As with his tackles, Paul McGrath turned up on time to meet an audience in full chant of “Ohh Ahh, Paul McGrath”
With a smile on his face Paul uttered a wonderful summation with “Giggs killed my career and Cantona took my chant”. With the Giggs situation, it was reference to his days at Aston Villa when Giggs, 20 yards behind Paul, pushed the ball and then overtook him like a steam train. He realised that you can play on longer at the lower levels of the football tree, but chasing money was never his motive.
His reminisces about his times with the Robson, Whiteside and Gordon McQueen kept the laughter flowing. Even when playing for Ireland under Jack Charlton and there were regular night time curfews, but he, along with others, knew where every window in the training complex was and how to get in them without being discovered
Based over in Ireland where he was brought up on the aptly named Keeper Road, he still harbours a great affection for Manchester, and was as disbelieving as others as to how one person can act with a callous disregard for life and detonate a bomb in a crowd,
Famous names such as Maradona, Best, Brady, he has played with or against them all. He is loath to pick one out as either his hero or favourite player to watch as he believes they all had attributes that made them special. Against Best, McGrath thought he would have the long time retired former player “For breakfast”. Instead Best had him for lunch.
His views on the current United side is that they “have their mojo back” after the dark days of Van Gall and Moyes and are back playing with an attacking instinct rather than possession, possession, possession.
Ironically his moment of greatest enjoyment of the game of football is not when he was playing, or even on the subs bench. Instead, he was in the stands at Old Trafford as another legend, Bryan Robson, inspired United to overcome a 0-2 deficit from the first leg of a Cup Winners Cup time to win 3-2.
There are still a few of us around to agree with that memory
Images & Words – Ged Noonan