DUNCAN Mackay, who was Perth Azzurri’s most successful coach in the 1970s, a former captain of Scottish giants Celtic and a Scotland international, has died at the age of 82.
He passed away on December 22, but Celtic did not announce his death until just after Christmas.
Mackay was coach of Azzurri between 1975 and 1977, succeeding Malcolm Brown.
He led the club to an impressive seven point victory over great rivals East Fremantle Tricolore in the 1975 league championship, and followed up the next season with a seven point win over second-placed Morley Windmills.
Azzurri also won the Night Series in 1975 and the Top Four Cup in 1976.
Mackay left the club in 1977 – Mike Leigh took the coaching reins – and moved to Melbourne, where he coached South Melbourne and Essendon Lions in the Victorian State League. He had a few years earlier led Melbourne Croatia to victory in the Vic league.
Amongst the players who performed under Mackay in Azzurri’s two league titles were the Marocchi brothers – Gary, Eric and Bruno – Peter Holt, Gordon McCulloch, George McMillan, Arno Bertogna, Ken Morton, Brent Atherton, Sauro Iozzelli, Aldo and Tony Trinca, Robert Earl, Lou Melis and Dave Brady.
Mackay was born in Glasgow in 1937 and joined Celtic from Maryhill Harp, aged 17, in 1955.
A no-nonsense right back, he developed rapidly, making his club debut within two years and earning the first of an eventual 14 caps for the Scottish national side four years later, and four for the under-23s.
On his signing with Celtic he was proclaimed as the find of the season, and for the next season was “the best defensive prospect in the country”.
He made his debut in a 4-1 League Cup win at Clyde in August 1958 and would spend the next six years as one of the top performers for Celtic. He had fantastic pace and stamina and was a wonderful attacking full-back who was one of the first players in that position to use the over-lap as a regular feature of his game.
He got his first internationbal goal when he scored (from the penalty spot) in the 4-4 draw in the Under-23 game against England at Ibrox in March, 1960. Ian St John got two for Scotland.
Jimmy Greaves got a hat-trick for England. John Sydenham, who later coached and played for Floreat Athena, also played for England in the game at Ibrox which drew a crowd of 25,000.
A month later, Mackay was in the full international Scotland side that faced England in a British Home Championship game, which attracted a crowd of nearly 130,000 to Hampden Park. It ended in a 1-1 draw with Graham Leggatt scoring for the Scots, and Bobby Charlton getting England’s goal.
Bobby Evans was Scotland captain – and also the skipper at Celtic at the time. Within a few years, Mackay had succeeded Evans as the Hoops leader. He led the side to two Scottish Cup finals, but Celtic lost both times. He passed on the armband to Billy McNeill in 1963.
Mackay played 236 games for Celtic but moved to Third Lanark in November 1964. Thirds were relegated at the end of the 1964–65 season and MacKay was one of several players released.
He then moved to Australia, joining Melbourne Croatia, and briefly returned to Scotland to join top Glasgow junior side St Anthonys as player-coach for two years before heading Down Under again to begin his successful stint with Azzurri.
PIC ONE: Duncan Mackay in his Celtic playing days. PIC TWO: Mackay (top right) with the 1976 Azzurri league winning side.