Roddie MacDonald scored 34 goals in 252 games from his central defensive berth for Celtic – a phenomenal total for a player who never took a penalty-kick.
He was a favourite with the Hoops fans with his uncompromising attitude and never-say-die spirit. His consistency made him a first pick most weeks, but full Scotland international recognition never came his way. We wonder why?…
IT was never going to be easy replacing the legend that was Billy McNeill in the heart of the Celtic rearguard. However, that was the daunting task that was handed to 21-year-old Highlander Roddie MacDonald by Jock Stein back in 1975.
McNeill brought down the curtain on his remarkable trophy-strewn career after the 3-1 Scottish Cup success over Airdrie at Hampden on May 3 that year. Big Jock immediately catapulted MacDonald into the role and the rugged centre-half remained in place for six years before a surprise £50,000 move to Hearts, sold, ironically, by McNeill.
MacDonald, like his mentor, was just about unbeatable in the air. He took control when the team was under aerial bombardment and was already making a name for himself when he was picked up by the Scotland Under-23s. It seemed only a matter of time before he took the step up. It never happened.
The Dingwall-born back-four operator was good enough to win three league titles, two Scottish Cups and one League Cup at Parkhead, but he was continually overlooked for international squads.
More often than not, Manchester United’s Gordon McQueen and Liverpool’s Alan Hansen played in central defence for their country, but there were also a handful of appearances for Rangers’ Colin Jackson, many thought wasn’t near MacDonald’s class.
There is little doubt the player enjoyed his best spell in Paradise when Pat Stanton arrived from Hibs. The veteran coaxed and cajoled his younger partner and he benefited from his great experience.
Unfortunately, Stanton picked up a career-wrecking injury at the start of season 1977/78 and played only one game before calling it a day. Kenny Dalglish had just left in the summer for Liverpool in a record £440,000 deal and Danny McGrain also sustained the foot injury that would sideline him for over a year.
MacDonald stuck manfully to the task and became one of the club’s most consistent performers.
Two years before he left for Tynecastle, MacDonald, now 63, cemented his place in Celtic folklore as one of the ‘Heroic Ten’ who beat Rangers 4-2 to clinch the league championship in one of the most extraordinary Glasgow derbies in history.