Firmly established as a QPR legend after his 17-year spell as a player at Loftus Road, Alan McDonald left Rangers supporters with many fond memories; from his tussles with the likes of Hughes, Fashanu and Harford to scoring the winning penalty in a shoot-out at Grimsby.
We’ve selected 10 memories of Macca, who served his club and country with such great distinction.
Battles with Hughes
Ironically now manager of QPR, Mark Hughes has long been synonymous with Alan McDonald in the minds of many Rangers fans. Their battles became the stuff of legend and definitely weren’t for the faint hearted.
“Come and see me!”
Wembley. 1985. Northern Ireland need a point against England to qualify for the following year’s World Cup. After talk of a possible ‘fix’ to help the smaller nation reach the finals, England pepper their opponents’ goal but the game ends in a 0-0 draw – largely because of a heroic display by McDonald at the back.
Interviewed by the BBC on the pitch after the final whistle, the QPR man famously declares that anyone who believes the result was fixed “is a joke” and should go and see him. Truly magical stuff.
Macca in Mexico
That result at Wembley meant McDonald starred for Northern Ireland in Mexico, where they bowed out of the tournament following a defeat against an awesome Brazil side. So awesome in fact that, as McDonald often recalled in future years, they substituted the great Socrates with another legend in Zico.
The battle at the Bridge
One of the heroic performances that defined McDonald came in the 1986 Milk Cup quarter-final replay at Chelsea, where Rangers’ defence was put under serious pressure for much of the game. They stood firm and clinched a famous win in extra time, with Macca heading home the first of their two goals.
“To go to places like Chelsea and Liverpool and win you needed someone like him alongside you.” – Steve Wicks
That night at Anfield
The win at Chelsea left Rangers facing the ultimate challenge in the form of a two-legged semi-final against the dominant Liverpool team of that era. Leading 1-0 from the first leg, they went to Anfield as underdogs but got the draw they needed to reach Wembley. McDonald’s outstanding performance – and him punching the air in victory in front of the travelling QPR fans – will live long in the memories of those who were there.
Macca to the rescue
One of McDonald’s epic displays against Manchester United came in an FA Cup replay at Loftus Road in 1989. Rangers led through a goal by Mark Stein but were 2-1 down and heading out of the competition before Macca bundled in a last-minute header at the far post to force a second replay.
Turning on the style
McDonald almost brought the house down at Loftus Road in 1992 during a 4-1 win against Leeds, who went on to be crowned champions. With Rangers running riot in the second half, the Loft’s cult hero feinted to shoot on the edge of the box, turned his man inside out and sent a curling effort narrowly wide of the post. A priceless moment of skill.
The Huddersfield header
Another memorable moment – this time an injury-time winner in an FA Cup replay at Huddersfield in January 1997. It not only won the match for Rangers, it was the big man’s final goal for the club. It also set up the fourth-round tie against Barnsley in which Trevor Sinclair scored with his famous overhead kick – a strike made possible by McDonald’s goal 11 days earlier.
Macca the keeper
Having joined Swindon after being released by QPR, McDonald’s return to Loftus Road with his new club was always likely to be memorable. But no-one could have predicted just how memorable.
After keeper Fraser Digby – who would later join Rangers – was sent off in the first half, McDonald went in goal against his former team. Not only that, he kept a clean sheet and 10-man Swindon went on to win the game.
Return of the Mac
Hurt by QPR’s decision to show him the door, McDonald returned as assistant boss after his old friend Gary Waddock was made manager in 2006. He commented at the time that a second spell at Loftus Road would give him “closure” after the shoddy manner of his exit. Speaking after he again found himself leaving the club, he said: “It hasn’t affected my love for QPR. That would never happen.”
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Ex-QPR boss Smith hails ‘special’ McDonald
I’ll never forget my friend Macca and the great times we had
Big Mac has been a big part of my life – I’ll miss him