Tam McKenzie

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Tam McKenzie
Personal information
Full name Thomas McKenzie
Date of birth (1922-11-05)5 November 1922
Place of birth Edinburgh, Scotland
Date of death 1967 (aged 44–45)
Place of death Peterborough, England
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Playing position Defender
Youth career
Pentland Rovers
Haddington Athletic
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1942–1959 Hearts 255 (3)
1959–1960 Wisbech Town
1960– March Town
Teams managed
1960– March Town
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Thomas "Tam" McKenzie (5 November 1922 – November 1967) was a Scottish professional footballer who spent most of his career with Heart of Midlothian.

Heart of Midlothian[edit]

McKenzie was born in Edinburgh and joined Hearts from Haddington Athletic in 1942 as a centre-half, having initially played as a centre forward as a juvenile with Pentland Rovers.[1] After only one appearance for the Hearts team in the Wartime League, he left for Arakan, where he served in The Royal Scots during the Second World War.[1]

McKenzie returned to Edinburgh at the war's conclusion and established himself in Hearts first team as a left back. He formed a lengthy full back partnership with Bobby Parker who joined in April 1947. Renowned for his strength and tackling skill,[2] McKenzie enjoyed particular success in his personal battles against one of Scotland's most famous right wingers of the time, Hibernian's Gordon Smith. Despite Hibs enjoying great success in the late 1940s and early 1950s, McKenzie's effective shackling of Smith ensured that Hearts enjoyed the upper hand in Derby matches of the era.[2]

McKenzie captained Hearts during the 1949-50 season. The first seeds of the Tommy Walker managerial success at Hearts were sown by Davie McLean. On 9 October 1948, after a mediocre start to the 1948–49 season Hearts' manager McLean combined three young forwards, Jimmy Wardhaugh, Willie Bauld and Alfie Conn Sr., for the first time.[3] They became dubbed the Terrible Trio and scored over 900 Hearts goals between them[4] (Wardhaugh 376, Bauld 355, Conn 221).[5] The combination of Wardhaugh's dribbling skills and non-stop running, Bauld's cerebral play and prodigious aerial ability, and Conn's energetic, tenacious style and powerful shooting complemented each other well.[6] Their first match as a forward combination ended in a 6–1 defeat of Scot Symon's impressive East Fife team of the era. This was notable as Symon's team had defeated the Maroons 4–0 a matter of weeks earlier.

A few weeks later in December 1948 Tommy Walker left during his third season at Chelsea to return to Hearts. He took the role of player-assistant to manager McLean. McLean's intention was that Walker would be a steadying influence in a developing young team. However, after a single appearance at right-half in a 1–0 home defeat by Dundee, Walker retired to concentrate fully on learning the managerial ropes.[7] Tangible progress was made in the League Championship in 1949-50 when Hearts finished third. As Tommy Walker had become more influential, McLean was co-opted to the Board on 16 March 1950.[8]

McLean's death on 14 February 1951 saw Walker promoted to the position of manager. Walker's reign was to prove the most successful period in the club's history.[9] Walker was always quick to acknowledge the contribution made by McLean and his fatherly interest in the welfare and development of the players. The important foundations Walker inherited from McLean included the Terrible Trio forwards, the full back pair of Bobby Parker and Tam McKenzie and half backs half Bobby Dougan and Davie Laing. To this established core John Cumming had recently broken through to the first team in the left half position he was to dominate for many years. Freddie Glidden was already at Tynecastle but yet to first team debut as was the then schoolboy Dave Mackay. Walker made Parker the team Captain.

Mackay key signing as a professional was under Walker in 1952 (initially part-time whilst also working as a joiner). Mackay's pairing with Cumming at wing half was to become the nucleus of the team in the middle of the pitch. Mackay was a supremely talented all round player of ferocious tackling, endless running and sublime ball control. Cumming's Iron Man nickname says much of his fearless determination. Despite his commitment he retained control of his temper and was never booked in his career. Cumming was the only player to collect medals for all seven of the trophies Hearts won under Walker. "He never had a bad game. It was either a fairly good game or an excellent game," said Mackay later of his former team-mate.[10] Both went on to become full Scotland internationalists while playing for Hearts.

