January 20, 2013 by Made In Brum
In March 2012, Birmingham City inducted a group of seven players into the club’s Hall of Fame, to commemorate their fantastic contributions to The Blues over the years. One of these players was centre-back Joe Gallagher, who joined Blues as a youngster in 1971, and spent 10 more years at the club.
Signed as a youngster from Liverpool, Gallagher made his debut on his 17th Birthday, going on to make 26 appearances in his first professional season. 1974/75 was his first year as a first-team regular, and the youngster didn’t disappoint, performing consistently to make 50 appearances and score 3 goals in all competitions. One of these goals came in the FA Cup semi-final against Fulham, played at Hillsborough on 5th April. The game finished 1-1 and a replay was played four days later, with Blues heartbreakingly losing the replay in the dying seconds of extra time. Dave Latchford’s clearance bounced off Fulham striker John Mitchell, and despite desperately scrambling back to the goal, Gallagher was unable to stop the ball crossing the line, condemning Blues to defeat.
Gallagher became Blues captain aged just 19, and made another 106 appearances before breaking his leg in a car accident in December 1977. The next season saw him return to the side on a regular basis, but Gallagher was unable to prevent the team finishing the season in 21st place, and being relegated to the Second Division. The Captain missed only one game of the 1979/80 season, as Jim Smith led the team to a return to the top flight at the first time of asking. Gallagher and his defensive partner Colin Todd were in superb form all season, as the team conceded only 38 goals, which proved to be a key statistic, as The Blues finished in 3rd place, above Chelsea only on goal difference, mainly down to their significantly better defensive record.
Birmingham gave Gallagher a testimonial game in 1981, as another strong season for the for the defender led Blues to a comfortable 13th place finish. This would prove to be his final season at St. Andrews though, and after 335 appearances and 23 goals, Gallagher joined Wolverhampton Wanderers for £350,000.
Wolves finished the season in 21st place, and Gallagher played 31 games in his lone season at Molineux. The circumstances behind his subsequent departure were somewhat acrimonious, as the Wolves board alleged that Gallagher had refused to partake in the the team photo, and therefore cancelled his contract. The club was strapped for cash at that point, and Gallagher saw the incident as him being forced out as a cost-saving measure, and the poor finances at Molineux also meant that Blues didn’t get anywhere near the transfer fee that they were promised.
The Wolves exile spent the 1982-83 season at West Ham United, before signing for Burnley in the summer. The Burnley management, however, deemed that Gallagher’s fitness had dropped severely, and sent him out on loan to non-league sides Halifax Town, and Padiham FC in 1983 and 84 respectively. Despite only making 9 appearances in his first 3 years at the club, he became a first-team regular in 1986/87, playing 45 games and scoring 3 goals. Gallagher retired at the end of that season, aged only 32.
After retiring, Gallagher spent the early 90’s managing several non-league clubs; Coleshill Town, Atherstone United, and Kings Heath. He went on to work full-time for Land Rover, and is often seen at St. Andrews as a corporate match day host. Having played the best football of his career at Blues, the Liverpudlian considers himself an honorary Brummie, and is held in high regard by everyone at the club. His inclusion in the club’s Hall of Fame alongside the likes of Gil Merrick and Malcolm Page cements his status as a Birmingham City legend.
By Gregg Collett