Back to porridge for Maguire after a surreal Russian summer
It was back to porridge for Joe Maguire last night after a surreal summer that has left him and the rest of the Maguire family pinching themselves.
The Gainsborough Trinity defender got his first taste of pre-season action against brother Laurence and Chesterfield on the Northolme.
Chesterfield ran out 4-0 winners, as the third Maguire brother Harry watched on from the stands.
Joe, eldest of the three, was happy to be back on the pitch and felt the Blues started well before fading.
“When we didn’t concede for the first half an hour I thought we could get to half-time, hold out and then go and nick a chance,” he said.
“But when they scored heads went a little bit, we didn’t really get the ball moving.
“It ended up being a bit of a stroll for them in the second half but it’s pre-season, they’re full-time. we’re part-time, they’ve got more in their legs.
“It was a good test, it’s what you want.
“We want to be ready for 18th August and that’s the sort of game you want to be involved in.”
Goals from Gozie Ugwu, Liam McAlinden and Zavon Hines put Chesterfield firmly in control before a typical Maguire goal finished off the scoring.
A Spireites corner saw Laurence escape the attentions of his big brother before rising above the man at the back post and crashing a header into the net.
“I looked behind me and I saw there was a young lad, the young right-back who had just come on and I thought oh no, because he’s a big lad Loz now,” said Joe.
“When he climbed above him I knew there was only one thing that would happen.
“It was a great header, there wasn’t much we could do about it.
“I think everyone’s legs had gone by then.”
Off the field, Harry was the centre of attention, signing autographs and posing for pictures with dozens of youngsters and well wishers.
Joe has spent most of his summer as a football fan, cheering on his England international brother in Russia.
Harry’s rise has been a dream for the Maguire clan.
“I’ve been there for most of the games,” said Joe.
“It’s been unbelievable really, you have to pinch yourself sometimes when you’re watching what he’s done.
“It definitely was an emotional rollercoaster, you go from one extreme to another.
“We were so happy when they were winning games and when he scored against Sweden and then so down, but that’s football.
“He’s come out the other end, had a great tournament and I don’t think we can ask for much more.
“Hopefully he carries it on and you never know where it will take him.”
Harry’s performances, including that goal against the Swedes in the quarter-final, brought a huge boost to his profile and popularity in the country.
Photos of the Leicester City centre-half went viral on social media as he got the meme treatment.
The added attention, public scrutiny and press duties are something the Maguires are having to get used to.
“Everything has gone crazy, which I don’t mind.
“Harry deserves everything he’s got, we have to accept it’s part of our lives now.
“It’s a privilege to be doing it for him.”
It was well documented by the national press that Laurence was given time off to travel to Russia by Martin Allen, who cited ‘Russian flu’ for the defender’s absence from pre-season training and games.
Joe also had the blessing of his club to skip sessions but kept up with his fitness training in Russia.
And it evidently paid off, as he came through last night’s test unscathed.
“Gainsborough have been very good to be fair, I spoke to the chairman a few times and he just said he wanted me to be supporting my brother,” he said.
“The manager has been great as well.
“Luckily there was a gym, the FA sorted the hotel and it was spot on with a good gym so I was in there most days.
“This was my first pre-season game back so it was nice to get 90 minutes in my legs.
“I didn’t feel too bad tonight after the 90 minutes.”