Played for Dundee and St Johnstone – Dave Mackay

Dundee travel to Perth this weekend to take on St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park and so we take a look at a player who has played for both clubs in Scottish Cup Finals, Dave Mackay.

Mackay started his football career at Dundee in 1999, coming through the youth ranks at Dens but having arrived at the club as a callow teenager when Jocky Scott was the manager, he found himself farmed out when the Bonetti brothers first descended on Tayside.

Firstly, a loan spell at Brechin saw him helping City challenge for promotion from the Third Division in Bonetti’s first season but after swapping Angus clubs at the start of Ivano’s second, Mackay found himself in a struggling Arbroath side. The Red Lichties were already fighting against relegation at the wrong end of the First Division and after a couple of heavy defeats, McKay was left on the bench for a cup tie with East Fife.

However, in September, with the Tayzurri squad ravaged by injuries, Mackay was recalled to Dens and two weeks after sitting on the bench against East Fife, he was now sitting on the bench at Rugby Park in the SPL. After 38 minutes Italian midfielder Alessandro Romano picked up an injury and McKay was told to get stripped and he came on to make his Dundee debut and did well in the 1-0 win.

He was now part of a first team squad in which he didn’t even feature in pre-season photo shoot and in his debut season made fourteen starts and four substitute appearances. His first start came in October at Dunfermline and he scored his first goal for the club in a 1-1 draw with Hearts at Dens a month later.

In the summer Bonetti was replaced by Jim Duffy for his second spell in charge and the Dundee legend made Mackay his first choice right back at the start of the 2002/03 season. It was to be a memorable campaign for the club as they went on a 14 game unbeaten run to finish in the top six and reached the Scottish Cup Final in May for the first time in 39 years.

Mackay would 43 appearances, the second most behind goalkeeper Julian Speroni and in the final game of the season lined up at Hampden in the Scottish Cup Final against Rangers. It was an ultimately frustrating day with Rangers winning 1-0 but there was the compensation of qualifying for the UEFA Cup for the first time in 29 years after Rangers had qualified for the Champions League as SPL winners.

In the preliminary round, Dundee were drawn against KS Vllaznia and it was very much a trip into the unknown. Vllaznia are based in the Albanian city of Shkoder, just 50 miles from Kosovo and the foreign office advised that Dundee fans shouldn’t travel, especially after Vllaznia’s president Myftar Cela was shot in Montenegro two weeks before the first leg.

Just 100 hardy Dees therefore travelled to northern Albania and watched Mackay and his teammates win 2-0 in the Loro Boriçi Stadium. Steve Lovell and Nacho Novo scored the priceless away goals to make Dundee the first ever Scottish side to win in Albania; a feat not even achieved by the Lisbon Lions or the Gothenburg Dons who both drew there in on their victorious runs.

Mackay played in the second leg at Dens, which turned into a 4-0 canter for The Dee amid allegations of unproven match fixing by the Vllaznia players. In the first round Dundee drew the glamour tie they wanted when they were paired with Serie A side AC Perugia, who had qualified by winning the Intertoto Cup.

Mackay played in both legs against the Italians but the Dark Blues were to progress no further, losing 2-1 in the first leg at Dens and 1-0 in the away leg in Umbria.

The European adventure had been fun but disaster was just around the corner when Dundee went into administration for the first time the following month. Twenty-five players and staff were sacked but Dave Mackay was one of the lucky one to be kept on due to his relatively low wages.  Mackay had been offered a new three year just before Dundee entered administration and so perhaps it was fortunate he hadn’t yet signed it but he became one of the stalwarts of the side in the troubled times.

Mackay just missed one game before the end of the season, the penultimate match against Livingston at Dens but he was back in his right-back slot for the final game at Aberdeen, which The Dee won 2-1 to finish 7th, top of the bottom six; a remarkable achievement in the circumstances.

In the summer however, Dundee were still looking to cut costs and despite exiting administration, Mackay was offered a new deal on reduced terms when his contract expired. The defender turned it down and decided to try his luck elsewhere and after 105 Dark Blue appearances, decided to move down south.

Mackay signed for Oxford United, who were managed by former Dee Graham Rix but after just one season and 44 appearances for The U’s, he decided to return to Scotland for family reasons and joined SPL Livingston.

Mackay stayed at Almondvale for four years and at the end of the 2008/09 season was subject of a bid by Dundee to bring him back to Dens. He decided however that he future lay further up the Tay in Perth and in May 2009, he signed for St Johnstone who had just won promotion back to the top flight.

At the end of his second season at McDiarmid, he was named as the St Johnstone Player of the Year and in the summer was appointed vice-captain.

Mackay started 2011/12 season well and scored his first goal of the campaign, in a 1–0 win over Celtic, giving St Johnstone their first win at Celtic Park since 1998.  At the end of the season St Johnstone qualified for Europe despite finishing sixth place due to runners-up Rangers liquidating and being placed in the fourth tier once they re-formed.

Following the departure of Jody Morris, Mackay was appointed captain and he led the Saints into their Europa League qualifier against Turkish side Eskişehirspor. St Johnstone would qualify for Europe again at the end of the season after finishing third and Mackay would be named the SJFC Supporters Bus Player of the Year.

He played in all four Europa League ties at the start of the 2013/14 season and after eliminating Rosenborg, Mackay was then one of the players to miss in the penalty shoot-out against Dinamo Minsk after a 1–1 aggregate draw. The real glory however was to come in the final game of the season in May where they met Dundee United in the Scottish Cup Final at Celtic Park.

Mackay captained The Saints and after the 2-0 went up to lift the cup for Saints first major trophy in their history, while filming himself with a GoPro camera on his chest.

This of course meant that St Johnstone were in Europe for the third consecutive year and Mackay made up for his penalty miss against Minsk by scoring in the successful spot kick victory against Luzern. In the next round McKay scored his first European goal against Spartak Trnava but it was a late consolation as they bowed out 2-1 to the Slovaks

On February 17th 2015, Mackay signed a one-year contract extension, and then made his 250th appearance on April 25th, in a 2–0 win against old club Dundee. Mackay’s season ended when he then had to have a hip operation but despite his absence, the club qualified again for the Europa League.

Mackay missed the Europa League campaign this time around and returned to action in a 2-1 defeat at Dens in August but his season was again cut short in the New Year when he required another operation on his hip.

It was ultimately an injury that forced Mackay to retire and in September 2016, he formally hung up his boots. He wasn’t finished with football however as after a spell coaching the St Johnstone Under 20 side, Mackay was appointed manager of Scottish League Two side Stirling Albion in November.

In a playing career that saw him score 39 goals in 598 appearances, Mackay was popular at every club he played with. He has returned to his old club to take Connor Quigley and Calvin Colquhoun on loan and we wish him well in his fledgling managerial career.

Honours at Dundee:

Scottish Cup runners-up: 2003

Appearances, Goals:

League: 82 +5 subs, 2 goals

Scottish Cup: 9

League Cup: 5

Europe: 4

Totals: 105, 2 goals

Sign up to #TheDEE News

Sign up to our newsletter and be the first to #THEDEE news, exclusive updates and offers.

We respect the value of your inbox and mail, and we want to make sure that you are certain we can contact you. We will process your personal data as set out in our Privacy Policy.