Alan “Al” MacKay (Alex Ferns)

Appeared: Dream Team 80’s Episode 1 & 2 (Sunday 21st – Sunday 28th May 2006)

Position: Harchester United Youth Team Manager (1979-1981) / Reserve Team Manager (1981-1984)

 

As a strong, red-blooded Scottish defender, Al's longest playing stint in the English Football League was with Leeds United, signing for the then Second Division side in his early 20's. Al's passion and commitment to the game outshone his actual talent, but he took on the best, literally, in 1963 when he tried, and failed, to mark George Best at a Leeds v. Man United game. Later in his career when he was playing for Glasgow Rangers he met Isabelle, a woman several years younger, and the two married in 1974. When Al retired, Isabelle was hopeful that he would now have more time for her, as his career had always come first, but the replacement for Al was the world of coaching, not his wife.

 

In 1979, Al lands the role of Youth Team Manager at Harchester United, under his old friend and now boss Harry Sidwell, and he and Isabelle move to the Midlands. Al relishes his new post, with a more teaching than disciplinarian approach to his coaching, and the lads like him as he is not as old school as Harry, despite being a player of the same time as him. Into his second year with Harchester, Al has some potential talent on his hands in newcomers Terry Glover and Kevin Nelson. Kevin is eager to please his boss, which leads to Al taking advantage when it comes to odd jobs he needs doing. He also has a bad habit of nicknaming Kevin "Snowball", a racist element of the time, which Kevin puts up with due to the admiration as a player he believes Al has for him. For the other lads, including a future star professional Mike Maynard, Al sets them up with dressing room duty - cleaning the boots, changing room and showers of the first team in order to make them feel closer to the big boys.

 

That December, Al's side beat Oxford 1-0 in the Midlands Youth Cup, after Al gives Mike his debut and makes Terry captain, advising him to use the aggression he carries in his day-to-day life and put it into his playing. Kevin meanwhile, is asked by Al to drive his wife home, as he is working late, again. Isabelle is more than tired of being left alone in the house at nights, and asks Kevin to take her out for some excitement. Before long, Kevin is providing Isabelle with the company she longs for, and the two begin an affair. In late 1981, Al is promoted to Reserve Team Coach, and among the lads he takes up with him are Terry and Kevin. A few months into his new role, a fed-up Isabelle has decided she can stay in the marriage no longer, and knowing her relationship with Kevin wouldn't last long-term due to the age gap, she leaves both of her men behind.

 

Al suffers badly after Isabelle's departure, and begins drinking more than ever. In September 1984, as they are about to kick off in a reserve team game against QPR, Kevin and Terry find Al drunk in his car, and too paralytic to attend the game, it is up to the two to cover for him yet again. Kevin takes him home, and Al reveals the day is he and Isabelle's 10th wedding anniversary, and reacts angrily when he learns Kevin, in order to help Al get sober, has poured all the alcohol in the house away. Kevin tells him he needs to sort himself out for the team and leaves. To everyone's surprise, Al turns up for training in a fresh and determined mood. But when he asks Kevin about coming back to do his household chores, Kevin realises it is the same old Al seeing him as a skivvy and not a member of his squad. Kevin says no, he's here to play football, and not to call him Snowball again. By October, word gets round that Al has quietly resigned from the club, and Kevin and Terry, moving up to the first team at this time, do not see him again.

 

In February 1986, it is learnt that Al has died due to his alcoholism, aged just 46. Kevin visits his grave following the funeral, and spots Isabelle making a quick getaway accompanied by a toddler - Kevin's secret son Archie.