Saturday, November 4 – 1899
Alexander Maconnachie is the idol of the Notts County crowd. In thunderous unison from ten thousand throats comes the cry, “Go on, Mac!” and the response adds fresh fuel to the flame of enthusasim. A very magician is the little Scotchman; his speil controls the spirit of the spectators, who blow hot or cold according to the whim of Alexander. With him in happy humour supporters hope and opponents tremble; fortunate it is for the latter that Maconnachie’s moods come and go.
It it were possible to combine his ability with the unfailing reliability of captain David Calderhead, you would be within measureable distance of the ideal player. But many fine footballers cannot settle down to consistency, and to the company of such belongs Maconnachie. Not that Notts have had much to complain of, but occasionally Mac lapses into inaction more apparent because his correct style is the exact antithesis.
It is perhaps his remarkable adroitness more than anything else which strikes the spectator who is fortunate enough to catch him on his game. In truth he is a great player, and to his skill was largely due increased success of Notts last season. His form this year has not been satisfactory as a whole, though last week against Burnley he showed by one of his brilliant displays that the falling away was only temporary. Whether Maconnachie is destined to win any international distinction is a point difficult to discuss; only, if an ambition in that direction would temper his character wth necessary prudence there would be little doubt of his final success in the quest.
Born at Glasgow in May, 1876, Maconnachie is 23. There is one fatal blot on his career. He did not play football when a mere baby. The successful singer relates how the inborn talent manifested itself in infant days; the premier danscuse tells of tripping the light fantastic as soon as cradle days had passed; and coming into the real of sport and pastime we hear of young children taking naturally to the water after the manner of ducks. Maconnachie, however, did not commence to play football until 17, at which age he joined a Glasgow junior club called Ashfield.
In the same team were Jimmy Stevenson (who susbequently played for Derby and is now at Newcastle) and Neill (the splendid half-back of Glasgow Rangers). So strong were Ashfield that they landed in Glasgow “Evening News,” the Scottish Junior, the Maryhill, the North-Eastern, and the Glasgow Junior Cups – a record of which Maconnachie still speaks with glowing pride.
Stevenson was responsible for bringing Maconnachie across the Tweed, recommending him to Derby County, to which club Stevenson had gone some time previously. In Scotland he had played outside right, and at Derby he sometimes figures there as partner to Steve Bloomer; on other pccasions he appeared in the centre. By his efforts the Peakites placed great store, and were looking to him for material help in their later Cup tie struggles two years back. In the third round, however, Liverpool entered a protest against him on the ground that he had played in a five-a-side contest during the close season. Mac was consequently unavialable for the rest of the competition – a contingency which profited neother Liverpool nor Everton, for Derby overcoming both reached the final.
Beaten at the Palace by Nottingham Forest, their loss doubtless took their minds to absent Maconnachie, which by that time was in the Notts County ranks. Fears of test matches induced Notts to seek for his transfer; Derby because of the peculiar circumstances yielded. He could not play in the Cup for them, and the relations between him and another Peak player were not such as would allow of the two working harmoniously. Stars in other than the footballing profession disagree. There was not room for two Richmonds, so Maconnachie secured his pass to Nottingham.
Since the days of Sandy Higgins the lace city has never possessed such an accomplished dribbler as Maconnachie. Unlike the old Forest player, Mac is not fitted for centre-forward; when he should be combining with and feeding his wings he is most likely to be seen speeding away in the direction of goal, forgetting the organising duties of a pivot; instead of looking after the wings he wants to be consistently fed by the other forwards. With Notts he has chiefly appeared inside right, and there rather than in centre is his proper place.
You know Maconnachie is a footballer as soon as you see him; as he walks on to the ground the easy springiness of his gait suggests the foot juggler. His movements are naturally graceful, and he has a fair notion of the poetry of motion. Possessing complete mastery of both feet, he winds through a maze of opponents in a style almost bewildering, and there is not much about the intricacies of dribbling that Mac doesn’t know. He is a fine model for the young footballer, who in these days has not many chances of seeing dribbling of the highest class.
As indicated above, a feature of Maconnachie’s play is the sudden, almost startling adroitness of his movements; he astonishes you by the easiness with which he so rapidly changes his location; it is not the wild rush of the ball, but rather the graceful gliding of the swift skater. And having arrived on the scene almost unperceived, he works the ball out and shoots.
A capital shot he is, too. Wonderfully good at taking the ball on the half-volley and changing its direction, he does this in cases where Billy Gunn – one of the few cricket and football internationalists – used to change the course on the volley.
Maconnachie’s plan demands superior judgment; it also enables the player to get more pace on the ball. This may account for a number of his passes going out. Occasionally his cleverness degenerates info fancy play, for the entertainment of the thoughtless section of the spectators, but more often he works usefully, and he has done more for Notts than any forward the club has had for years past.
Small of stature, he is tremendously muscular – a pocket Hercules in fact – and looks likely to put on a lot of flesh shortly. Notts could ill afford to lose him, for they are not over-stocked with first-rate forwards, and well-wishers will join in the hope that, with careful attention to training, Maconnachie may long continue to give his best services to the good old club which bears the honoured name of Notts County.
(Lancashire Evening Post, 04-11-1899, by ‘Perseus’)
Alexander Maconnachie, Notts County F.C.