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Raising a glass to hard man McGarry.

Byline: By Alan Oliver

I was sorry to hear about the passing away of former Newcastle United boss Bill McGarry at the age of 77 in South Africa this week.

For Bill was the first manager I worked with when I was given the full-time job of covering United for the Chronicle in 1980.

Now Bill was a real hard man. In fact, he would have some of today's so-called bad boys for breakfast.

Certainly the infamous United Brat Pack disbanded by Graeme Souness would never have got off the ground.

Not everybody could get on with Bill, but I did. And that was one of the reasons why the Chronicle entrusted me with the United job.

However, I only worked with Bill for three weeks before United sacked him. Yet I'm still here 25 years later.

My favourite recollection of Bill came when I covered United's tour of the west country in 1979.

He didn't allow the players a drink after the pre-season friendlies at Bath and Plymouth Argyle. But after a plea from the players, he finally allowed them to have a tipple in the Torquay Supporters Club before they boarded the bus back to Tyneside.

So there they were ( 15 United players with 15 foaming pints on the bar. But before the players could quaff them, Bill appeared at the door. He didn't say anything but the message was clear: Get on the bus, pronto.

The players trooped out miserably eyeing their beers. But they weren't wasted. For myself and my colleague from our sister paper The Journal, John Richardson, supped the lot.

I'll have another little drink to Bill McGarry's memory tonight.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 19, 2005
Words:276
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