George Mackie
George Mackie
George Mackie
● George Mackie, 1978 (TOP)

born in Scotland

George Shearer Mackie was born on Tuesday, 18th May, 1954, in Edinburgh.

The 5' 9 (10st 6lbs) defender signed for Bertie Auld's Thistle on Friday, 9th July, 1976, having most recently been with Dundee.

Aged 22, he made his debut appearance on Tuesday, 3rd August, 1976, in a 4-1 neutral-venue defeat against Manchester City in the Tennent Caledonian Cup.

There were no goals for George during his time with Thistle.

He played his last game for the club on Saturday, 15th December, 1979, in a 5-1 defeat away to Celtic in the SFL Premier Division, having appeared as a Jag on 88 occasions.

George's club-list included Dundee, Partick Thistle, Raith Rovers, Boldklub 1909, Dunfermline Athletic, Albion Rovers, Brechin City and Arbroath.

Bio Extra

Born in Edinburgh, George Mackie played as a youth at Salvesen Boys Club and Uphall Saints, and was scouted early by Dundee as a 16-year-old, but had to be content with learning his trade for many years with the succesful Dundee reserve side of the time. Finally, at the age of 21, he made his competitive first team debut with the Dee in November 1975, a 2-1 league defeat at Ibrox. He managed 16 competitive appearances for the club that season, and was given a free transfer at the end of the campaign in order that he might fix himself up with a decent offer elsewhere.

This was a life-changing time for George, not only was there a big change of club, there was an even bigger change of status from bachelor to husband. He married a Dundee lass, Sheila Nairn, and the wedding party made the local paper, revealing his best man as none other than would-be footballing legend, Gordon Strachan. See the 'Gallery' tab for the photo! The two had struck up a strong friendship travelling together on the train from Edinburgh to Dundee in the early 70s, before they moved into digs with another pal, Alex Caldwell. As a Daily Record piece later revealed, their long-lasting friendship is based on trust, humour, good times and underpinned by the solid seam of integrity which Mackie reckons, more than anything, characterises his pal.

In the summer of '76, Bertie Auld was seeking to strengthen his title-winning side for their first campaign in the new ten-team Premier League, and George was viewed as a hungry young right back who had recently experienced that pressured environment. This was a very succesful period for Partick Thistle, with Bertie Auld constantly keeping the side competitive against the best teams in the country, and George played his part, mostly in his first two seasons when Thistle finished 5th (6 points behind a European place) and 7th (4 points behind a European place). George put in more than 70 competitive appearances in those seasons.

Ironically, one of George's earliest games as a Jag was a 2-0 League Cup win at Dens Park, which must have been a sweet one. He made a lot of good memories at Firhill in these days, earning league points against Rangers, Celtic and Aberdeen; Bertie's Jags feared no-one. But even these memories may struggle to compete with one particuarly glorious Saturday afternoon in June 1977. In that close season, George returned the favour to his best pal, and was best man for the marriage of Gordon Strachan to his wife, Lesley. They honeymooned in London… to watch Scotland play against England at Wembley! George, Gordon and the two women ventured South, and the two men would play "Beechgrove Garden" on the most hallowed acre of England’s green and pleasant land. Goals from Kenny Dalglish and Gordon McQueen gave Ally McLeod’s Scotland a famous 2-1 victory. It so delighted the visiting fans they invaded the pitch in celebration – and did English football bosses a favour by exposing serious flaws in the construction of their goalposts. Strachan revealed his sod of turf ended up in his garden in Broughty Ferry. In the aforementioned 2013 interview in the Daily Record, Mackie sheepishly admitted “Mine is still in Lanark”:

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1977 was an absolutely unbelievable spectacle and although in hindsight we probably regret going on the pitch at the end, at the time it was fantastic. Gordon and Lesley had just got married and, along with me and my wife, decided a weekend in London was a great idea, not least because we could watch Scotland. My wife wasn’t too fussed about football and didn’t go to the game but Lesley did and, yes, she came with us on to the pitch. Gordon isn’t the tallest, so needed a hand to get from our position in the stand to the pitch and we took a souvenir from the playing surface. We walked outside and bought a fish supper, which came in an old ashet dish. As soon as the suppers were finished we placed the turf in the dishes, popped them in a plastic bag and carried them home. I would never have thought all those years ago that Gordon would one day take charge of Scotland at Wembley. I know how difficult it is for Gordon to contain himself as a Scotland fan, never mind a manager!

