HEARTS fans today called for a stand at Tynecastle to be renamed in honour of Dave Mackay.
Supporters joined sports stars and politicians in paying tribute to the club legend who died aged 80 on Monday in hospital in Nottingham.
He was a great ambassador for Scottish football. If there were to be a move by fans for a statue, very likely at Tynecastle, I would welcome such an initiative.”Steve Cardownie
Many said renaming the Wheatfield Stand at the ground where Scotland player Mackay established himself would be a fitting honour.
The former Tottenham Hotspur, Derby County and Swindon Town player was rated by many as Hearts’ greatest ever footballer.
Such was his stature that senior council figures are also looking at naming a city street after him in the area where he is revered as a legend.
Deputy council leader and Hearts fan Steve Cardownie promised to pursue the idea with council planners.
He said: “I never saw him play, but I was privileged to meet him when Hearts won the Scottish Cup [in 1998].
“There was a group of us went to the pub afterwards and Dave bought a round and my son couldn’t believe Dave Mackay was buying him a drink. He was a really nice guy and a gentleman.
“I used to see him regularly at Tynecastle – he came up a lot from Nottingham – and he was always willing to talk, never aloof or anything like that. He was a great ambassador for Scottish football. If there were to be a move by fans for a statue, very likely at Tynecastle, I would welcome such an initiative.
“And we should also be looking at naming a street after him – as we did with Hibs legend Lawrie Reilly – somewhere in the vicinity of the stadium.
“I’m sure that would find favour with the planning committee because Dave Mackay, like Lawrie Reilly, was respected across the city.”
Former Hearts chairman Lord George Foulkes backed calls to name a street and stand after Mackay.
He said: “He’s one of the real greats of Hearts and just a normal recognition is not enough for someone like that.
“A street named after him would be good and the council should look at that.
“If the club wanted a statue or a bust, I’m sure lots of people would contribute to the cost, I certainly would, but perhaps the best thing would be to name a stand after him.
“Rather than the Gorgie Stand and the Wheatfield Stand, which are just named after the area, one could become the Dave Mackay Stand.
“Other clubs do that for their big heroes and Dave Mackay was right up there at the top of the pantheon.”
Former Lord Provost Eric Milligan, another Jambo, said he was just eight when Mackay had left Hearts.
“Given my age, I’m just a bit young to put my hand on my heart and say I remember Dave Mackay as a great Hearts player, but I was brought up in the Hearts family and I knew all about Dave Mackay and my dad made it his business to take me to see him play for Tottenham when we were in London.
“And I got to know Dave Mackay very well. Not only was he the greatest football player Britain has had in the post-war years, to me he was the winner, the top man – and that’s how I will always remember him.” Fans said it was too early to reach a decision about how best to commemorate the Hearts legend, but it is sure to be top of the agenda at tomorrow’s meeting of the Federation of Hearts Supporters Club.
Steve Kilgour, general secretary of the Federation, said renaming a stand would be “fitting” but stressed that would be for the club to decide.
He added: “His contribution to the club, and to football as a whole, has been enormous. He was a fantastic guy and I took pleasure in meeting him on a few occasions.
“He was an unassuming man and true gentleman on and off the pitch. He was a hard player but never dirty.”
Alex Mackie, chairman of the Foundation of Hearts, described Mackay as an old-style footballer who “played with true grit”.
The club confirmed it would be looking at a “number of ideas” to mark his outstanding contribution.
In a statement, Hearts chairwoman Ann Budge, said: “It was with much regret that I heard the news of Dave Mackay’s death and on behalf of everyone at the club, and I’m sure Hearts supporters everywhere, I would like to pass on my sincerest condolences to his family at this very difficult time.
“As captain of Hearts, he guided the club to some of its greatest glories and his passing has been keenly felt by all of us at Hearts and beyond.
“The term ‘legend’ is often used all too readily when describing former players. However, this is a wholly fitting tribute in Dave Mackay’s case – one of the ‘greats’ immortalised in the famous Hearts Song.
“His words adorn our first-team dressing-room wall, an inspiration for all Hearts players: ‘For as long as I can remember, all I wanted in my life, nothing else, was to play for Hearts, which is my dream team. And to play for Scotland. I had no ambition for anything else. Always Hearts.’
“A natural leader, many would argue he was our greatest-ever player. There can be no doubt football is a poorer place today.
“We will be marking Dave’s memory in a fitting way at our next home game when I know the supporters will want a unanimous show of respect and celebration of his wonderful Hearts career.”