A brief biography of the legendary full back who mastered the art of defending on two feet.
Born in Middlesbrough in 1969, John McDermott was taken on by the Mariners at 16 as an academy player.
He was initially set to be released after only a year but a revamp of the scholarship programme gave him another chance to prove himself to the then manager, Mick Lyons.
His second year as an academy player saw him break into the first team and he went on to make 13 appearances for the senior side in the 1986/87 season before signing professional terms. Over the following two seasons McDermott featured initially as a utility player but soon established
himself as the regular right-back for the Mariners. His efforts in defence however could not prevent the
team from being relegated to the old fourth division in 1988. Whilst at the club, John played across three divisions in a career that featured five relegations and three promotions.
Two of the promotions featured back-to-back in the glorious seasons between 1990 and 1992.
McDermott went on to become the epitome of a one club player, spending his entire 20 year career
with the Mariners. He is one of only 17 players in the history of English football to play more than 600 league matches for a single club; his final tally finished on 647. Overall John made 754 appearances for Town before retiring in 2007.
McDermott was renown for being a consistent performer. He was named supporters’ player of the year in 2005 and was voted young player of the year a record three times.
The 1997/98 season saw Town achieve the double; gaining promotion through the play-offs and
winning the Auto-Windscreens Shield (EFL Trophy). McDermott was a near ever-present name on the team sheet that season as he was absent for only five matches across all competitions.
McDermott was part of the squad to triumph in a historic victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the second
round of the League cup in 2005. The match was his 700th for the Mariners and when regarding it he said: “To beat Spurs, in the dying minutes of the match, in front of the home fans, is the best result I’ve ever had”
“You always remember your first game and now I will always remember my 700th”.
As a player, John was considered very humble and illustrated that he played football for the love of the game.
He was vocal in his opinion with the situation of present day footballers and in an interview said: “If someone would rather sit in the reserves at a big club and drive around in a Ferrari rather than going out on-loan and playing, then I think it is a sad day.”
Appointed captain in 2001, McDermott became one of the most respected defenders outside of the Premier League. He was linked with a move to Sunderland and was rumoured to leave for Ipswich Town but deals never finalised. Offers were even made from local rivals, Hull City, but he remained loyal to Grimsby.
After 21 seasons with the Mariners, John decided to retire from the sport.
His final game at Blundell Park was a 0-0 draw against fierce rivals Lincoln City. McDermott’s final game was away to Shrewsbury, where upon being substituted late in the match, he received a standing ovation from both sets of fans. After retiring from football, McDermott began coaching at the
Grimsby Institute Football Academy and applied for the vacant managers position at Boston United in 2007 but was unsuccessful. However, ahead of the 2010/11 season, he was appointed assistant-manager of Harrogate Town.
He still holds the position to this day. As a reward for his loyalty and passion towards his former club, he was presented with the Grimsby Town FC Special Achievement Award at the end of his career. For his services to the beautiful game, McDermott was awarded the PFA Merit Award in 2009, one of the highest accolades a player can receive.