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In Memoriam | George Mulhall

April 30, 2018 2:28 pm Author: RedMatchday Team

 

Aberdeen FC were saddened to learn of the death of former player George Mulhall.

George’s death was announced on Saturday, at the age of 81. The outside-left played for the Dons from 1953 to season 1962/63 before moving to Sunderland. In total he made 150 appearances for the Dons and scored 42 goals. He was also a Scotland international. Mulhall’s international debut came in October 1959 against Northern Ireland, and he was capped on two more occasions. In more recent years he would attend the AFC Former Players Golf Outing at Deeside.

Our thoughts are with George’s family and many friends at this sad time.

 

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The following article about his career was written by the RedMatchday Magazine team:

 

George Mulhall

The trend of Scottish players moving to England been common throughout Scottish football for generations. Many great Aberdeen players have joined the English League including the likes of Jock Hutton, Alex Jackson, George Kinnell, Jimmy Smith, Martin Buchan, Joe Harper and Eoin Jess to name but a few. During the 1950’s that road south was a lonely one as back then the top clubs in Scotland actually paid their players more than their counterparts in England due to a wage cap in force down south. Aberdeen led the way by being the top paying club in British football for several years and the general feeling was that there was little incentive to move; certainly not for financial gain.

That situation was blown away in the early 60’s when a player revolt in England revolutionised the game and gave players far more power when it came to negotiating contract terms. That effectively opened the floodgates for Scottish players to be tempted south and many made their way into the English League in the 60’s. One Aberdeen player who tried his luck down south was George Mulhall. Before his transfer from Aberdeen to Sunderland in 1962, it was fair to suggest that the Dons were in the doldrums and struggling to reach the heady heights achieved in the mid 50’s. With the club looking to actively sell on their finest players due to several seasons of plummeting crowds and lack of success, Mulhall was among several Aberdeen players who left the club around that time. George was certainly a rarity at Pittodrie in the early 60’s as he was the only full Scottish international at the club after Archie Glen retired and Charlie Cooke had just emerged in the young Aberdeen side.

Born in Falkirk on 8th May 1936, George Mulhall started out with junior side Kilsyth Rangers before being spotted by Aberdeen and joining the Dons in 1953. In those days it was far more difficult to break into the first team. The accepted practice was a rigid first team selection with little or no flexibility within the side. George was a promising left winger and in his early days at Pittodrie he found it almost impossible to replace Jackie Hather who was Dave Halliday’s first choice.

Hather was one of the quickest players in British football and a vital part of the Aberdeen side that was so successful in the 50’s. George was part of the highly successful Aberdeen reserve team before he finally made his first team debut in the opening game of the 1955.56 season, a League Cup section game away to Hibernian on 13th August 1955. George played his part in a 1-0 win before a 30,000 crowd. George had been brought into the side as Jackie Hather was still recovering from an operation during the summer.

George played in the Dons opening five ties of the League Cup as Aberdeen cruised through to the latter stages and eventually success when the Dons won the final against St Mirren. It was tough on George that he made way for Hather despite playing well in the opening games. It was not until 1959 that George became a regular first choice for Aberdeen after Hather retired.

By that time Aberdeen had fallen from grace and Hather’s swansong was the 1959 Scottish Cup Final. It was not long before the Scottish selectors called up Mulhall for the international squad. It was on 3rd October 1959 that George Mulhall made his full international debut, playing for Scotland against Northern Ireland in Belfast before a 59,000 attendance. It was a memorable debut for Mulhall as he scored the Scots fourth and final goal in the 54th minute in a convincing 4-0 win. Also in the Scotland side that day was Graham Leggat the former Dons winger who was now with Fulham. Leggat and Mulhall were joined in the Scots forward line by Aberdeen born Denis Law.

It was no surprise that Mulhall had now attracted the attention of the English club scouts and with Aberdeen in no position to resist any lucrative bids, George Mulhall was sold to Sunderland for £23,000 in September 1962, after 150 first team appearances and 42 goals for the Dons.

When he arrived at Roker Park he was experienced enough to hold down a regular place in the Sunderland side. In seven years at Sunderland George played 284 times for the club and among his team mates was the prolific Brian Clough. Among the clubs’ achievements during that spell was a promotion to the First Division in season 1963.64.

In 1969 George joined the growing colony of British players who went to ply their trade in South Africa where he played for Cape Town City for two seasons. George returned to Britain in 1971 and took up a coaching role with Halifax where he gained his FA Coaching badges. He took over as manager of Halifax in his own right in 1972 before moving to Bolton Wanderers as coach then as assistant manager.

In 1978 he was appointed manager at Bradford City where he enjoyed a successful spell. In 1981 he returned to Bolton as manager and also held management posts with Tranmere Rovers and Huddersfield Town. In 1996 he took over as manager of Halifax Town and in season 1997.98 he brought the club back into the Football League after leading Halifax to the Vauxhall Conference Championship.

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