Harry McShane: 1950s Manchester United stalwart

As a scout he helped unearth talent like Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers

Harry McShane – believed to be the oldest surviving Manchester United footballer until his death last week – was a dashing, hard-running winger with no pretensions to artistry who put in a spirited shift for the club between two generations of more stellar Old Trafford wide men. Matt Busby's team was in urgent need of an experienced attacker capable of patrolling either touchline when he signed the diminutive Scot from Bolton Wanderers in exchange for defender Johnny Ball and £5,000 in September 1950.

The flamboyant Charlie Mitten had recently departed to seek his fortune in Bogota, 36-year-old Jimmy Delaney was about to enlist with Aberdeen and the manager was a year away from persuading Birmingham City to part with the excellent Johnny Berry. Meanwhile the youthful likes of David Pegg and Albert Scanlon, soon to emerge as part of the Busby Babes revolution, were still at an early stage of their development. So McShane was pitched into a League Championship challenge which gathered pace as the season progressed and fell only narrowly short of success, United finishing as runners-up to Tottenham Hotspur.

The pacy newcomer started on the left wing, demonstrating invaluable versatility when tactical considerations dictated a switch to the right midway through the season. He was not one for fancy footwork, adopting the direct approach, invariably aiming to outpace his marker before dispatching a cross in the direction of potent marksmen such as Jack Rowley, Stan Pearson and the temporarily converted full-back John Aston.

McShane began the ultimately triumphant 1951-52 campaign on the right, this time reverting to the left in September to make way for the newly arrived Berry, and he made a dozen mostly impressive appearances before he was sidelined by knee problems for the remainder of the season.

Come the spring United claimed the title, their first under Busby, but with 14 games needed to qualify for a medal he missed out in an era when the unsentimental Football League was not disposed to stretch a point. McShane, an affable, level-headed individual, later reflected: "It was pretty frustrating because I felt I had played my part, but it wasn't the end of the world." It was, however, pretty well the end of his Old Trafford tenure as he was approaching the veteran stage and was selected only a handful of times during the following season before giving way to the sumptuously gifted teenager, Pegg.

McShane's career had commenced with a fleeting stint with Blackburn Rovers as a teenager before the war, in which he served in North Africa and Italy with the RAF. When the conflict was over there followed another brief sojourn, this time with Huddersfield Town, before he was recruited by Bolton in July 1947. After a tentative start at Burnden Park he flourished on either wing until Matt Busby came calling some three years later.

United banked £750 when they sold McShane to Oldham Athletic in February 1954. He remained at Boundary Park until 1955, when he entered non-League circles as a part-timer, variously playing or coaching with Chorley, Wellington Town, Droylsden, Stalybridge Celtic and Altrincham. He he made his living as a personnel officer with the tractor company Massey Ferguson in Stretford, Manchester, until his retirement in 1981.

However, he continued to retain close links with Manchester United, becoming a familiar voice at Old Trafford in the 1960s and '70s as public-address announcer and disc jockey, and he was influential in the formation of the club's former players association, which has raised large amounts of money for charities.

His football expertise continued to benefit the Red Devils, too, as he proved a shrewd talent scout, discovering the likes of Nicky Butt, Gary Walsh and Andy Ritchie, and having a hand in the unearthing of Paul Scholes and the Neville brothers.

McShane's son, Ian, is the screen actor best known for his starring roles in the television series Lovejoy and Deadwood.

Henry McShane, footballer: born Holytown, Lanarkshire 8 April 1920; played for Blackburn Rovers 1937-46, Huddersfield Town 1946-47, Bolton Wanderers 1947-50, Manchester United 1950-54, Oldham Athletic 1954-55; married, one son; died Manchester 7 November 2012.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"