This From the Vault feature takes a look at a player who, in March 1923, was the first to complete 200 games in our colours, George Frank Meagher. Born in Luton in 1890 George was due to be amongst the players that played in our first season, 1908-09, having previously been with local side Bricket Wood. Although team line-ups for the City Reserves are not complete for our first season, it is believed that he first turned out for our second string during our second season in a 6-1 Mid Herts League Division One win over Redbourn at Clarence Park on 11th September 1909. George scored twice that day in a side that also included John Rainsden and Arthur Wiggs, both of whom were to perish in World War I. Also in that side was the diminutive Albert Trulock who was great-uncle to future City honorary secretary Steve Trulock. Meagher was, himself, great-uncle to City Historian Peter Taylor.
George stepped up to the First team for his debut on 3rd December 1910, as City defeated Newportonians 3-0 at the Park in the Spartan League. He had to wait a further six weeks for his next First team call up but after that he was regular in the senior side. In his sixth appearance he played alongside Arthur Grimsdell, who later signed for Tottenham Hotspur via Watford. Grimsdell captained Spurs to victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers in the 1921 FA Cup final and also captained England.
Meagher featured in some highly significant games during the first 15 years of our existence. On 19th October 1912 George was in the City side that recorded our record win, a 14-0 thrashing of Aylesbury in the Spartan League. Our cause was aided by three Aylesbury players missing a train at Leighton Buzzard and by the time that they arrived City were eight goals to the good. One week later he secured his first cup winners medal as City put another eight goals past Hertford Town in the Herts Charity Cup.
Three months later City, the reigning Spartan League champions, confirmed their growing status in the game by removing Amateur Cup holders Stockton from the competition with a dramatic replay victory at Clarence Park. The first meeting on Teeside attracted a gate of 6,000 with 2,900 seeing the replay. City went out in the next round at Bromley and despite winning their final ten games of the season were unable to reclaim the Spartan League title in the final season before the war.
St Albans spent one more season in the Spartan League after the war but stepped up to the Athenian League for 1920-21 and installed George Meagher as captain at the start of the most glorious decade in our history. The Athenian League title was secured at the first attempt, albeit on goal average from Wimbledon, and it was retained the following season with five points in hand. But it was through the cup competitions that St Albans started to gain wider interest. The 1921-22 campaign saw the Saints enjoy their first long run in the FA Cup. Meagher led City to victory in five qualifying rounds but the run ended at Gillingham where 8,500 saw him score our first goal against Football League opposition, but the Kent side went through to the First Round with a 3-1 win.
The Athenian League title slipped from our grasp in 1922-23 but Meagher’s final season as a player included what is probably the most famous game in which St Albans City has ever played. That game is the well-recorded 8-7 FA Cup 4th Round Qualifying defeat to Dulwich Hamlet at Champion Hill during which Wilfred ‘Billy’ Minter scored all of our seven goals. It was a goal by Meagher that forced the sides to a replay. In the Amateur Cup City progressed through four rounds and into the semi-final for the first time in our history but injury ruled George out of our defeat to London Caledonians at Kenilworth Road, Luton. George retired at the end of the season having scored 23 goals in 203 games for the City.
During his time with St Albans Meagher played eight games for Hertfordshire and also turned out for the Reserve teams of Chelsea, Watford and Millwall. He appeared in six cup finals during his 12 years with the City, one in the Herts Senior Cup and five in the Charity Cup.
Outside of football he worked as a hat blocker in the straw plaiting business before spending many years with De Havilland and then the Electrical Apparatus Company in St Albans. He was married to Nellie with the couple producing eight children. George Meagher passed away on 14th March 1955 and is buried in the Hatfield Road cemetery.
St Albans City 11th February 1922
Back: H.Jones, Phil Pierce, Harold Figg, Fred Holland, W,Innes Tennant, Tommy Field, Percy Bird, Harold Hankey.
Front: Bertie Butcher, Wilfred Minter, George Meagher (Captain), Ted Miller, Redvers Miller.