Writer: Peverell Green
Date:Monday August 5 2013
Peverell Green shines the spotlight on rugged defender Gerry 'Rambo' McElhinney for this week's Where Are They Now series.
GERRY McELHINNEY - Born 19th September 1956 Park, Londonderry, N.Ireland.
Born with the Gaelic name Gearoid Mac Giolla Chainnigh (Francis Gerard McElhinney) but usually known as Gerry by everyone who knew him.
He began his sporting career playing Gaelic football.
He played club football with his local club St. Mary's Banagher, making his Derry senior debut in 1974 in a cup game against Antrim while still a minor.
Playing in the Antrim team was Gerry Armstrong, who he would later play football with in the Northern Ireland team.
Gerry was part of the 1975 Ulster Senior Football Championship winning team, and they repeated the feat the following season.
Gerry was also a well-respected amateur boxer winning Mid-Ulster titles at both middleweight and light-middleweight categories.
Gerry began playing football with local teams Derry City, Limavady United and Dungiven Celtic, the success he had with these teams earned him a move to Scottish giants Glasgow Celtic.
Unfortunately with a lack of first team opportunities he decided to return to Ireland to play for Finn Harps after only nine games he moved to the US to play for Chicago Sting.
Gerry returned to Ireland in 1978 when he signed for Lisburn Distillery.
In 1980 he had his big break when Bolton paid £25,000 to bring him to England.
He spent a lot of the time in the reserves only making occasional first team appearances.
He made his debut in a 2-0 defeat at home to Wimbledon.
In 1983 Bolton were relegated to the third division and Gerry became a first team regular.
His stalwart defending led him to be selected to play for Northern Ireland six times, he made his debut in 1983 in a team managed by former Argyle manager Billy Bingham, in a famous 1-0 win over West Germany and in the same year also played against Scotland.
The following season he increased his cap tally when he played against England, Wales, Finland and Romania.
Gerry looked set to stay at Burnden Park until Argyle manager Dave Smith who was looking for a tall, uncompromising defender made a bid of £30,000 to bring him to Home Park.
While at Bolton he made 190 league appearances and scored two goals.
Gerry made his Argyle debut on 22nd January 1985, three weeks after joining the club due to freezing conditions, in a 2-1 win at home to Bournemouth in a Freight Rover Trophy first round game with Gordon Staniforth and Steve Cooper scoring, unfortunately Argyle lost the return leg 2-0 and were eliminated.
Three weeks after joining Argyle his new club played his old one at Home Park, with Gerry part of the team that beat Bolton 2-0 with Clive Goodyear and Tommy Tynan scoring the goals.
His defensive value to the club was apparent when you look at the stats, he joined the club in mid-season, prior to his arrival Argyle had conceded 44 goals, with Gerry in defence they only let in another 21 for the remainder of the season.
Despite spending at least a part of four seasons at the club Gerry only managed to score three goals and strangely enough all of them came in the space of ten days and all of the from the penalty spot. The first came in the opening game of the 1985-86 season when he got the Argyle goal in a 3-1 defeat at York, his second was three days later in a League Cup first round match against Exeter at Home Park in a 2-1 win when he scored the second after Kevin Summerfield had opened the scoring.
His final goal for the club came at Vetch Field Swansea when he scored the first goal in a 2-0 win with Steve Cooper scoring the second.
After mixed results for the first two thirds of the season, on March 8th Argyle beat Bristol Rovers to start a run where they would win 13 of the last 15 games of the season.
Tommy Tynan had returned on loan from Rotherham for the last nine games scoring ten goals including two against his parent club in a 4-0 Argyle win.
The home season ended with 20,000 packing into Home Park to see Argyle easily beat Bristol City 4-0 with Tommy scoring two and Garry Nelson and Russell Coughlin getting one apiece.
Argyle finished as runners up to Reading and returned to the second division.
After being an almost ever present in their promotion season Gerry's injuries began to take their toll, in his time at the club hardly a match would go by when the physio wasn't on the pitch treating some part of his body often to his head as he bravely threw himself into the fray.
He would often get to his feet with the chant of 'Rambo' being chanted around the ground.
Despite only playing 24 times the team he captained still finished in a credible seventh place.
Gerry only made eight appearances in 1987 before a £10,000 bid from Peterborough was accepted and he left the club after making 107 appearances and scoring those three goals but more importantly for Argyle fans he led their team back into the Second Division.
Gerry spent three seasons playing for Peterborough making 87 appearances and scoring one goal before injuries forced him to retire and take up their offer of joining their coaching staff.
When he left Peterborough Gerry returned to playing, joining non-league Corby Town and later becoming joint manager alongside Bryn Gunn while continuing to play for the team.
In 2002 he became manager of Graham Street Prims based in Derby who play in the Central Midlands League Supreme Division; he stayed at the club for four years before leaving in 2006 after a succession of bad results.
After leaving football Gerry returned to Ireland and as I know has remained there.
Gerry's injury prone brother Eddie was also on Argyle's books but never made a first team appearance.
Date:Monday August 5 2013
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