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Malcolm Macdonald 
talks to 1

Taking his cue from this week's "On this Day in History" anniversaries, Malcolm recalls a busy week of appearances for both club and country 27 years ago: 

Sept 3rd 1975:  

Came on as sub for England in Basle v. Switzerland. The next day there were horrendous delays in returning; fog, missed flight connections, etc., which left me stranded at Heathrow but loneliness wasn't a problem. 

Geoffrey Green, now the late, but then the top football writer of The Times, saw me and sat down with his wife and young toddler, born very late in his father's life. Geoffrey had the habit of travelling fairly light, inasmuch he would only carry his shorthand notebook, a couple of pens and toothbrush to accompany his bag full of duty-free scotch. He flowed, as did his duty-free throughout the day, with the most colourful reminiscences of Sir Alf, Walter Winterburn, Johnny Haynes and Bobby Charlton in their heydays. He showed also a fascinating but very unique and rare foresight as to the game he loved. I was embroiled in it all, loved every gushing memory. 

This man of memory was the very football writer who, two years before, had sat outside the hotel in Sofia, Bulgaria, in a most beautiful square, and declined our invitation to join us on the bus to go to the stadium for the England v Bulgaria match, saying, whilst waving yet another glass in a manner to exhort the beauty of ones surroundings, 

"the game today will
never rival what I am appreciating right now, I shall write my copy from here". 

He wrote 1200 words of the finest footballing prose, of how the beautiful nimbuli rolling across the hillsides that were the backdrop to the mass of International flags flurrying in the garlic-scented breeze reminded him of those great men of yore, Len Shackleon high on his list. Those interweaving flags, he wrote, had more imaginative movement than any of the players on show could ever inspire. 

It finished a boring 0-0 draw, and Geoffrey was still sat at his table in the square as we returned. "Didn't you go to the game?", we enquired. 

"I've been over the hills and far away, Baby ! with players greater than you". 

Not a bad judge. 

Back to Heathrow, finally a flight to Newcastle became available and I returned home in the early hours of Friday, much the worse for wear. 

Sept 6th 1975: 

The Villa game on the
Saturday came far too quickly for me. My control, as with the rest of my game, was awful. I remembered something Geoffrey had told me of his view of great goalscorers he had seen through his life, that no matter how badly they play, never does their form in front of goal change.

scored 2 in the second half that day, thanks to Geoffrey, though it
was probably the overall worst game I had ever played.
But as GG said,

"It's only goals that people want to see and that make the headlines". 

He wasn't wrong, I had grabbed the headlines again, much to the
annoyance of Gordon Lee, who still hadn't found an excuse to drop me.


Match Facts:

Date: Wednesday 3rd September 1975. 

Friendly international staged in Basle, Switzerland.

Ray Clemence, Steve Whitworth, Kevin Beattie, Colin Todd, Dave Watson, Gerry Francis, Colin Bell, Mick Channon, David Johnson (sub: Malcolm Macdonald), Tony Currie, Kevin Keegan.

Score/scorers: Switzerland 1 (Muller ) England 2 (Keegan, Channon.) 

6.9.75 NUFC 3 Villa 0 
(Macdonald 2, Craig)  

Newcastle: Mick Mahoney, Irving Nattrass, Alan Kennedy, Geoff Nulty, John Bird, Pat Howard, Mickey Burns, Tommy Cassidy, Malcolm Macdonald, Alan Gowling, Tommy Craig. Unused sub: Stu Barrowclough.

The two points gained from this victory in front of over 35,000 at St.James' saw Newcastle claim 8th position in what was then the First Division. Gordon Lee was starting to mould the team according to his "no stars" policy, and any dissenters were being shipped out - the latest being Terry Hibbitt, sold to Birmingham days before the game. 

Subsequently, Macdonald would also fall foul of the Lee regime and leave for Highbury.  

Part 2

Malcolm's own website can be accessed from here


Page last updated 14 July, 2016