Date: 13th July 2015 at 9:54pm
Written by:

This episode in the Where Are They Now series takes a look at the career of Tony McShane.

TONY McSHANE – Born 28th February 1927 Belfast, N.Ireland.

Tony, a hard tackling wing half started his football career with his local club Belfast Celtic before moving on to Bangor and then Brantwood. It was with them that he came to the attention of Argyle manager Jimmy Rae and he was invited to Home Park for a trial.
It was obviously successful as he was offered a contract and made his debut on Christmas Eve 1949, and it was a winning start, with Argyle beating Chesterfield 2-1 thanks to goals from Maurice Tadman and Frank Squires.
Also making his debut in the same game was a man destined to become an Argyle legend, Jack ‘Jumbo’ Chisholm. Tony only played in another five league games that season but he did play in the two FA Cup games Argyle played in that season, on 7th January 40,000 turned up at Home Park to watch the Greens defy the odds to get a 1-1 draw with Division 1 giants Wolves with Stan Williams scoring the goal to earn a replay at Molyneux three days later, unfortunately that was the end of Argyle’s cup run that year with Wolves winning 3-0.
Unfortunately the season ended badly for Argyle, with only eight wins all season they finished one place off the bottom and along with Bradford Park Avenue were relegated.

With Argyle back in Division 3 South they found wins a lot easier to come by, in September they went on a run of seven wins in eight games, scoring 28 goals, with Maurice Tadman getting fourteen of them, including getting four in a 5-1 hammering of Aldershot and another four in a 6-0 thrashing of Brighton. They also won the last five games of the season to finish in fourth place, missing out on third place to Reading on goal difference.

After the success of the previous season Tony, who was now a first team regular, along with the other players and fans were hoping for great things from the 1951-52 season.
In typical Argyle championship winning seasons they started off with a 1-0 defeat at Leyton Orient and then won their next six games. In November they went on a run of eighteen games with only one defeat, that surprisingly came when they were beaten 3-2 by lowly Torquay at Plainmoor despite Peter Rattray scoring twice.
Argyle were crowned champions with two games to go finishing five points in front of runners-up Reading to return back to Division 2, scoring 107 goals for the season, still a club record.

With Argyle back in a higher division Tony played most of his games for the reserves that season, making only seven league and two FA Cup appearances, although the rest of the team started the season in good form, winning five of the first six games, including a 5-2 beating of eventual champions Sheffield United at Home Park, and drawing the other one.
Argyle played consistently throughout the season finishing in fourth place, their highest ever finish.

1953-54 again saw Tony play most of his football in the reserve team, although he did score his first goal for the club, it came in the last home game of the season when he got the opener in a 2-1 win over West Ham with Johnny Porteous scoring the winner, despite that win Argyle didn’t have an easy season finishing in eighteenth, although three points above a relegation spot.

Tony started the 1954-55 season back in favour playing in sixteen of the first twenty one games, he also scored another goal in early October when he got the winner in a 3-2 victory over Fulham at Home Park with an own goal and one from Johnny Porteous accounting for the other two.
Tony played his last game for the club on 11th December in a 3-1 defeat at Stoke and after making ninety appearances, although in his six seasons at the club he played in more than double that for the reserves, he left to join Swindon.

Tony spent two seasons with Swindon making forty one league appearances but never added to the two goals he scored with Argyle. At the end of the 1956-57 season he retired from league football and joined Goole Town who played in the Midland League as player/manager. Tony finished his playing career with Goole before joining Scunthorpe as their manager.

Tony spent less that a season at Scunthorpe before a run of poor results led to his dismissal from the second division club, although he stayed a lot longer than his replacement who only lasted three days.

On leaving Scunthorpe Tony returned to the Westcountry and opened a greengrocers shop in Fore Street Callington. As well as running his shop Tony also worked as a FA coach in Cornwall.
Before the 1960-61 season started Tony moved back to Plymouth to join Argyle as reserve team trainer with Neil Dougall and George Taylor jointly running the first team. When a new manager arrived at the club Tony found himself out of of job until 1962 when he took over as Chesterfield manager, the club he had made his debut against thirteen years before.

Tony took over at Chesterfield on the understanding he would have sole control of team selection at the club, he is reputedly to be the first manager at Chesterfield not to have an input from the board in picking the team. Although a lack of money meant he was only able to sign unmarried players as the club were unable to fund the housing which was the norm for married players at the time.
Tony was a good spotter of talent and in his first season persuaded Ron Davies to join the club from Chester for £3,000, unfortunately the club couldn’t afford the fee and he joined Luton, the following season after scoring a lot of goals for the Hatters Ron was sold on for £35,000, he went on to score 134 goals in Division 1 (Premiership)and play 29 times for Wales.
Despite a continual lack of money to spend on players Tony managed to put together a team good enough to finish the 1969-70 season as champions, although by now now Tony had resigned with almost a year left on his contract, the players in the championship winning team were almost all signed by him.

Tony returned to Plymouth on leaving Chesterfield and bought a house in Crownhill, he became a very good golfer playing off a single figure handicap.
He also wrote a sports column for the Sunday Independent.
He spent his later years in Down House retirement home before passing away on Christmas Eve 2012 aged 85, ironically exactly sixty three years after making his Argyle debut.