Danny McGrain

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This article is about the Celtic and Scotland player. For the former Clyde F.C. player, see Danny McGrain (footballer born 1953).
Danny McGrain
Danny McGrain (8668845197).jpg
Personal information
Full name Daniel Fergus McGrain
Date of birth (1950-05-01) 1 May 1950 (age 64)
Place of birth Finnieston, Glasgow, Scotland
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position Defender
Club information
Current team
Celtic (Coach)
Youth career
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1967–1987 Celtic 439 (4)
1987–1988 Hamilton Academical 21 (0)
Total 460 (4)
National team
1973 Scottish League XI[1] 1 (0)
1973 Scotland U23 2 (0)
1973–1982 Scotland 62 (0)
Teams managed
1992–1994 Arbroath
Celtic Reserves (assistant)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Daniel Fergus "Danny" McGrain (born 1 May 1950) is a Scottish former professional footballer who played for Celtic and Hamilton Accies in defence. McGrain was also a Scotland international, winning 62 caps for his country and taking part in two World Cups.

McGrain began his career at Celtic and was one of the 'Quality Street Gang', the outstanding reserve team that emerged in the late 1960s during Jock Stein's nine-in-a-row glory days. He progressed to the first team and went on to play 659 competitive games for Celtic between 1970 and 1987. He won seven League Championships, five Scottish Cups and two Scottish League Cups. He spent his final season of his career with Hamilton Accies, where he helped win them promotion to the premier league.

He played in the 1974 and 1982 World Cups for Scotland, captaining the side in their opening match against New Zealand at the 1982 World Cup. His 62 caps have earned him a place in the Scotland Football Hall of Fame. His performances at both club and international level in the 1970s saw him described by many as being one of the best full-backs in the world.[2]

McGrain had to overcome several health concerns during his playing career. He suffered a fractured skull in February 1972, but recovered in time to become a first-team regular at Celtic the following season. In the summer of 1974 he was diagnosed with diabetes, but with on-going medical treatment was able to continue playing. McGrain encountered a third major obstacle in his career when a mystery foot injury ruled him out from playing for nearly 18 months in the late 1970s, causing him to miss Scotland's campaign in the World Cup in Argentina. Again McGrain recovered, regaining his place in both the Celtic and Scotland sides.

After retiring from playing, McGrain had a spell as manager of Arbroath in the early 1990s, and is now currently part of the coaching staff at Celtic.

McGrain is regarded as one of Scotland's greatest players and award winning sports writer Hugh McIlvanney commented, "Anybody who saw him at his best had the unmistakeable impression of watching a great player, probably one who had no superior anywhere in the world.".[3] In 2002 McGrain was voted by Celtic supporters into the club's all-time greatest XI.

Club career[edit]

McGrain signed for Celtic in May 1967. He became one of the so-called 'Quality Street Gang', the great Celtic reserve team that also included players such as Kenny Dalglish, Lou Macari, Davie Hay and George Connelly, who eventually took the places of the ageing Lisbon Lions. At first, McGrain was regarded as a midfielder but was utilised in a variety of roles in the reserve side before becoming established as a right-back.[4]

McGrain made his first-team debut for Celtic as a substitute in a Scottish League cup tie against Dundee United at Tannadice on 26 August 1970.[5][6] He then went on and made his league debut three days later in the opening fixture against Morton at Celtic Park.[4][5] McGrain was used sparingly by manager Jock Stein in his first couple of seasons in the first team, but the young full-back played well in these games.[4]

Having made only 10 league appearances, McGrain suffered the first serious set-back of his career on 25 March 1972. He sustained a fractured skull during a match at Brockville against Falkirk after a clash of heads with forward Doug Somner.[4] McGrain, however, made a full recovery and began the following season, 1972–73, as Celtic's first-choice right-back [7] in place of Jim Craig who had left the club at the end of the previous season.[8] McGrain now became a first-team regular and made 30 league appearances that season.[9] He also rose through the ranks at international level; making two appearances for the Scotland Under 23 side in the spring of 1973, before finally making his debut at full international level for Scotland in May 1973 against Wales at Wrexham.[7] McGrain picked up his first winner's medal at the end of the season when Celtic clinched their eighth successive league championship title.[10]

