They Played for Both Clubs: Supa John McGinlay, Yeovil Town

Harry Engels

Chris takes a long and lingering look back at Supa John McGinlay, who played for Wanderers and Yeovil....amongst others

I've written enough in the past about John McGinlay, but despite my hero-worship of the man along with thinking that I knew everything about him....I had no idea that he had once played for Yeovil Town, who this weekend make the long journey up to Bolton from Somerset.

McGinlay's career began in inauspicious circumstances, being a much-travelled striker around the Scottish Highland League, taking in spells with Fort William in 1978 and Nairn County in 1982, where he split his time between playing for County and having a year at North Shore United who play in Auckland, New Zealand.

In 1985, McGinlay was spotted by then-Yeovil Town manager Gerry Gow, who himself was a fellow Scot and who had played for Manchester City and Burnley amongst others, and brought to Somerset where he would play amongst familiar names such as ex-Portsmouth striker Guy Whittingham. McGinlay would score 56 goals in his three seasons at Yeovil, however was released having breached his contract at the end of the season year.

He headed back to Scotland with Elgin City in 1988. There he really began to kick on, with his good form bringing more interest from England, McGinlay moved to Shrewsbury Town in time for the 1989/90 season. McGinlay scored five goals in his first season, before notching 22 goals in 44 games the following year, earning himself a move to Bolton's ugly cousin Bury in 1990/91. Another move, this time to Millwall, soon followed, under the management of a Scot by the name of Bruce Rioch who would have a huge part to play in the career of McGinlay.

When Lion of Vienna Suite spoke to Supa John back in October of 2011, it was Rioch that the Bolton legend identified as the manager with the greatest influence on him as a player:

"I think as a manager, it was Bruce Rioch that always made big changes to me. He made me realize a lot of things both personally and in the game. I think that's the person. Ian McNeill, he was the one that signed me for Shrewsbury and he was the one to give me my initial break, if you want to call it that."

Rioch moved North to take over at Bolton Wanderers in 1992, replacing ex-Liverpool captain Phil Neal. His arrival would shepherd in one of the most successful and notable periods in the club's history - one which is looked back upon by many to this day as their favourite era. High praise when considering the glory days of the Sam Allardyce years, and that 0-1 that Gary Megson game against Wigan when we were facing 10 men for 89 minutes.

McGinlay joined new signing Keith Branagan, who also moved to Wanderers from Millwall that summer in a new-look side ready to attempt promotion. McGinlay soon settled, forming a deadly partnership with another Scot, Andy Walker, who joined from Celtic. Wanderers, under Rioch, would go on to finish 2nd in Division Two, playing some fantastic football with Walker and McGinlay scoring 55 goals between them (30 and 21 respectively). Promotion was confirmed with a now-famous 1-0 win over Preston North End in front of 21,720 at Burnden Park, a game which marked this writer's first ever pitch invasion with my Dad upon the final whistle.

Of further note, and a hallmark of the Rioch era, would be the cup runs. Wanderers would draw 2-2 at Burnden Park against Liverpool that season, before going on to defeat them 2-0 at Anfield with McGinlay and Walker scoring a goal apiece. The following season Wanderers would finish 14th in Division One, and again the club made it's mark in the cup competitions, defeating Everton, Aston Villa and Arsenal before succumbing in disappointing fashion at home to Oldham Athletic thanks to Mark bloody Patterson and his sloppy passing. Thriving in the injury-hit absence of his mate Andy Walker, McGinlay top-scored with 33 goals. Walker would leave Bolton that summer to rejoin Celtic.

The 1994/95 season was another memorable time in the career of John McGinlay and of Bolton Wanderers. Under Rioch, the club reached the final of the League Cup, losing 1-2 to a strong Liverpool, before what remains one of my favourite games which saw us come from a 0-2 half time deficit to reach the Premier League by defeating Reading 4-3 at Wembley. It would be Rioch's last game as he left to join Arsenal. That season, McGinlay again was top of the scoring chart with 22 goals.

Wanderers' stay in the top flight was brief, taking just eight wins from 38. As usual, McGinlay was top scorer but this time with just nine goals. The season was a disaster. The club experimented with joint managers for the first time, Roy MacFarland was brought in to help Colin Todd though this was soon jettisoned. I remember with great clarity joining in with a "MacFarland out" chant as the under 10s in the Lever End became militant. The less said about the season the better, a 0-6 home loss against Manchester United being a particular lowlight.

The following year however, was very different. Wanderers, with Todd in sole control, invested wisely. We had lost playmaker Sasa Curcic to Aston Villa for £4m, and Todd had brought in Scandinavian duo Michael Johansen and Per Frandsen, who would go on to be star men in a solid Wanderers side who steamrollered the division to win the title in style with 100 goals and 98 points. McGinlay's strike partner that year was Welshman Nathan Blake, who despite having the fattest arse I've ever seen on a footballer combined with McGinlay to score 54 goals between them (30 for Supa John, 24 for Blake).

That year saw the last action at the famous Burnden Park - McGinlay was fittingly the final man to score at the old stadium in a 4-1 win against Charlton Athletic before 22,030 souls.

As the club moved to the Premier League and the Reebok Stadium, McGinlay was sidelined by Todd who preferred to go with Blake in attack. McGinlay found his chances limited, partially through selection and partially through injury, scoring his final goal for the club at the Reebok against Leyton Orient in the League Cup in September. He was sold to Bradford City under manager Chris Kamara for a club record £625,000, though again suffered with injury and was released on a free transfer just 11 months later scoring just three times in 18 games. His contract was settled and he moved to Oldham Athletic.

McGinlay's time at Oldham was again curtailed through injury, scoring just once in his year at Boundary Park. The nomadic spirit which embodied his early career was reignited and he moved to America, playing for Cincinatti Riverhawks in the American A-League. He retired in 2006 following a long career as he made Cincinatti Kings his final club.

Post-playing, McGinlay coached extensively in America before joining up with ex-Wanderers teammate Owen Coyle this past summer where he was appointed as Head Scout.

McGinlay made 245 appearances for Bolton Wanderers, scoring 118 goals, making him the tenth highest goalscorer in the history of the club, and I love him dearly.

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