29 July: Malcolm MacDonald signed from Newcastle

On 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.

Then three years later, almost to the day Malcolm Macdonald announced his retirement from football as a result of his injury.  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.

After he took over as manager, Terry Neill needed to refresh the team, and he did this with such key players as MacDonald (introduced to the first team in 1976/77), Rix (1976/7), Jennings (1977/8), and Sunderland (1977/78).

But sadly, because of his injury, Malcolm MacDonald played just two full seasons for Arsenal, and then four games in his final season (1978/9).

He was born in Fulham on 7 January 1950, and played for Tonbridge, Fulham (signed by Bobby Robson for £1000), Luton Town, Newcastle United and finally Arsenal.   In all he played 84 league games for us and scored 42 goals – a remarkable record.

Curiously, for a man remembered as a centre forward he started as a full back.

With Luton Town Malcolm scored 49 goals in 88 games, which then inevitably led to his move to one of the big clubs: in this case Newcastle.  He scored three goals in his first match against Liverpool – which is what made his reputation there.

In 1975 he scored all five goals in an England victory over Cyprus, but after that only scored one other for his country in a total of 14 games.

He was injured playing against Rotherham in the league cup in 1978 which is what cut his third and final season so short.  He did try a comeback in Sweden but it didn’t work out and he retired aged 29.

Malcolm managed Fulham from 1980 to 1984, after retirement as a player, and Huddersfield in 1987/8.  He had some success with Fulham but could not achieve promotion and Huddersfield were relegated under him.

After football, a failed business venture, a divorce and lack of success as a manager clearly affected him seriously and he suffered in his personal life although he then recovered and worked as a broadcaster.

It is reported that he is the President of North Shields FC.

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