George never scored as a Jag, but he could be forgiven for feeling hard done by on the Guy Fawkes afternoon of 1977. Bertie’s Jags were on a great run, and were 4 League wins on the trot as they headed to Ibrox. Commentators were talking seriously about the Maryhill Magyars once again being contenders for a continental jaunt in 1978-79, and after 16 minutes of the Premier Division encounter, that talk was underlined in action, as Thistle rocked Ibrox with two goals in two minutes by Dougie Somner and Jim Melrose. Just one month earlier, Dougie had done the Celtic over, securing a 1-0 win at Firhill, and, for a long while, it really was game on for a mighty Old Firm double. Of the opening goal, the Evening Times wrote: “Whittaker went on the overlap in 14 minutes and won a corner. Craig’s kick came over and was punched out to the feet of Mackie. The full-back crashed in a vicious shot and DOUG SOMNER deflected it high into the net.” George's beezer of a strike was net-bound and it was kinda cruel that big Somner brushed a head on it to deny him a famous headline. Poor George had wheeled away to celebrate and most in attendance, ourselves included, were under the impression that he had scored it. It wasn't until the Sunday Scotsport cameras ran the highlights video that we all realised the truth! Anyway, the goal set the tone for an unforgettable and pulsating encounter that finished 3 goals apiece; the proverbial six goal thriller. Post-match, Jock Wallace was full of praise for Thistle: “They put up a tremendous show, it was skill and organisation against organisation and skill.

In August 1978, the arrival of Dave MacKinnon, also from Dundee as it happened, marked the end for George as Thistle's regular right back, and his appearances were greatly reduced. He was one of ten players freed by Bertie Auld in April 1980. By July, it was mis-reported that George had actually signed for Gordon Wallace's Raith Rovers. In actual fact, he had only been training at Stark's Park and, although he agreed to the terms being offered, he hadn't actually put pen to paper, and changed his mind when an offer came in for a crack at the Danish Premier League with Boldklub 1909, in Odense. George spent only a couple of months in Denmark, where he re-invented himself as a midfielder, before returning to the Scottish game with Dunfermline Athletic, where he made little impression. In January 1981, he signed a short-term deal with Albion Rovers to get himself back on-track until the end of the season. He then moved on to Brechin City in July 1981 where he was a bit of a stalwart, clocking up 118 appearances and registering 15 goals in all competitions. In March 1985, George moved from Brechin to Arbroath in exchange for Graeme Payne, and he spent just over 3 years at Gayfield before retiring in the summer of 1988, with 97 competitive appearances and 3 goals to his credit. George actually returned to Gayfield in the mid 1990s, and co-managed the club alongside his former Thistle teammate, Donald Park.

George was at one time on Dundee United's coaching staff and went on to be a youth coach with Coventry City after being recruited by his bestie, Gordon Strachan. George has attained the prestigious UEFA PRO License qualification – the highest honour in coaching. George has had some outstanding coaching achievements, guiding the Coventry City Youth team to two consecutive FA Youth Cup Finals against West Ham United and Arsenal, in 1999 and 2000. He remains as close to his old pal as ever, and is head coach at the Strachan Football Foundation in Rugby, which helps give promising teenagers a second chance in the game. George has been over ten years at the SFF, since its inception in 2011. George also keeps his hand in by doing a bit of scouting, and was assisting Arsenal long term in this regard from the early 2010s.

(WS/AFK/DR)



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