Often Partisan

Where Are They Now? Part XVIII – Red Card Roy

Do you remember the hard men of football? The ones who would get into scraps week in, week out, who would shed blood – their own and other people’s – for the cause and who would then have pints with the fans afterwards? The person I’m talking about today did all that and more and currently holds the record for the most red cards in the pro game with 22. I’m of course referring to “Red Card” Roy McDonough.

Image Courtesy BPM Media

Roy McDonough

Roy McDonough – now there is a name from the past. Having been booted out of the Villa youth setup for throttling a ref, Roy played as a Blues apprentice between 1976 and 1978, making two league appearances and scoring once – in the final game of the 76/77 season against QPR.

Reading about Roy’s exploits reminds me a lot of a Geoff Horsfield style player. The kind of bloke who’d tackle hard for the ball, who’d use every trick on the book to win the ball for his team. He didn’t score many throughout his career – like Horsfield, he did the donkey work for other players to allow them to grab the glory. After a couple of years up at Walsall, McDonough had an ill-fated spell at Chelsea where he didn’t make a first team appearance. He then came back down the divisions to play for Colchester United – where hs is now a legend, having led them to the FA Trophy/Conference double as player manager in 1992, Southend United (where again he is remembered fondly), Exeter City and Cambridge United.

I could talk about his player stats but I don’t think they’d give a measure of the man. This was a bloke who told his team’s physio he’d cut back his drinking to seventy (70) pints per week. This is the bloke who was willing to wade into the fans for a ruck pre-Cantona, and wouldn’t pale at offering outside an unruly supporter in the player’s bar post-game. McDonough was the walking archetype of the eighties football player – a serial womaniser, a drinker and a proper hardman.

I reviewed his book for the Sunday Mercury, and I will say now that if there is one footballer’s autobiography you read this year, make it this one. In a day when football has become sanitised, where players are so far apart from the fans it’s as if they’re from a different world at times and where winning everything is king it’s refreshing to read about the rough and tumble of ife in the 80’s lower leagues. You can’t help but smile at some of what Roy got up to and I was left feeling I’d really got to know the bloke.

The book “Red Card Roy” by Roy McDonough and Bernie Friend, published by Vision Sports Publishing is out now and I hope to be interviewing the man himself in the next month or so.

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9 Responses to “Where Are They Now? Part XVIII – Red Card Roy”

  • Trevor Honnor says:

    When ever I see or hear stories from the 80’s like this – I can’t help but think about the TV show “Auf wiedersehen pet” – especially when accompanied with a picture like the one shown (no offence meant).

    I will keep an eye out for this book. Nothing like a bit of 80’s football nostalgia :o)

  • Spuddy says:

    Erm…. So what’s he doing now?
    Serious shameful plug…..

    • almajir says:

      He’s a property maintenance guy in Spain who’s just written a book.

      • Spuddy says:

        Cheers, you’d just think in an article called “where are they now” the article might tell you where they are now…. Not just tell you some bits about his career & then talk about his book.
        These are my favourite types of your articles, just felt this one was weak.

  • skareggae72 says:

    I’m guessing he doesn’t have a head of hair like that anymore.

  • Hugo says:

    He was rubbish though wasnt he ? I mean woud he have ever been able to trap a bag of cement in his hey day (if he had a hey day) Perhaps he could have headed one with that mullett!!

    Got no time for these journeymen 70s and 80s “hard men” they kept football in this country in the dark ages, dont forget England never even qualified for a world cup during the 70s. Good talented skillful players were hounded out by these type of players.

    Give me Tony currie rod marsh peter osgood any day of the week

    • Oldbluenose says:

      I have to fully agree with your sentiments about Top-class players being ” crocked ” by so called ” hard-men “.

  • Iggy says:

    Great article. Always thought Roy was a legend – largely ‘cos I went to school with his sister.

    Fave Roy story was when at Walsall, he bundled Liverpool’s Tommy Smith into a pile of snow and Smith (not realising who did it) took out two innocent Walsall players before he calmed down.

  • macca salop blue says:

    He’s out somewhere out on the Costa Blanca around Torrevieja area. I was there on holiday a couple of weeks ago picked up a local free English paper where reference was made to his forthcoming autobiography and “our Red Roy”, like they own him out there.


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