M: Terry McDonald

Terry McDonald
Also known as Malcolm McGrail

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December, 1969 is more than fifty years ago but we still remember the buzz of excitement as the introductory music began to play. Okay, a musical introduction was something of a rarity in those days and we were easily excited. Mind you, we weren't disappointed by the wrestling that followed.

Entering the ring, and instigator of the musical introduction was a kilted gladiator  we knew as Terry McDonald. Accompanying him was his tag partner of the night Cowboy Jack Cassidy. Across the ring was a snarling pair known as the Klondyke brothers. McDonald and Cassidy provided perfect opposition for the big men, doing all the darting around the ring to maintain the excitement on their way to the well predicted disqualification win. Terry McDonald never failed to satisfy.

As a wrestling enthusiast you will not be surprised for us to  report that the kilted Terry was not the Scot as billed, nor was he the alleged   Canadian as advertised when he worked under his birth name Malcolm McGrail. Yet another persona for the busy Mancunian was masked man Doctor Death.

Why settle for one career when you can have three?

His young son, Tony, was often taken by dad to the wrestling, sometimes even accompanying him into the ring, resplendant in his own kilt. These were exciting times for a schoolboy,  " I remember meeting lots of wrestlers who at the time were household names,  Jackie Pallo, Bobby Barnes, also Klondike Bill and Billy Two Rivers who my dad wrestled against on a regular basis."  

Tony recalled the time he was upset when dad took the guise of Dr Death and attracted the ire of the fans. He told us of one  over-enthusiastic elderly lady who  stabbed the hooded Terry with an umbrella. That night Dr Death drove home in a very strange position due to the discomfort!
Born in Salford on 15th April, 1920, Malcolm McGrail later settled in Manchester, the family home being in Swinton. He was an amateur wrestling coach before becoming interested in the professional side of the business and learned his trade at Manchester YMCA alongside Bill Connors and Pete Stewart who were to remain lifelong friends.

Terry turned professional in 1960 and was soon working around the north, midlands and Scotland  for the main independent promoters Don Robinson, Jack Taylor and Cape. In the early days he used his birth name, Malcolm McGrail, but within a few years had adopted the identity of Terry McDonald. Opponents were most often the biggest villains on the independent circuit, the likes of Lord Bertie Topham, The Ghoul, Klondyke Bill, and Alf Cadman. When Billy Two Rivers moved across to the independents Terry McDonald was a  frequent opponent.    

When not training at te YMCA Terry would train in his own ring at his Swinton home. He was often joined in training by Peter Stewart, Bill Connors,  Tommy Mann, Abe Ginsberg,  and Bobo Matu.

Terry mixed his wrestling career with television work and  appeared regularly on Coronation Street as an extra in the Rovers and also on Emmerdale, Last of the Summer Wine and Crown Court and had parts in notable dramas such as I Claudius and World at War.

For Terry McDonald it was a career destined to last the best part of twenty years with Terry finally hanging up his boots in 1978. Like most wrestlers any question of regrets was met with a resounding "No. I know my dad didn't have any regrets about being a wrestler and I remember as a child at school having a dad who was a professional wrestler and also on Coronation Street made me really popular!!!"

Terry McDonald died on 13th October, 1985, just 65 years old.