|view MacLaren's match-by-match record|
Lou Macari brought MacLaren to the County Ground, signing him from Derby County in August 1988, and he made his debut on the first day of the 1988/1989 season, in a 1-1 draw at Barnsley on 29th August.
Originally a defensive midfield player, MacLaren was known for accurate long passes and his explosive shooting from outside the area - the Town scored many goals from rebounds after the keeper was unable to hold one of MacLaren's shots. He was also handed the responsibility of being the club's penalty taker.
Under Ossie Ardiles the following season, MacLaren was ever-present as the defensive player in Ossie's diamond-shaped midfield. The season ended with a Wembley appearance, as they Town were promoted to Division One after the 1-0 win over Sunderland, only to be demoted by the League ten days later.
MacLaren missed just one game in 1990/1991 - Glenn Hoddle's first game in charge - and the next season seemed to be going the same way, MacLaren playing in the first 32 league matches until a hernia problem brought an end to his season. The injury kept him out of the side for almost a year, returning to action at the end of January 1992. Though MacLaren seemed to have piled on the pounds, seven wins out of the next ten games helped the Town secure a play-off place. This resulted in MacLaren's second successful visit to Wembley with the Town, as they beat Leicester 4-3 in a thrilling final.
For the Premier season, MacLaren dropped back into a sweeper position to fill the void left by Hoddle's departure. After five years loyal service, he was also handed the captaincy by new manager John Gorman. Though he was never a quick player, the extra weight that MacLaren was carrying seemed to slow him even more, and it wasn't long before his pace was cruelly exposed - the Town conceding fourteen goals in the first four games when MacLaren occupied his new position. He made just twelve appearances that season, the Town winning none of the matches he played in.
A recurrence of his hernia problem kept him out of the side again for a period, and the 1994/1995 season proved to be his last, a comeback lasting just three games - his last game for the Town coming on 26th November 1994, in a 2-1 defeat at Luton. MacLaren then called it a day, moving behind the scenes to become the club's Reserve Team Coach. He was sacked in one of Steve McMahon's backroom shuffles in 1998.
date of birth
defensive central midfield