I didn’t know Alan McDonald well. There are others – including one or two who’ve been reporting on QPR longer than me – who are much better qualified to write about him.
Macca left QPR two years before I started covering them. Until he returned as assistant manager, our only contact had been a few phone calls, the first of which was for a preview of the 2003 play-off final.
His love for the club was clear, although so too was his hurt at the manner in which he was released after such long service.
After he came back to Rangers, I got to know him a bit and can only concur with how others have described him; warm, generous, with a great sense of fun and an obvious love of QPR.
The last proper conversation I had with him was a day or so after he left Rangers following the appointment of John Gregory as manager – a departure which was again difficult, but one he took in his stride.
I think one of the things that made Macca special was that while other icons did their thing and moved on, he was a constant.
Rangers had some superb and hugely popular players in the 80s.
In the following decade, Gerry Francis coming back was a big deal as he was a legend as a player. Players like Wilkins, Ferdinand and others also etched their names into Rangers folklore.
But they all came and went. Macca was the one who was there through it all. To perform to such a consistently high standard over so many years is a remarkable feat.
When I think back to the various QPR open days and other events I loved going to as a youngster, I recall times when Ferdinand, Roy Wegerle, Wilkins or someone else was the man of the moment – the one swamped by autograph hunters at that particular time.
Francis, when he returned as manager, was definitely such a figure and has that personal touch.
But again and again, Macca was a focal point. He was always the one surrounded by the largest group, posing for the most photos, being passed the most babies and small children to hold.
It’s a corny term, but he really was Mr QPR.
He was also very much loved by those who knew him well and this was reflected in the tributes paid this week from different parts of the world, from his great friend and dressing-room partner in crime David Bardsley, who now lives in the US, to Paul Parker (Malaysia) and Jim Smith (Spain).
One of the most poignant tributes came from Dave Anderson, the manager of Harrow Borough. The pair had been friends for most of their lives, were best men at each other’s weddings and godfather to each other’s daughters.
A frequently-made comment this week has been that the word legend is overused, but Alan McDonald is a proper QPR legend alongside an elite group of other names. He belongs in that category.
So how should his contribution be fittingly and lastingly honoured?
Personally I felt a good start would have been for the club to hold off on announcements involving Joey Barton and Samba Diakite for a few days.
Barton, of all people, sharing the spotlight with a worthy captain of the club seemed crass to me.
As for Diakite, yes he’s potentially a very good signing (and a signing agreed ages ago) but the chest-beating over the latest big deal could and should have waited 48 hours I thought.
Of course the business of the club must not stop, but I felt the public focus should have been solely on one event this week.
Watching Tony Fernandes talking about the Diakite deal on TV, I couldn’t help wondering, had he succeeded in taking over West Ham and they had lost a figure like Billy Bonds, whether he would been speaking about a big-money signing before a funeral had taken place.
But, as I expected, most people strong disagree, with many on Twitter making it clear they were very happy with the way the club have handled things this week. The vast majority feel QPR played a blinder.
And as opposed to signings or other football-related matters, when the majority can be very wrong, with something like this if the fans feel the club got it right, it got it right. Simple as that. On that basis the club got it very right indeed.
I hope they get the next stage right in the form of a memorial to one of the club’s great servants.
There has been some talk of retiring the number five shirt. I think that would be a mistake. Besides, he also wore the number six and two shirts during his time at the club.
Getting rid of a shirt number seems to me to be the last thing that should happen. The legend should very much live on, and it ought to be a shirt that means something to future generations, as the number 10 shirt has.
Imagine how proud you’d be if your son or grandson went on to grace the shirt worn by Alan McDonald. It ought to remain.
Renaming a stand would be a significant and worthwhile gesture and one I can see the club going for, partly because it’s logistically not difficult and would be a quick win for them in PR terms.
A statue or plaque would be harder work but an option I hope won’t be discounted.
I was always more of a Danny Maddix man myself – something I enjoyed telling Macca on a few occasions.
But there’s no doubt that Alan McDonald is in that very elite group of former QPR players who can be considered true legends, and I don’t think talk of statues or renaming stands is an over-reaction.
In addition to a stadium memorial, I also think something at the club’s new training ground would be appropriate.
Fernandes believes the signing of Diakite is a watershed moment. But I think the training ground at Warren Farm will be the watershed moment – a hugely important development.
In my eyes it’s more than just a training ground. I think it can become a local landmark and really announce Rangers as a big club in the heart of west London.
And as Alan McDonald was a product of the youth system, a renowned training-ground joker but also regarded as a great professional, someone who represented all that was good about QPR and lived in the area for many years, a memorial at Warren Farm would surely be a fitting tribute.