'The day I could have locked Frank McGuigan in the changing-room'. Tony Donnelly recalls his first meeting with 'the king'.
THEY called him 'the King' in Tyrone and Frank McGuigan remains the best player Tony Donnelly, the former Red Hands assistant-manager, ever saw. Tony recalls his first meeting with the sublimely talented Ardboe clubman...
WHEN I was 17, I finished a reserve game for Augher before the seniors played Ardboe. I was last out of the changing room and standing outside the door was this young fella wearing a flowery shirt out over his trousers with long hair with the fringe nearly over his eyes. He was holding a pair of boots and football socks in his hands. It was Frank McGuigan.
He says: “Where’s the away team’s dressing room?” I said: “Follow me Frank”. We had to go out one door and in another and I showed him where it was. The two teams were already out on the pitch and the game had just started and he went in and I closed the door. I noticed the key was in the door and I thought, for one fleeting moment: ‘I could lock Frank McGuigan in there’.
That would have helped our team but I resisted the temptation. I thought: ‘No, I want to see McGuigan play’.
I went out and watched and the score was soon Augher 0-4 Arbdoe no-score. Then Frank came out and he was leaning against the post with his arms folded. The Ardoe bench saw him and got flustered: ‘Quick get Frank on!’
They got him on at full-forward and a couple of minutes later it was Augher 0-4 Ardboe 1-1, a goal and a point from Frank McGuigan.
If I was picking a team from any era, Frank would be the first man on it. He could play midfield or wherever but he was more renowned as a full-forward. He was the most naturally-gifted footballer I ever had the privilege to watch.
His dummy, feinting to shoot with his right then dummying into a solo and scoring with his left, was his invention and they called it the ‘McGuigan dummy’. I felt he was majestic, sublime… You could quote any superlative under the sun and it still wouldn’t do him justice. Even opposition supporters loved to see him.