He was in charge for four years but which five of his signings do we think are John McGrath’s best?
If you disagree (or agree) with our selection of the best John McGrath signings, please let us know in the forum.
One of the very first McGrath signings in 1979, goalkeeper Harrison was also one of his finest. The young stopper arrived from Southampton and in echoes of Mark Goodlad’s move some years later, he was immediately installed as first-choice despite having no previous League experience. Harrison would make 80 appearances and earn the Valiants some valuable revenue when he was sold to Stoke City alongside Mark Chamberlain for £180,000.
Released from the Port Vale youth team at 16 years of age, Bright was brought back three years later by McGrath. Bright was bought from non-league Leek Town in a savvy move. The local youngster would develop into a dependable striker who was eventually sold to Leicester City and who would play for a number of years in the top-flight.
A dependable and energetic central midfielder, Hunter was purchased by McGrath from neighbouring Crewe for a fee of £15,000. It would prove to be money well spent as Hunter racked up 266 Port Vale appearances, score seventeen goals and play a key role in two promotions.
Released by rivals Stoke City after injury, youngster Robbie Earle was snapped up by John McGrath in 1982. Initially a forward who was then converted to a midfielder, he would go on to be one of the club’s all-time great players before being sold to Wimbledon for £775,000. Earle would later represent Jamaica in the World Cup finals.
His striking partner, Ernie Moss, Bob Newton may have been a consummate lower league performer and had a longer career but crowd favourite Newton had the bigger impression. Newton’s twenty goals propelled the club to promotion in 1983 and his exit the next season was a huge mistake by McGrath as the club suffered an awful relegation bringing McGrath’s reign to an end.