Gordon Hodgson

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Not to be confused with Gordon Hodgson (footballer born 1952).
Gordon Hodgson
Gordon Hodgson.jpg
Gordon Hodgson in the 1932–33 season[1]
Personal information
Full name Gordon Hodgson
Date of birth (1904-04-16)16 April 1904
Place of birth Johannesburg, South Africa
Date of death 14 June 1951(1951-06-14) (aged 47)
Place of death Stoke-on-Trent, England
Height 1.866 m (6 ft 1.5 in)[2]
Playing position Forward
Youth career
1919–1921 Benoni
1921–1922 Rustenburg
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1922–1924 Pretoria
1924–1925 Transvaal
1925–1936 Liverpool 358 (233)
1936–1937 Aston Villa 28 (11)
1937–1939 Leeds United 81 (51)
Total 467+ (295+)
National team
1924 South Africa 2 (0)
1930–1931 England 3 (1)
Teams managed
1946–1951 Port Vale

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

† Appearances (Goals).

Gordon Hodgson (16 April 1904 – 14 June 1951) was a South African-born sportsman, best known as a striker for Liverpool and as a fast bowler for Lancashire.

Hodgson signed for Liverpool on 14 December 1925, going on to score 241 goals in 377 appearances for the Anfield club.[3][4] He transferred to Aston Villa on 8 January 1936 and scored 11 goals in 28 appearances for the Villans,[5] before joining Leeds United in March 1937, scoring 53 goals in 85 appearances for the Elland Road club. In total Hodgson scored 305 goals 490 appearances for his three English clubs, 295 of which came in 467 games in the Football League with the other 10 coming in the FA Cup from 23 appearances. He won two international caps for South Africa and three for England.[3][6]

He was appointed Port Vale manager in 1946, a position he would hold until his death in 1951.

Football career[edit]

Club career[edit]

A burly six-footer from South Africa, Hodgson had a reputation early in his career as an unselfish forward who excelled in link-up play but that didn't stop him going on to become one of Liverpool and indeed the Football League's greatest-ever goalscorers. Not averse to charging through defenders if other avenues to goal were barred, although he was capable of subtlety when the situation demanded it, Hodgson was exceptionally strong on the ball and possessed a terrific shot with either foot, which allied to his height, heading ability, pace, close-control, enthusiasm and a noted talent for shooting when going at top-speed made him a real force in attack. Only Roger Hunt (245) has scored more league goals for Liverpool but all of Hodgson's 233 league strikes came in the top-flight from 358 appearances, a fantastic goals-per-game ratio.[3] In total Hodgson scored 295 goals in 467 games in the Football League, 288 of which came in the top-flight from 454 appearances, leaving him fourth in the all-time list of top-flight goalscorers in English football.[7] Hodgson first came to Liverpool's attention in 1924 as one of the youngest members of the touring South African national team, who on 1 October beat Liverpool 5–2 at Anfield. He joined Liverpool a year later on 14 December 1925, making his debut in a 1–1 draw against Manchester City at Maine Road on 27 February 1926.[3] He opened his goal scoring account eleven days later when he scored twice in a 3–3 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford on 10 March 1926.[3] He scored the first of a still club record 17 hat-tricks for Liverpool in a 5–1 win against Sheffield United at Anfield on 11 September 1926 in his seventeenth game.[3]

During his Anfield career Hodgson missed very few games in league or cup and scored prolifically throughout; therefore, it was a shame that his career coincided with a barren period for the club because his contribution to the Liverpool cause was massive. The 36 league goals Hodgson scored during the 1930–31 season beat Sam Raybould’s total of 31 scored in 1902–03 and set a new club record that would last for more than thirty years, until it was beaten by Roger Hunt in 1961–62.[3] Hodgson scored three hat-tricks that season at Anfield but perhaps it was the four goals he scored in an away match at Hillsborough that gave him the most satisfaction of all.[3] He was top scorer in seven out of the nine full seasons he played for Liverpool.[3] On completion of his ten years service he was honoured by the club with a benefit sum of £650.[8] His popularity prompted an ingenious biscuit seller to name the home-made ginger nuts, that he sold in a quantity of five for a penny on matchdays at Anfield, in his honour: "Hodgson’s Choice! Hodgson’s Choice!" he would call.[3] The 1935–36 season proved to be Hodgson's last at Anfield; his 9 goals in 17 league appearances was yet again a decent return, but on 8 January 1936 he was allowed to move to Aston Villa for £4,000.[9][10] In total Hodgson scored 241 goals in 377 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions,[3] earning him a place in the Liverpool FC Hall of Fame[11] and leaving him third in the all-time list of leading goalscorers for the Anfield club with only Ian Rush (346) and Roger Hunt (286) having scored more.[12][13]

Hodgson made his debut for Aston Villa in a 3–0 defeat against Preston North End at Deepdale on 18 January 1936.[14] His first goal for Villa came in a 4–3 defeat against Bolton Wanderers at Burnden Park on 15 February 1936.[14] He was relegated with Aston Villa at the end of the 1935–36 season, his 4 goals in 15 league appearances not enough to help them beat the drop. His stay with Villa in the Second Division was a short one. He left for Leeds United for £1,500 on 2 March 1937,[15] after scoring 7 goals in 13 appearances for Villa in the Second Division, including a hat-trick in a 5–1 win against Bradford City at Villa Park on 14 September 1936.[16] In total Hodgson scored 11 goals in 28 appearances for Villa, all of which were in the league.[5]

