By Matt Badcock
THE last six months have been a Tour de Force for Angus MacDonald – the Barnsley defender went from a relegation battle in Non-League to a promotion push in the Championship.
The 24-year-old was battling it out at the bottom of the National League last season with Torquay United before the Tykes swooped in August.
He’s established himself in the back four of Paul Heckingbottom’s side with Tuesday night’s win at Aston Villa keeping them in touch with the play-off places.
But while scaling mountains on the pitch, MacDonald is also setting the bar high off it when he gets on his bike in the summer.
Along with close friend Tom Anderson, the former England C international will ride from Paris to London in June to raise money for Epilepsy Research UK to help sister Sophie, who suffers from the condition.
“Sophie has been epileptic for six or seven years now, but she’s been seizure- free for nine months which is really good,” MacDonald told The FLP.
“People don’t really know much about epilepsy unless they’ve seen someone suffer with it. It’s really difficult to see someone you love having a seizure.
“We’re aiming to raise £25,000. We’ve got a couple of sponsors already. Race Scene in Barnsley and Players Cars are helping out, but we’re looking for other sponsors too.
“At the moment we’re on about £1,800 and the page hasn’t even been up for a month yet. We’re looking to do some bucket collections and others bits to really raise the total and get in as much as possible. The money will help with research but we also want to raise awareness of epilepsy.
“We’re doing it all off our own backs. Hopefully we’ll do it in two or three days – we need to plan what ferry we’re getting back, we don’t want to miss that! And Sophie will meet us in London, which will be nice.”
Last year MacDonald cycled from London to Brighton to raise money for the charity and his busy summer in the saddle won’t stop when he’s completed this challenge.
Just a few days later he’ll be joining the famous Football to Amsterdam bike ride with Prostate Cancer UK.
MacDonald is one of many Non-League success stories at Oakwell. In Tuesday’s starting line-up, three of the back four – MacDonald, Marc Roberts and Andy Yiadom – made their names outside the Football League. The three even played together for England C in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
MacDonald was released by Reading before dropping down to Salisbury City and Torquay – and he thinks it’s been the making of him.
“It’s playing regular football and coming up against tough strikers who don’t mind playing dirty – they give you a right run for your money,” he said. “It’s definitely helped in making the step-up now.
“I always wanted to get back to the highest level I could and I always felt if I was given the chance I would take the opportunity. I’m thankful Barnsley have given me that chance.”