Former Manchester United defender was signed by the club in exchange for two freezers full of ice cream.
In 1927, Hugh McLenahan was signed by United manager boss Herbet Bamlett – the club’s ninth-ever manager – from local side Stockport County. The MEN report that United’s then-assistant manager Louis Rocca sweetened the deal by donating some frozen goods and storage devices.
At the time, County were holding a fundraising event and had some financial strain. This prompted Rocca, whose family ran an ice cream business in Newton Heath area of Manchester, to offer the two freezers in exchange, packed with some delicious treats. "My great aunt Ethel always said it was two freezers of ice cream, " said McLenahan's grandson, Geoff Rushton.
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"We don't know how big the freezers were or how many tubs. My granddad would always laugh about it. It is a big difference from the crazy money they spend on players these days. Because of that transfer fee it always comes up in conversation and I'm always like, that's my granddad. I have even been to pub quizes were that transfer is mentioned and I'm one of the few who know the answer."
McLenagan was an 18-year-old amateur player when he was signed by Stockport in February 1927 – but he was there just three months before heading to United.
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The Hatters’ historian Peter Freeman – who authored Stockport County Encyclopaedia and History Update – had described the deal as the 'most bizarre in the club's history.' He wrote: "During McLenahan’s eight-year stay at United, he did confirm that freezers of ice cream were donated to the club (Fund Raising) Bazaar at the time of the transfer.
"However, he was less than convinced that this was the ‘transfer fee’, although as an amateur, no ‘proper’ transfer fee could have been paid."
McLenahan enjoyed a fruitful time at United. His debut was a defeat to Tottenham in 1928, with the side losing 4-1, but he then went on to register 116 appearances – even finding the net 12 times. s and even captained the team on several occasions
After almost a decade, left for Notts County. He died in Macclesfield in 1988 aged 79.
Butler added: "I have always liked this story about the ice cream, it is part of United folklore. I think it was just one of those things that happened at the time. Transfers were a lot easier in those days. Some of the amounts of money in transfers these days are as ridiculous as signing a player for ice cream."
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