London Hearts Supporters Club

Report Index--> 1995-96--> All for 19960427
<-Page <-Team Sat 27 Apr 1996 Hearts 1 Kilmarnock 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Herald ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Jim Jefferies <-auth Ian Paul auth-> Jim McCluskey
1 of 002 Alan McManus 58 L Premier H

Tynecastle stalwart is still haunted by double heartbreak Gary hopes it's time for fate to play the game

Ian Paul

27 Apr 1996

HIS father is a Hibs fan, his in-laws lean towards Celtic, but after 16 years and 600 games it would be difficult to question Gary Mackay's commitment to Hearts.

Since the days when his grandfather, who followed the Tynecastle side, took the young Mackay to see the Maroons, he has spent most of his life either supporting them or playing for them.

Plaudits, gratitude, and satisfaction have been plentiful along the way but major medals are not overflowing from the Mackay cabinet.

On May 18, however, his chance, possibly his last, to rectify that omission will beckon when his team take on Rangers in the Tennents Scottish Cup final.

It will be impossible for him and every other fan of the team affectionately known as the Jambos to avoid thoughts of another cup final week 10 years ago, particularly the preceding Saturday when Hearts endured the most brutal near-miss in Scottish football history.

The side then managed by Alex MacDonald lost to Dundee in the last league game of the season while Celtic were thrashing St Mirren at Love Street.

The championship which was theirs for the taking was lost.

Next Friday is the anniversary of that devastation which has had such an effect on the club and those still there - like Mackay, John Robertson, and John Colquhoun.

The following week Hearts were well beaten by Aberdeen in the cup final, thus managing to miss two majors inside eight days.

Mackay, normally the most gregarious of men, refused to talk about these matters before Hearts' semi-final with Aberdeen a few weeks ago, simply because he recalled five semi-finals since 1986 when his team had been beaten.

He decided he would not tempt fate by digging out the nasty memories.

"We kept saying what we were going to do in the past, me included, and whatever the reason - maybe we didn't have the bottle right enough - we failed to deliver.

So I thought it best just to say nothing." His recollection of that fateful day, May 3, 1986, is clear.

"It will never be forgotten," he said.

"You can try to blank out the events but it is impossible.

In fact, it has possibly got worse remembering it than it was at the time.

I was relatively young then and at that age you shrug things off, believing you will get another chance and do the job next time.

Football doesn't always work out that way, as you discover when you get older.

"The way we lost the league game was devastating.

You could have envisaged someone from the clergy coming into Tynecastle on the Monday to exorcise the place.

It was as if something abnormal had intervened." He has no doubts that the defeat in the cup final was as much to do with the mental battering Hearts players took at Dens Park as anything else.

NOW, at 32, is fate about to play fair? "Somebody asked me what it would be like to win the cup next month.

I told them I don't know .....

I have never done it.

If we do it, I would want to tell the world how it feels." He acknowledges that a cup-winners' medal is the one thing he cherishes more than anything.

"For me, it would be the pinnacle of my career.

I have played for my country, got a lot of satisfaction and personal accolades, but that would be the climax." He admits to disappointment that Hearts have not gathered more prizes in his time at the club but he puts that in perspective when he points out, legitimately, that many footballers go through their entire careers without ever playing in a cup final.

"Also, the fact that we are challenging for honours is a great lift for this club.

Last year this club could never have envisaged being in the top four in the league, virtually sure of European football, and in the cup final." The credit for that he gives to the management, yet not long after Jim Jefferies arrived, Mackay began to think, for the first time in his life, of playing for another team.

"Jim had tried to buy me for Falkirk so I thought I would have a chance of keeping my place, but by November I was a non-starter.

"I went to see him after a bad result at Kilmarnock and we laid our cards on the table.

He had bought Paul Smith, who is a year older than me, and I think that jolted me.

It so happened Paul was injured that week and I was given a chance again against Hibs.

The mutual respect has grown since then.

"I had got myself sharper after Bert Logan, who has been a great help, told me to work more on the speed-ball.

He told me to wipe myself out on it.

I did, and now do it every day.

I am in the team and don't intend to change." He has had a rare, almost unique, insight into the talents of many different managers and gives an honest appraisal of them all.

ALEX MacDonald: "The No.1 as far as my respect is concerned.

Maybe if I had worked with Jim Jefferies 10 years, I'd say the same about him, but for me Alex had an aura about him because of what he achieved as a player but yet also had a one-of-the-boys quality.

He never let anyone down." Joe Jordan: "Had a tactical knowledge second to none, although I didn't enjoy my football in the wing-back role he gave me." Sandy Clark: "Was very unfortunate in that the new regime wanted someone tried and tested but the fruits of his labour are now being seen at the club." Tommy McLean: "Was sound tactically but, whether it was my fault or his, he didn't get the best out of me." Jim Jefferies: "He has changed things around and the transformation is there for everybody to see.

He brings in players to give the place a boost.

He brought in Colin Cameron when he knew he couldn't play in the cup, but that has lifted us all.

Pasquale Bruno has done well, Hans Eskilsson's signing brought out a response from John Colquhoun, who has had a terrific season, and Gilles Rousset has been simply out of this world, as a player and a person." Mackay is honest enough to wonder aloud if he will be able to reach the 500 league games which is his next target - he has 488 to his name - with Hearts.

"I can't be sure of being here next season, because the manager might want to change things again.

The great thing about Jim is you know none of it is personal - all that counts is what he sees is for the benefit of the club." If it came to the parting of the ways, Mackay, who went to the secondary school which is no more than a good free kick away from the park where he has earned his living for 16 years, would leave with dignity .....

and a Jambos scarf around his neck.

Taken from the Herald

<-Page <-Team Sat 27 Apr 1996 Hearts 1 Kilmarnock 0 Team-> Page->
| Home | Contact Us | Credits | © |