By the mid 1970s McGrain was considered by many to be one of the best full-backs in the world.[4] He played as what is known today as an attacking full-back and contributed significantly in both attacking moves as well as in defence.[3] His abilities included a burst of speed, skill and control on the ball, vision and anticipation and, when required, a strong but fair sliding tackle.[11] He won a further league championship title and a Scottish Cup in 1974 and played in the World Cup for Scotland that same year.[7] However, McGrain was diagnosed with diabetes immediately after the 1974 World Cup, but with the benefit of medication and a controlled diet and lifestyle, continued to play without adverse effect.[12]

In 1977 McGrain won his second league and cup double.[13][14] He was also voted Player of the Year by the Scottish Football Writers' Association.[15] McGrain became captain of Celtic at the start of season 1977-78 in the wake of Kenny Dalglish's departure to Liverpool. However, an unspecified foot injury that medical staff struggled to identify or treat adequately saw McGrain miss most of the season with Celtic. He also missed the 1978 World Cup for Scotland.[16] Celtic finished the season trophy-less and failed to qualify for European competition for the first time since the early 1960s.[17][18] McGrain eventually recovered from his mystery foot injury[16] and after a tentative re-introduction into the Celtic team, now managed by Billy McNeill, played in the club's last 18 league fixtures of the season in the spring of 1979.[19] On his return from injury, a change in his style of play was apparent. There was a noticeable reduction of pace, which in turn was compensated for by a greater reliance on anticipation of play and distribution of the ball.[20] McGrain went on to pick up his fourth league championship medal at the end of that season as Celtic clinched the title with a dramatic 4-2 win over Rangers in their final game of the season.[21]

McGrain continued to be a mainstay of the Celtic side during the early to mid 1980s; captaining them to a further 3 league championships, 2 Scottish Cups and 1 Scottish League Cup.[7] In the summer of 1986, Airdrie made an approach for McGrain to become their player-manager. Negotiations reached an advanced stage until a last-minute change of heart by the Airdrie board.[7] McGrain remained at Celtic for a further year; playing regularly at the age of 36, he missed only two games in the second half of the season.[7][22] He played his final game for Celtic on 9 May 1987, a league fixture away against Hearts.[22]

In May 1987, McGrain was given a free transfer by Celtic.[23] He joined Hamilton Accies in the summer and helped them win promotion to the Scottish Premier League before finally retiring from playing.[24]

International career[edit]

His international career began at Scotland Under 23 level on 13 February 1973 with a game against England at Kilmarnock.[25] McGrain played alongside Alan Rough and Asa Hartford in a 1-2 defeat.[26] He won a second cap at Under 23 level a month later away to Wales, winning 2-1.

McGrain made his full international debut for Scotland on 12 May 1973 in a British Home Championship tie against Wales at Wrexham, winning 2-0.[7][27] He won a further two caps over the following week in Home Championship ties against Northern Ireland and England.[28] The game against England saw McGrain fielded in an unfamiliar role at left-back to accommodate another highly rated right-back, Sandy Jardine of Rangers.[29] McGrain would go on to play at left-back for many of his Scotland appearances in the 1970s in order to accommodate the Rangers player, still able to play to the abilities he displayed in his normal role.[11]

McGrain played in eight consecutive internationals for Scotland[7] and was selected by Willie Ormond for the 22 man squad travelling to West Germany for the 1974 World Cup.[30] McGrain played in all three World Cup group matches (Zaire, Brazil and Yugoslavia), but despite being undefeated Scotland returned home having failed to qualify for the next phase.[30] This early-exit from the tournament proved fortunate for McGrain, who had been suffering from extreme thirst all through the tournament and had lost 2 stone (12 kg) in weight. On his return to Glasgow, McGrain was diagnosed as being diabetic. Had there been any further delay in identification and treatment of his condition, the consequences could have proved fatal.[31] With his illness now being treated, McGrain was able to continue playing football.

