Barry Hearn has shared the story of how he was forced to wait 40 years to acquire the signature of Tottenham legend Dave Mackay.
Hearn is one of Britain’s most influential sports promoters, plying his trade with Matchroom Sport at events across boxing, darts, snooker and football.
The 73-year-old was the owner of League Two side Leyton Orient until 2017 – the club he supported as a schoolboy growing up in Dagenham.
But Hearn also paid occasional visits across London to Tottenham, where he became the main character in a hilarious story of trying to get an autograph.
In a match against Blackpool, he ran onto the pitch to gain a signature from Spurs icon Mackay to complete his collection, but was accidentally knocked down when the Scot kicked the ball he was holding directly in his face.
While not gaining the signature at the time, Hearn encountered Mackay at a function 40 years later and eventually received a picture of the Spurs squad, along with signatures from the entire team including legends Jimmy Greaves, Pat Jennings and Alan Gilzean.
Mackay said in his autobiography (via Mirror): “When players ran out onto the pitch, youngsters like me would run on with autograph books and try to get them to sign before the match started.
“On one occasion, when Spurs were playing Blackpool, including the great Stanley Matthews, I ran on trying to get the one autograph that had eluded me – Dave Mackay, who tackled with proper tackles so that the other man was rarely left upright.
“I was determined to get it. I ran straight towards him as he came out of the tunnel and, without looking up, he kicked the ball he was holding. It hit me straight in the face and knocked me off my feet.
“I still remember lying there, seeing stars, and this huge face of Dave Mackay peering at me. He asked, ‘Are you all right, lad?’ ‘Yes, Mr Mackay, I’m fine,’ I said. ‘Can I have your autograph please?’ He replied, ‘No, you can f*** off.’
“At least 40 years later, I was speaking at a function in the Midlands and there was a table of former Tottenham players including, you guessed it, the one and only Dave Mackay.
“I walked over to him and said, ‘Can I have your autograph now, Mr Mackay?’, recounting the story, and we had a good laugh – but I still ended up without his signature.
“A week later, a huge parcel arrived in my office. When I opened it, there was a picture of the great Spurs squad with Dave Mackay being held aloft by Jimmy Greaves, Alan Gilzean and Pat Jennings.
“Every player had signed it and there was an accompanying note from Dave: ‘At last you have got my autograph.’ That picture takes pride of place in my private office at home and will never be taken down.”
Spurs Web Opinion
This is a great story and one that only would have happened to someone around Hearn’s age as the game of football has changed so much since then.
It’s great that Hearn managed to get that signature in the end as well as from the rest of the Spurs players, and no doubt that picture will hold so much sentimental value.
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