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Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Remember Them?... Paul McGregor


In the latest part of our successful series on the lesser lights of years gone by, we focus on the "BritPop footballer" Paul McGregor, who graced the fringes of the team in the mid 1990's.

Paul McGregor was briefly well known for two reasons in those heady days of the mid 1990's. One was for on field antics,the other for off field. Neither ever amounted to much.

McGregor's finest moment, arguably was scoring the winning goal in the UEFA Cup, in the third round, against Lyon. Pearce's penalty was saved, but McGregor followed up to tuck the ball in from close range. Like a lot of his career, even this moment is more well known for the fact Colin Cooper ran into the goal post celebrating the goal.

McGregor was also known, and possibly the reason he is ever remembered by anyone,is that he was in a band. As singer of the band Merc, the band achieved some local notoriety. They played a very well attended gig at Rock City, although,this was meant to be attended by Alan McGee, the Creation Records head honcho responsible for discovering Oasis. He never showed up to the gig.

McGregor though was suddenly popular. I personally remember seeing him featured in "90 Minutes" magazine which I read a great deal in the 90's. He also featured on Soccer AM, in it's earlier better incarnation,when it was actually about football, and not the heap of trash that caters for any old fool it is now.

McGregor also if memory serves scored a great Bicycle kick against Sheffield Wednesday, at Hillsbrough, in a 3-1 win. McGregor's contemporary and often equal Bobby Howe also scored that day, and I can't help thinking at times these two fate seemed to intertwine at Forest. When McGregor came on v Lyon, Howe also came onto the pitch. In fact it may have been Howe's shot blocked by a hand to give Forest the penalty against Lyon.

However, at a time that McGregor's career should have been kicking on, it seemed to stagnate. The problem became that the season after he broke through, we signed more strikers,Dean Saunders, notably,and then later some bloke called Pierre who came from Holland.

This pushed McGregor down the pecking order,so he had to go out on loan to get football. I remember in that season hearing on the BBC phone in 606, that Clarke should give the likes of McGregor and Howe the chance to shine, as the strikers we had obviously weren't doing the job, but Clarke, and then Bassett ultimately trusted in experienced players.

He spent periods on loan at Preston and Carlisle, before ultimately departing Forest for a fairly successful spell at Plymouth. There he would win player of the season, before losing form and ending up at Northampton,where his career would ultimately end, quietly as a substitute fr the Cobblers and he left the game in 2003.

Merc never amounted to much either, just another Britpop band from an era where anew net big thing appeared every other week. The novelty factor of a band being fronted by a pro footballer being quickly forgotten and consigning McGregor to the history books.It has been suggested elsewhere that the fact McGregor was in a band,and the late nights involved in that life style led to him taking his focus off his game,and costing him his regular career.

But McGregor did score a goal that should have been more celebrated. Scoring against a team who are now one of the biggest clubs in Europe, and ultimately put us through,that goal should be as famous as many others. However, it is not, like much of McGregor's career.

McGregor, has, in my research, re-surfaced with a new band who have just released an album.Ulterior are a new band he is in with his brother. It seems they were on Soccer AM this weekend, unbeknownst to me till around 30seconds ago. I call this uncanny timing.

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