FORMER Town stalwart Bill McGarry has died at his home in South Africa aged 77.

The wing-half who featured in the famous unchanged defence when promotion from the original Division II was won in 1952-53 had suffered a long illness.

Those 42 matches were among 381 he played for Town between his debut at Bolton in March 1951 and his final game at home to Lincoln in the last game of 1960 (he notched 26 goals).

McGarry is one of only 21 players to have represented England while at Town, winning four caps, two of them at the 1954 World Cup finals in Switzerland.

He also played for England B and the Football League and in 1956, was in the Football Association representative squad which toured South Africa, a country with which he fell in love.

Having been signed from home-city club Port Vale for £12,000, on leaving Town, he became player-manager of Bournemouth.

Having played the last of more than 600 career games for the South Coast club, he became boss of Watford in the summer of 1963.

After just over a season in charge of the Hornets, he took over at Ipswich in September 1964, winning his first major managerial honour in the shape of the Division II title in 1968, when his side did the double over Town.

A matter of months into the following top-flight campaign, Ipswich released him from his contract to join Wolves, where he enjoyed further success.

In tandem with coach Sammy Chung, who had played under McGarry at Watford and worked with him at Ipswich, the Town old boy led the Black Country club to their only European final in 1972 (they lost out to Spurs over two legs in the UEFA Cup), and to success over Manchester City in the 1974 League Cup final, when goalkeeper Gary Pierce, who had been signed from Town, was their hero.

Wolves had also won the old Texaco Cup in 1971.

Things turned sour when Wolves were relegated from the top flight in 1976, and after being sacked, McGarry had a stint in charge of the Saudi Arabian national team before returning to the English game with Newcastle in November 1977.

That lasted until he resigned four matches into the 1980-81 season.

He had been unable to lead the Magpies back into the top flight and had lost his top striker and future Town coach Peter Withe to Aston Villa in a £500,000 transfer.

There followed spells as Brighton chief scout, the coach of Zambian club Power Dynamo and then the national team before he spent 61 days in a second spell managing Wolves in late 1985, when the club were struggling in the old Division III (they were relegated at the end of that season).

Disillusioned, he disappeared from this country to return to South Africa to coach Bophutaswana.