Everyone at Dundee Football Club was saddened to learn of the death of former Dundee player Gordon Black who passed away last Thursday, aged 87 at St John’s hospital in Livingston where he was being treated after a serious fall which had resulted in a fractured pelvis. Gordon was a half-back who made 100 appearances for the Dark Blues between 1955 and 1958 and scored six goals including the first in the famous 7-3 League Cup win over Dundee United.
James ‘Gordon’ Black was born in Linlithgow on July 8th 1921 and started his football career with local Junior side Armadale Thistle before signing for Hibernian in 1948. He remained at Easter Road for the next five years in a period where Hibs won back to back Scottish League championships in 1951 and 1952 before moving to Falkirk in October 1953.
In the next two seasons Gordon made 47 appearances for The Bairns and was equally comfortable at left or right half and his last appearance for Falkirk came in the final game of the season in a 2-2 draw with Dundee at Brockville on April 30th 1955.
He must have made a good impression on visiting manager Willie Thornton for in the summer he brought Gordon to Dens and made his Dundee debut in the fourth game of the new season; replacing Tommy Gallacher in the side in a 2-2 home draw with Airdrieonians in a League Cup sectional tie.
Black’s inaugural season with The Dee would see him make 36 appearances, including both Scottish Cup 4th round ties with Dundee United in February. After a 2-2 at Tannadice, Dundee knocked United out the Cup with 3-0 win at Dens Park four days later but better was to come for Gordon and his team mates against their neighbours in the League Cup seven months later.
The sides were drawn together in the quarter-finals after topping their respective sections and the first leg at Dens was to become one of the most famous Dark Blue derby wins of all time. On September 12th 1956 Gordon would become part of Dundee folklore when he scored the opening goal in the 7-3 win over United and the match has been immortalised in the Johnnie Scobie song which is still sung today.
That was Gordon’s second goal for The Dee after scoring his first in a sectional tie away at Raith and his first league goal was the opener in a 2-1 win over Celtic at Dens, three weeks after that derby victory.
Towards the end of that season Gordon was part of the Dundee side which defeated Manchester United’s ‘Busby Babes’ 5-1 in a friendly at Dens Park on April 9th, two days after they had won the English league title and the match was notable for being Bobby Charlton’s first ever appearance for The Red Devils.
Black’s final year at Dens Park would see him play alongside such Dundee legends as Bill Brown, Doug Cowie, Bobby Cox, Alex Hamilton, Hugh Robertson and Alan Cousin as he made a further 24 appearances to take his total to 100 competitive games in a Dundee shirt and scored a further twice against Hibs at Dens and from the penalty spot away at Airdrie.
Gordon’s last game for Dundee was at home to Airdrie on April 26th 1958, his first game in three months, and with the rapid development of the “Thornton Babes”, opportunities for older players became less and less. He was made available for transfer for £1000 in an end of season clear out which saw 12 players depart Sandeman Street and in September was allowed to join St Johnstone for free.
At the end of the campaign Gordon left Perth to join former Hibs team mate Bobby Coombe who was manager of Dumbarton and after 66 appearances in three years at Boghead, hung up his boots as Dundee were crowned Champions of Scotland.
A keen golfer in later life, Gordon became involved with the Football Memories Group at the Crombie Inn, Bo’ness which helps those with dementia and enjoyed sharing stories of being a team mate of the Hibs ‘Famous Five’ as well as the exploits of some of the great players of his generation.
Gordon was an excellent player who was highly respected by team mates and opponents alike and our thoughts are with his friends and family at this sad time.