Sunday, 2 December 2007

A Tribute to Harry McNally

Harry McNally's credentials for management of a Football league club are unique. From masonry to management is a step no other team boss has taken and for that matter, what other manager currently in charge of a league club has never kicked a ball in full time professional football?

In 1992, Harry was the longest serving boss in Division 2 and only Brian Clough, Joe Royle and Dario Gradi have sat in a Premier League hot seat longer. That in itself is a tribute to his managerial skills, but when it is considered that Harry has kept the club from being relegated in two seasons in exile at Macclesfield, his achievements become the more remarkable.

Borin in Wigan, but raised in Yorkshire, Harry returned to his roots as a teenager and kicked his first football in earnest as a part timer with Harry Catterick's Rochdale in the old Third Division (North). " I realised that I was not going to be good enough to make my living as a full time player, so I decided to play part time while I built up my building and masonry business," he explained.

Harry went on to play with Chorley as a player coach in the Seventies and with Skelmersdale United, where he was the manager for four years before moving on to Southport as assistant manager. It was at Haig Avenue that his partnership with Graham Barrow was forged and when Southport folded in 1978 the pair moved to Altrincham, Harry as coach and Graham as a player. Wigan manager Larry Lloyd invited Harry to join him as assistant at Springfield Park and when Lloyd eventually left, Harry succeeded temporary manager Bobby Charlton, in charge of his first Football League club.

Harry was only out of work for a few months after parting company from Wigan before he was brought to Chester and his success was almost immediate. In his first full season in charge at Sealand Road, Chester were promoted from Division Four as runners-up to Swindon Town in 1985-86 and have since held their own in Division Three, albeit by the skin of their teeth during the two years at Moss Rose. Harry's devotion to the Chester cause is unquestionable and he freely admitted, "I have no ambitions in football beyond wanting to put the club on a sound footing."

Harry's reign as manager at Chester City Football Club ended during the 1992/93 season following a sting of poor results. The club struggled to survive in the second division and ended the season relegated to the third division of the football league.

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