x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

The hat-trick of hat-tricks

The first round of the FA Cup is always a magical sporting occasion, here Ted MacDougall talks about the time he fired in nine goals against Margate.

Even in the depths of the bleak midwinter, there is much fun to be had in the south coast holiday resort of Bournemouth. Canadian singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen is coming to town next week, or, if Sisters of Mercy is too dark for your musical taste, then you could take in Kylie Mania at the historic end-of-the-pier theatre; not that the tiny Aussie chanteuse will be appearing in person, I should point out, but in the guise of sound-alike Adele Rankin. Still not tempted? Then how about Icelandic combo Sigur Ros whose music, according to the publicity blurb, '... Lies somewhere between the Scottish highlands and the far side of the moon, a sulphur-reeking wonderland of monstrous waterfalls, spurting geysers and steaming mountainsides...'? Hmmm, but you are proving hard to please. Then may I suggest 'An Evening of Clairvoyance with TV Psychic Colin Fry?' Providing, of course, that it is not cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. Come Saturday, however, a goodly proportion of the 163,000 townspeople will be in the grip of FA Cup fever when Bournemouth set off on the long and winding road that leads to Wembley with the arrival of Bristol Rovers at the Fitness First stadium.

It was at this first round stage in November 1971 that Ted MacDougall made FA Cup history by scoring a record nine goals in Bournemouth's 11-0 demolition of Margate. 'Super Mac', as he instantly became known, scored 256 league goals (more than Ian Rush) in a career spanning 1967-80 that also included spells with Bill Shankly's Liverpool, Tommy Docherty's Manchester United and Ron Greenwood's West Ham. Now 61 and Director of Coaching with the Atlanta Silverbacks in the United States, MacDougall puts the secret of his uncanny knack of scoring goals with his head, shoulders, knees or toes from every distance and every angle down to sheer greed. "Whenever I scored one, I wanted a second," he explains. "When I scored a second, I wanted a hat-trick. When the eighth went in against Margate, all I could think was 'right, now I want nine.' "I'd scored six against Oxford in the first round the previous season and left the pitch disappointed it hadn't been seven. "That's the way it is with all natural born scorers. Almost forty years ago. Whoosh, time flies. Whenever I tell the kids over here about the day I scored nine goals in the FA Cup ? a tale I relate with monotonous regularity ? I claim I was only eight at the time."

Born in Inverness (oh, yes, he also scored three goals in seven international appearances for Scotland), MacDougall began his playing days at the age of 18 when he joined Liverpool. Alas, with the legendary Ian St John and Roger Hunt sharing the goal-scoring responsibilities - and with Tony Hateley, recently signed from Chelsea, also ahead of him in the pecking order, he made but one first-team appearance as a substitute before pitching up at third division Bournemouth. "I made my debut at Newport and I remember the manager, Freddie Cox, telling me, 'Close your eyes and pretend it's Wembley'." As an avalanche of goals followed and the entire nation began following his exploits, after a rare Saturday blank one Sunday newspaper was moved to proclaim MacDougall Fails To Score! in a banner headline. When Margate came calling in the cup, their manager revealed that he had no special tactics to deal with the phenomenon. "Ted MacDougall? We'll treat him like any other player." Unlike any other player, MacDougall scored five in the first half ? at which point the Margate boss jokingly asked his counterpart in the Bournemouth dugout, John Bond, to substitute their tormentor. "It was a miserably wet day and the ball was zipping off the turf but, that apart, I don't remember all that much about the game," he said. "Scoring goals is part instinct, part being in the right place at the right time and once you come to understand the knack, it just becomes easier and easier.

"There's very, very little space in the 18-yard box and I was lucky in that I was very quick over three to four yards, both in action and in thought." The following day, MacDougall received an invitation from Geoff Hurst asking him to play for a Rest of the World XI against West Ham in his testimonial game at Upton Park. "We assembled at the Hilton Hotel in London's Park Lane ? me in my beat-up second-hand car ? where I looked around the lobby and thought, 'What the hell am I doing here'? There was Bournemouth's Ted MacDougall standing beside Eusebio, Simoes, Uwe Seeler, Jimmy Greaves, Dave Mackay and Jimmy Johnstone ? stars I'd only ever seen on TV. Anyway, I managed to score in front of 40,000 spectators which was something special." After scoring 126 goals in 165 games for Bournemouth, it was off to Manchester United when, having previously rejected transfer bids from Wolves, West Ham, Coventry and Terry Venables' Crystal Palace, John Bond was finally forced to sell 'Super Mac' in October 1972 for the then fabulous fee of £200,000.

"Old Trafford was not the happiest dressing-room back then. The manager Frank O'Farrell was a lovely man but United were an ageing side in decline lying about fourth from the bottom. "Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law were still there from the glory days, as was Sir Matt Busby although he never spoke a word to me in my five months with the club. "I scored on my debut at Old Trafford which was memorable but the rest of my time at Old Trafford is best forgotten. Let's just say there was a lot of bitching and a lot of blaming everyone else." As well as being the only player to have scored nine goals in an FA Cup tie, MacDougall as one other claim to fame; when he began displaying the early symptoms of asthma at Old Trafford he was sent to a specialist. "He gave me scores of tests before discovering I was allergic to two things ? grass and running. He even game me a medical certificate to prove it," MacDougall rejoiced. rphilip@thenational.ae