In our series of players who could have featured for the club, we look at tragic story of Frank McGinnes, a Scottish starlet who was set to light up Port Vale’s entry to the Football League…
About Nearly Men
This is an occasional OVF series about transfer moves or signings that failed to materialise. In other words, players who perhaps in a parallel universe would have been playing for the Valiants… It covers failed Vale bids for (among others) the likes of Steve Bull, Keith Gillespie and Tom Finney
The forward made his way down England and came to Vale’s attention when scoring fives times against them for Lancastrian side Halliwell. Vale promptly signed him up. It was a wise move…
1892 was a defining year in the history of Burslem Port Vale FC. Formed around 1879, as research from historian Jeff Kent revealed, the club were about to celebrate their thirteenth anniversary with their first season in the Football League. But was thirteen an unlucky omen?
In 1888, the Football League had been formed but Vale were not invited to be one of the twelve founding members. The Valiants reacted by sharpening up their act. They started paying players a wage and appointed a full-time trainer. The result was a third placed finish in the Midland League at the end of the 1891-92 season. As a result, Vale were elected into the Football League.
It looked to be a bright new dawn for the Valiants. There recent form had been in no small part down to their young, exciting forward.
In the late 18th and early 19th century there was an influx of Scottish footballers in the English game. The game in Scotland was still amateur so the professional salaries offered were an incentive but Scots were also in high demand due to their style of play – combination football. In England, there was still a basic dribbling and running style – wheras Scottish players had adopted a more passing and moving style.
However, it was still something of a coup when McGinnes arrived in Burslem. The forward made his way down England and came to Vale’s attention when scoring fives times against them for Lancastrian side Halliwell. Vale promptly signed him up. It was a wise move.
In the 1889-90 season, he netted 33 times in 44 games; in 1890-91 he netted 41 times in 47 games and in 1891-92 he netted 35 times in 46 games. It was no surprise that the media at the time labelled him ‘the best centre-forward that ever left Scotland.”
In 1892, he was 22 years of age, had netted over a hundred goals in three seasions and was poised to play in the Football League with the Valiants. It could have been a sensational 1892-93 season until tragedy struck…
On the 25th June 1892, just three months before the start of the new season, McGinnes died suddenly of kidney failure. He was just twenty two years of age and never had the chance to fulfil his promise in League football.
It was a tragic end to what could have been a stellar career.
Sadly, no photographs of Frank McGinnis exist, the image is of the 1894 Port Vale side to illustrate players of a similar era.