong and forceful attacker prepared to take whatever knocks came his way in search of a goal. There were few players as tough or as fair as the modest and humble McGrory and his commitment to the Celtic cause was obvious every time he took the field.
He burst into football folklore on April 11th 1925 when in the dying minutes of the Scottish Cup final at Hampden he launched himself at a cross and bulleted the ball into the net with his head to give Celtic a last gasp 2-1 triumph over Dundee.
McGrory was now on the road to establishing himself as the deadliest centre forward in football. The most feared attacker in the game. His ability to score with his head was unrivalled ("Queen's Park keeper Jack Harkness once broke three fingers trying to save a McGrory header" - P Lunney, 100 Greats) but his skill with the ball at his feet was also immense. McGrory could score from any angle and distance.
He was the consummate striker and had an exceptional header of the ball (for which he became christened "The Mermaid"). Even now people speak about his ability and record with awe.
His committed play meant he regularly suffered a broken nose and in one match he even broke his jaw after taking a boot to the face. Such injuries were all part of the game to the man they called 'The Human Torpedo'. For twelve season McGrory was to be Celtic's top scorer. Twice (1926-27 & 1935-36) he was the top league scorer in Europe with 49 and 50 goals respectively.
To this day Celtic supporters question why this most magnificent of players was awarded only a measly 7 Scottish international caps. However when he did play for the national team he never let them down. Indeed his late winner at Hampden on April 1st 1933 against England was greeted with such noise by the 134,170 crowd that it went down in history as the legendary phrase - 'The Hampden Roar'.
While for the most part McGrory was criminally ignored by his country the player himself was not too upset as for him playing football was all about Celtic.
In the summer of 1928 he turned down an offer from Arsenal to become the highest paid footballer in Britain because he could not bear to leave Parkhead. It latterly turned out that the Celtic board were banking on McGrory's departure as a way of boosting the club's bank account and so riled were they by his refusal of Arsenal's offer (£10,0000 transfer) that they secretly paid him less than his team mates for the rest of his career. When he later discovered this dastardly deed McGrory simply said: "Well it was worth it just to pull on those Green and White Hoops."
Money meant nothing to McGrory. Scoring goals for Celtic meant everything. He was the very personification of the true spirit of the club he adored. He eventually retired from the game in 1937 having scored an amazing 472 goals in 445 appearances. As a Celt he won two league championship winners' medals and four Scottish Cup winners' medals.
He remains the most prolific scorer in Celtic history and that is a title which seems safe for all eternity.
Jimmy McGrory - probably the greatest Celtic player of them all.
| APPEARANCES ||LEAGUE||SCOTTISH CUP||LEAGUE CUP||EUROPE||TOTAL|
Honours with CelticScottish League
- 1926, 1936, 1937
- Jimmy McGrory was the top League goalscorer in Europe in seasons 1926-27 (49 goals) and 1935-6 (50 goals)
- In 445 appearances he scored 472 goals (398 in the Scottish League, 74 in the Scottish Cup)
- He won 5 Scottish Cup winners medals
- He managed the Celtic team which won the 1957 League Cup final by a British record margin in a domestic cup final of 7-1 against Rangers
Newspaper cuttings in an elastoplast tin
One of the Greatest strikers ever (official):In July 2007 IFFHS (International Federation of Football History & Statistics), produced a survey that put Jimmy McGrory as the 8th greatest striker of all time, a great great accolade and the highest ranking Briton.
|Goal Scorer||Top Division||Matches||Period||Goals|
|1||Edson Arantes do Nascimento "Pelé"||Brasil / USA||560||1957-1977||541|
|2||Josef Bican||Österreich / Československo||341||1931-1955||518|
|3||Ferenc Puskás||Magyarország / España||533||1943-1966||511|
|4||Romário de Souza Farias||Brasil / Nederland / España / Australia||612||1985-2007||489|
|5||Carlos Roberto de Oliveira "Dinamite"||Brasil / España||758||1971-1992||470|
|6||Imre Schlosser||Magyarország / Österreich||318||1905-1928||417|
|7||Gyula Zsengéller||Magyarország / Italia / Colombia||394||1935-1952||416|
|8||James Edward McGrory||Scotland||408||1922-1938||410|
|9||Arthur Antunes Coimbra "Zico"||Brasil / Italia / Japan||596||1971-1994||406|
|10||Gerhard Müller||Deutschland / USA||507||1965-1981||405|
Manager 1945 - 1965Jimmy McGrory was belatedly appointed as the new manager of Celtic. A prior favourite for the managerial position, Jimmy McStay was instead appointed in 1940 only to be dismissed unceremoniously in 1945 to be succeeded by McGrory in relatively controversial circumstances.
