Obituary: Dave Mackay, former Hearts player, 80

Dave Mackay
Dave Mackay
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Dave Mackay, the former Hearts and Scotland footballer renowned as one of the finest players to wear the maroon strip, has died, aged 80.

Mackay was born on November, 14, 1934, less than a mile from Tynecastle Park, the second son of a family of four brothers. Among his earliest memories was sneaking into an empty Tynecastle and standing on the terraces.

His father, Tom, was a linotype operator for The Scotsman until he was called up for wartime service. The Mackay brothers organised a paper round to boost the family income and invented football games on their rounds, something Mackay credited with developing his close control.

After schooling at Balgreen Primary and Carrickvale Secondary, Hibs came calling but Hearts manager Tommy Walker signed the youngster for a £20 signing-on fee and £10 per week while allowing him to continue his apprenticeship with Laurence McIntosh Ltd.

Mackay made first-team debut against Clyde. He did not play well in a 2-1 defeat and was dropped.

He worked hard on his fitness and came back into the first XI against Hamilton Accies. Hearts won 6-3, Mackay was outstanding and he was never dropped again. He won his first medal when Hearts won the League Cup in October 1954.

Off the field, he finished his joinery apprenticeship and was called up for national service in 1955. He served his two years with the Royal Engineers, and was allowed home at weekends to play for Hearts. On one of those weekends, Mackay was at his inspirational best when Hearts beat Celtic 3-1 to win the Scottish Cup final of 1956.

He made his full debut for Scotland in a 4-1 defeat by Spain in May 1957 and went on to play in the World Cup in Sweden in 1958, the first of 22 international caps.

Hearts sold Mackay to Tottenham Hotspur for £32,000 in 1959, and Spurs won the league and FA Cup double in 1960-61. They retained the FA Cup with a side built around Mackay and Danny Blanchflower, with Jimmy Greaves up front. Mackay suffered a career-threatening injury – a broken left leg – against Manchester United. Shortly after returning to play he fractured the same leg again, and in total was out for 18 months at the peak of his career.

Yet he returned and Mackay’s Spurs won the FA Cup again in 1967. In 1968, he joined Derby County, and thriving under the mercurial managership of Brian Clough, they won the Second Division.

His days as a manager were less successful, but after periods in charge of Swindon Town and Nottingham Forest he succeeded Clough as manager of Derby and led them to the league title in 1975.

Mackay published two volumes of memoirs, Soccer My Spur in 1961 and The Real Mackay, written with Martin Knight in 2004.

Mackay is survived by wife Isobel with whom he had four children, David, Derek, Valerie and Julie.