Malcolm MacDonald: The rise and fall of a legend.

Posted on June 6th, 2009 | 19 Comments |

Supermac! Supermac!
Supermac! Supermac!
Found comatose and surrounded by empty whisky bottles in a bed-and-breakfast, it was a far cry from his glorious arrival at St James Park for his home debut. Then, little kids gasped as the car wheels on the white Rolls Royce came to a halt outside St James Park and they surged forward to get a better look at its passenger. Excitement filled the air at the sheer flamboyant spectacle.

It was 1971 and 21 year old Malcolm MacDonald, who was to go on to become another one of our legendary centre forwards, had arrived. A transfer from Luton Town costing an eye watering £180,000, huge money at that time, he would go on to take not only Newcastle but a lot of the country by storm.

Scoring a hat trick on his home debut against a Liverpool side which featured the young Kevin Keegan, and while attempting to go for a fourth, had a collision with the keeper which saw him being stretchered off to rapturous applause, a new Geordie hero was born. From that moment Newcastle fans adored him.

“Supermac” as he became known was a flamboyant character. He enjoyed the good life; nightclubs, champagne, cigars, eating out at expensive restaurants; always well dressed (if you can call 70’s fashion good) with his own mens clothes boutique in the Newgate precinct. Crowds flocked there to try to catch a glance of their idol.

He was a devastating all round striker, with blistering pace, power and great goal scoring ability. His confidence and willingness to always go for goal meant he netted 95 goals in 187 league matches at Newcastle during his 5 years on Tyneside averaging one goal every other game. Winning 14 caps for England he scored all 5 goals in the 5-0 win over Cyprus in the 1975 European Championship qualifier at Wembley. It was strange to hear the old Wembley stadium ringing to the famous geordie chant of ‘Supermac! Supermac!’

However the appointment of Gordon Lee as the Newcastle manager was the end of Supermac’s reign on Tyneside and Lee quickly sold him to Arsenal at the start of the 1976/77 season where his prolific goal scoring continued. This caused outrage on Tyneside, no longer would be able to watch the sight of Supermac with his huge sideburns, and characteristic bandy legged running knocking goals in for fun. He left in flamboyant style taking a private jet to whisk him back down South.

Knee injury forced him out of the game at the young age of 29. After spells in management at Fulham where he built a good team out of nothing and briefly at Huddersfield, life caught up with him in the mid 1990’s and an increasing dependence on whiskey to try to dull the pain of the knee injury, a complicated personal life, bankruptcy and probably the frustration of unfulfilled potential started to the downward spiral. This culminated in a well documented battle with drink which to his credit he conquered.

Settling in the North East we now know SuperMac as the football analyst on the radio. Love him or hate him, always a controversial figure, you can’t help remember that glorious goal scoring ability that we would have given anything for last season.

NUFCBlog Author: geordie deb geordie deb has written 38 articles on this blog.

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19 Responses

  1. Great piece i learned a lot 4rm that cheers geordie deb!!i am doing my exams over here in ireland and i done a great essay on the last 2 or 3 months on tyneside!!i was almost crying in the school gym!haha a little sad u might think!

  2. Hi Alan

    Thanks I’m glad you found it useful. I think it’s good to remember some of the great players who have contributed to the club’s history, especially for some of our younger fans who didn’t get to watch them in person. Good luck with the exams mate hope they go well.

  3. Love him!

    Say what ya like but he tells it as it is and he knows his football.

  4. Hi Guys
    Agree Stuart.
    Writing this just made me reminisce a bit more so went on to youtube and found what they are classing his greatest ever goal in the game against Bolton. I can’t post the link for some reason but if someone could that would be great as it shows all goals – watch out for his second goal made the hairs on my arms stand on end! Enjoy

  5. Great Post Deb!

    Sadly though – the player then and the man now – are poles apart. A body can only take so much abuse I suppose. Sad.

  6. Hugh de Payen says:
    June 6, 2009 at 9:42 am

    “Sorry to interrupt the theme but I thought I’d just tag this on here as it’s the most recent post:”

    It IS the Daily Mail though, Hugh. ;-)

  7. BTW Deb, that’s a really nice piece, you really do have talent as a writer. It’s strange though, if you swapped a few things in there, for instance “St James’s Park” to “Old Trafford”, it could almost be Georgie Best’s story too!

  8. la la la la, la la la la, oooooaaaaaahhhh, alan gowling

    Deb, well worth waiting for. My dad loved the man and always used to bang on about his goal in the FA Cup when he had two blokes on his back and still scored!!

    Gotta respect the man’s ability and ocassionally he’ll say something I agree with but sometimes I think he talks a lot of tosh.

  9. Thanks Workey, I’m not sure about that, but I’ve written quite a few product brochures, newsletters etc over the years so can waffle on about various topics quite happily.

    You’re right regarding the George Best analogy, it’s sad how often people end up self destructing for one reason or another. Taking about that I’ve read somewhere today that poor old Gazza has fallen off the wagon again.

  10. One thing I’ll never forget from those days …

    “Ye cannat beat a canny bag o’ Tudor!”

  11. “Taking about that I’ve read somewhere today that poor old Gazza has fallen off the wagon again.”

    Aye Deb, Jimmy “five bellies” supporting him at the railway station, or something like that. Poor Gazza.

  12. Workey yes I used to have a penchant for Tudor’s pickled onion crisps and didn’t they do tomato sauce flavour as well?

  13. Aye Deb, they did have Tomato sauce flavour, I was just trying to find the advert for you on “Tv Ark”, but it wasn’t there, sadly. :-(

    “If you deliver this newspaper, I’ll give ye a canny bag of Tudor!”

  14. I hear he is going to be at the G Casino on St James Blvd for the Reading in Jan to do a live talk in. Love to meet the guy as he was a footballing legend in the making when I was a teenager.