Terry Neill’s signings – Malcolm MacDonald

This is part of the continuing series of articles looking back at Arsenal from the perspective of the managers.  There is an index to the series at “The Managers” – from which you will notice we still have a long way to go – but quite a bit has been written thus far.  If you want to add anything to any article you will be able to trace it through that index.  And indeed – if you would like to tackle any part of the history series not yet written about, please do get in touch: Tony.Attwood@aisa.org

At the moment we are currently looking at the Terry Neill era, having written a fair amount about Bertie Mee.    You can see exactly how Terry Neill got on as a manager from these two pieces…

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).

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 than only scored one other for his country in a total of 14 games.

The fee for the move to Arsenal was reported rather oddly to be £333,333.33, although I can’t find out why.  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.

There is no doubt that without that injury he could have helped Arsenal to greater things and his loss was a major blow.  He did come on and play in the final game of the 1978/9 season – a 1-1 draw away to Chelsea in which he scored our goal. but for most of that season it was Stapleton who took the number 9 shirt, with Gatting, Price and Walford having the number 10 at different times.

Malcolm managed Fulham from 1980 to 1984, after retirement, 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 these days he appears to be on much firmer ground and he works as a broadcaster.

6 Replies to “Terry Neill’s signings – Malcolm MacDonald”

  1. I saw an interview with him and even all these years later he was filling up over the way his career at Arsenal was brought to an abrupt halt. His love for the club was evident and his desire to go on and help them achieve great things shone through.

  2. A few years back I read an article on the web supposedly by MM in which he explained the price tag.
    It seems that MM was hold up while Newcastle and Arsenal haggled the transfer fee. Eventually the then Arsenal chairman (father of the present one) exasperated with Newcastlesaid ‘ a third of a million and not a penny more.’ And so it was.

    It’s a good story but as I say I read it on the web, so it could be just a story.

  3. As a 12 year old hearing he had signed was to me and still is one of the most exciting acquisitions we have ever made. A real life Roy of the Rovers with a sledge hammer of a left foot.I cried the day he announced his retirement

  4. I have recently re-read my copy of ‘Malcolm MacDonald, an autobiography’, and I never really appreciated how much he hated the nickname ‘supermac’ and how much some of the players during his time at the Arsenal really didn’t get on with each other. My appetite for re-reading his book was due to having read an interview with him on-line recently where he is living on the coast up north, with his wife. As a 12 year old sat listening to the 1978 FA cup final on a coach in France as part of a school trip I sooo wanted him to score in that match! I sincerely hope that Malcom is enjoying his life to the full these days, and thanks for being a true hero to me in my youth.

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