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Danny Mcgrain – An Appreciation

The Club has learned with sadness of the sudden death of former captain Danny McGrain, who suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage and died on the night of Monday 30 August. He was fifty-one.

Danny’s funeral will take place at the Linn Crematorium in Castlemilk, Glasgow at 2.30pm on Tuesday 7 September and his son Danny, who will be attending Clyde’s game against St. Mirren on Saturday, has confirmed that the attendance of Clyde fans at the service would be most welcome and greatly appreciated.

A winner of a Scottish Junior Cup medal with Blantyre Victoria in 1970, Barlanark-born Danny McGrain joined Clyde as a winger soon afterwards. He quickly developed into a midfielder of some promise, making his debut in a League Cup sectional tie against Aberdeen at Shawfield on 18 August 1971, a beneficiary of Manager Archie Robertson’s radical team-building which gave youth its chance.

The Clyde programme for the following match gave an early insight into the play of the young McGrain: “McGrain strove hard to reduce the threat of Aberdeen’s Joe Harper, but at one stage became too enthusiastic and was booked for a foul on the centre.”

Archie Robertson’s gamble on his “young brigade” unfortunately ended in disappointment as Clyde finished 1971-72 in second bottom place in the eighteen team Division One and were relegated.

If the season had proved to be a big disappointment team-wise, there was no doubting the impact that Danny had made. When he joined the team he worked in tandem with the then Clyde skipper Jim Burns in what was termed a “fetch and carry” role. His tremendous industry, noted by all, made him ideally suited for this demanding task.

During the 1972 close season, Archie Robertson decided to appoint Danny as team captain. At nineteen he was Clyde’s youngest-ever skipper, the youngest in Scotland at that time and reckoned by many to be the smallest too! Danny’s lack of inches seemed to be regarded in some quarters as a deficiency, but not by anyone who had to play in direct opposition to him!

He was all-action, but the shrewd move by Mr. Robertson to give teenager Danny the captaincy gave his highly committed style of play just the right amount of necessary discipline.

During the 1972-73 season Clyde did all that was asked of them and came back up at the first attempt. Danny McGrain had captained a Championship-winning team and looked forward to pitting his wits and considerable energies against Scotland’s leading midfield players.

Former star wing-half Stan Anderson took over the managerial reigns in November 1973; three months later his young captain played in a match which completely changed his football prospects. On 2 February 1974, in a match against Dundee United at Shawfield, Danny headed the ball off the line, and in doing so prevented a certain goal. He also sustained a head injury which became apparent when he collapsed in the dressing room after the match.

He was rushed to the nearby Victoria Infirmary, then transferred to the neuro-surgical unit at the Southern General with suspected brain damage. Slowly he regained enough strength to be removed from intensive care.

Remarkably, by the end of March 1974 he was back at Shawfield, welcomed by his team mates Dom Sullivan, Bobby Ferris and Eddie Anderson. It’s a moment captured in the famous Clyde photograph shown above, a picture which not only emphasises the very spirit of the man and his total dedication to getting back to full fitness, but clearly shows the high regard in which he was held by his colleagues.

His reputation was no less high with every Clyde supporter. He was the type of player every fan admires. He was skillful, but so were others in that Clyde team. However, no-one quite matched his obvious enthusiasm for the game; Danny simply loved to play football and Clyde fans were just grateful he played for the Bully Wee.

For the next few weeks Danny continued attending Shawfield for twice-weekly physiotherapy sessions under the direction of club physio John Watson, with hopes high of gaining the specialist’s go ahead to resume light training.

It was not to be. At the beginning of the 1975-76 season Danny was forced to quit playing the game he lived for. He had shown characteristic determination in fighting his way back to physical fitness but was warned by specialists that he could endanger his life by continuing to play football. A comeback attempt in 1979 also proved unsuccessful, when the photograph with Craig Brown was taken.

If ever there was a career of considerable promise cut short, it was Danny McGrain’s. He did however manage to play in one hundred and nine matches for Clyde, and no one who was lucky enough to see him would disagree that Danny McGrain gave everything he had, in every minute of every match he played for Clyde.

Suffice to say, no future history of Clyde Football Club will be complete without his mention.

At this sad time, Clyde Football Club extends the sincere condolences of everyone at Broadwood Stadium to Danny’s family.