May 19 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Bradley Allen has described his former QPR captain Alan McDonald as an ‘inspirational’ figure following the 48-year-old’s sudden death on Saturday.
Northern Ireland defender McDonald, who came through Rangers’ youth system and went on to become the most capped player in the club’s history, passed away after collapsing while playing golf.
Allen, who spent seven years as a team-mate of McDonald’s at Loftus Road, told london24.com: “For a young player like me, coming through the ranks as he’d done, big Mac was inspirational.
“If you needed a pat on the back, he was there to offer that but, if you weren’t pulling your weight on the field, he’d let you know in no uncertain terms.
“He’d been there and done it, he knew what it meant to play for the team and he stressed that to you. He loved playing for Queens Park Rangers – that was in no doubt whatsoever – and he thrived on the responsibility.
“He had a tremendous affinity with the supporters because they recognised his loyalty to the club and there’s a generation of QPR supporters that can relate to that.
“Players developed and prospered through playing alongside Macca, people like Danny Maddix and Darren Peacock. He was a real lionheart of a central defender, putting his body on the line when it mattered.”
Belfast-born McDonald made his QPR debut in 1983 and went on to play a pivotal role in helping Rangers to reach the Milk Cup final three years later and finish fifth in the league on two occasions.
He made 476 appearances for the Rs, as well as winning 52 caps for his country, and returned to Loftus Road in 2006 for a brief spell as assistant boss to Gary Waddock.
Since McDonald’s passing, Rangers fans have called for a permanent tribute to him at Loftus Road – suggestions include renaming the Ellerslie Road stand or even the main bar at the ground after their former skipper.
“That’d be a great idea,” added Allen. “Socially, Macca was tops – he loved a drink and he loved a smoke, but that that certainly didn’t affect him on the field.
“He had a wicked, cutting sense of humour, he could get on with everybody from whatever walk of life, and he’d always make foreign players who came into the squad feel part of it as well.”
Goalkeeper Peter Hucker, another graduate of QPR’s youth set-up who featured alongside McDonald in the mid-80s, labelled the Irishman one of the two best defenders he ever played with.
“Him and Bob Hazell were the best centre-backs I played behind because you knew they’d give 100 per cent commitment,” said Hucker.
“Fans appreciate two things – outstanding skill and total commitment. While some played when they wanted to, when Macca pulled on the shirt, you knew he’d give it his all.
“Macca was one of my drinking buddies and one of the few players who would have a fag at half-time – but he was still super fit, and a very strong character without being nasty in any way.
“He had a bit of that Irish spirit about him and Ian Stewart had it as well – they don’t seem to care but you know they do. He was a wonderful man and I’m extremely shocked and sad about what’s happened.”