Looking Back At: John McInally

John McInally

Date of birth: 26.9.51, Born: Gatehouse of Fleet, Kirkcudbrightshire

Height: 5ft 10in, Position: Goalkeeper

City appearances: League: 22 FA Cup: 2 Total: 24

John Stewart McInally was born in the small town of Gatehouse of Fleet in South West Scotland and was a Scottish schoolboy international, joining Manchester United in March 1969 at the age of 17. However, he was released by the Old Trafford club and signed for Lincoln City in the summer of 1970 by manager Bert Loxley to act as understudy to the experienced John Kennedy.

The 19-year-old made his Imps debut in a 2-1 away defeat at Brentford on the 19th of December and kept his place for six more games including a 4-3 loss to Third Division Torquay United in the FA Cup. Kennedy returned to the side for three games, then as with so many players that season suffered a series of injuries meaning McInally was back for what was to be his longest run in the side.

Meanwhile, with City struggling just outside the re-election zone a change of manager was made with former Manchester United star David Herd replacing Loxley. There was an initial improvement in the side’s fortunes, with the young keeper drawing praise from his new manager for an outstanding display in a 2-1 home win over the Football League’s leading scorers Oldham Athletic. However, City continued to struggle, and McInally was in goal when five goals were conceded at home to York City. The fit-again Kennedy then replaced him for the last five games of the season as City finished in the re-election zone. McInally totalled 17 league and two FA Cup appearances for the season.

McInally became very much a mainstay of the reserve team the following season as City had a much better Fourth Division campaign, being placed third in the table when the now 20-year-old was called into the first team towards the end of March for a solitary game. Unfortunately, City then blew their chances of promotion following a home defeat to lowly Darlington with McInally playing in the last four games of the season.

The following season John McInally played in a Lincolnshire Senior Cup game at the beginning of September but with John Kennedy injured again the signing of Eric Hulme from Nottingham Forest, initially on loan at around the same time meant the young Scot was now third choice. Not surprisingly a couple of months later he was allowed to leave, being snapped up by former Imp Jim Smith only days after his appointment as manager of bottom four side Colchester United.

McInally’s debut for the Essex side saw him create a good impression in a 3-1 win against Southport on the 10th of November. He missed only one game for the U’s in the remainder of the season, playing 27 times in the league and twice in the FA Cup. However, with Colchester unable climb out of the re-election zone he was released by Jim Smith in the summer of 1973. He remained in the area to join Braintree & Crittall Athletic (now Braintree Town), later having a spell as player-manager of the then Eastern Counties League club.

John McInally died suddenly in his sleep on 5th June 2012 in his native town of Gatehouse of Fleet at the very early age of 60. His Football League appearances totalled 49.