Bauld's value to the team was underlined in 1952/53, when he missed eight vital league games through ankle injuries. Hearts were struggling, but with Bauld's return to full fitness came a change in fortunes. From the bottom half of the league they surged up the table to finish in fourth place (as they had the two previous seasons). That resurgence also took them to a 1952–53 Scottish Cup semi final against Rangers before 116,262 fans at Hampden Park in Glasgow. Wardhaugh scored in the 2–1 defeat. Hearts were now though on an upward trajectory.

In 1953–54, Wardhaugh became the A Division's top scorer with 27 goals as Hearts appeared set to win the League championship. However on 13 March 1954 in the Scottish Cup quarter final 3–0 defeat away to Aberdeen, Parker broke his jaw, Conn injured his back, and Wardhaugh collected a serious shin bone injury. Dougan already had a lengthy knee injury meaning 9 November 1953 was his last competitive Hearts first team game (Dougan only subsequently played for Hearts in friendlies). Walker immediately tried Glidden to cover and he took over the centre half berth from Dougan. A stuttering end to their season saw Celtic overtake them.[11] The young Mackay was given his first team debut on 7 November of that 1953–54 season one week before his nineteenth birthday. Naturally more left sided than right, Mackay played in the number six jersey normally associated with the absent Cumming. Mackay's next two appearances though weren't until mid March immediately after the Aberdeen cup defeat when again he played in Cumming's position. It wasn't until 17 April 1954 in a 1-0 win at Clyde that Walker first selected Mackay, Glidden and Cumming in the numbers four, five and six.[12]

The team was boosted by the signing of Ian Crawford in August 1954. Mackay was given his extended place in the team in the 1954–55 season immediately after Laing's 5th September transfer to Clyde. It was from this point that Walker settled on Mackay, Glidden and Mackay as his combination for the number four, five and six jerseys.[13] They promptly became a trophy winning force lifting the first of seven trophies over nine seasons between 1954 and 1963. In October of the 1954–55 season they won their first trophy since 1906, 48 years before. They beat Motherwell 4–2 in the 1954 Scottish League Cup Final. Bauld scored three and Wardhaugh scored one in the final giving the team their break through trophy. Hearts gained some recompense against Celtic from the season before by beating them home and away in that 1954–55 Scottish League Cup group stage.

After signing Alex Young and Bobby Kirk, Walker’s side proceeded to win the 1955–56 Scottish Cup.[14] They thrashed Rangers 4–0 in the quarter finals with goals from Crawford, Conn and a Bauld double.[15] Cumming's commitment to the team was typified in that 1956 Scottish Cup Final before 132 840 fans. With blood streaming from a first half head injury from a clash with Celtic's Willie Fernie he said, "Blood doesn't show on a maroon jersey". He returned to the playing field in the 3–1 win and was man of the match. That quote is now displayed above the entrance to the players tunnel at Tynecastle. Kirk could play in either full back role and played on the right in the final at the expense of Parker. Glidden lifted the trophy as Hearts captain in what he recalled as the "sweetest" moment in his footballing career.[16]

Wardhaugh was the top tier's leading scorer again that season. The scorers in the cup final win over Celtic were Crawford with two and one from Conn. Conn ended that 1955–56 season at the peak of his powers aged 29 with a career best 29 goals from 41 games. On 2 May 1956 two weeks after the cup win Conn became the third of the terrible trio to collect a full Scotland cap. At Hampden Park he put his side ahead after 12 minutes in a 1–1 draw with Austria. However the following September he suffered a broken jaw playing against Hibernian keeping him out til January.[17][18] The days of the Terrible Trio as a combined force were nearing their end.

17 year old Gordon Marshall debuted in 1956 as did George Thomson in February 1957. Marshall, future England under 23 internationalist, became a Hearts goalkeeping regular until 1963. Hearts led the Scottish League for most of the 1956-57 season. The title hinged on Rangers visit to Tynecastle on 13 April. A capacity crowd watched a tense game in which Rangers keeper, George Niven, was man of the match. Hearts could not beat him and the only goal came from Simpson of Rangers who scored on the break in 35 minutes. Rangers had games in hand which they won to overtake Hearts and lift the trophy.[19]

