Stuart Mackay

1989 new cap mackay

Stuart Mackay

Rob Batiste recalls in an article in 2007 the golden summer of Stuart Mackay, the third player to score a century in inter-insular games.

‘Sarnian hero relives his phenomenal year of ’89’

The list of Old Elizabethans to have been capped at full island level is long. But few have still been at Elizabeth College when winning their first senior cap, just as Pete Le Hegarat does this weekend. The odd ones readily come to mind. There was Pierre Le Cocq in 1961, Keith Howick in 1971, John Le Lievre in 1973 and Adrian Birkett in 1999.

But no Elizabethan has made a more startling debut than Stuart Mackay in 1989. He remains one of only three players to have scored a century in the 50-year-old inter-insular fixture and one of two from Guernsey, the first being Stan Cleal 27 years earlier [1962]. To achieve it aged 18 was something quite special, but given his form that summer few would have been surprised that he should make exactly 100 not out on his home pitch at the College Field.

Mackay, now 36 and working in investment banking for Lazard in the City, made a trip home to Guernsey at the weekend to see family and friends; play golf with brother Dougie in the L’Ancresse Open and enjoy a spot of surfing. He was happy to reminisce about his achievement and agreed ‘it was a golden summer all round. The wickets were baking hard and it was a phenomenal year. We [Elizabeth] beat Victoria, the MCC and [for the island] had a clean sweep of the inter-insulars.’

The College had one of their best ever sides with Mackay supported by the likes of Dave Marshall, Neil Garrett, Mark Jefferies and Rob Turville. ‘We had a well balanced side and we all owed a lot to Mike Kinder.’ The day before the island game, the sixth-former had played against Salemites and not fared well. ‘Ralph Anthony bowled me out for a silver duck.’ Come the next morning he did not have to nervously wait long for his big chance. ‘I got in early that day and I had time to play myself in. I remember their bowling attack being pretty tough with the likes of Colin Graham and Barry Middleton. It was a tough grind before lunch and I remember being bounced by Middleton and having to take a couple on my nose.’ After lunch, wickets fell and come the final over he had Warren Barrett at the other end. ‘I was stuck on 94 and Warren [who had a hamstring pull] kept getting twos.’ Eventually he got Mackay on strike and after a beautiful cover drive for four he charged Graham and got a very lucky and a big thick inside edge. The ball ran to fine leg for two and, despite Barrett’s handicap, Mackay raced through for two and his ton.

By the next summer he was at Oxford and he was to play relatively little cricket back in Guernsey, his club side being Optimists. Studies hindered his commitment to the game at university and while he was to win full blues for hockey, football [in goal] and skiing, he got no further than the seconds  – the Authentics – in cricket. ‘In my last year I got into the blues squad but the batting was very good. It a tough year to be a batsman.’ Filling the main spots that year were Jason Gallian, Richard Montgomerie, Iain Sutcliffe and Gregor Macmillan, all of whom went on to forge a county career.

As he developed his, which included four years working in the United States, cricket fell by the wayside, but recently he has returned to playing, albeit infrequently, for the famous Free Foresters club. ‘I started playing again two years ago. They have a fantastic fixture list with games against the likes of the Army, the Navy and the MCC. But I’m not playing as much as I’d like to. To my tremendous sadness cricket hasn’t featured too much.’

You will more likely find him on the slopes of Verbier – ‘skiing is one of the things I’ve managed to do consistently’ – or on the golf course. He was playing off six at L’Ancresse at the weekend and was well placed with a gross 77. His home course is Denham in Buckinghamshire where, among its list of former members, you will find one Denis Compton. Now there was another fine cricketer.

Stuart was listed 97th in the All time Top 100 Guerney Sporting Heroes  by Rob Batiste in his Big Book of Guernsey Sport, published in 2016.