From nights at Caesar’s Palace to run-ins at the Den, Charlie MacDonald reminisces about his first, best and worst experiences
Prolific frontman Charlie MacDonald spent time with a number of clubs before becoming a Bees player in 2008. He settled in at Griffin Park without a hitch, netting 18 goals in his first season as Brentford clinched the League Two title.
He would go on to notch 40 league goals in just 111 appearances during a three-season stay.
Still involved in football, the 36-year-old currently plies his trade in the Isthmian Division One with Greenwich Borough.
Time you realised you could make a career out of football
After I signed my first professional contract. There were a few of us at Charlton Athletic who were highly rated and signed terms a year early, including myself, Scott Parker and Paul Konchesky. Making your debut and being around the First Team squad is difficult when you’re a young lad. You begin to think that you’ve cracked it early; it’s difficult not to get carried away. I think that’s what happened to me. I took my foot off the pedal and had a fall from grace when I was released at 21.
Game for Brentford
I made my debut against Grimsby Town at home. I’d missed the first couple of games with a groin strain, but was thrown back into the team and it went really well. We ended up winning 4-1 and I managed to score a couple of goals. It was a great start to life at Brentford. It helped me to settle in immediately and I ended up enjoying three great years there. In truth, those three years were probably the best of my career.
Pre-season tour with Brentford
There wasn’t a tour during my first year at Brentford, though our pre-seasons were always pretty old-school with a lot of 500m and 1,000m runs. It was only the following season that we started to go away. The first trip was to Vegas during the off season. We’d secured the League Two title a few weeks before so the Chairman rewarded us with six nights at Caesar’s Palace! We had a great time!
Game you played in for Brentford
It would have to be one of our big cup wins. I played when we beat Everton on penalties at Griffin Park and had a bit of a roller-coaster game! I missed a penalty in normal-time, but then I stepped up in the shoot-out and managed to score.
It was great to win against an established Premier League side fielding the likes of Mikel Arteta, Steven Pienaar, Marouane Fellaini and Phil Jagielka. It was a big test for the boys but we matched them. We ended up having a good run in the League Cup that year, beating Hull City and reaching the Quarter-Final, before losing to eventual winners Birmingham City.
I always have to be the last to walk out of the dressing room - it’s something I still do now! It can make things a little awkward sometimes. For instance, when I was made captain at Barnet I still left the changing room last, but then I had to walk my way down the line to lead the team on to the pitch! I’ve had a couple of team-mates over the years who have had the same thing, so it becomes a case of who’s the dominant figure! I never went out before anyone else, unless they were 6’6” and built like a tank!
Prank you saw played on a Brentford team-mate
I can’t quite remember, but I think it was David Hunt on Michael Spillane. There had been a bit of upset and David’s retaliation was to buy a fresh fish and tuck it underneath the spare tyre of Michael’s car. The car stank for days, but Michael couldn’t tell where the smell was coming from! Even when they got rid of the fish it still took a few cleans before the car was back to normal.
Moment as a Brentford player
Leaving. I didn’t want to leave the Club as I felt at home after three good years. Sure, I’d had a few injuries, but I’d scored nearly 50 goals in 100 games. Understandably, when Uwe Rösler took over he brought in a few different players, but I never felt as though I got a fair crack of the whip. I’d top scored in pre-season with minimal minutes on the pitch, but I didn’t start when the season began. I knocked on his door and asked what was wrong, and he told me that he wanted size up front to help with defensive set pieces. At 30, I was in my prime and needed to be playing. I wasn’t happy sitting on the bench, and that was the reason why I had to go.
Sledging aimed at you
One of my worst experiences with sledging was against Millwall at the Den. I got caught with an elbow in the face and the physio came on to clean the wound. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a fan running towards where we were. He was so angry, and he was screaming “let him die!” The physio was telling me not to look, but I was laughing because Millwall are my local club so I probably know the fella and see him at Tesco every week!
Tackle you’ve been on the end of
I’ve been on the end of a few, but the worst one was when I dislocated my shoulder. It was towards the end of a game against Gillingham and I’d run the ball into the corner. It wasn’t malicious at all, just a lazy swipe that took my legs away. I fell on my elbow, pushing the shoulder out of the back of the socket. It ended up keeping me out for five months.
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