8 December 2007
Born: 23 February 1904, Monkstown
Died: 9 June 1984, Isleworth (England)
Representative Honours: Ireland: 3 Full Caps (1923-1935).
Club Honours: (with Arsenal) Football League Division One Runner-Up 1925/26; (with Portsmouth) FA Cup Runner-Up 1928/29, 1933/34.
ClubS........... --Seasons-- Signed League FA Cup
Arsenal......... 22/23-25/26 Feb-22 108/ 0 .10/ 1
Portsmouth...... 28/29-33/35 Jun-28 257/ 2 .29/ 0
Northampton Town 35/36-36/37 Mar-36 .19/ 0
Totals............................. 384/ 2 .39/ 1
Through their history Arsenal have featured three great Irish full-back pairings. Pat Rice and Sammy Nelson in the seventies; Jimmy Magill and Billy McCullough in the sixties; and the first, Andy Kennedy and Alec Mackie in the twenties.
Mackie and Kennedy’s Arsenal careers began almost simultaneously. Mackie arriving as a teenager from Belfast Junior club Forth River in February 1922 with the more experienced Kennedy arriving the following August. Their first-team debuts were made a week apart, Kennedy’s away to Birmingham on 2 December 1922 and Mackie’s in the return match the following Saturday. It was a rapid rise for the youngster, who had gone from third-team right-back to displacing England international right-back Frank Bradshaw from the first eleven in just ten months.
With Mackie and Kennedy were installed as first-choice full-backs, Bradshaw never featured for the Gunners again. The Arsenal pair were rewarded for their fine progress in the First Division with inclusion in the Ireland side that defeated Wales 3-0 in April 1923, though surprisingly neither were to become regular internationals and it would be eleven-and-a-half years before Mackie was awarded a second cap.
During the early to mid-twenties Arsenal were a club in decline and in Mackie’s first three seasons as a first-teamer finished 11th, 19th and 20th in the First Division. Mackie missed much of the season in which they finished 20th (in those days just two teams were relegated from a 22 team division) through a serious leg injury and it took him some time to regain his old form. The turnaround was immense. From relegation strugglers in 1924/25 to League runners-up and FA Cup quarter-finalists in 1925/26, the season proved a last hoorah for the Mackie-Kennedy partnership.
For Mackie there followed two seasons without first-team football, during which time Arsenal reached the FA Cup Final, and in the summer of 1928 he was transferred to Portsmouth. He walked back into life struggling at the foot of Division One, with Pompey “doing an Arsenal” and finishing 20th - again Mackie had survived relegation by the skin off his teeth. The club had slightly better luck in the FA Cup, reaching the final only to lose out 2-0 to Bolton and Wembley.
After that initial campaign Portsmouth began to slowly improve, establishing themselves as an upper mid-table team. Mackie played in his second FA Cup Final in 1934, but again finished a loser as Manchester City came back to win a rain-drenched match, 2-1. At last however Mackie was coming back to the attentions of the Irish selectors. In October 1934 he played in a well-deserved 2-1 win over Scotland, particularly as Ireland had played the second-half with just ten men and with half-back Billy McMillen deputising for the injured Elisha Scott in goals. Mackie won his third and final cap, just weeks short of twelve years after his first, in a 3-1 defeat by Wales in March 1934.
Having slipped out of the Portsmouth first eleven in the 1935/36 season, after seven seasons and 286 appearances, Mackie moved on to Division Three (South) side Northampton. He spent two seasons with the Cobblers before moving into non-League football with Kent-based, Sittingbourne. With his professional career behind him, Mackie could concentrate on his hobbies - deep sea fishing and bowls!
Ireland Cap Details:
14-04-1923 Wales... A W 3-0 BC
20-10-1934 Scotland H W 2-1 BC
27-03-1935 Wales... A L 1-3 BC
Summary: 3/0. Won 2, Drew 0, Lost 1.
With thanks to Martin O'Connor.