So how was McGrory’s reign to pan out? In retrospect, McGrory should have reflected on how his predecessor’s tenure had been stunted by the board and learnt from McStay’s errors, but he didn’t and the club continued to be a waning institution. There were many parallels between their reigns, and it’s disturbing to see just how the same old misjudgements and errors were being blindly repeated over and over again.
Similar to Jimmy McStay, McGrory had a fair record as manager prior to arriving at Celtic. Having guided Kilmarnock to the 1938 Scottish Cup final before the Second World War, many likely assessed that his phenomenal success as a player would rub off on the players. It wasn’t to be so idealistic, and his first challenge was to revive the team and the club in a difficult social and financial climate.
Celtic suffered in the austerity years after the war, and it all culminated in 1947-48 where we were perilously close to relegation, having been simply transplanted by Hibs and Hearts in the challenge against Rangers for the league titles. Over the coming years, despite having some great players throughout his time (e.g. Tully, Peacock, Evans etc), we generally never really competed for the league title. As a giant name, Celtic retained affection but it was in the cup competitions that our only really challenges emerged and even then there were embarrassments.
So what was wrong? The problems began with the similarities to the situation with Jimmy McStay, in that Jimmy McGrory was too gentlemanly to counter the unwanted mingling in team affairs by the board directors. Alex Dowell on his departure scathed that “Only when the manager McGrory and the directors can make a reasonably consistent first-team choice will they get consistent results. Jimmy McGrory was handicapped by a board who made the decisions above his head, and in effect was a bit-part manager many a time. He was routinely humiliated, or as Bobby Evans scathed: "He [i.e. the Celtic Captain] has no decisions to take about team changes or tactical changes. The answers to these problems come from the directors' box [i.e. chairman Bob Kelly] to the track - and are passed to the field by the trainer!".
Celtic Chairman Bob Kelly didn’t exactly help McGrory by retorting to critics about watching his own youth scheme to take shape in years to come rather than see the problems right in front of him. In the meantime, we were losing quality players such as Paddy Crerand to Man U who has never lost his bitterness about his treatment and the set-up around Celtic back in those days.
So how was McGrory to manage the first team side at the time? Actually, he became a secondary figure due to the board's over-eager control of the first team and he wasn’t really in charge. Basically, his own good manners turned into an Achilles heel. He was a perfect fit for Celtic on paper but legendary players don’t generally make great managers.
The high points for McGrory included the Coronation Cup victory in 1953 (which was a poke in the eye for the establishment), the Scottish League & Cup double in 1953-54 and the classic League Cup win in 1957 (“Hampden in the Sun”), so one great league title and three cup wins have rightly allowed McGrory to retain a certain affection historically as a manager. However, these victories glossed over the reality of the situation, and sorely after the classic 1957 League Cup victory we never won a senior trophy again under McGrory. In fairness, we were mightily close to repeating the League & Cup double in 1954-55 but as ever we underachieved.
After continual failure after the 1957 League Cup victory, the inevitable finally dawned on Bob Kelly as he watched Jock Stein achieve far greater with more limited resources at Dunfermline. At the end, Jimmy McGrory was to lose his position and was unceremoniously put in place as “Public Relations Officer”. A sad end but his tenure as manager had become marked by repeated failure. The board were able to wash their hands of much of the responsibility and let him carry the can. Sadly, none of the board members were made accountable and not one moved on themselves immediately after McGrory’s departure.
Jimmy McGrory was a popular figure and virtually represented the last of the hat-and-overcoat managers who were as much administrators as coaches. Notably, it can be simply too easy to just blame the manager and the board alone, as the players themselves should be criticised. Players like Charlie Tully, regardless of their undoubted talent, were slack at training and (many a time) lazy at helping others on the pitch (much to the chagrin of Jock Stein). Highly rated and legendary coach Jimmy Hogan (with all his wealth of experience) was very much disgracefully ignored by a number of players, so board intrusion wasn’t the only handicap for McGrory. There were a number of great players during his time and they had collectively let McGrory down no matter all else.