McGrain continued to play regularly for Scotland, now being fielded in his more familiar position at right-back, but missed Scotland's ill-fated 1978 World Cup campaign in Argentina through injury.[7]

On his recovery from injury in 1979, McGrain regained his placed in the Scotland team. He made 16 consecutive international appearances in the run up to the 1982 World Cup in Spain. Now captain of the side, McGrain was named in Jock Stein's 22 man squad travelling to Spain. He played in Scotland's opening game against New Zealand but was dropped for the next match against Brazil. McGrain came on as a substitute for Gordon Strachan in Scotland's third game, against the Soviet Union.[7] This transpired to be his final game for Scotland.[7][32]

McGrain is a member of the Scotland Football Hall of Fame, courtesy of the 62 caps he won during his career.[33]

Coaching career[edit]

After retiring from playing, McGrain had a brief spell coaching at Clydebank in 1989.[34]

In November 1992 McGrain was appointed manager of Scottish Second Division side Arbroath.[35][36] That season, McGrain led Arbroath to the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup, losing 0-3 at home to eventual winners Rangers.[37] The following season Arbroath played McGrain's former club Celtic in a Scottish League Cup tie and lost 1-9, a record defeat for the club.[37][38] McGrain resigned in January 1994 due to illness.[37][39] In his 14 months at Gayfield Park, McGrain became popular with their fans and was followed by a group of supporters known as 'Danny McGrain's Bearded Army'. These supporters attended games wearing tribute t-shirts and stick-on beards, affectionately mimicking McGrain's own trademark beard.[36]

In August 1997 McGrain joined the backroom staff at Celtic, working under Wim Jansen.[40] He is now currently first team coach after being promoted by Neil Lennon in October 2012 from the Development Squad.[41]

Personal life[edit]

McGrain is married to Laraine, and the couple have three daughters.[42]

McGrain supported Rangers (Celtic's Glasgow rivals) as a boy. He wrote two autobiographies, one when his career was at its peak and another shortly after he retired. In both, McGrain (a Protestant) told how he had been spotted by someone doing some scouting for Rangers when he was still a boy but the scout did not recommend him to Rangers, wrongly assuming from his name – Daniel Fergus McGrain – that he was a Catholic and that Rangers would not sign him because of this.[23] However, McGrain has since stated, “I don’t know if that story's true. Over the years that followed nobody from Rangers ever told me they wanted to sign me".[43]

In the summer of 1974, McGrain was diagnosed as suffering from diabetes. He had just returned home from playing for Scotland in the World Cup in West Germany, where he had displayed an excessive thirst and lost 2 stones (12 kg) in weight. Despite his condition, McGrain was able to continue playing top-level football. In March 2002 McGrain was found by Police in the south side of Glasgow, slumped unconscious in the driver's seat of his car. He had entered a hypoglycaemic state, where the brain is drained of sugar and causes the body to shut down to conserve what little there is left. The officers revived McGrain and fed him a sugary sweet. Had McGrain not been found in time he would have suffered brain damage and possibly died. However, he made a full recovery and commented "There was no harm done in the end." [44]

In 2002, Celtic supporters voted for what they considered to be the greatest Celtic XI of all time. McGrain was voted into the team, which was; Simpson, McGrain, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Auld, Johnstone, P McStay, Dalglish, Larsson and Lennox.[45]

McGrain is the Vice Patron of Football Aid, a Scottish charity fund-raising organisation.[46] He has been involved with them since their inception in 2000, and was appointed Vice Patron in 2004.[47]

In popular culture[edit]

In 1996, Glasgow rock band Big Wednesday immortalised Danny in music in their single "Sliding in like McGrain".[48] Danny appeared on television with the group as part of the promotional activities.[49]

Player honours[edit]


Career statistics[edit]

