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Alex MacDonald – A Tribute

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It is not often that you hear of someone born on St Patrick’s Day going on to be a Rangers legend, but in the case of Alex MacDonald, here is a man who broke the mould.

The little midfield general who was born on the 17th March 1948 would go down in history as part of one of the most successful sides in the history of Rangers Football Club.

His road on the football ladder started with St.Johnstone where he spent two years there before moving to his boyhood heroes Rangers in a £50,000 deal.

Although he could have been Alex MacDonald of Celtic if Jock Stein had got his way but Doddie being a Rangers fan….that was never going to happen!

He quickly became a fans favourite such was his combative style and passion in the midfield area of the park.

He was instrumental in the future success that was to come Rangers way during his time at the club including winning the Cup Winners Cup in 1972. In that campaign he scored goals against Stade Rennes and Torino as Rangers marched towards Barcelona and the magnificent victory over Moscow Dynamo in the final.

Domestic honours too followed, or should that be follow, followed? 3 League Championships, 4 Scottish Cups and 4 League Cup medals made their way to the MacDonald trophy cabinet as success and Rangers seemed to go hand in hand.

In over 500 appearances for the Gers,he scored vital goals most of those goals came in the big matches, games where Rangers needed them or something special from the wee man, cup finals or Old Firm matches but he did have a rate of one in four European games.

Perhaps one of his most memorable goals came in the League Cup victory over Celtic in 1975 when his flying header helped Jock Wallace and his side clinch the first part of the treble that year, a feat which was achieved again in 1977-78.

Perhaps the only blip on the wee man’s career was only one Scotland cap to show for his time in the game but his domestic and European medals more than made up for the lack of caps on the International scene.

He left Rangers in 1980 to join Hearts where he played for and then managed the club with his pal and assistant manager Sandy Jardine by his side. Together they had a Hearts team playing an attacking and exciting brand of football which almost brought them a sensational League and Cup Double in 1986 only to be pipped by Celtic on the last day of the season as they beat St.Mirren 5-0 at Love Street and Hearts went down to two late Albert Kidd goals at Dens Park…. (No invitation for him then on Friday!)

The following week Hearts were broken again when Aberdeen dismantled them in the Scottish Cup final, a season that had promised so much, had ended in tears.

Many felt that the best team had lost the league that season but as Doddie knows full well, you can never write off the Old Firm!

Four years later he was sacked by the late Wallace Mercer and Doddie then became manager of Airdrie.

His magic wand worked again as he took the club to two Scottish Cup finals and also lead them into Europe.

In the season of 1994/95 he lead his Airdrie team out against Celtic in the Scottish Cup final but again heart-break as a Pierre van Hooijdonk header gave the late Tommy Burns and his Celtic side the win. He was sacked by Airdrie in March 1999 and has not worked in football management since.

On Friday at the Thistle Hotel in Glasgow, many former friends, ex-team mates including the following Alex Miller, Derek Parlane, Graham Fyfe, Colin Stein, Sandy Jardine, John Greig, Derek Johnstone, Willie Johnston, Davie Smith, Alfie Conn, Tommy McLean, Ronnie MacKinnon, Gordon Smith, Colin Jackson, Peter McCloy, will turn out to pay tribute to a Rangers legend, a man who had done and achieved everything that he had ever wanted to do in football and that was to play for Rangers, he may be overawed by what will happen, he may be a little nervous but he and his family will look forward to a night and a time when people appreciated their heroes and their heroes appreciated them as they where also fans who have stood on the terraces or watched from the stands, it does promise to be a night that Doddie or anyone in attendance will never forget.

With thanks to Rangers club Historian David Mason

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About Author

Chief Features Writer for Scotzine.com. Sean has written for various publications and websites over the years and has been involved with making documentaries on Aberdeen Football Club, Dundee United Football Club, Henrik Larsson, Paul Lambert and Jock Stein and also Radio programmes, one of which "Old Firm Day" won a Bronze Sony Award. He also worked in the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden Park. His love of writing started off with The Punter and has gone on to write for the following FIFA magazine, 442, Scotland's Oracle, Players Inc, British Football Week, ESPN, Give Me Football, Inside Futbol, 67 Fanzine and the matchday programmes of Aberdeen, Carlisle United, Montrose, Partick Thistle, Stockport County and Queen's Park. He has also been asked to write a blog for Youth Football Scotland on St.Mirren YFC such was his passion for football at every level from Grassroots to the professional game.

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