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PAT MURPHY: McGarry did Wolves proud.

Byline: PAT MURPHY

Alex Ferguson has the reputation of a fearsome character when crossed, but he's a pussycat compared to a man who died a few days ago. Bill McGarry was not only Wolves' best manager since Stan Cullis, but he made everyone jump when running the ship at Molineux 30 years ago.

Journalists who covered Wolves on a regular basis all had tales of copping a verbal coating from McGarry. I was no exception.

When I first started as a football reporter for Radio Birmingham, Ron Saunders ran Aston Villa with military precision and McGarry was at Wolves. Although Saunders was an exacting taskmaster, McGarry was far more fearsome. Woe betide you if you turned up for an interview without doing the necessary research or an awareness that you could be challenged at every question if McGarry was inthe mood. But he was great value when he was happy with the bait laid in front of him and plunged into a dissertation on the game's current ills.

When Bill McGarry sighed and said `Well . .', you knew you were in for a treat. He deplored the financial greed of players, sloppy professionalism and anything he construed as cheating the customers and he would readily tell any player his fortune to his face.

McGarry's fearless management style fashioned a highly attractive Wolves team, built around the speed and craft on the left wing of David Wagstaffe, the drive and shrewd passing in midfield of Mike Bailey and Kenny Hibbitt and the lethal striking partnership of Derek Dougan and John Richards.

Richards was his favourite player, as he was honest enough to admit once whenhis striker was going through a barren patch, but the intelligent and loyal Richards knew how much he owed to this hard taskmaster. Even the articulate and opinionated Dougan - the quintessential dressing-room activist - was kept in line by McGarry.

He deserved to win more than just the League Cup forWolves. That came in 1974 and as his players celebrated joyously that day at Wembley, McGarry told the media that he would have resigned if Wolves had lost, because he felt that he was in danger of falling short too often.

Such was McGarry's integrity that we all automatically believed himIt was entirely consistent of him that he would resign two years later when the ageing Wolves side was relegated.

I last interviewed Bill McGarry in 1985, in my car outside his daughter's house in Wolverhampton. He'd returned for an ill-advised, second spell as Wolves' manager, at a time when the club was heading towards oblivion. He only lasted 61 days and was totally disillusioned at the end.

That final interview was a vintage rant at the obstacles dogging any experienced manager. It was hard to quibble with one word. Bill McGarry deserved better than that awful finale.

Enoch Powell, another closely associated with Wolverhampton, once wrote that all political careers end in failure. With just a few exceptions, he could also have been referring to football management

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Bill McGarry (left) celebrating victory over Manchester City in the 1974 League Cup Final with Wolverhampton Wonderers goalkeeper Gary Pierce
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 22, 2005
Words:521
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