Former Halifax Town player Mick Meagan dies aged 88

Former Halifax Town player Mick Meagan has died, aged 88, writes Johnny Meynell.
Mick MeaganMick Meagan
Mick Meagan

He finished his Football League career at The Shay, being an important member of Alan Ball Snr’s side which clinched promotion from the Fourth Division in 1968-69, appearing in 23 games.

Meagan was by then something of a household name, having earlier reached the pinnacle of his career with Everton, helping them win the League Championship in 1962-63.

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Born in Dublin in May 1934, Meagan had been playing Irish junior football but after appearing against a Liverpool district side, signed junior forms with Everton in September 1952, before signing as a professional eighteen months later.

Team photo shows Meagan front row, right, with the successful Halifax Town side of 1968-69.Team photo shows Meagan front row, right, with the successful Halifax Town side of 1968-69.
Team photo shows Meagan front row, right, with the successful Halifax Town side of 1968-69.

A tough competitor, he came into the side at left-half at the expense of skipper Peter Farrell on the opening day of the 1957-58 season, helping Everton to a 1-0 win against Wolverhampton Wanderers, and scored his only goal for the club that term in a 3-1 success over Sunderland in what his seventh appearance for the club.

He became a prominent member of the side under successive managers Johnny Carey and Harry Catterick, and figured in 32 matches, mainly at left-back, when the Toffees, whose side included the likes of Jimmy Gabriel, Johnny Morrissey and Roy Vernon, clinched their first title for 24 years.

Meagan then helped the side overcome FA Cup holders Manchester United 4-0 in the following season’s curtain-raiser Charity Shield, and went on to make a total of 177 appearances for the club before joining Huddersfield Town in July 1964.

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By then, Meagan had broken into the Republic of Ireland international side, winning the first of 17 caps in a 3-0 defeat against Scotland on 7 May 1961, though it was as a Huddersfield player that he won the majority of his caps.

Meagan spent four seasons with the Leeds Road club, then residing in the Second Division, being part of the side which agonisingly missed out on promotion in his second season after Huddersfield had led the table on several occasions.

Meagan scored his second League goal in the 3-1 win over Coventry City on 19 November 1966 and went on to make 132 appearances for the club before moving to The Shay in July 1968.

He was initially made skipper and appeared as a half-back during the early part of that campaign, but with the emergence of Chris Nicholl, Meagan’s opportunities became limited.

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He deputised at left-back, being part of the side which gained a draw at First Division Stoke City in the fourth round of the FA Cup, then came into the side for the season's run-in, playing in the last five matches when promotion was secured.

Meagan departed The Shay at the end of that triumphant season to take over as player-manager of League of Ireland side Drogheda United, whilst also taking on the role as manager of the Republic of Ireland, the first such manager when hitherto the side had been picked by international committee.

He selected himself for his first game, a 1-1 draw with Scotland on 21 September 1969, but failed to win any of his twelve matches in charge as the Republic of Ireland failed to qualify for the 1970 World Cup Finals, and stepped down from his post in 1971.

Meagan led Drogheda to the final of the FAI Cup that year, having returned to Halifax Town to take several players on loan, and was voted by the Sports Writers’ Association of Ireland as ‘Personality of the Year’

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He was player-manager at Drogheda fofr four seasons, resdigning in April 1973, then later served Shamrock Rovers and Bray Wanderers.

He continued to play well into his fifties whilst working in the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum and in November 1996, was inducted into the Republic of Ireland’s Hall of Fame.

Meagan died on Sunday after a long battle with illness.

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