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Mackay pays tribute to Hearts great Alfie
HEARTS great Dave Mackay today paid tribute to a fellow legend and the last of the Terrible Trio – Alfie Conn.
Conn died at the age of 82 after a short illness and the current Hearts team wore black armbands against Motherwell last night as a mark of respect to the former inside-right, who scored a staggering 221 goals in 408 games for the club.

Conn was best known as part of Hearts' most famous attacking triumvirate alongside Willie Bauld and Jimmy Wardhaugh. The Terrible Trio first came together in the late 1940s and would help bring unprecedented success to Tynecastle in the following decade.

And Mackay, who got to know Conn very well after he joined the Tynecastle club, recalled a hero who became a team-mate and friend.

"Anybody who played for Hearts was a role model to me, but particularly Conn, Bauld and Wardhaugh. I remember them from being just a wee laddie," said Mackay, who played for Hearts between 1953 and 1959 before joining Tottenham Hotspur.

"I was always a Hearts supporter and the Terrible Trio were my three favourite players. I used to watch them on the terraces in my teens so to get to play in the same team as them was absolutely fantastic.

"To go and watch those three was great, as an inside trio they always scored goals. Wardhaugh scored an incredible amount of course but the three of them together were brilliant. Alfie was so strong, the most physical of the three, so he created as well as scored. He had a very powerful shot and was well known for that. "For an out-and-out goalscorer I'd always take Wardhaugh, for a good header of the ball I'd take Bauld, but Alfie Conn was an all-rounder."

Mackay frequently benefited from Conn's insight into the game whilst an aspiring professional with Hearts. The pair would talk football whilst travelling to and from training together. "Alfie lived in Prestonpans and I lived in Whitecraig just outside Musselburgh. He used to drive me home from training when I joined Hearts," recalled Mackay.

"We trained down at Gullane during pre-season so I developed a great relationship with him on the journeys. He was just a smashing guy."

Conn joined Hearts from the juvenile club Inveresk Thistle in 1944 and played in the 1954 League Cup final victory over Motherwell before scoring at Hampden Park two years later as Hearts defeated Celtic in the final of the Scottish Cup. He also helped the club lift the league championship in 1958 before moving to Raith Rovers.

Despite only being selected once for Scotland in a full international – the 1-1 draw with Austria at Hampden in 1956 – he earned legendary status in Gorgie and was an inspirational figure for young players breaking into the first team at the time.

Conn represented Raith Rovers until 1960 before a short spell in South Africa with Johannesburg Ramblers. He returned to Scotland to play for Gala Fairydean and then retired to become a sales director with a paint firm. His son, Alfie Conn Junior, signed for Hearts in 1980. "Alfie travelled all over the country at times through work and one of his stop-offs was Derby, so he used to pop in and see me," said Mackay. "He used to come over and we'd have a night together. I got on really well with him.

"If you were talking about Hearts back in the 1950s you wouldn't talk of just Wardhaugh, or just Bauld, or even two out of the three. They were a package: Conn, Bauld and Wardhaugh. I think Alfie had a good life, he deserved everything he achieved in football because he worked so hard and was a great lad."

Alfie Conn

• Born: Prestonpans, East Lothian, October 2, 1926

• Youth Clubs: Prestonpans YMCA, Inveresk Athletic

• Hearts: From 1944-58 – 408 appearances, 221 goals

• Honours: One full Scotland cap, two Scottish League caps, Scottish Cup winner (1956), Scottish League Cup winner (1955)

Taken from the Scotsman

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