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View from...Dave Mackay

Posted on 15 December 2009  - 12:00

Dave Mackay, the heartbeat of the double side and one of the club's greats, made his debut against City just over 50 years ago...

View from...Dave Mackay

He's seen as the inspiration and driving force behind the double team and arguably Bill Nicholson's most important ever signing.

And it all started for Dave Mackay against Wednesday night's opponents Manchester City over 50 years ago.

Signed from Hearts, the Scottish international made his full debut against City in the old First Division on March 21, 1959.

Actually struggling at the time - the team would finish 18th in 1958-59 - Mackay made the first of 318 appearances in a 3-1 win at the Lane with Terry Medwin, Bobby Smith and Cliff Jones on target.

Mackay recalls his debut in his excellent autobiography, The Real Mackay.

"The 34,000 crowd gave me a rousing reception even though they would not have known me and had never seen me play," he said. "Thankfully, I did not let them down and played a good game in a decisive 3-1 victory.

"Debuts are so crucial. Because a player can be so tense, it's likely he will perform worse than normal.

"If he has a bad game, the crowd are unimpressed and can become hostile. The player becomes more pressurised and his game suffers. A vicious circle develops that is hard to break.

"I know of players that have never been able to settle at a club because of this cycle, yet they have gone elsewhere and excelled.

"I was lucky: in the opening seconds, I hit a shot that soared only just over the bar and had goalkeeper Bert Trautmann beaten. Later in the game, Terry Medwin scored from my pass.

"It was a good performance even though the pace of the game was significantly faster than that to which I was accustomed. I realised I would have to train much harder and more often.

"I was particularly pleased with how Danny Blanchflower and I struck up an immediate understanding.

"We both love to go forward and in that initial game (and thereafter) we did this, with the other slipping behind to cover lest any gaps opened up in the defence."

As they say, the rest is history.

Mackay was the heartbeat of that famous team that won the league and FA Cup double in 1961 and retained the FA Cup in 1962. He missed the Cup Winners Cup Final triumph in 1963 through injury but recovered from a second broken leg to captain the team to the FA Cup, his third at Spurs, in 1967.

Capped 22 times by Scotland, he moved to Derby in 1968 and won the the Second Division title in 1969 before managing Forest and then returning to Derby in 1973, guiding them to the First Division championship in 1975.

Friend and team-mate Cliff Jones said: "He won trophies at Hearts, came to Tottenham and helped us to win trophies. He even went to Derby County and helped them to win Division One. Wherever he went, the team performed."

Legendary striker Bobby Smith added: "When people talk about Mackay they always go on about how hard he was. And he was hard, but he was a very skilful player, he had great ball control, he could score goals, he was a good header...he had everything. You'd rather be playing with him than against him."