Walker completed the set of having won all three major Scottish football trophies with the League Championship in 1957–58. Conn suffered a serious ankle injury meaning he only played in five league games all season. Injury hit Conn left Hearts for Raith Rovers in September 1958 just two years after his 1956 zenith. With an injury hit Bauld only playing nine times in the league title win a new Hearts attacking trio were dominant. For a third time Wardhaugh was the League's top marksman with 28 strikes. This was one ahead of Jimmy Murray's 27 and four more than Young's 24. Mackay, now Captain, was fourth in Hearts' league scoring charts with 12. Hearts won that League title in 1957–58 with record-breaking points, goals scored and goal difference. Their record from 34 league games of 62 points out of a maximum possible 68 was 13 more than their nearest rival. They scored 132 goals (still the Scottish top tier record) with only 29 against for a record net difference of +103. This was Hearts' greatest ever league side. Murray and Mackay both played for Scotland at the 1958 FIFA World Cup where Murray scored in a 1–1 draw against Yugoslavia. Parker was a fringe player in the league winning season, his last season as a Hearts player. He moved to the club coaching staff before joining the Board of Directors where he also had a spell as chairman.

In the 1958–59 Scottish League Cup group stage Hearts eliminated Rangers. That October 1958 Scottish League Cup Final was won with a heavy 5–1 defeat of Partick Thistle. Bauld and Murray each scored two and Johnny Hamilton netted one. Hearts defended their league title by being leaders in December. However an injury struck side visit Ibrox were soundly beaten 6-0 precipitating a poor run of only two wins from the next seven games. Mackay left for £32 000 the following March for Tottenham Hotspur. George Best of Manchester United, one of Tottenham's fiercest rivals in the 1960s, described Mackay as "the hardest man I have ever played against – and certainly the bravest".[20] Hearts fought back into contention and a 2-0 defeat of Rangers in April gave them a chance with two games remaining. The last day of the season began with Rangers two points clear and needing a point to clinch the title. However Rangers lost 2-1 at home to Aberdeen. Another injury impacted Hearts went down by the same score leaving those at the club to wonder what would have happened if Mackay hadn't been sold when he was.[19]

Mackay's name as a club mainstay at half back was taken over by Billy Higgins. That League Cup win was also Glidden's last trophy as a recurring back injury that season numbered his playing days at Tynecastle. Wardhaugh was also increasingly on the fringes and was another to leave in 1959 as was the now 36 year old MacKenzie.

McKenzie saw off the challenge of Jock Adie to retain his place winning that 1956 Scottish Cup Final. He eventually lost his place in the side to the emerging George Thomson during the 1957-58 season but he made enough appearances to collect a winners medal, as Hearts won the League title for the first time since 1897.

His final first team game for Hearts was on 30 October 1958. The 3-3 friendly draw at home against South Africa was his only first team game that season. It was one week before his 36th birthday. McKenzie left Hearts at the age of 36 at the end of the 1959 season. In total he made 351 competitive first team appearances (scoring five goals) as well 43 non competitive matches (scoring 4 goals). Thus in total he played 394 Hearts first team games scoring nine goals.

Time in England[edit]

He moved south to Wisbech Town at the age of 36 playing one season with the Southern Football League club. He then moved to March Town as player-manager. He was still domiciled in England when he died in his mid forties in 1967, as the result of a car accident.[2]

Legacy[edit]

His son David would later play League football with Meadowbank Thistle in the 1970s.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Heart of Midlothian Official Annual 1955 (Paperback). Heart of Midlothian. 1955. 
  2. ^ a b c Hoggan, Andrew (1995). Hearts in Art (Hardback). Mainstream. ISBN 1-85158-736-5. 
  3. ^ Scott, The Terrible Trio, 10–11
  4. ^ Alfie Conn: Obituary
  5. ^ Hearts FC Hall of Fame
  6. ^ Scott, The Terrible Trio, 101–103
  7. ^ Price, P10
  8. ^ David McLean remembered www.heartsfc.co.uk
  9. ^ Price, P12
  10. ^ John Cumming
  11. ^ "Willie Bauld Biography – Part 2"
  12. ^ London Hearts 17 April 1954
  13. ^ London Hearts 11 September 1954
  14. ^ Hearts 3 Celtic 1 British Pathe highlights on youtube
  15. ^ Hearts 4 Rangers 0 Londnhearts.com
  16. ^ Robertson, Rob; Kiddie, Paul (2005). Hearts: Great Tynecastle Tales. Mainstream. p. 186. (ISBN 1-84596-003-3). 
  17. ^ Hearts FC Alfie Conn obituary
  18. ^ Lomax, Andrew (7 January 2009). "Hearts legend Alfie Conn senior dies aged 82". Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  19. ^ a b 1954 - 1964 Hearts History www.hearts.co.uk
  20. ^ The Times

External links[edit]