The answer sums up a career which ended up with a bittersweet feeling of high achievement but also a sense of what might have been.
The career of Supermac: Seventies superstar striker Malcolm Macdonald.
Macdonald’s football memorabilia collection has just been sold at Essex auction house Stacey’s, on October 23. Several of the items relate to April 16, 1975, the day when he equalled the England goalscoring record in a single game - one that has not been matched since.
The Wembley scoreboard even read at the end ‘Congratulations - Supermac 5 Cyprus 0’.
However, he had only scored his first England goal in the previous game against West Germany, and when he made his final appearance for the national team against Portugal in November the same year as the Cyprus match (five games afterwards) his record stood at six goals in 14 games.
So in 12 games he had failed to hit the net. This from a player who hit 95 goals in 187 league appearances for Newcastle from 1971-76, followed by 42 in 84 with Arsenal from 1976-79. He scored 270 career goals and broke the British transfer record when he joined the Gunners.
Londoner Macdonald started out at his local team, Fulham. He later joined Newcastle from Luton Town - following a hat-trick in his final game at Kenilworth Road.
But Supermac, who had the superstar looks and confidence to match, was forced to retire at the age of 29 due to injury.
The Stacey’s memorabilia was consigned by Macdonald himself and the top-selling lot was the white Admiral England shirt he wore on April 16, 1975. It had been on display at Newcastle’s St James’ Park stadium.
It made a low-estimate hammer price of £4000, but his England cap was issued for four matches that he played in during Euro qualifiers, including home and away against Cyprus plus Portugal and Czechoslovakia, went well over the £1000-1500 estimate to net £2300.
The Cyprus shirt worn by Kyriakos Koureas, the man given the task of marking five-goal MacDonald in the match at Wembley, sold for £340 (estimate £200-300).
Meanwhile, the cap awarded for the West Germany friendly in 1975, when Supermac scored his first England goal, made £1400 (estimate £500-600).
Another good auction performance adds to that bittersweet career feeling: a shirt connected to a game he did not play in (it was perhaps a good one not to have on your record: the match in which England lost to Poland in the away World Cup qualifier). Macdonald’s yellow Airtex-style shirt – he was an unused sub on the day - made £2500 against an estimate of £600-800. England wore yellow for three games in 1973, ending up with two defeats and a draw.
An Umbro white shirt and the cap issued for the away friendly v Russia on June 10, 1973, when Macdonald came on as a second-half substitute, doubled the top estimate at £1800.
Macdonald’s club memorabilia got away but prices often dipped below estimate. His Arsenal 1978 FA Cup Final Umbro red full tracksuit worn the 1-0 defeat to Ipswich, in which he played, took £950, while his runners-up medal for that game sold at £3600 (£3800-4500).
A Newcastle United shirt sold for £1900 (£2000-2500) had a fascinating story – see picture caption below.
Macdonald consigned his entire memorabilia collection to the Essex auction house.
Mark Stacey of Stacey’s said: “Malcolm is based in Newcastle, but he had seen other collections of players having sold here such as West Brom legend Tony Brown. He was recommended to us and has now enjoyed a 100% sell through rate on his collection and a hammer price total of over £35,000.
“The majority of the items were sold to private collectors in the room, online and via the phone, and a few high-profile bidders who all contribute to the National Football Museum.”