It was sad news for Hibernian fans of a certain vintage when the reports of former classical centre-forward and ‘Turnbull’s Tornadoes’ star, Alan Gordon’s passing away emerged on Saturday evening. I have to say that I was a little stunned to hear of Alan’s short illness with cancer and subsequent death and reading around various Hibs Internet forums it seems that I was not alone.
Alan Gordon was a much favoured former star of the club, despite the tall blonde haired striker his playing more games for city rivals Hearts and also spending time playing for both teams in Dundee. The fact that his was a relatively short period at Easter Road, I think speaks volumes for what he achieved at the Leith club.
As a younger player in the 1960s’ he had short term playing for Durban United in South Africa in what was an unusual move at the time. He returned to Scotland’s shores and quickly resumed an excellent career.
Most people familiar with Alan will know that he was an educated man outside of the game and had a successful career as an accountant. He took that intelligence onto the pitch with him and was a remarkable player in many ways. That same intellect led to perhaps the most well-known story of his encounter with the famously abrasive and straight talking Hibs manager, Eddie Turnbull who was claimed to have fixed Alan with the classic remark, the trouble wi’ you Gordon is that yer brains are aw in yer heid’!
Alan’s style was hallmarked by grace and elegance, never hurried; he appeared to almost glide over the pitch. Coupled with his insight and predatory instinct in the penalty area this made him a formidable striker indeed. Allan Gordon was renowned for his heading ability which had a full array of power and delicate glances to the benefit of his teammates, especially his also well-loved strike partner, Jimmy O’Rourke with whom he forged an absolutely deadly partnership – a prolific pairing that spearheaded the men in Green Jerseys to huge effect. Magnificent heading was hardly Alan Gordon’s only attribute though as he had a powerful and accurate shot with both feet and habit of ‘passing’ the ball into the back of the net as clinical finishers are often said to do.
The team of course was of former Hibs hero, Eddie Turnbull’s crafting who’s greatest day was undoubtedly the 7 -0 trouncing of Heart of Midlothian in the famed Edinburgh derby game of New Year’s Day 1973 – a date etched in every Hibby’s heart. Alan typically scored the second and seventh goal that day, the former a cool breast down in the penalty area and clinical no-nonsense finish, the latter a trademark header.
It’s well recorded that Eddie Turnbull’s mercurial and brilliant team was broken up far too quickly, perhaps in a fit of pique by the former ‘Famous Five’ member. Striker Joe Harper was brought to Easter Road and displaced Alan Gordon into midfield for a time before Alan left the club, along with O’Rourke and others. History tells us that the disintegrating of the side was a grave error, particularly the introduction of Harper.
United we stand here, divided we fall
We play for each for other, when we’re on the ball,
Our fans are the greatest
They cheer us each game
We’re Turnbull’s Tornadoes – Hibernian’s the name
That was all a long time ago now and people who have had the great pleasure of meeting Alan over the years and talking a little football will confirm that the former striker was the least bitter of men.
In the old game players come and players go, some remembered fondly and others largely forgotten. What we do know of Alan Gordon is that he made a huge contribution to the Hibernian cause and is still well loved as will his memory always be. Sometimes certain individuals of a green and white hue talk of the ‘Hibernian Family’ and whilst I’m never sure of my feelings on that I certainly know exactly what they mean at a time like this. We have lost one of our own and it kind of hurts; I became quickly aware that I am joined in this view by many other Hibernians.
Hibernian lost one of it’s greatest strikers in the history of the club this weekend. We shall be sad and shocked but we know that Alan Gordon leaves us with only pleasant memories.
God rest and keep you Alan. Sincere condolences to all his loved ones everywhere.
Alan Gordon 1944 – 2010.
A Gordon fir me
A Gordon fir me
If you’re no big Alan
Yer nae use tae me
Yer Blackley’s are braw
Yer Stanton’s n’aw
But Big Alan Gordon’s the King o’ them aw