Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gordon Smith signs for Hibs

Not that Gordon Smith. Or that Gordon Smith.

Actually it was on this day in 1941 that the original Gordon Smith signed for Hibs, the first of the quintet that would become the Famous Five. Smith went on to represent three Scottish clubs in the European Cup. Without ever lining up for either side of the Old Firm.

Here's a quick guide to his career courtesy of Association of Football Statisticians:
Known as the Gay Gordon or the Peter Pan of Scottish football he was a fine outside-right and remained in top-flight soccer until he was 40. His first honour was to play against England in a wartime international in 1945 and he also played in two "Victory" internationals in 1946. With the War over he was able to gain full honours and was capped 18 times between 1947 and 1957 and played nine times for the Scottish League in representative matches. He won three Championship medals with Hibs (1948, 1951, 1952) and a Cup losers medal when they were beaten by Aberdeen in 1947. In the same year he became the first Scottish player to score five goals from the wing in a First Division match. He played for Hibernian in the inaugural European Cup (1955-56) and later appeared in the same competition with Hearts (1960-61) and Dundee (1962-63). He thus became the first player to appear in the European Cup with three different sides.

Hibernian gave him a free transfer in the summer of 1959 after 310 peacetime League games with them (125 goals) and he joined Hearts. They were Champions at the end of his first season with them and won the Scottish League Cup in the same year. In 1961 he was again freed and joined Dundee and, remarkably, they too were League Champions by the end of his first season. He finally retired in 1964 after 423 Scottish League matches and 146 goals as well as almost 20 in the Scottish Cup and over 30 in the League Cup.
During his career both Brazilian side Vasco de Gama and French club Cannes tried to buy and Sir Matt Busby brought Manchester United north for his testimonial with Hibs - the Edinburgh side winning 7-3 in a game that "could have gone either way."

In Simon Pia's book Sunshine On Leith, Lawrie Reilly says of Smith:
Gordon was a thoroughbred. Even when we knew he wasn't having a good game he looked wonderful, like an artist, and the fans loved him no matter what he did.
Fittingly, the chapter on Smith is called The Prince of Wingers.

And just to prove Scottish football retains a bit of continuity a certain Craig Brown was also a member of Dundee's championship winning squad.