What a first season goalkeeper Malcolm Webster enjoyed at the Abbey Stadium. Having nailed down a first-team place in the summer of 1976, he was ever-present as the U’s charged to the Fourth Division championship. That they secured the title with a goalless draw at Stockport was due to his incredible last-minute save from a point-blank shot.
In 46 League games Malcolm had kept an extraordinary 22 clean sheets; no wonder supporters declared him player of the year.
He had begun his football life at Arsenal and moved on to Fulham and Southend, before finding himself out of favour and working in a furniture store. Recommended to United boss Ron Atkinson by old Gunners teammate Brendon Batson, he impressed in a pre-season trial … and carried on impressing.
He was to stay with United for eight seasons, clocking up 299 first-team appearances and establishing a club record for consecutive clean sheets at home. No keeper has made more Football League appearances for United.
By today’s standards he wasn’t tall, but cat-like agility and scalpel-sharp reflexes more than compensated. And he had another priceless quality: an ability to defuse a tense situation, on the pitch or in the dressing room, with a well-timed wisecrack.
When Malcolm’s playing days ended he served the U’s as a popular youth team coach and assistant manager. It was fitting, after he finally bade farewell in 1988, that he should continue to grace the game as a goalkeeping coach of high repute.