Club Season League Cup League Cup Europe Other1 Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Celtic 1970-71 7 0 0 0 5 0 2 0 2 0 16 0
1971-72 3 0 1 0 4 0 2 0 0 0 10 0
1972-73 30 0 7 0 10 0 4 0 2 0 53 0
1973-74 30 1 3 0 13 0 5 0 3 0 54 1
1974-75 30 0 5 0 7 0 2 0 3 1 47 1
1975-76 35 0 1 0 9 1 6 0 2 0 53 1
1976-77 36 0 7 0 10 1 2 0 0 0 55 1
1977-78 7 0 0 0 2 0 2 0 0 0 11 0
1978-79 18 2 4 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 24 2
1979-80 34 0 6 0 5 0 6 0 3 0 54 0
1980-81 33 0 3 0 8 0 4 0 1 0 49 0
1981-82 26 0 2 1 6 0 1 0 0 0 35 1
1982-83 33 1 3 0 10 1 4 0 2 0 52 2
1983-84 33 0 5 0 10 0 6 0 0 0 54 0
1984-85 30 0 7 0 3 0 4 0 1 0 45 0
1985-86 28 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 36 0
1986-87 26 0 4 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 33 0
Total 439 4 60 1 106 3 54 0 22 1 681 9
  Hamilton Accies   1987-88 21 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 22 0
Career Total 460 4 60 1 107 3 54 0 22 0 703 9

1Includes cup competitions: the Glasgow Cup, Drybrough Cup and the Anglo-Scottish Cup.

Scotland national team
Year Apps Goals
1973 8 0
1974 7 0
1975 9 0
1976 7 0
1977 9 0
1978 0 0
1979 1 0
1980 8 0
1981 7 0
1982 6 0
Total 62 0


