After 19 years in the game, Peter MacDonald is hanging up his boots.
Having played for St Johnstone for 10 years, had two spells at Morton before turning out for Clyde, Stirling and most-recently East Stirlingshire, MacDonald says the best day of his career came in the dark blue of Dundee at Dens Park.
Turning 40 this year, the former Rangers youth player and recently academy coach has moved into football consultancy with Base Soccer Agency.
It’s a move he is delighted to have made, even if he misses the game.
In an exclusive chat with Tele Sport, MacDonald said: “I am retiring this year, I’m almost 40 and, with the inconsistency of football it’s time to retire.
“I had been on effectively zero-hour contracts with the coaching so I wouldn’t have been getting paid through the lockdown.
“I had made the decision before all this, though, and I am loving things so far.
“I do miss the game massively, being out on the pitch and in the dressing-room environment.
“I had been working three jobs and was all over the place so it’s time to call it a day.”
Looking back over a career where he scored 136 goals in 438 appearances, winning three league titles and a Challenge Cup, he looks back most fondly on the day he scored the goal that saw Dundee win the Championship in 2014.
However, he admits not everyone was too impressed John Brown had signed a 33-year-old striker from Morton to fire the Dark Blues back to the top flight following relegation in 2012/13.
“I got a good offer to go to Dundee,” said MacDonald, who had scored 14 league goals for Ton the previous campaign.
“I had taken a step down to come back up after leaving St Johnstone and had done well at Morton and Bomber had shown me the plans he had.
“We had met in April the season before and he showed me what he was going to build and who he was going to sign for next season. It was a league-winning squad, no doubt, so it was a no-brainer to go to Dundee.
“I had an unbelievable time and I do wish I had gone there earlier in my career. I was 33 years old when I signed and people did question that – why were Dundee signing someone about to turn 34 in November?
“That gave me the bit between my teeth to go and prove people wrong. I needed to show people I could still do it.
“I got off to a great start and it was good to prove the doubters wrong.”
MacDonald grabbed 13 goals before Christmas as the Dark Blues battled to catch up with Hamilton and Falkirk at the top of the table.
A defeat to the Bairns and then a last-gasp goal giving Alloa a point at Dens Park, however, saw Brown leave the manager’s job, with Paul Hartley coming in as his replacement.
A team-mate of Hartley’s at St Johnstone, MacDonald said: “Always remember it was John Brown who assembled that squad, it’s not easy to build a Championship-winning squad.
“When he left, I was gutted. It was difficult for a few of the boys to get their heads around, I think.
“Under Paul, we ran the first week and a lot of the boys weren’t happy! Fairly quickly (fitness coach) Tam Ritchie said, ‘We were told you were unfit but you’re definitely not, there just isn’t pace in the team’.
“We had Martin Boyle who had scorching pace and Jim McAlister could get about the pitch, too, but we had more good players with good heads and that stood us in good stead.
“The formation changed, too, and I don’t think it suited me. We’d gone from 4-4-2 to just me up on my own and I think Paul quickly realised it was beneficial for me to have someone alongside.”
After thumping a Cowdenbeath team with Greg Stewart and Kane Hemmings in it thanks to goals from Craig Wighton, Boyle and McAlister and looking good for the title, MacDonald’s former side Morton came back to haunt him with a 1-0 win at Cappielow.
“I thought we had blown it,” MacDonald added.
“Morton should have been a comfortable game for us but it never worked out like that.
“On the Friday I tweaked my back in training. I was covered in deep heat and before the game I was straight into the physio to work on my back, I was getting spasms. I took some painkillers and was fit to play.
“And I missed a couple of chances that day, too, not because of my back but ones I should have scored. It was one of those days.”
From that despair came delight on the final day with a win over Dumbarton required to seal the Championship title and, with it, promotion back to the top table.
A day MacDonald will always remember as he headed home the goal that ultimately won the league for Dundee on May 3, 2014.
He said: “It was the kind of day you live for as a footballer. Truthfully, it was one of the best days of my life, apart from my kids being born of course.
“I won the league at St Johnstone but I had been out of the team and didn’t play on the day they won it or the last day of the season so it wasn’t the same.
“That season I played every game except one for Dundee and scored a lot of important goals so it was different. It was incredible.
“My wee boy is six now but I had him out on the pitch at that time and still have photos I show him!”
A draw would have given Hamilton the chance to snatch top spot, though they needed an unlikely eight-goal victory do so. Incredibly they did just that, beating Ton 10-2.
Despite a late Sons surge at Dens, Dundee held on to register a 2-1 victory, ensuring the Accies win counted for nought.
He added: “Hamilton needed us to draw and have an eight-goal difference so we just said, ‘We need to win’.
“We were 2-0 up and comfortable at half-time and heard Hamilton were 5-1 up. We never thought they’d score another four or five.
“On the pitch we didn’t know what was happening there but you could feel the edge in the stands.
“I came off near the end for Craig Beattie to run the clock down, the big man took it into the corners and when the final whistle went, it was incredible. Within two seconds, the fans were on the pitch to celebrate.
“We had a party afterwards, the club held it at the Hilton and then we were all staying up for the Player of the Year dinner the day after so we were drinking all day.
“Then the club sent us to Ibiza for a week – that was a great time, another good week in my life!”