Feature by Tony Scholes
Updated Thursday, 21st June 2012
Date and Place of Birth
23rd February 1925 - Newburgh
died 4th January 2000
Transfers to and from Burnley
from Dundee United - May 1954
to St. Mirren - January 1957
First and Last Burnley Games
Chelsea (h) - 31st August 1954
Chelsea (a) - 15th December 1956
Burnley Career Stats
|Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Others||Total|
Profile by Tony Scholes
When Burnley manager Frank Hill swooped to sign a new centre forward at the end of the 1953/54 season, he captured a player who had already obtained legendary status at his first club.
Peter McKay had signed for Dundee United in 1947, his first professional club, from Newburgh FC, a junior club in Scotland, and his exploits in the Scottish League with the Tannadice club were remarkable.
He scored 13 league goals in 19 games in his first season, and in the subsequent six season passed 20 league goals on all but one occasion, that in 1952/53 when injury permitted him to play only 23 games.
Playing as a part timer for some of the time he supplemented his pay by becoming the assistant groundsman in 1949, obviously ensuring that he had a goalscorers pitch to play on.
He was the top scorer in all but one of his seven seasons with Dundee United and that sort of form had attracted considerable interest in him from other clubs, many from south of the border in England. One of those clubs was Burnley but our reluctance to make a move was probably due to the fact that he was not the biggest of players.
He was recommended more than once to Burnley but maybe a diminutive centre forward, no matter his goalscoring record, was not what we wanted. I've seen his height listed at anything between 5'5" and 5'7" in record books and Hill finally decided to make a move and bring the by then 29-year-old MacKay to England.
He arrived with an astonishing record. In 185 league appearances for Dundee United he had scored 157 goals. Add the cup games and it took his return to 203 goals in 241 appearances.
That record did not win him an immediate place in the Burnley team. He started the 1954/55 season in the reserves and scored a hat trick on his Central League debut. Burnley fans were soon sitting up and taking notice of the new man as he notched eight goals in his first three reserve games, and that won him a place in the first team.
There was to be no repeat of his Dundee United exploits however. He played three games and was then left out again and by the end of his first season had played just four times in the first team without scoring. Even so, he'd had a remarkable season at reserve team level and had scored no fewer than 36 Central league goals.
The 1955/56 season saw a change of fortune for McKay. Bill Holden went, and, after a few games with Jimmy McIlroy at centre forward, McKay was given his chance and how he took it. In his first season in the first team he scored 25 goals in 34 league appearances and was the leading goalscorer by some distance.
He played in a Burnley forward line that was the smallest in English football with players such as Doug Newlands and Brian Pilkington on the wings with Jimmy Mac and Albert Cheesebrough in the inside forward positions.
McKay was quick, could get up and win his headers too for a small man, but was very much the goal poacher and Burnley were now getting a big return for bringing him to Turf Moor.
The 1956/57 season saw a change of manager at Turf Moor, a change that ultimately led to McKay's departure. Even so, he started the season well again and was scoring a goal every other game. He'd got 11 in 22 games but he wasn't what new boss Alan Brown wanted.
I recall speaking to Jimmy Mac about McKay around three years ago and he said that McKay was a penalty box player. Jimmy said that's where he wanted to be and where Jimmy himself wanted him to be, knowing that he'd get on the end of things when Jimmy played the ball into the box.
Brown, however, wanted him to get down the wings more making runs and it just wasn't McKay's game. So, despite his record and even with no obvious replacement, he was left out of the side in December 1956.
Within no time at all he'd gone. Just into the New Year and he returned to Scotland with St. Mirren. His career in English league football was over but what an impression he'd left on Burnley supporters.
McKay had proved himself more than capable of scoring goals at the very highest level of English football and there was a real disappointment amongst Burnley fans that he'd not been lured to Turf Moor earlier and that we hadn't had him as a Burnley player for longer.
Needless to say he scored at more than a goal every two games during his short time at St. Mirren before he returned to England where he ended his career in non-league football with Corby Town.
He settled in Northamptonshire having retired until he sadly passed away on 4th January 2000 at the age of 74. His ashes were taken back to Dundee and scattered in the goal mouth at Dundee United's Tannadice Street.
Over nine years later he was honoured by Dundee United when he was inducted into their Hall of Fame, the occasion celebrated by members of Peter McKay's family.
My dad liked big players. If he was here today and selecting his all time Burnley team I don't think there would be many under 6ft getting a game. He liked Peter McKay though, really liked him. When I asked why he said it was because he was a good'un so his lack of size didn't matter. Praise indeed.
Having said that - Jimmy McIlroy, describing his ability in the box, said he was a genius.