Malcolm Macdonald: Newcastle and Arsenal goal machine whose career was cut short in its prime aged 29


MALCOLM MACDONALD was, unquestionably, one of the most devastating goalscorers in living memory.

As a striker for Luton, Newcastle United and Arsenal, the man they called ‘Supermac’ ran defences ragged with his no-nonsense, bulldozing style and won 14 caps for England, scoring six goals.

Hulton Archive – Getty

Malcolm Macdonald is one of the best goal scorers in British football history[/caption]

But when his career was cut short by injury, the man who seemed to have it all suddenly found his life taking a turn for the worse…

He made quite an impression at Newcastle United…

From turning up to sign in a Rolls-Royce (it wasn’t his) to announcing that he was going to score 30 goals in his first season, Macdonald’s self-confidence also gained him the nickname ‘Supermouth’.

But it was ‘Supermac’ that the Magpies’ fans adored and his hat-trick on his Newcastle debut against Liverpool gave rise to one of the most famous terrace chants of the 1970s.

It’s set to the tune of Jesus Christ Superstar. Altogether now…

“Supermac, Superstar, how many goals have you scored so far…”

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Macdonald was nicknamed Supermac and scored 258 goals in 479 matches[/caption]

His goalscoring exploits were phenomenal…

Supermac scored goals wherever he went.

At Luton he scored 58 times in 101 games.

At Newcastle he scored 138 times in 257 games.

And at Arsenal he bagged 57 goals in 108 matches.

That’s better than a goal every two games.

Pretty good, huh?

Getty – Contributor

Macdonald scored 138 goals in 257 matches for Newcastle[/caption]

And he still holds a record for England too…

Though 14 caps was scant reward for such a prodigious goalscoring talent, Macdonald nevertheless left an indelible mark on the England record books.

On 16 April 1975, he scored all five goals in England’s 5-0 win over Cyprus in a  European Championship qualifier at Wembley.

To this day, he remains the only play to score five goals in a competitive game for England.

Getty – Contributor

Macdonald scored all five goals for England as they beat Cyprus in 1975 – but never played another England game at Wembley[/caption]

But that was the last time he played for England at Wembley…

Macdonald and then England manager Don Revie never saw eye-to-eye, primarily because the former Leeds boss had admitted to the striker that he had only picked him because of the press clamour for his selection.

Having scored in a game against West Germany, Revie had threatened Maconald with being dropped if he didn’t score again.

But Supermac being Supermac, he didn’t just score he rewrote the record books, scoring all five against Cyprus.

At the end of the game, Wembley’s electronic scoreboard flashed up the message “Congratulations – Supermac 5 Cyprus 0.”

Macdonald, meanwhile, spotted Review heading down the tunnel and shouted at him to take a look: “Read that and weep, you b******. Read that and weep.”


Then England boss Don Revie (right) didn’t rate Macdonald[/caption]

He never landed a single winners’ medal…

Despite his prolific goalscoring record, Supermac never once won a major competition in his playing career.

The closest he came was when he lost in the final of the League Cup with Newcastle in the 1976 League Cup Final and in 1978 when Arsenal went down to Ipswich Town in the FA Cup Final.

But it was the defeat in the 1974 FA Cup Final, when Newcastle lost 3-0 to Liverpool, that really rankled with Macdonald.

“We just didn’t turn up on the day, which was very frustrating,” he said of the defeat.

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Macdonald never won a major honour in his career[/caption]

In 1975, Macdonald took part in the TV show Superstars, fresh from whacking five goals past Cyprus for England.

His heat in Malmo, Sweden pitted him against the likes of Dutch speed skater Harm Kuipers, racing driver Jochen Mass and the Swedish table tennis player Kiell Johansson.

“A lot of people saw Kuipers as the favourite,” said Macdonald. “I had other ideas.”

Macdonald did well in the tennis and gymnastics events and then won the weightlifting and the pistol shooting, hitting nine bullseyes.

But it was the 1o0m sprint that left everyone agog.

After a false start, Supermac won the race in 10.9 seconds.

It was a Superstars record and quick enough to be an Olympic qualifying time that year.

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During filming for Superstars, Macdonald ran the 100m in a time that would’ve qualified for the Olympics[/caption]

His career ended abruptly…

After a move to Arsenal in 1976 (for the bizarre sum of £333,333.34) Macdonald continued to plunder goals at will.

Not only was he the Gunners’ top scorer for two seasons running but he also landed the Golden Boot award in his debut season at the club too.

Life was going well, right up until he sustained a knee injury in a League Cup match against Rotherham at the start of the 1978/19 season. And then things changed.

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Macdonald moved to Arsenal for a bizarre £333,333.34 – and was their top scorer for two seasons before a devastating knee injury[/caption]

Though he continued to play his knee was never the same and when he retired the problem worsened and he retired from playing, aged just 29.

Soon, however, depression would kick in and the only thing that eased the pain was alcohol

“I found the only thing that numbed the pain was whisky, so I began drinking a bottle a day,” he recalled. “It wasn’t good for my health – or my self-esteem – but it did the trick.”

But his drinking got him in trouble…

In February 1997, Macdonald was out driving one evening when he noticed a couple of police cars tailing him.

When he was pulled over he was breathalysed – and failed.

In fact, he was three times over the legal limit and when the case came to court Macdonald lost his driving license for two years.

Soon after, Macdonald went to his doctor for advice and he didn’t hold back. “Stop drinking or you’ll die,” came the message.

Getty – Contributor

Macdonald was forced to retire at just 29 become depressed and an alcoholic – he later sobered up and has been a pundit[/caption]

It wasn’t his only problem…

When he lived in Italy in the early 1990s Macdonald tried to set up a phone-line business with current West Ham owner, David Sullivan.

It seemed like a good idea but after returning to England one Christmas, he headed back to Italy to find that the country’s government had effectively closed down the entire phone-line industry.

It was a venture that left him with just £3,000 in his bank account.

He also had a hotel in Berwick upon Tweed that went bust and a pub in Worthing that failed too.

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