Malcolm Darling began his professional career with Blackburn Rovers in 1964, having been spotted with the Scottish junior side, Luncarty Juniors. He made 114 appearances for Rovers as a winger, initially, but he made the transition to a more versatile forward as wingers fell out of fashion in the late 1960s, and came to score 30 league goals for the Ewood Park side.
A single season in division one with Rovers and a short spell at a Norwich City side bound for promotion to division one represents Malcolm’s career highlights. Three seasons at a Rochdale team struggling against relegation to division four ended when that battle was lost, in 1974, and after one season with Bolton, Malcolm came to Chesterfield for a £10,000 fee.
Darling formed an effective partnership with Terry Shanahan, who has Malcolm to thank for a good number of his goals: not only for the service provided while the pair were spearheading Chesterfield's attack, but also for the number of penalties that Darling 'won' through his ability to turn the slightest invasion of his personal space into a spot kick. While it is improper, of course, to condone such an approach, it was, by all accounts, hilarious to watch, and puts into a new light the idea that all this modern falling down to “win” a penalty is the fault of foreigners in our game.
That Malcolm is remembered principally for this is sad, for it should be as a fine, mobile and quick-witted Chesterfield forward that he remains in the memory. That, and the fact that he scored for both sides within the space of three minutes at Preston in January, 1975!
Chesterfield were having trouble scoring towards the end of Malcolm's time here and his personal game suffered when Joe Shaw moved him into midfield. Feeling somewhat out of favour he moved on loan to Stockport in March 1977 and started the following season at Sheffield Wednesday. By the end of 1977-8, though, Malcolm was playing for Morecambe, his fourth club of the season. After a summer in the NASL with the California Sunshine, Malcolm finished his playing days with Darwen, in the Lancashire Combination.
For Chesterfield: 100+4 appearances, 33 goals.