Boghall, Glasgow born left back Donald Mackinlay was one of Liverpool’s great stalwarts and their club captain from 1922 to 1928. Having started his career with Newton Swifts in 1909, he played for Newton Villa in 1909 and was signed by Liverpool manager Tom Watson on 27th January 1910. Mackinlay made his Football League debut for Liverpool at 19 years of age when Liverpool defeated Nottingham Forest 7-3 on 20th April 1910, with Jack Parkinson grabbing four goals. He only made two appearances as left half the following season and featured on the right and left of the half back line at the close of 1911-12.
His first goal for the club came in the first minute of the 4-1 home victory over Spurs on 2nd January 1912. Mackinlay was slowly making a name for himself but the question was what was his best position. He played in five different positions in the 1912-13 season mostly as an inside right where he was said to be “as nippy and quick as a jack-in-the-box.” He had a magnificent shot in his arsenal and he scored six goals in 23 matches that campaign.
He was moved back and forth as well in the following season and after only featuring in two out of the last 11 games he was given the enormous responsibility of playing as left half in place of injured captain Harry Lowe in the 1914 FA Cup Final which Liverpool lost 1-0 to Burnley at The Crystal Palace, before the onset of the First World War brought the suspension of peacetime football a year later.
Mackinlay appeared regularly for Liverpool during the War and made 136 wartime appearances, scoring 24 goals. Once the Football League resumed in 1919 Mackinlay was a firm fixture in the side and formed probably the best full-back pairing ever in the history of Liverpool with Mackinlay on the left and Ephraim Longworth on the right. After sharing the captaincy with Longworth in the 1919-20 season he was made sole captain in January 1922 at thirty years of age and held on to this honour until he left Liverpool seven years later.
That he was only awarded two international caps by Scotland is probably a greater surprise. The first came in a British Championship match at the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham on 4th February 1922 a game that the Scots lost 2-1 to Wales, the second a month later in a 2-1 win over Ireland at Parkhead.
Mackinlay was the proud general of the Liverpool side that won successive League Championship titles in 1922 and 1923, in the latter season he was ever present and chipped in with a career best equalling 6 goals, and he had the leadership qualities necessary for such a demanding role. Mackinlay’s shooting prowess gave him a career return of 34 goals in 434 appearances for Liverpool, of which only four came from the penalty spot.
One goal possibly more memorable than the rest came on 16th January 1926 in the 15th minute of a 2-1 League win against West Ham United. Mackinlay was fully ten yards inside his own half when he unleashed a shot that hit the back of the Hammers’ net. After missing only two matches in Liverpool’s 1927-28 campaign, he made his final appearance on 1st September 1928 at Aston Villa. In honour of his 19 years of service for the club Mackinlay received his fourth benefit from Liverpool in the last game of the 1928-29 season against Manchester City at Anfield, receiving a cheque for a total of £468.
Mackinlay stayed in the Merseyside area to play non league football with Prescot Cables in 1929 before hanging up his boots. He certainly enjoyed his two decades at Liverpool: “If I had 20 years to go again, I would go back to them,” he said in 1955.