Donnie McKinnon
Donnie McKinnon
see also: Donnie McKinnon (manager) →
Donnie McKinnon
● Donnie McKinnon, 1964 (BLM)

born in Scotland

Donald MacKinnon (stylized throughout his life as McKinnon) was born on Tuesday, 20th August, 1940, in Govan, Glasgow.

The 6' 0 (11st 6lbs) defender signed for Willie Thornton's Thistle on Wednesday, 25th November, 1959, having most recently been with Rutherglen Glencairn.

Aged 20, he made his debut appearance on Saturday, 4th March, 1961, in a 3-0 win at home to St Johnstone in the SFL First Division.

Donnie scored his only goal for Thistle on Saturday, 28th September, 1968, in a 2-1 win at home to Hibernian in the SFL First Division.

He played his last game for the club on Monday, 5th November, 1973, in a 3-0 defeat at home to Manchester United in a Benefit match, having clocked up an impressive 327 appearances as a Jag.

Donnie's club-list included Rutherglen Glencairn, Carloway and Partick Thistle.

Bio Extra

By the time of his testimonial (Partick Thistle v. Manchester United) in November 1973, Donnie was already serving as the club physio, having played his last competitive game several months earlier. He got a great turn out that night – the game had been agreed upon as part of the Alex Forsyth transfer deal, and around 10,000 were at Firhill to honour Donnie and to witness Tommy Docherty’s superstars at first hand. Writing in the testimonial match programme Davie McParland paid great tribute to Donnie, the man:

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In the present climate when players throughout the country are continually asking for transfers, Donnie McKinnon is every manager’s dream. At the end of each season, Donnie has put pen to paper without question or argument and his dedication to the game is the perfect example to all young players. While he gives the appearance of being the quiet man of Firhill, his sense of humour and practical jokes can be of great help to the young players when at times tension builds up in the dressing room.

Donnie arrived at Firhill at the tail end of 1959 and served the club as a player, trainer, physiotherapist (and even caretaker manager) for almost 30 years. As a physio, he was regarded as one of the very best in the Scottish game and was regularly a part of the national team, hand-picked for duty by both Ally McLeod and Jock Stein. Donnie represented Thistle on the pitch at two World Cups – in Argentina ’78 and Spain ’82. As a player, Donnie clocked up more than 320 appearances for the Jags over the course of his 14 registered seasons.

Strangely enough, his career stats as a one-club man were virtually identical in every way with his brother Ronnie who played at left half for Rangers and registered just over 300 appearances for them. Many was the time in the 60s the press had a Ronnie v Donnie angle to work with! No doubt the twins had a bit of rivalry between themselves, also. Ronnie could point out that he had been capped at full international level – but it was Donnie who went to two World Cups!

Mother, Annie, was from Carloway, on the Isle of Lewis. During the blitz the twins were dispatched there as it was safe and “you'd no chance of getting shot!” Subsequently, the pair of them loved their annual trips to the island and would regularly be found both fishing and playing football around the village, where Donnie could speak with the locals in Gaelic. Their talent soon caught the eye of Angus Massie Macaskill, the Carloway manager, leading to both Ronnie and Donnie playing for Carloway at various points in the late 1950s. Ronnie would later comment “It was great. I can remember there being a big crowd and the atmosphere was brilliant. Football has always meant a lot to the people in Carloway and you could feel the connection at the games. It was exciting for me as a young man.

When he wasn't moonlighting in the Outer Hebrides, Donnie was learning his craft in the juniors at Glencairn where he came to the attention of the Firhill scouts in late 1959, being drafted in to the reserves side initially. The long-serving Donnie would come to be known as a one-goal wonder for Thistle. In 1968, almost 9 years had passed since he had signed, and he had yet to register a goal. When it came, the background story tells that it was somewhat against the grain for the time. After Thistle had shipped 20 goals in the first 7 games of the season 1968-69, Willie Thornton made Donnie the scapegoat and dropped him – something which was completely unthinkable in the recent seasons. However, this “punishment” lasted only the two games as Willie Thornton was head hunted by the board at Ibrox, to be the new assistant manager to Davie White. On 25th September 1968 the Firhill door closed on Willie Thornton, and Scot Symon immediately walked in. Clearly, this “arrangement” had been brewing for some time.

Within just a few days, the new boss was keen to make his mark, ahead of a home League meeting with Hibs. Speaking in the Friday night Times he said: “I was at Paisley last Saturday. We did not play all that well and having seen the team in action, I think it is probable that I will be making some changes in the line-up.” True to his word, for his first game in charge, Mr. Symon changed things around, bringing Billy Cunningham back into the front line, and re-instating Donnie McKinnon at centre half. The bookies had Hibs down as the clear favourites for this one – they had finished third the season past and Thistle were completely out of form. However, as we all know, odds have rarely been respected by the great unpredictables. Thistle started determinedly but it was Hibs who took the lead against the run of play in 23 minutes. John Flanagan attempted a pass-back to Billy Ritchie in goals, but instead the ball went to Colin Stein who gobbled up the chance, netting from 10 yards out.

In 28 minutes Thistle deservedly equalised with a clever goal. Into a crowded box, George O’Neill fired in a shot from 18 yards, Arthur Duncan “dummied” beautifully and the unsighted Willie Wilson was well beaten. Some good pressure from Thistle resulted in DONNIE McKINNON’s match-winner on 55 minutes. The big man’s goal was of the good old-fashioned variety. Simple as you like, John Flanagan’s corner and Donnie McKinnon's perfectly timed leap (his trademark) resulted in the ball being powerfully headed into the back of the net at the North end of Firhill.

That his only goal would prove to be the match-winner must have been all the sweeter for the big feller. Big Donnie will never be remembered for his goal scoring prowess but he was a strong and reliable centre half, commanding in the air, and comfortable enough on the ball to make long forays, Alan Hansen style. Or should I say, Alan Hansen would later make long forays, Donnie McKinnon style? To this day, Donnie stands uniquely as the only man ever to have played for Thistle in two European campaigns – from Belfast ’63 to Budapest ‘72. In late 1980, he would even stand in as caretaker manager between Bertie Auld and Peter Cormack! Donnie gave his all to Thistle and he is living proof of one fact – even one goal wonders can be true Partick Thistle legends!

(WS)



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