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Mackay will always be welcome back, says Wick Academy chairman

By Alan Hendry

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WICK Academy chairman Pat Miller has made it clear that Sam Mackay will always be welcome back at Harmsworth Park in whatever capacity.

Mackay announced at the weekend that he is quitting after 11 years of loyal service to the Scorries.

The 31-year-old midfielder said family commitments were the main reason for his decision, which came after Highland League clubs agreed to cut short the 2019/20 season.

Mackay, a former Scotland schoolboy international, had spells at Brora and Deveronvale before signing for Academy in 2009. He made 349 appearances for Wick and scored 144 goals in all competitions.

Chairman Miller said: “Sam was a brilliant addition to an already talented squad. When he arrived we saw from the very start of his career with Academy that we’d bought someone who could unlock defences and supply our forwards with his quality passes.

"Over the years his talents were there for everyone to see, which endeared him to our supporters. Even in what eventually was his last season he showed his versatility by playing in the back four like he’d always been there.

Sam Mackay beats Nairn County's Adam Naismith to the ball. Picture: Mel Roger
Sam Mackay beats Nairn County's Adam Naismith to the ball. Picture: Mel Roger

"After he told me of his plans I tried to dissuade him, to no avail. All I can do now is wish him a happy retirement but with the proviso 'never say never’ as we would welcome him back in some capacity with Wick Academy.”

Academy co-manager Gary Manson hailed Mackay as "straight out of the top drawer" at Highland League level.

“Firstly I'd like to say it's a great shame that Sam has decided to hang the boots up but all good things have to come to an end and I fully understand his reasons," Manson said. "It's also really unfortunate he never got the chance to say a proper goodbye to the fans.

"He has certainly been a great servant over the years to Wick Academy, but even more importantly he has been a player straight out of the top drawer at Highland League level.

"When he joined us all those years ago the boys knew we were getting one of the most talented young players in the league who would instantly make our starting 11 stronger, and so it proved.

"Sam is a valuable commodity in football – he's a match-winner, a guy that could score or create a goal out of nothing. I've seen him countless times ghosting by three players and smashing a shot into the net.

"He could also, certainly in his early days with us when he played wide, beat his man and whip tremendous crosses into the box which strikers thrived on.

"He'll obviously be missed on the park but also in the changing room, on the team bus and around Harmsworth Park where he was always a lively character and the sort who got on with everyone. It'll be very difficult to replace Sam in every sense.

"Sam can be very proud of what he achieved playing with the club. We achieved things during that period that were never accomplished before and might never be again, highlights being winning the North of Scotland Cup in 2015/16 and also winning every single home league match during the 2012/13 season, only missing out on the title by four points."

Mackay also had the distinction of winning the Scottish Cup "goal of the round" award in two successive rounds in 2015/16.

Manson added: "In summary, Sam is an extremely talented football player. It was a pleasure to not only play alongside him but also to call him a team-mate.

"He'll be sorely missed by all at the club. We wish him and his family all the very best for the future and he will always be welcome at Harmsworth Park.”

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