THE MEGSON DYNASTY
Article originally publsihed in and courtesy of the West Bromwich Albion Fanzine 'Grorty Dick'
Don Megson, Cyril Megson & Gary Megson
That our (West Bromwich Albion) Gaffer has a Dad who also made his name in the beautiful game is well known. Albion supporters aged over 50 will recall Don Megson, who played for the Owls first team between 1959 and 1970. Don came to the professional stage quite late, making his debut at the age of 23. Included in his footballing apprenticeship prior to that were a couple of games for Mossley in the Cheshire League, in the 1952/53 season.
Some six months before his professional debut, Don became a proud Dad and no doubt was eager to teach his young son significant words like “pass” and “don’t foul.” Wednesday were a powerful side in those days, and in 1966, reached the FA Cup Final where they led 2-0 before losing 3-2. After 440 games for Wednesday, the midfielder joined Bristol Rovers, where he played 31 games. Don went to manage the side for over five years, leaving in November 1977. His goalkeeper for much of that time was one Dick Sheppard. During the latter part of that spell, he was able to fix up a trial for his eldest lad at Plymouth, who were suitably impressed, and signed him up. After managing Rovers, Megson Senior had a big offer from the States in the form of an opportunity to move to Oregon and coach Portland Timbers. This was a major upheaval for the family, but clearly Don made a decent impression, because he set a new club record for victories, which still holds to this day. The team won 20 fixtures before losing to the New York Cosmos in the Conference Finals. How many of the matches finished 1-0 is not recorded.
Son Gary was making a name for himself at Home Park, Plymouth, but younger brother Neil went with the Megson family to the States, and basically never returned home (unlike the rest of the family, who went back to the UK after two years). His playing career included a stint with the Seattle Sounders (North American Soccer League) in 1983, and nine indoors seasons with the Tacoma Stars (1983-92), where he was a two-time MISL All-Star. He played for the US national team in 1988, and then after returning to Seattle in 1995, his Sounders team won the Championship. He moved into coaching in March 1996, while still playing as sweeper, replacing Alan Hinton as coach. His popularity with his teammates gave him the edge over 7 other candidates.
Neil ran the Seattle Sounders for five years, and was named A-League coach of the year in 2000. “The 5-2-3 lineup pitched by Megson was a joy to watch, with all backs attacking at times and everyone defending when the opponents had the ball” said Seattle Pitch News. Megson- coached Sounders teams made the playoffs every year, and reached at least the second round of the playoffs every season. He holds a USSF “B” licence.
Neil, aged 41 now lives in Galleon Drive, Tacoma, with wife Vicky, son Alex, and daughter Samantha. In between tipping off his brother about talent like Jeff Agoos, he currently works as the Technical Director of FC Kitsap. They claim to be the premier soccer club on the Kitsap Peninsula, with more teams playing in the Washington State Youth League.
In December, the FC Kitsap coach Mike Meherg talked him into taking on an additional job, running Olympic College's fledgling soccer programme for both men and women from autumn this year. "He said it was a bit of a shame, because there was so much talent, and nowhere to go in the community," said Megson, "Mike asked if I'd be interested, and the old coaching juices got flowing again. The challenge was thrown down and we'll take it on next year. I enjoy coaching youth," he said. "It's not the highest and most demanding coaching position. In professional leagues, the results mean everything, and sometimes you forget to enjoy it. The kids, they're a lot more gung-ho, if you know what I mean. They make more mistakes, but you just have to put up with it. They're there to go to school first and play soccer secondly."
There are more footballing Megsons out there Take Uncle Cyril.
Just like brother Don, Cyril Megson also played for Mossley FC, and just like Don, transferred from the quaintly-named Linotype & Machinery. The big difference was Cyril stayed with the Seel Park club for seven years upwards (1951-1958 and scored an impressive 94 goals from his wing in 219 games.) Not surprisingly, he was the club top scorer for three years in a row, but missed a year out of his career with Mossley due to a fractured skull. In 1952, the local Sentinel newspaper described one of his goals against Ashton United in the FA Cup. “ The winger looked a match-winner from the first minute. After five minutes he shocked Ashton into silence by scoring in typical Megson style. Receiving a pass near the halfway line, Megson moved ten yards down the touchline, switched inside suddenly and with Ashton defenders waiting for him to pass, Megson put in a shot from 25 yards, which dipped in the downfield wind, and the ball was in the net. What a cup-tie tonic!”
Neil Megson’s son Alex is 17, and already has honours to his name. In 2001, he was the Washington State Under 15 Champion, and in 2001 and 2002, he was the Rainier Challenge Champion (whatever that is, but it sounds impressive!) He’s typically Megson sized at only 5 foot 8, which makes him one of the shortest members of the 2003 FC United U-18 Navy Team. He also turns out for his college side – the Stadium Tigers from Tiger High School. “Stadium boys are shocking the league with their impressive record and goal-scoring ability” enthused the school magazine excitedly.
Meanwhile, back in beautiful down-town Sheffield, Simon Megson is quietly making a name for himself in Sheffield. Imagine the effect on the coach when Dad turns up to watch… “err umm more effort lads,… don’t foul … errr PASS!” Is the third generation of footballing Megson’s on the way? Bank on it. It’s in their blood.