Alan Gordon was a rare treat for spectators in the period between 1961 and 1976 as he played with elegance and intelligence whilst still being strong enough to play in that era.
Edinburgh born Gordon showcased his ability at a young age playing his part in a Murrayburn Primary School team that won the School Board Cup three years in a row. He captained, and unsurprisingly scored for, the Edinburgh Primary Schools’ victory over Bellshill Primary Schools on his 12th birthday in 1956 as they won 4-2 on aggregate.
His secondary education was at George Heriot’s School where he dabbled in rugby union, but he honed his footballing skills with the Boys Brigade, Sighthill Thistle and Edinburgh Athletic. In 1959 he signed a provisional contract with Heart of Midlothian and two years later he joined the Gorgie side.
Gordon enjoyed a profitable spell at Tynecastle as he learned his trade alongside the iconic Hearts forward, and Terrible Trio member, Willie Bauld. His second professional outing came in the League Cup final against Rangers where he earned a penalty for his side in a 1-1 draw in front of 88,000 supporters at Hampden Park. He continued his education whilst playing for Hearts in an eight year spell, including the 1964/65 season where the Gorgie outfit finished second by vurtue of goal difference, and he gained a Master of the Arts degree in Economics.
The forward played in South Africa for a season after being loaned out to Durban United where he scored 10 goals in 19 appearances, before he left Tynecastle permanently to join Dundee United in 1969.
GORDON MADE A NOTICEABLE IMPACT AT TANNADICE AND LEFT FOR HIBS BECOMING ONE OF EDDIE TURNBULL'S FIRST SIGNINGS IN JANUARY OF 1972 FOR JUST £12,000 – A BARGAIN FOR SUCH A LETHAL FORWARD.
Scoring 34 goals in 77 appearances whilst studying to qualify as a Chartered Accountant, Gordon made a noticeable impact at Tannadice and left for Hibs becoming one of Eddie Turnbull’s first signings in January of 1972 for just £12,000 – a bargain for such a lethal forward.
His first goal came in the Scottish Cup third round away to Partick Thistle, but he had to wait until the next round against Airdrieonians to score at Easter Road as he found the net alongside the legendary Joe Baker. He scored seven goals in 19 appearances in his first season, but he was to score six times as many the following campaign.
In 56 games during the 1972/73 season the mercurial and graceful forward was to find the net a staggering 42 times, scoring five goals in three games in the successful Dryborough Cup campaign – including two in the final against Celtic.
During the season Hibs were playing in the European Cup Winners Cup and were defeated 2-1 in Portugal by Sporting Lisbon. Eddie Turnbull’s side were undeterred in the return leg and Gordon cemented his place as the spearhead of the attack, the tip of the Tornadoes, as he planted a trademark header to put Hibs 1-0 up at Easter Road. He headed the third goal for Hibs that night and set the side on their way to a memorable 6-1 victory on the night.
Gordon continued to find the net both domestically and in Europe as he scored away to Besa in Albania. He won his second piece of silverware for Hibernian as he played in the side that defeated Celtic in the 1972 League Cup final. His intelligent movement ensured that he played a vital role in winning the first major trophy for the club in 70 years.
Alan Gordon playing against Celtic in the 1972 Drybrough Cup Final (pic: SNS)
His first Hibernian hat-trick, of which he scored five, came against Ayr United the following week in an 8-1 drubbing, before scoring in the next four matches – including two in the 7-0 victory over Hearts.
The New Year Derby of 1973 allowed Gordon to be at his devastating best. His tall figure was picked out by Alex Edwards, he chested the pass down and in one adroit movement passed the ball into the net to make it 2-0. He rounded off the scoring with graceful header as he returned to haunt his former employers.
His rich form continued and he obliterated Airdrieonians defence at Broomfield Park as he scored all four goals in a 4-0 victory, before he scored a further trio of goals at home to Hadjuk Split in a 4-2 victory in the first leg of the quarterfinal of the European competition.
Continental success was not possible following a 3-0 defeat in the return leg, but his season was marked with his penchant for scoring goals and also two pieces of silverware.
The following campaign was not as profitable for the forward, but he scored two hat-tricks late on in the campaign against Dundee in the Scottish Cup and Dumbarton in the league.
In 1974 Gordon scored 10 goals for Hibs, including scoring in both legs of the stunning 12-3 aggregate demolition of Norwegian giants Rosenborg, before he departed for Dundee in a transfer worth £13,000.
After 18 months at Dens Park, Gordon retired from football and focused on his accountancy business, with one of his clients including novelist and Hibernian supporter Irvine Welsh. Gordon would also become a pundit on television and radio, as well as serving a three-year tenure as Rector’s Assessor at Edinburgh University. Sadly Gordon passed away on February 18th 2010 following a battle with cancer.
Using his head in more ways than one, Gordon was the prototype for the modern day forward. Intelligent, elegant, expert marksman, a gentleman and a scholar – he truly was ahead of his time.
Written by John Stephens