One of the saddest indictments of McGrory’s time at Celtic is that despite being the manager of the club for around 20 years, in Celtic history tomes covering the period, his name can surprisingly be sparsely referred to when you would expect that as the manager he'd be heavily referenced. Simply another indicator to illustrate just how side-lined he had become in his position by the environment imposed by the board.
Overall, progress has no real cares for history and Celtic were in danger of being another illustrious name to add to the football scrapheap (along with Queen’s Park, Blackpool and Preston North End). The arrival of Jock Stein was to change everything, but Stein's first task was to tackle the stalemates that the previous managers were forced to work under, and that was the greatest tragedy that McGrory’s managerial tenure left behind.
Honours as managerCoronation Cup
Quotes"Jimmy McGrory leaves memories of the finest and of deeds in our colours that will never fade."
Willie Maley when McGrory left for the Kilmarnock manager's position, 1938
"Shoulders like a young Clydesdale, neck like a prime Aberdeen Angus and a head the nightmare of every goalkeeper. He had the knack of connecting with his napper and directing the leather netwards with greater velocity and judgement than many a counterpart could accomplish with his feet."
Bill Paterson on Jimmy McGrory, ex-Arsenal May 23 1953
“I felt McGrory of Arsenal did not sound right. It wasn’t like McGrory of Celtic”.
In 1928 Celtic’s greatest ever goal scorer Jimmy McGrory turned down the chance to sign for Arsenal. They had offered him a blank cheque.
John Thomson bemoaning on being called a "Fenian Bastard" by an opposition player (despite being a church going Protestant)
Jimmy McGrory: "John, I get called that every game I play."
John Thomson: "I know. It's all right for you. You are one!"
Banter between the great John Thomson & Jimmy McGrory
"I actually broke down in tears of joy that night, the first time in all my years in the game that I had cried. What a thrill it was to see young boys like Murdoch, McNeill, Johnstone, Gemmell, Clark and Lennox coming of age. What a thrill it was to see the club I had served all my life reach its pinnacle. My one ambition now is to live long enough to shed some more tears into that magnificent European Cup."
Jimmy McGrory on Lisbon, from A Lifetime in Paradise, 1975
"I am not sure if two teams and two or three games make a world championship or what being able to say that a team are world champions is worth. For Celtic supporters, Celtic will always be the best team in the world and no trophy will prove that better or less. The idea is that if Celtic does not win, the team will win the next time. Football might be about winning, but it is more about the hope of winning. If Celtic were guaranteed to win every game there would not be much point in coming to watch games. Successful teams know that losing is not an end in itself but a lesson in how they might win. That probably is the biggest lesson to be learned form Celtic's experience in South America in 1967. That is what I hope."
Jimmy McGrory, on the Racing Club controversy, writing in 1977, quoted in Brian Belton's 'The Battle of Montevideo - Celtic Under Siege'.
- McGrory, Chapman and the miracle of Lourdes
- The Hampden Roar
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Entry
- Eighth greatest striker ever (International football stats)
- Miscellaneous articles
Latest page update: made by joebloggscity
, Oct 25 2012, 6:10 PM EDT
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|Started By||Thread Subject||Replies||Last Post|
|AnneMcLaren||Proud as punch!||0||Apr 20 2012, 5:40 PM EDT by AnneMcLaren|
Thread started: Apr 20 2012, 5:40 PM EDT Watch
I just joined this page to say how amazed i am at how amazing Jimmy McGrory is/was.
I just recently found out that Jimmy McGrory is my late grandfather Owen Gillespies cousin, so i thought i'd do some research on him & honestly can't believe that i am related to a Scottish Hero.
My Grandfather was proud & so am i!
|joebloggscity||honours||3||Feb 11 2010, 3:34 PM EST by joebloggscity|
Thread started: Feb 9 2010, 7:13 AM EST Watch
need to confirm how many Scottish Cups, League titles McGrory won as a player.
One bit above says "4 Scottish Cups" another says "5 Scottish Cups". Nice to add Glasgow Cup and other honours also.
need all checked and which year he won each in.
1 out of 1 found this valuable. Do you?
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