From George Heriot's to Hearts, Hibs, Dundee and Dundee Utd
ALAN Gordon, who played for both senior football teams in Edinburgh and Dundee, has died following a short illness. He was 65, and is thought to have been the only player to have represented Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Dundee United and Dundee.
His former Hibs team-mate Pat Stanton last night recalled Alan Gordon as an intelligent man who loved football, but always recognised that there was more to life than kicking a ball around.
"I played alongside Alan at Easter Road and against him when he was a Hearts player," Stanton said.
"He was a nice big guy, a lovely man. He liked to train hard and he liked to play hard too, but he always knew there were other parts of life as well. He never got wrapped up in the game.
"He was a great player for the Hibs in what was a very good side. He was tall and very skilful, but not what you'd call a physical centre-forward.
"He was a big, intelligent man, and an intelligent player as well. He could look after himself, but didn't get involved in the physical side. I can't remember him getting booked very often, and I think most of the bookings he did get were probably for asking the referee to explain some of his decisions."
Born in Edinburgh, Alan Gordon was educated at George Heriot's School. A precocious talent, he played for Edina Hearts and Edinburgh Athletic before signing for Heart of Midlothian in the summer of 1961, making his debut at an age when many of his former classmates would still be sitting their exams. He did not lose sight of the need for academic qualifications, however, and kept up his studies in accountancy, a profession in which he continued to work during and after his footballing career.
Tall and skilful, he was able to play in a number of attacking positions, but was essentially a striker. He won a League Cup runners-up medal in his second game for Hearts, and would go on to win the competition with Hibernian more than a decade later.
He was also on the losing side for Hibs in the Scottish Cup final of 1972, and was part of the Hearts team which lost out on the league title by goal average in 1964-65. He had become a regular in the first team at Tynecastle by the time of that league campaign, and scored 23 goals that season.
He left Hearts in 1967 for South Africa, where he played for Durban United and also worked as an accountant. He had left on the understanding that he would return to Hearts, and he did so in the autumn of 1968, his absence having denied him the chance to appear in the 1968 Scottish Cup final.
He won back his place in the Hearts first team in the 1968-69 season, but was sold to Dundee United for 8,000 in March of the latter year. He stayed three years at Tannadice, at a time when United were gradually building themselves up into the club which under Jim McLean would go on to challenge the Old Firm.
When McLean became United manager in 1971 he wanted his players to live in the Dundee area, and this hastened Gordon's departure from the club as his business interests meant it was more practical for him to stay in the capital. Hibs ensured he was able to do so by signing him in January 1972, for 4,000 more than United had paid for him.
Eddie Turnbull, who had become manager at Easter Road a year earlier, was building a side as talented as any that had been seen in the club since he was a player himself, and Gordon's experience proved valuable. Although he made fewer appearances for Hibs than he had done for Hearts, overall he arguably had the best years of his career there.
The 1972-73 season was particularly rewarding. Hibs beat Celtic 2-1 in the League Cup final in December, with Stanton and Jimmy O'Rourke scoring the goals for the Edinburgh side. The following month came the most remarkable Gordon played in, and one of the most memorable games in Hibs' history – the 7-0 victory over Hearts at Tynecastle on New Year's Day. Gordon scored once in either half as Hibs ran riot against their city rivals in what was one of their finest all-round performances of the Turnbull era.
At the end of 1974, Gordon, by that time 30, moved on to Dundee. Hibs, who had paid 12,000 for him, received 13,000 from the Dens Park club. He played there for a season and a half, but when Dundee were relegated at the end of season 1975-76 decided to retire from the game.
He continued to work as an accountant following that retiral from football, and also became involved in radio journalism. In recent years he was often seen at Easter Road on match days, and kept up friendships with many former team-mates.
Born on 14 May 1944, Alan Gordon died on Thursday evening, after a battle with cancer. An obituary will follow in The Scotsman next week.