Retro Heaven

Duncan McKenzie Throws a Golf Ball

Duncan McKenzie throws a golf ball across a football pitch…

duncan-mckenzieDuncan McKenzie characterised perfectly the type of footballer I used to love watching as a boy in the 1970s. Despite playing for a team I never supported (Leeds Utd) he was a talented footballer and a boyhood hero for many.

Born in Grimsby, McKenzie first joined Nottingham Forest before being bought by legendary manager Brian Clough during his equally legendary forty-four day spell as manager of Leeds Utd. It was at Leeds where McKenzie made his name, he partnered Allan Clarke in attack and scored an impressive number of goals. But his inconsistency hampered his England and club career and by the end of 1976 he had been sold to Anderlecht.  McKenzie was a frustrating player in many ways, when he was inclined he could produce some moments of exquisite skill particularly against top opposition but he quickly earned a reputation for being unreliable and ineffective against weaker sides. Everton bought him back from Belgium but a change in manager didn’t suit McKenzie and despite some memorable appearances he left a year later.

McKenzie was his own man and in many ways that would cost him both nationally and at club level, he was a talented footballer who failed to realise his true potential and it was for his off the field antics that he is best known.

There are two feats of fitness and strength which McKenzie performed which won him fans from across the footballing spectrum. The first was his ability to jump over a mini which became his trademark, the second was being able to throw a golf ball the length of a football pitch!

These things mattered to boys in the 1970s, there were no multimedia games to obsess over, we had cigarette card collections and plastic toys from cereal packets to keep our minds occupied. It didn’t work, we all wanted to be Mr McKenzie running down the wing of the local bit of scrubland.

How many boys must have attempted his jumps and throws? It was exciting stuff, harmless, innocent fun. I miss football from the 70s, those wonderful European Cup nights with glorious commentary that was straight-laced with measured enthusiasm.

So here’s Duncan McKenzie throwing a golf ball despite a sore shoulder, the incomparable Brian Moore provides the intro…

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