Christened John, but invariably referred to as 'Shane', McGrath was a superb defender whose career was unfortunately cut short by World War Two. He made his VFL debut with Melbourne in 1940, and after initially struggling to break into the team on a regular basis became the side's first choice full back in 1941. That season saw the Fuchsias secure a third successive VFL premiership, with McGrath starring at full back in the 19.13 (127) to 13.20 (98) grand final defeat of Essendon. With the exception of a handful of games in 1944, he then missed the next four seasons because of service commitments, but on his resumption in 1946 he quickly established himself as one of the premier full backs in the competition. Determined, gutsy and extremely vigorous, there were few frills about his approach to the game, but he was inordinately effective. When Melbourne defeated Essendon in a replayed grand final in 1948, McGrath was among the best players on view in both the initial game and the replay. During the late 1940s he was a near automatic selection for VFL interstate sides, donning the famous Big V jumper a total of eight times. Appointed Melbourne skipper in 1950, he retired at the end of the season, aged thirty-one, after 118 VFL games.
Author - John Devaney