john macphail

Player of the Day: John MacPhail


Scottish defender in the spotlight.

John MacPhail made over 150 appearances for Sunderland in his four years at Roker Park between 1987 and 1991.

MacPhail began his career with his hometown club Dundee before spells with Sheffield United, York City and Bristol City.

He joined Sunderland from the Ashton Gate club ahead of the 1987-88 season  and went on to become an integral part of Denis Smith’s Division Three winning side.

The Scottish defender earned a reputation for his penalty taking ability and 10 of his 16 goals in his debut campaign come from the spot.

John continued his formidable defensive partnership with Gary Bennett throughout the 1988-89 season as a mid-table finish was secured for Smith’s side.

MacPhail played his part the following season as the Black Cats defeated Newcastle United in the play-off semi-finals before losing to Swindon in the final.

Sunderland were promoted due to Swindon’s financial problems and MacPhail looked set to fulfil his dream of playing in the top-flight.

However, he played just once, in an opening day defeat to Norwich City, before Kevin Ball replaced him and the form of the future Sunderland captain meant John failed to make another for appearance for Sunderland.

He would move on loan to Hartlepool United before taking on the role of player-manager between November 1993 and September 1994.