In the late 1950s and early 60s, Valletta FC probably had the best team in their history.
With players of the calibre of goalkeeper Tommy Taylor, centre-half Joe Cilia, defenders Edwin Schembri, Walter Bone and John Darmanin, and forwards Frankie Zammit, Josie Urpani, Alfred Borg and Joe Zammit, Valletta were in a class of their own.
Add to this group of players a strong and versatile half-back like Charlie Mackay – il-Wiżża – and you have a formidable, winning combination.
Mackay was a grafter, with a great appetite for work. He was the ‘ironman’ of the side.
Versatile and strong, he could play equally well at wing-half or inside-forward and if required even at centre-forward. He was no ball artist but he was still a great player in his own way.
His characteristics were a strong tackle and an inviting ball to his fellow forwards and these he delivered without fail for the entire 90 minutes.
Mackay made his debut for Valletta FC on April 26, 1949 against Naxxar Lions in the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy. The Citizens won 4-1 and Mackay had a great game at inside-right.
Impressive goal tally
The next season, Mackay played only four league games for Valletta but towards the end, he regained his place in the first team and never looked back.
In all, he played 133 league games in a City shirt and scored 24 goals. For a midfielder, his goal tally was indeed impressive.
In 1958-59 and 1959-60, Mackay was one of the mainstays of the team which won successive championships and in 1960, he was part of the side that won the FA Trophy for the first time for the Citizens.
Mackay earned two full international caps for Malta and played four times for the Malta Amateur team at the Rome Olympic Tournament in 1959.
He was among the best Maltese players in that tournament, scoring a goal as he also played 16 times in prestigious matches against visiting foreign teams.
Mackay was a great penalty-taker but his biggest asset was his impeccable head-work.
Although rather short, he leapt high and with perfect timing. He was rarely beaten in the air and when things were going wrong for Valletta he would retreat to the penalty area to aid his defenders.
In 1961, Mackay created a sensation in the City camp when, out of the blue, it was announced that he had changed sides and joined rivals Floriana.
It was a blow the City fans just could not stomach. However, there was nothing they could do about it and at the start of the 1961-62 season, he changed the white of Valletta for the green of Floriana.
However, Mackay’s spell with Floriana did not last long.
In fact, he only played a handful of matches for the Greens before retiring at the end of season 1962-63.
Mackay’s stay at Floriana was not entirely fruitless because in 1961-62 he won the third championship medal of his long and colourful career.
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