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Ex-Luton, Tranmere, Fleetwood, Barrow, York player becomes manager of Bootle

Ex-Luton, Tranmere, Fleetwood, Barrow, York player Steve McNulty becomes the new first team manager of non league Bootle.

The very quick appointment came on the same day as they relieve Brian Richardson of his duties following a 4-1 defeat against Congleton Town.

McNulty previously hd been an assistant manager at Chester, appointed on the 28th of December 2021, re-uniting with Steve Watson, his former manager at York. Chester confirmed that McNulty would also be registered as a player but left the club this summer.

McNulty has achieved six promotions with four different clubs: captaining Barrow into the Conference Premier and Fleetwood Town into both the Conference Premier and League Two, as part of the Luton Town team that won promotion to League Two in the 2013–14 season, and captaining the Tranmere Rovers team that was promoted into League Two in 2017–18 and League One in 2018–19, both via the playoffs.

Born in Liverpool, Merseyside, and grew up in and around Bootle, McNulty started his career at the Liverpool Academy when he was seven years old, eventually becoming the club’s under-19 team captain, and stayed there until his release in 2003.[ He trained with Second Division club Blackpool during their pre-season training prior to the 2003–04 season, but failed to win a contract. During his time out of the game he worked as a furniture van driver before being recommended to Mike Marsh by scout Owen Brown and then played for Northern Premier League club Burscough for two seasons before moving up a division to the Conference North when signing for Vauxhall Motors in February 2005. He remained with the club for two further years and joined Barrow at the beginning of the 2007–08 campaign on a free.

McNulty was made captain in his first season at Barrow as he led the club to promotion, via the playoffs, to the Conference Premier and his performances in defence saw him named as Conference North Player of the Year, and he signed a two-year contract extension towards the end of the 2007–08 season after interest from EFL clubs. Barrow ended up the next season in 20th place, just above the relegation zone. With a year left on his contract, McNulty opted against making the transition to a full-time contract as the Bluebirds began to shift away from being a part-time team. Manager David Bayliss stated that the club had “a wage structure that [it] can’t break”.

On the 16th of June 2009, McNulty dropped down a league to sign for Conference North club Fleetwood Town for a then-club record fee of £17,000 and again was made club captain, leading the team to promotion to the Conference Premier via victory in the Conference North playoff final. The Cod Army lost in the playoff semi-finals during the next season, but bounced back in 2011–12 by winning promotion to the EFL for the first time in the club’s history. They accumulated 103 points, with McNulty leading the club on a 29-match unbeaten run in the league.

He made his League Cup debut on the 13th of August 2012 against Nottingham Forest, and played in Fleetwood’s first Football League match – a 0–0 draw with Torquay United – four days later. Long standing Fleetwood manager Micky Mellon departed from the club in December 2012 to be replaced by Graham Alexander. McNulty, injured at the time of the managerial change, remained sidelined as Fleetwood’s defence kept five clean sheets in seven matches. After discussions about McNulty’s limited playing time, Alexander let him to leave; a move criticised by Fleetwood fans, but described as having the player’s “best interests at heart”.

On the 31st of January 2013, McNulty signed for Conference Premier club Luton Town on a free transfer, a contract until the end of the season with a conditional 12-month extension that was dependent on the Hatters achieving promotion. He made 20 appearances for the club in the 2012–13 season, scoring once, as they finished 7th and outside of the promotion positions. On the 29th of April 2013, McNulty agreed a two-year contract extension following performances that made him an “instant cult hero” with Luton fans.

He was named as the club’s vice-captain for the 2013–14 season, and was part of a defence that kept a club-record 23 clean sheets in the league, and went on to lead to Luton winning the league and being promoted to the fourth tier. McNulty’s influence on Luton’s successful season didn’t go unnoticed, as he was awarded Player of the Year, Internet Player of the Year award, as well as the Goal of the Season award for his 30-yard volley against Southport in November 2013.

McNulty was made Luton’s captain for the 2014–15 season following the departure of Ronnie Henry.In July 2014, he signed a two-year contract extension and played in 45 matches in all competitions as Luton finished the season in eighth position. McNulty’s performances were recognised by his inclusion in the Professional Footballers’ Association League Two Team of the Year.

McNulty joined National League club Tranmere Rovers on loan on the 19th of October 2015, as he wanted to be closer to his family and on the 2nd of January 2016, he signed for the club permanently on a one-and-a-half-year contract.

McNulty won Tranmere player of the month for February 2016, after an impressive run. He received numerous man of the match awards as Tranmere climbed from mid-table into the National League playoff places.

McNulty captained the Super White Army as they beat Boreham Wood 2–1 at Wembley Stadium in the 2018 National League playoff final to earn promotion to League Two.

He did so again a year later, as Tranmere beat Newport County 1–0 in the League Two playoff final on the 25th of May 2019. He was released by Tranmere at the end of the 2018–19 season.

McNulty joined National League North club York City on the 27th of June 2019 and played his last game for York City in their playoff semi-final defeat to Altrincham.

McNulty signed for Northern Premier League side Witton Albion in August 2020, then McNulty was appointed as assistant manager at Chester in December 2021 before joining Bootle in August 2022.


Youth career
1990–2003 – Liverpool

Senior career
2003–2005 – Burscough
2005–2007 – Vauxhall Motors – 55 games (10 goals)
2007–2009 – Barrow – 78 games (12 goals)
2009–2013 – Fleetwood Town – 126 games (5 goals)
2013–2016 – Luton Town – 117 games (2 goals)
2015–2016 → Tranmere Rovers (loan) – 9 games (1 goal)
2016–2019 – Tranmere Rovers – 140 games (4 goals)
2019–2020 – York City – 26 games (0 goals)
2020–2021 – Witton Albion – 19 games (2 goals)
2021–22 – Chester

Teams managed
2021–22 – Chester (player/assistant manager)
2022- Bootle


Conference North play-offs: 2008

Fleetwood Town
Conference North play-offs: 2010
Conference Premier: 2011–12

Luton Town
Conference Premier: 2013–14

Tranmere Rovers
National League play-offs: 2018
EFL League Two play-offs: 2019

Conference North Player of the Year: 2007–08
Luton Town Player of the Year: 2013–14
PFA Team of the Year: 2014–15 League Two

Fans gave plenty of reaction as the ex-Luton, Tranmere, Fleetwood, Barrow, York player becomes manager of Bootle…

@everton1888: Get in welcome Ste

@LFM_1983: Brilliant appointment. 👏🏻👏🏻

@Upton_Blues: Great appointment, top bloke. Good luck.

@cfcalex03: top bloke all the best x

@terrymcdonald81: Boss appointment that

@FussballJames: Quality appointment

@R1cey76: Welcome to the club Ste. Gave all the fans a boost tonight. Good luck

@HenmanGeoff: Good luck Sumo….never forgotten at LTFC

@HeedFan: One of the best centre halves I’ve saw play in Non League football. Mightve had the turning circle of the QE 2 but boy he could read the game and not many beat him. Shows my age now hes managing.

@Lutonexile74: Good luck Sumo…. Might pop down one Saturday

@ken_head: Sound appointment. Good luck Steve. Welcome to Bootle F. C. Up the Bucks.

@S_Longy11: Boss lad Ste, all the best lad

@MrGreenhow: He’s a good man. But I’m a Manc so am biased. Did a great job at Barrow when he played there.

@RavTrfc: Good luck Steeeeve, happy times watching you at @TranmereRovers.

@Paddockfan: Good luck Steve, hopefully a stepping stone to greater achievements. Another team’s results to watch out for

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