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Mackay at 80 - Dave on the double

Posted on 14 November 2014  - 09:45

Dave Mackay - one of the club's all-time greats - celebrates his 80th birthday today (Friday, November 14).

Dave with Danny Blanchflower celebrating the doubleDave stands behind Bill Nicholson on the double paradeDave, back row, with his double-winning team-mates and the trophies

The midfielder joined us from Hearts in March, 1959 and proved an inspiration to our greatest-ever team, the double-winning side of 1960-61 who also retained the FA Cup in 1962 and made history by becoming the first British club to win a European trophy in 1963.

Dave played 318 times for us between 1959-1968 and recovered from breaking his leg twice to lift the FA Cup at Wembley in 1967.

But the 'double' was that team's greatest achievement and here, in his own words via his autobiograpy 'The Real Mackay', Dave recalls the moments after the final whistle of the FA Cup Final against Leicester City in 1961 and the celebrations that followed.


"Like when we won the league, the immediate celebrations have become a bit of a blur in my memory.

"I recall climbing the legendary 39 steps to collect my medal and Danny holding the cup aloft. I remember running around the pitch to salute the fans and posing for photographs I have seen many times since. But I cannot remember what we said to one another.

"I do remember back in the changing rooms with the champagne flowing and Bill Nicholson among us and said something along the lines of it being a great achievement but he was disappointed we didn't play the lovely football he knew we could. That took the wind out of my sails.

"Here was a man whose rise in football was nothing short of meteoric. A man who, in just 30 months, had fashioned a struggling First Division side into a team to take the first double since Queen Victoria died and he was expressing disappointment. He had created the so-called 'Team of the Century' yet he was nagged by the fact that, on the day we finally scaled the mountain, we did not play at the pinnacle of our abilities and thrill the watching millions.

"That's a perfectionist for you.

"We had a dinner dance that evening at The Savoy in London and we drank champagne and danced the night away with our wives and girlfriends.

"Les Allen was not enjoying himself as fully as should have been because he felt bad about the injury he had caused Les Chalmers. Apparently, he had tried to offer apologies and condolencies in the Leicester dressing room after the game and had received short shrift.

"It probably wasn't the right time. After the meal, a number of telegrams were read out and one was from Len Chalmers, saying 'forget about it - congratulations'. Les visibly relaxed after that fine example of sportsmanship warmed all of us.

"After the meal, I sat down next to John White. He had had a good game and a great season. His whole life had changed dramatically. Far more than mine.

"'Glad you came down to London, John?'

"'Oh yes Dave'."

"His eyes were dancing. I had never seen a happier man.

"We were different after the double. It gave us new identity. I was no longer Dave Mackay - tranfer from Hearts. I was Dave Mackay, part of the double-winning side. We all were. The fuss was enormous.

"Spurs were the centre of the footballing universe and we were hailed 'Team of the Century'."