FORMER Rangers captain Dave Mackinnon has recalled how he was once flattened by his own manager Bertie Auld before kick-off when he played for the Celtic legend at Partick Thistle.

Mackinnon, who had spells at Dundee, Thistle, Rangers, Airdrie, Kilmarnock and Forfar Athletic in a professional career which spanned three decades, was renowned for his work ethic and tackling ability during his playing days.

However, the full-back was taken aback after he moved to Firhill in an £18,000 transfer from Dens Park in 1978 and discovered that his new manager Auld wanted his charges to get stuck into each other in training on the day of a game. 

The Scot, who played at Ibrox for four years in the 1980s and who skippered the Glasgow giants on a few occasions, quickly discovered out the Lisbon Lion was being deadly serious.

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“When I was at Partick Thistle, the manager there, Bertie Auld, used to have a practice match on the morning of the game,” said Mackinnon. “I thought, ‘Och, it’s just about setting up in the formation’.

“Next thing, Bertie said to me, ‘Tackle! You need to tackle!’ I said, ‘What do you mean? It’s a practice match’. Shortly after that I was running up the park and he went through me and put me up in the air. He said, ‘If you don’t tackle you’re no’ playing!’ We should have had VAR in training!”

The Herald: He added: “In the first minute of a game, I would always go out and try and win a tackle or a header. It would make you think you were on your game and it would make the opposition think you were on your game as well.

“Plus, if you didn’t do that early the manager would be on at you. But putting in a tackle before the game had kicked off was a new one on me.”

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Mackinnon prided himself on his ability to dispossess an opposition player with a perfectly-timed slide tackle during his playing days and he believes that "art" is being lost to the game because of the use of VAR. 

“I wouldn’t have liked VAR,” said Mackinnon. “A lot of things happened off the ball in my time, people getting punched and elbowed and what have you. If there had been cameras there then there would have been about eight players left on the park at the final whistle. But it was just in the spirit of the game.

“I was only sent off once in my career – and it was in my last ever game. I came out of retirement to play for Forfar. I got sent off against Hamilton up at Station Park after about 10 minutes for a deliberate handball on the goal line. My hand was on the post and a header came in and hit my arm. The referee deemed it to be deliberate.

“The thing that I practised and practised and practised, and it became an art, was a slide tackle. During a game, if the opposition winger was running towards your goal and you ran in and slide tackled him it raised the whole crowd, especially in Europe.

“Whenever you played in Europe you always had to make sure that you raised the crowd. If you slid in and won the ball it really did that, it lifted atmosphere inside a ground.”

He continued: “Sadly, you don’t see players putting in slide tackles now. The way an incident is slowed down by VAR means players can’t follow through and you have to follow through. I would probably get sent off every week now.

“They slow it down to such an extent now and take a still photograph. Then it is interpreted as being dangerous. But if you are a defender you have to defend and use all means available to you to do so. Slide tackling is an art. The fans like it, everyone likes it.

“Even opposition players like it. I can remember speaking to wingers after a game when I played. They would often say, ‘Your timing was spot on there Davie’.”

The Herald: