Hatters Heroes

Luton – The Legends Series – Mal Donaghy

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For the third in our ‘legends’ series I’ve chosen another player, prompted by Chris Winter, who played during successful David Pleat era.

Following on from – John Moore – and – David Preece, I’ve decided to focus on Mal Donaghy.

Donaghy, during his spells with the Hatters made in excess of 400 appearances after being signed from the Irish club, Larne, for the paltry fee of £20,000.

The defender came to the Luton coaching staff’s attention after making just 20 games for Larne and a deal to bring Mal, to Kenilworth Road, was concluded in June 1978.

While at Kenilworth Road, Donaghy was part of a Luton team for ten years, a period where the Hatters were at their most successful and Mal was a key component of the side that beat Arsenal in the 1988 League Cup Final and also part of John Moore’s side that secured the Hatters highest place in the top-flight, a magnificent 7th in the 19861987 season.

Although only being 5 feet 9 inches tall, Donaghy was able to play, better than most in his era, as a centre back, I also recall a cup game, away to Aston Villa, where he played, admirably in midfield, later in his career, whilst playing for Manchester United, he showed he was also well equipped to play as a full back, Donaghy was a versatile player, who could play in a variety of positions but never gave less than a 7 out of 10 performance.

After a decade with the club, Donaghy left to join Sir Alex Ferguson, at Manchester United, while some wondered if Ferguson had made an error, paying £650,000 for a 31-year-old, Donaghy proved all his critics wrong by playing as a centre back, when called upon, but primarily as a left-back for Manchester United.

But Mal’s United career was short, after a splendid opening season, he found further opportunities limited and only made the bench in two big Cup Finals, the FA Cup in 1990 and the European Cup Winners Cup in 1991, both finals were won by Manchester United as the club continued to harvest silverware.

In August 1992, Mal moved on again, with Chelsea paying £100,000 for his services with Mal being just days away from his 35th birthday. At the end of the 1993/1994 season Donaghy announced his retirement from football.

He had brought to an end a career that was, in the majority, spent at Kenilworth Road where his aptitude, determination and natural skills made sure he was more than entitled to be called a legend.

Searching You Tube for any pertinent videos of Mal Donaghy, I came across the following photographic montage, made by Luton Vids, which gives an excellent overview of Mal’s Luton career and to whoever compiled it, I offer my thanks,

Mal Donaghy Mini Fact File

Full Name – Malachy Martin Donaghy

Date of Birth – 13-September-1957

Place of Birth – Belfast, Northern Ireland

Height – 5 feet 9 inches

Position – Defender / Midfielder

Career – Cromac Albion, Larne, Luton Town, Manchester United, Luton (loan), Chelsea

If you feel able to share any of your thoughts on the Hatters career of Mal, please feel free to do so in the comment facility beneath this article.

If you can think of anyone who deserves nominating for coverage in this ongoing series, please drop their name into the comment facility beneath this article.

My thanks go to those who have already nominated faces from the past, they will all be covered, in time.

Next up in the series will be – Brian Lewis suggested by Peter Scott


Previous article by Mad Hatter

Early Kick Off Not Appreciated By Luton Fans For Southampton Cup Tie

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  • Peter Scott says:

    Mal was probably the best player I ever saw in a Luton shirt – a true Luton legend. Was he not the first United Kingdom player to be sent off in the world cup?

    If it was Mal against the oppositions player you would put your money on Mal to come out with the ball after he tackled. A great man and player for LTFC – COYH!!

  • Ken says:

    Brian Lewis, I can’t wait.

  • Russell says:

    Luton Legend Mal Donaghy, fantastic player I saw many times & he wore all the best Luton shirts, great compile of pics of him.

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