A former player and coach at Manchester City and Oldham Athletic has had a treasured Rolex watch stolen in a mugging on holiday.
Willie Donachie, 70, had the ‘priceless’ watch ripped from his wrist after being attacked by two men in Ibiza on Saturday. His family of him has now launched a desperate appeal in a bid to try and get it back.
Scotland-born full-back Willie made over 350 appearances for City between 1968 and 1980 after coming through their youth system. He later went on to make over 150 appearances for Oldham after joining them in 1984, eventually becoming assistant manager alongside Joe Royle during the club’s heyday in the early 1990s.
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After he and Joe guided Latics to what would soon become the Premier League, in 1991, the club gifted both of them Rolex watches at the end-of-season awards.
Willie’s – which had an inscription on the back saying, “To Willie for a memorable season 1990 91 OAFC” – soon became one of his most prized possessions and he had worn it every day since then until it was cruelly stolen on Saturday.
Willie, who is now manager of Caribbean island Montserrat and also a youth coach at Accrington Stanley, is in Ibiza for a holiday with his wife and was walking along a footpath next to the Sa Flama restaurant near the popular resort of San Antonio on Saturday afternoon when two men ran and bundled him to the ground.
After they ran away Willie realized the watch was missing and he gave chase, catching one of the men up but he did not have the watch and the second man got away.
Willie’s son Dan Donachie, 49, has now launched a social media appeal to try and see if it can be traced.
speaking to the Manchester Evening News Dan said: “He’s okay. It was obviously a bit of a shock. He’s 70 so to have two blokes wrestle you to the ground in the street has to be scary. It certainly upset me when I found out.
“He’s very philosophical and accepting of things and he’s not making a fuss. In fact, if I hadn’t put out this appeal he probably wouldn’t have told anyone about it. But I know he’s gutted about the watch.” “He’s not bothered about material things at all” Dan added.
“But that watch means a lot to him. It was his last remaining sentimental item. They worked really hard to get them promoted and it was a lovely suprirse when rhey gave it to him. He’s worn it every day since.
“I know it’s a long shot but if we can get it back I know it would mean the world to him. Whatever it is worth to these people it is not worth what it means to him. It’s priceless to him.”
After leaving Oldham, Willie had a spell as Joe Royle’s assistant at Everton before the pair took over at City in 1998 overseeing back-to-back promotions and leading City back into the Premier League in 2000.
Former City and England star Trevor Sinclair and Rodney Marsh, a former teammate of Willie’s were among those to share Dan’s appeal on Twitter.
Dan said him and his dad had been overwhelmed at the number of messages of support following the incident.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.