THE rare autobiography of the most prolific goalscorer in British football history has been reissued in online format almost 40 years after it was first published.
A Lifetime in Paradise – The Jimmy McGrory Story has long been out of print and a much sought-after item for collectors, with original 1975 copies of the book trading for sums in excess of £100.
Now the life story of legendary former Celtic player and manager McGrory has been launched in a variety of electronic versions. Veteran journalist and broadcaster Gerry McNee, who collaborated with McGrory on the book, has agreed to donate all profits from the new venture to The Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice Brick by Brick Appeal to build a new home for the Glasgow Hospice at Bellahouston Park.
McGrory, who is recognised in the Guinness Book of Records as Britain’s greatest-ever goalscorer, netted a staggering 502 times in 477 appearances for Celtic in all competitions from 1922 and 1938. He later became manager of the club from 1945 to 1965, preceding the revolutionary arrival of Jock Stein, who had been the captain of the side which won the domestic double under McGrory in 1954.
Former Celtic midfielder Mike Jackson, whose late wife spent her final hours in the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice, helped launch the e-book yesterday. Jackson has fond memories of McGrory but also remains frustrated at the lack of influence the iconic centre-forward was able to have on the players when he was manager.
“Jimmy McGrory was a lovely man but not a manager as they are nowadays,” recalled Jackson. “He was never hands-on, out on the training pitch. That’s the one thing that disappointed me as we got older and I looked back on my time at Celtic.
“My dad always said Jimmy McGrory was the best header of a ball there had ever been. Everyone who had seen him play said the same thing. So you would have thought they would have given him a tracksuit, let him get out on the training pitch and show us how it was done.
“But he didn’t even pick the team in those days at Celtic, that was down to the chairman Bob Kelly. That’s why I always felt it was a shame, in later years when I became a manager myself, because he must have had so much more to give in a coaching sense. As you got older you thought he must have had so much to offer. He really was a gentleman, always immaculately dressed and the one time you were guaranteed to see him every week was pay day, because one of his jobs was to hand out the wages.
“It’s incredible now, when you think about it. But he was a big reason why I signed for Celtic.
“I’d been down to Manchester United and played a couple of trial games. But, when Celtic were interested, it was no contest. My dad was in awe of Jimmy McGrory and when I was asked to sign for Celtic, he was delighted.”
• A Lifetime in Paradise – The Jimmy McGrory Story, by Gerry McNee and Jimmy McGrory, is available in epub format from www.lulu.com, the iBook store and in Kindle format through all Amazon sites.