Sheffield United: McGinn brothers prepare to do battle

Sheffield United midfielder Stephen McGinn, whose brother Paul plays for Dundee � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Sheffield United midfielder Stephen McGinn, whose brother Paul plays for Dundee � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
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For 90 minutes they will be the worst of enemies, writes James Shield.

But, when the final whistle blows following this evening’s friendly between Sheffield United and Dundee at Bramall Lane, Paul and Stephen McGinn will revert to being the very best of footballing friends.

“It’s going to be a little bit strange lining-up against my brother,” Paul, who joined the visitors earlier this summer, told The Star last night. “Well, at least when I see him lining-up against me in the tunnel wearing a different kit.

“But, once the game actually gets underway, it won’t be an issue because that’s when your professional streak kicks-in. We’ll both be going out there trying to do our best for each other and our respective clubs.”

The McGinn family is steeped in footballing tradition. Grandfather Jack, the former Celtic chairman, has also served as president of the Scottish FA while youngest sibling John is making waves at St Mirren.

Stephen, aged 25, has made 38 appearances for United since arriving from Watford 12 months ago and was a member of the squad which reached the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley last term.

“We all went down to London for the game,” Paul, two years his junior, said. “The whole family, including myself and John were there to support him and we were really, really proud.

“Before the match, we ended-up in a beer garden full of fans and there were flares and all sorts going off. The atmosphere was absolutely unreal and we were all delighted for Stephen that he was a part of that.”

“When we were growing-up I used to knock a ball about with him in the back garden all the time,” Paul continued. “Well, until mum got angry about the state of the hedges she was growing that was. We were using them as goals.

“John joined in a little bit later on and then we all got involved. Looking back, I think those experiences did us the world of good because none of us wanted to be the brother who was rubbish at football and so that drove us on.

“We still like to help each other out and we talk about what we’re doing and how we’re playing all the time.”

Paul, a right-back, moved to Dens Park from Dumbarton after Dundee were promoted to the Scottish Premiership in May. Goals from Peter MacDonald and Christian Nade, now of Raith Rovers, secured the crucial victory over his former club.

“I was playing for Dumbarton and we missed a great chance right at the end,” Paul said. “If that had gone in then Dundee would have ended-up in the play-offs and Hamilton would have gone straight up.

“Obviously I didn’t think about it at the time because I didn’t know they were looking at me but now I often think about what might have happened if it had been converted.”

While United are poised to hand starts to the likes of Chris Basham, Stefan Scougall and Craig Alcock, Paul Hartley, the Dundee manager, could include new signings Thomas Konrad, Luka Tankulic, James McPake and Kevin Thomson.

“It’s a big season for us and we know this is going to be a really good test against top opposition,” Paul said. “It should be well contested but there won’t be anything silly going on because we all want to start the season.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1