  1. ^ "Danny McGrain - Scotland Football League Record from 27 Mar 1973 to 27 Mar 1973 clubs - Celtic". Londonhearts.com. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  2. ^ "Your Most Exciting Player 1976-77". Shoot. May 1977. 
  3. ^ a b "Danny McGrain | Athletics | Sport | STV". Sport. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Campbell, Tom; Woods, Pat (1987). The Glory & The Dream. Grafton Books. p. 424. ISBN 0-586-20005-3. 
  5. ^ a b "Celtic Player Danny McGrain, Games Played". Fitbastats.com. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  6. ^ "Dundee United 2 - 2 Celtic, League Cup (26/08/1970)". Fitbastats.com. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Rollin, Jack (1988). Soccer - Records, Facts & Champions (2nd edition). Guinness Publishing Ltd. pp. 56–57. ISBN 0-85112-360-0. 
  8. ^ "Celtic Player Jim Craig Details". Fitbastats.com. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Celtic Player Danny McGrain Details". Fitbastats.com. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  10. ^ Campbell, Tom; Woods, Pat (1987). The Glory & The Dream. Grafton Books. p. 271. ISBN 0-586-20005-3. 
  11. ^ a b Campbell, Tom; Woods, Pat (1987). The Glory & The Dream. Grafton Books. p. 425. ISBN 0-586-20005-3. 
  12. ^ Hugh Keevins (23 December 2011). "Celtic legend Danny McGrain: I beat diabetes and so will Scotland kid Scott Allan". Daily Record. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  13. ^ "Celtic Football Club". Celticfc.net. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  14. ^ Craig, Jim (7 May 2012). "If You Know The History: 7th May Scottish Cup Final 1977 | Jim Craig Celtic Supporter's Club". Jimcraigcsc.wordpress.com. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  15. ^ a b "Scotland - Player of the Year". Rsssf.com. 14 March 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  16. ^ a b Campbell, Tom; Woods, Pat (1987). The Glory & The Dream. Grafton Books. pp. 425–427. ISBN 0-586-20005-3. 
  17. ^ Campbell, Tom; Woods, Pat (1987). The Glory & The Dream. Grafton Books. p. 291. ISBN 0-586-20005-3. 
  18. ^ Hunter, William (1 May 1978). "Celtic boys out of their class". The Glasgow Herald. p. 15. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  19. ^ "Celtic Player Danny McGrain, Games Played". Fitbastats.com. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  20. ^ Campbell, Tom; Woods, Pat (1987). The Glory & The Dream. Grafton Books. p. 427. ISBN 0-586-20005-3. 
  21. ^ "1979-05-21: Celtic 4-2 Rangers, Premier Division". The Celtic Wiki. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  22. ^ a b "Celtic Player Danny McGrain, Games Played". Fitbastats.com. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  23. ^ a b Campbell, Tom; Woods, Pat (1987). The Glory & The Dream. Grafton Books. p. 428. ISBN 0-586-20005-3. 
  24. ^ a b Dundee. "Former Arbroath FC boss Danny McGrain backs Lichties for the title - Football / Sport / The Courier". Thecourier.co.uk. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  25. ^ "Scotland U23 Player Danny McGrain, Games Played". Fitbastats.com. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  26. ^ "Scotland U23 1 - 2 England, Friendly (13/02/1973)". Fitbastats.com. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  27. ^ "Wales 0 - 2 Scotland, British Championship (12/05/1973)". Fitbastats.com. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  28. ^ "Scotland Player Daniel Fergus McGrain, Games Played". Fitbastats.com. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  29. ^ "England 1 - 0 Scotland, British Championship (19/05/1973)". Fitbastats.com. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  30. ^ a b Jan Alsos. "1974 - Squads - Scotland". Planet World Cup. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  31. ^ "Football: Players are still gutted by our KO in 1974 World Cup finals. I'm not - it saved my life; DANNY McGRAIN REVEALS HOW HE BEAT DIABETES TO BECOME SCOTLAND LEGEND". Daily Record. 30 March 2005. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  32. ^ "Scotland 2 - 2 Soviet Union, World Cup (22/06/1982)". Fitbastats.com. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  33. ^ "Scotland International Football SFA Hall Of Fame". Scotlandfootballstats.co.uk. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  34. ^ "McGrain drafted in to help out Bankies". Herald Scotland. 19 August 1989. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  35. ^ "McGrain takes over at Arbroath". Herald Scotland. 11 November 1992. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  36. ^ a b Dundee (20 April 2011). "Former Arbroath FC boss Danny McGrain backs Lichties for the title - Football / Sport / The Courier". Thecourier.co.uk. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  37. ^ a b c "potted history". Arbroath FC. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  38. ^ Ian Paul (26 August 1993). "Paradise at the seaside as Celtic hit the goal trail". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  39. ^ "Early inspections". Herald Scotland. 18 January 1994. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  40. ^ "Paul goes to school". Herald Scotland. 11 August 1997. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  41. ^ "Celtic have appointed Danny McGrain as new first-team coach | Football News". Sky Sports. 18 October 2012. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  42. ^ Aidan Smith (9 February 2013). "Interview: Danny McGrain still going strong at 62 - Latest". The Scotsman. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  43. ^ Hugh Keevins (20 April 2013). "Danny McGrain: If Neil Lennon wins 10-in-a-row I hope he gets the knighthood that Jock Stein should have got". Daily Record. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  44. ^ "Danny McGrain is found slumped at wheel of his car; Scotland and Celtic hero missing for 3 hours after falling unconscious". Sunday Mail. 24 March 2002. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  45. ^ "Jinky best-ever Celtic player". BBC Sport. 9 September 2002. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  46. ^ "Danny McGrain (MBE)". Football Aid. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  47. ^ "Celtic and Scotland Legend Danny McGrain takes up post of Football Aid's first Vice-Patron". Football Aid. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  48. ^ "The latest from the Scots music scene". The Mirror. 6 August 1997. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  49. ^ "Bite Back; Euro jungle". Sunday Mail. 10 March 1996. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  50. ^ http://sport.stv.tv/athletics/163883-danny-mcgrain/
  51. ^ "Meadowbank go through in extra time (Meadowbank 1 Hamilton 0)". The Glasgow Herald. 19 August 1987. p. 23. 
  52. ^ "Roll of Honour - Danny McGrain". Scottish FA. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Kenny Dalglish
Celtic F.C. captain
Succeeded by
Roy Aitken