Born in 1936, Harry became by default, Southport’s first Non-League manager in 1978 taking over from Hughie Fisher following Southport’s exit from the Football League a few months earlier. A miners son, and a stonemason by trade, he was a rare breed of manager, in that he had never played League Football. He was however a familiar face on the North West non-league circuit having spent much of his playing career as an amateur at our neighbours Skelmersdale United. It was here that Harry developed a taste for management, frequently involving himself in first team coaching.
He was perhaps a surprise choice upon his appointment however, stepping up from his post as Reserve Team Manager, and it would be fair to say, that his managerial career only really took off once he had left Southport. Harry spent only a season and half in charge at Haig Avenue before making way for Allan Hampson, but the board’s refusal in the spring of 1979 to take up an invitation of a place in the new Football Alliance primarily on financial grounds, impacted heavily on Harry’s reign. A big drop in crowds, ultimately led to the sale of a number of the talented players that Harry had assembled.
In 1981 Harry left Southport to become coach at the side that had three years previous replaced them in the football league – Wigan Athletic.
Within a year he had been promoted to Assistant Manager to Larry Lloyd.
In 1983 Lloyd departed, and McNally was given his first Football League management job. With no money, and little time, McNally sought to built a side consisting of youth and experienced non-league players, but despite leading them to a creditable 13th place in his first season, Harry once again had to sell the bulk of his squad due to financial problems, and he was sacked in February 1985, with his side cast adrift at the foot of the table.
Whilst recalled fondly by Port fans, Harry is regarded as somewhat of a legend at Chester City, having joined a few months after his sacking at Wigan.
In his first season he led them to the runners-up spot in Division Four, only being pipped at the post by Swindon Town, themselves having somewhat of a record breaking season. Seven years of Division Three football followed, including a Manager Of The Year award courtesy of the Sun newspaper, before Harry was eventually relieved of his post following a poor start to the season in 1992. Harry never managed another club, but worked in a scouting capacity for a number of football league clubs following his departure.
Always a passionate football man, Harry was rushed to hospital after suffering a heart attack on 10 December 2004 and passed away two days later at the age of 66. Perhaps it is testament to his character that so many people attended his funeral in Hoole.
Profile reproduced with Permission from:
The Sandgrounders: The Complete League History of Southport F. C., by Michael Braham and Geoff Wilde (Palatine Books, 1995). ISBN 978-1-874181-14-9