Malcolm Macdonald: all that could have been if not for one injury

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100 Years in the First Division: the absolute complete story of Arsenal’s promotion in 1919.


On this day in 1976 Malcolm Macdonald signed for Arsenal for what was then a massive fee – one third of a million pounds.  He scored 29 goals in 41 games in his first season and then 26 goals in 39 games in his second – both a tremendous achievement.

But then, playing in a league cup match against Rotherham he was injured, and although he made four more appearances for Arsenal, that was it – his career was wrecked.  In those two seasons he came 8th and 5th, and we were losing finalists in the FA Cup – so he didn’t get a trophy to his name either.  We did win the Cup in 1979, but of course Macdonald did not play.

If only, if only, if only.  If only Arsenal had not used him in league cup matches, his career might have been longer, and we might have won more.  But that is what football is full of.  If only…

29 July 1588: The Spanish Armada was defeated

29 July 1912: David Neave transferred to Merthyr. He had played for Arsenal in two separate spells between 1904 and 1912, making 168 appearances (154 in the league) and scoring 32 goals (30 in the league).

29 July 1956: Viv Anderson born.  He joined Arsenal from Nottingham Forest and played 120 games over 3 seasons before moving on to Man U.  While with Arsenal he made 16 appearances for England and scored two goals for them.

29 July 1972: Lausanne 0 Arsenal 6  (George 2, Kennedy 2, Radford 2).  The second in a series of four pre-season games.

29 July 1976: Malcolm MacDonald signed from Newcastle for £333,333. There was an argument about the price between the clubs and eventually the Arsenal chairman said, “one third of a million and not a penny more.” And so it was.

29 July 1979: Three years to the day after being signed Malcolm Macdonald announced his retirement from football.  There is no doubt that without his injury he could have helped Arsenal to greater things and his loss was a major blow.  His final game was the last game of the 1978/9 season – a 1-1 draw away to Chelsea in which he scored our goal. 

29 July 1989: Arsenal 1 Porto 0 (own goal).  After winning the league at Liverpool Arsenal started the new season by playing a friendly tournament at Wembley.  But despite being champions only 20,000 showed up for this game.

29 July 1995:  Gaelstads 1 Arsenal 6 (Merson 3, Jenson, Bergkamp, Wright).  Having appointed Rioch as manager Arsenal went on a three match tour of Sweden.

29 July 2000: Micky Thomas joined Wimbledon (his final club) playing nine times for them.  After retiring from football, he set up his own security service, called Stop Taking the Michael, and has played for Liverpool legends.  

29 July 2003: Arsenal beat Beşiktaş 1-0 to make it two wins, two draws, one defeat
in pre-season.  Bergkamp scored the only goal, slipping the ball through the keeper’s legs. 

29 July 2004: Kanu joined WBA.  He played 53 times for WBA and 141 for Portsmouth.  He left Portsmouth with them owing him £3m but dropped the legal case in order to help the club survive.  See here for memorable incidentHere for first game   

29 July 2005: Ajax 0 Arsenal 1 (Lupoli).  Part of the pre-season run in which Arsenal won every single match.

29 July 2007: Arsenal 2 InterMilan 1 (Hleb, Van Persie) [Emirates Cup]

29 July 2009: Hannover 96 1 Arsenal 1 (Fabregas).  Part of a seven match pre-season, prior to the notorious Champions League qualifier in which the media and Uefa conspired against Eduardo. 

29 July 2011: Ever anxious to put the boot in, on this day the BBC described  Wrexham 2 Arsenal 1 in the FA Cup 3rd round on 4 January 1992 as one of the biggest shocks of all time.  And if it wasn’t, then it was Chapman’s defeat by Walsall.  It seems no other club has cup shocks.  Only Arsenal.

29 July 2012: After a 2-0 pre-season defeat to Man C Arsenal could only draw 2-2 with Kitchee.  Walcott and Eisfeld scored in the Hong Kong Stadium.  The team won only one of their first team pre-season games and it presaged a poor start to the season.

29 July 2015: Following Diaby’s release on 10 June 2015, he signed for Marseille on this day.  After continuing injury problems in the first half of the season, he made his return on 18 March 2016, coming on as a substitute in Marseille’s 5–2 home defeat to Rennes.  On 3 April 2016, he started in a league match against Bastia, his first league start in over three years.

29 July 2015: Wojciech Szczęsny loaned to Roma for one year playing 31 league games for the club in the course of the 2015/16 season.

29 July 2017: Arsenal beat Benfica 5-2 in the Emirates Cup with two goals from Walcott, one each from Giroud and Iwobi.  The game marked an early appearance from Reiss Nelson. 


3 Replies to “Malcolm Macdonald: all that could have been if not for one injury”

  1. Recently someone at Arsenal was to be given the number 4 shirt which it was said had been worn by several former legends .The names of several fine players followed-all post 1960.Are our current fans completely unaware of our reputation & record in the first half of the last century & of the great men that created that true legend? Are they now to be forgotten?

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