The Inspirational Dave MacKay

David Craig Mackay was born at Musselburgh, Midlothian on November 13, 1934. A Scottish Schools Cup winner with Edinburgh he played for Scotland Schoolboys whilst attending Saughton school and won Junior honours before joining the full-time game. Already under Heart of Midlothian’s wing, he worked as an apprentice joiner and played for local clubs Slateford Athletic and Newtongrange Star prior to signing professional forms for Hearts on April 1, 1952.

A Scottish League Cup winner during 1955 and Scottish Cup winner the following year, he won the League title in 1958 and another League Cup in 1959. His seven years at Tynecastle yielded 27 goals in 135 League appearances plus two goals in 44 cup matches. He was voted Scottish Footballer of the Year for 1958.

The record books show he scored 42 goals in 268 Football League appearances for Spurs, five in 17 European games and four in 33 FA Cup matches. He made his debut against Manchester City on March 21, 1959 and his final appearance versus Wolves on May 11, 1968.  The major influence in Tottenham’s successful early 1960’s side, he first captained the team against Leicester City on April 30, 1962. Bravery and determination were needed in abundance when he broke a leg at Old Trafford during December 1963.  Nine months later, on his return against Shrewsbury Town reserves, he broke the same leg at White Hart Lane. When he was receiving treatment on the field he said, “Don’t tell Bill Nicholson, he has enough to worry about” - bravery personified.   On returning to action in August 1965 he was made captain and held the role until he left.

He won 10 major honours as a player in British and European football.

The Edinburgh-born player also won 22 caps for his country and was named 'Footballer of the Year' in both Scotland and England.

Paying tribute following his death, Spurs said: "He was one of our greatest ever players and a man who never failed to inspire those around him."


Dave Mackay playing against Liverpool prior to his move to Derby County

Spurs described him as "the heartbeat" of their double-winning side and said he played a "vital role" in their 1963 European Cup Winners' Cup success despite missing the final through injury.

The list of his achievements reads like something from a fictional book: Captain of Hearts when they won the Scottish League in 1958, then joins Tottenham Hotspur in a £32,000 transfer in 1959.  He went on to win the league and FA Cup double with Tottenham in 1961, winning two more FA Cups in 1962 and 1967.  He was sold to Second Division Derby County for £5,000 in 1968 where he immediately helped Brian Clough’s side gain promotion to the First Division.  In 1969, he was named joint winner of the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the year award.  In 1973 after managing Swindon Town and Nottingham Forest he succeeded Brian Clough as manager of Derby County and took them to the first division title in 1975 before becoming an inaugural inductee of the English Hall of Fame in 2002.

The photograph shows a routine that Dave MacKay practised at Tottenham.  His control of the ball was uncanny and nobody else in the Spurs side could match him in this routine.  The idea, devised by Eddie Baily, was to stand behind the line marked number 1 and hit the ball between the lines marked 2 and 3.  He would then volley the ball back between lines 2 and 3 and his record was 36 times.  He wasn’t allowed to step over line number 1.  If this seems simple, why not try it?

Steve Perryman told me it was an unbelievable piece of skill and many years later Glen Hoddle could only reach the total of 11 volleys before he lost control.

The Scot was once described by Manchester United's George Best as the "hardest man I have ever played against".

Mackay's first professional club Hearts,  with whom he won a Scottish league title, a Scottish Cup and two Scottish League Cups said he was "A fearless defender regarded as the club's greatest-ever player."

Mackay's former club Tottenham,  who described Mackay as "the heartbeat" of the 1961 league and FA Cup double team added that "He was a superb player who possessed all the technique, passing ability and talent to be the complete footballer."

Derby County president & chief executive Sam Rush:  "Dave Mackay is a legend at Derby County and his name will forever be etched into the history of the club for the fantastic contribution that he made, both as a player and a manager.”

Former Tottenham and England striker Gary Lineker on Twitter:  "He was a wonderful footballer, and a winner, both north and south of the border."

On hearing of Dave’s death former Tottenham midfielder Micky Hazard said on Twitter:  "Very sad news at the passing of one of our biggest and greatest legends Dave Mackay, a fantastic footballer and man."

Former Tottenham manager David Pleat, speaking to BBC Radio 5 live: "He was a great man, inspirational. He was as tough as teak, led by example and was a wonderful leader of men.  He represented everything that was wonderful about football in those days. He was a very polite, decent, humble and down-to-earth guy."

Mackay won the FA Cup three times as a player for Tottenham

Mackay was named as joint winner of the Footballer of the Year award in 1969

Mackay led Derby County to the league title in 1975

Saturday August 20th, 1966, when one of the most famous and iconic of football images was taken at White Hart Lane!   The tale behind the picture has been told many times, and it is quite sad for Spurs fans to know that according to Dave's book “The Real Mackay”, the Spurs legend does not like the image, which he says portrays him as a bully and like "Desperate Dan on steroids". Nevertheless, Dave is happy to re-enact the occasion for the benefit of any masochistic Spurs fan making the request whenever Dave attends a Spurs fans' function.  This match took place of course on the first day after the glorious summer of 1966, when England became World Champions! The crowds flocked to see the English game at its top level.  Spurs faced Don Revie's Leeds after Spurs had had a moderate 1965-66 season, whereas Leeds had finished runners-up to Liverpool.  Shankly's side had been the victors over Leeds in the 1965 Cup Final, and a rivalry had been born!

Dave Mackay had in the previous season made his first team come-back after what was considered a quite miraculous recovery from having his leg broken on two occasions.  When asked "When did you break your leg?" Dave will forcefully tell you that he didn't break his leg - others did!  The first player to do it was Noel Cantwell, when playing in a Man Utd v Spurs game. (European Cup Winner's Cup at Old Trafford on December 10, 1963. The incident happened in the United box after only eight minutes). The other remains an anonymous reserve player in one of Dave's first games back from injury (12 September 1964 at home to Shrewsbury Town. It was the fourth match of his comeback in the Football Combination. Dave maintains he was deliberately targeted in this game).

Thus, Dave was mightily sensitive and upset by a typical Bremner challenge within the first few minutes of this season-opener.  Apparently, Bremner had not gone for the leg nearest him, but in Dave's opinion, his fellow Scot had purposely gone for Mackay's left leg, which had been broken twice.

The picture shows Terry Venables looking on, and the referee - Norman Burtenshaw - racing onto the scene to prevent Mackay's gesture from escalation. These were the days before cards, but of course, players did get booked and sent off for extremely violent incidents.  Burtenshaw gave the players a "Talking to". (He was probably under threat from the invincible Mackay, who would have reminded him of the 43,844 fans present - most of whom had come to watch Mackay play a game of football!)  Incidentally, Spurs won the match 3-1 with goals from Mullery, Greaves and Gilzean. Mike England made his debut, having signed from Blackburn on the previous day.

The Spurs team was Jennings; Beal, Knowles; Mullery, England, Mackay; Robertson, Greaves, Gilzean, Venables, Jones.

The foreword to Dave's book was written by Sir Alex Ferguson, who stated that the Mackay - Bremner picture hangs in his office.

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