Gil Heron

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Gil Heron
Personal information
Full name Gilbert Heron
Date of birth (1922-04-09)9 April 1922
Place of birth Kingston, Jamaica
Date of death 27 November 2008(2008-11-27) (aged 86)
Place of death Detroit, United States
Playing position Centre forward
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
Detroit Corinthians ? (?)
Detroit Wolverines ? (?)
1951–1952 Celtic 5 (2)
1952–1953 Third Lanark 7 (5)
1953–1954 Kidderminster Harriers ? (10)
Detroit Corinthians ? (?)
Total ? (?)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Gil Heron (9 April 1922 – 27 November 2008) was a Jamaican professional footballer. He was the first black player to play for Scottish club Celtic, and was the father of poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron.

He died in Detroit of a heart attack on 27 November 2008.[1]


Born Gilbert Heron in Kingston, Jamaica,[2] he came from a family of means.[3]

He moved to Canada as a youth and was later enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. As well as being a track athlete and a boxer, he played football and broke through during his stay there. A centre forward, he signed for Detroit Corinthians and the champion Detroit Wolverines, where he was top goalscorer in the 1946 season of the North American Soccer Football League.[4]

He was spotted by a scout from Glasgow Celtic while the club was on tour in North America, and he was signed by the Scottish club in 1951 after being invited over for a trial. Becoming the first black player for Celtic,[2] and the first to play professionally in Scotland,[5] Heron went on to score on his debut on 18 August 1951 in a League Cup tie against Morton that Celtic won 2–0. Heron only played five first-team matches in all, scoring twice.[6] He was released by the club the next year after making one appearance in the Scottish Football League[7] and joined Third Lanark where he played in seven League Cup matches, scoring five goals but did not appear in the League.[8] Next he went to English club Kidderminster Harriers before moving back to Detroit Corinthians. At Celtic he earned the nicknames "The Black Arrow"[6] and "The Black Flash".


While in Chicago, Heron met Bobbie Scott, a singer, with whom he had a son in 1949, the poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron. They separated when Heron left for Scotland[9] and did not meet again till Scott-Heron was 26.[10] Heron had three more children, Gayle, Denis[2] and Kenny, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in Detroit.[10] His older brother, Roy Trevor Gilbert Heron, served with the Norwegian Merchant Navy during World War II and then joined the Canadian army,[11] later moving to Canada, where he became active in black Canadian politics.[10]


  1. ^ Wilson, Brian (19 December 2008). "Obituary: Gil Heron". London: The Guardian. 
  2. ^ a b c Frank Dell'Apa, "Giles Heron: Played for Celtic, father of musician" Boston Globe (4 December 2008). Retrieved 2 June 2011
  3. ^ "Heroes Remember: Roy Heron" Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved 2 June 2011
  4. ^ David A. Litterer, "The Year in Soccer: 1946" North America Soccer List (29 March 2005). 2 June 2011
  5. ^ "The Gillie Heron story". BBC Caribbean. 9 January 2009. Retrieved 26 September 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Roddy Forsyth, "Celtic's first black player, Gil Heron, dies" The Telegraph (30 November 2008). Retrieved 2 June 2011
  7. ^ "Profile". Post War English & Scottish Football League A – Z Player's Database. 
  8. ^ Gil Heron Scottish League (5 July 2005). Retrieved 2 June 2011
  9. ^ Alec Wilkinson, "New York is Killing Me" The New Yorker (9 August 2010). Retrieved 2 June 2011
  10. ^ a b c Norman Otis Richmond, "Gil Heron, 81, father of Gil Scott-Heron, joins the ancestors" Celtic graves (Republished 19 January 2011). Retrieved 2 June 2011
  11. ^ Roy Trevor Gilbert Heron The Memory Project. Retrieved 2 June 2011

External links[edit]