The story of Glasgow Gael and Celtic footballer Malcolm MacDonald, by former Free Press columnist Alex O’Henley, has been named as one of the 20 sports books of the year by the ‘Scotsman’ newspaper.
Published in both Gaelic and English, ‘Rionnag Chaillte — Forgotten Star’, tells the story of MacDonald, who was born in Glasgow to South Uist parents in 1913. He went on to have a career which spanned over 30 years and saw him play for or manage Celtic, Kilmarnock, Brentford and Scotland.
The book came 19th in the list, which was topped by Sir Alex Feguson’s autobiography and Andy Murray’s account of his win at Wimbledon.
Mr O’Henley, who is himself a native of South Uist, said: “I am obviously delighted the book has been so well received and has made the top 20 against some stiff competition such as books by Sir Alex Ferguson and Andy Murray. It is the first time that a bilingual sports biography has been published in Scotland, so it’s doubly pleasing to see a book with Gaelic content on the list.
“As I have said all along, all I wanted was to bring Calum ‘Malky’ MacDonald’s achievements as a player and a manager to a wider audience, and hopefully this accolade will help to achieve that.”
The book was published by the Islands Book Trust and earned praise from, among others, Duncan Ferguson, rector of Plockton High School and self-confessed West Highland bibliophile and Scottish sports follower.
Mr Ferguson commented: “This is a fascinating story about a remarkable islander and footballer told with insight, literary flair and passion. This is the best-ever biography of a sporting figure in the language from the foremost sports Gaelic broadcaster and is a great addition to the canon of Gaelic prose.
“It can be recommended in either language as a thoroughly enjoyable read for anyone who enjoys well-written biography, football history or a story with rich Hebridean roots. The Islands Book Trust is to be complimented on publishing this attractive bilingual book.”
Malky MacDonald’s grandson, Tony Vernon, added: “Thanks again Alex for devoting so much of your valuable time to this great book. Grampa’s legacy to me and his other grandchildren was to give us a love of the isles, through frequent visits and summer holidays back to Uist.
“In his later years he didn’t speak much about his football achievements, so it’s great to have his legacy collated and put down in print. Also, deep gratitude to the Islands Book Trust, from all of Malky’s family.”