At Leeds United Hodgson showed that he still had what it took to score goals at the top level, scoring 6 goals in 13 league appearances in the second half of the 1936–37 season, including a goal on his debut in a 7–1 defeat against his old Merseyside rivals Everton at Goodison Park on 3 March 1937.[17] Despite that defeat Hodgson's goals still proved enough to help Leeds avoid relegation. The following season, 1937–38, Leeds secured a top half finish thanks in no small part to Hodgson who scored 26 goals in 38 appearances in all competitions, including all four Leeds goals in a 4–4 draw against Everton at Elland Road on 26 February 1938. His form was all the more remarkable considering the strain he'd been playing under as a result of the illness and subsequent death of his wife on 8 March 1938, leaving him a widower with two children.[3] Hodgson continued to show admirable professionalism and was as prolific as ever during the 1938–39 season, scoring 21 goals in 34 appearances in all competitions, including a still Leeds club record five goals in their 8–2 thrashing of Leicester City at Elland Road on 1 October 1938. In total Hodgson scored 53 goals in 85 appearances for Leeds in all competitions, not including one appearance in the 1939–40 season which was abandoned after three games due to the outbreak of World War II.[18] He was top scorer for Leeds in both of his two full seasons at Elland Road. During the war Hodgson worked in a munitions factory whilst continuing to turn out for Leeds until 1941, making 34 war-time appearances for the Elland Road club, scoring 14 goals.[19] He also guested for Hartlepools United (1 appearance, 1939–40) and York City (5 appearances, 2 goals, 1939–40).[20] After hanging up his boots he helped to coach the youth players at Leeds from 1942 to October 1946.[20][21]

International career[edit]

Hodgson played twice at full international level for his native South Africa, making his debut in a 2–1 win in a friendly against Ireland at Solitude, Belfast on 24 September 1924,[3][22] in what was also South Africa's first ever full international match.[23] His second and final international appearance for South Africa came against the Netherlands in a 2–1 defeat in a friendly at the Oude Stadion, Amsterdam on 2 November 1924.[24] Hodgson was also capped three times at full international level by England, making his debut against Ireland, in a 5–1 win in a British Home Championship, match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield on 20 October 1930.[3][25][26] His only goal for England came in his second appearance in a 4–0 win against Wales in a British Home Championship match at the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham on 22 November 1930.[26] Hodgson's third and final international appearance for England came against Scotland in a 2–0 defeat in a British Home Championship match at Hampden Park, Glasgow on 28 March 1931.[26] He also represented England against the Rest in a 3–2 win in an international trial match at Highbury, London on 4 March 1931[27] and the Football League against the Scottish League, scoring once in a 7–3 win in an Inter-League match at White Hart Lane, London on 5 November 1930.[28][29]

Cricket career[edit]

As well as being an outstanding footballer Hodgson was also a talented cricketer. Playing in a local church league in Liverpool he once took 10 wickets for just for 13 runs in a match against Liverpool Police.[30][31] Seeing his obvious potential, Lancashire soon signed him up to play for them. An extremely quick right-arm fast bowler and hard hitting lower order right-hand batsman, Hodgson played 56 first-class matches for the Red Rose county, from 1928 to 1933, scoring 244 runs at an average of 6.97 and taking 148 wickets at an average of 27.75. He also took 38 catches.[32][33] His highest score in first-class cricket was 20 for Lancashire against Indians at Aigburth in 1932.[34] His best bowling figures in first-class cricket were 6–77 for Lancashire against Middlesex at Lord's in 1932.[35] Hodgson twice helped Lancashire to win the County Championship, in 1928 and 1930, although his football career clearly took priority, as he didn't play a single game of cricket in April or September (and only one Second XI match in August) throughout his time at Old Trafford.[36][37]

Football management career[edit]

After the war Hodgson went into management, taking over the reins at Third Division South outfit Port Vale in October 1946. He was manager when the Valiants moved from the Old Recreation Ground to their new home of Vale Park in 1950.[3] Unfortunately most of the money the club raised went towards the new ground, leaving Hodgson unable to spend money in the transfer market.[38] This included the £12,000 he got for right-half Bill McGarry, and the £20,000 he got from the sale of striker Ronnie Allen.[39] Hodgson managed Port Vale in 222 matches, winning 84, drawing 54 and losing 84.[40] He was greatly respected both for his pre-war sporting career and also for encouraging young footballers in North Staffordshire. He had a reputation for having the ability to spot talented players and was not afraid to blood them in the league, and was also a good motivator.[41]

Following the resignation of Liverpool manager George Kay in January 1951 due to health reasons, Hodgson was among the hopefuls who were interviewed for the manager's job at Anfield. Don Welsh was eventually appointed, while Hodgson was admitted to hospital a couple of months later but his "throat complaint" was deemed inoperable. He returned to his home in Burslem after a month in hospital and a few days later, with a promising managerial career still in its infancy, he died of cancer on 14 June 1951, at the age of just 47.[3] Port Vale legend Roy Sproson had Hodgson as his first boss: "Gordon Hodgson was a fair chap. He would give you a rollicking one minute and then it would be forgotten. Everybody liked him and his loss was so sad." His benefit match was held against Port Vale's local rivals Stoke City on 1 October 1951, Vale lost the game 2–1. £383 was raised for his dependants.[42]


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  18. ^ The three league games played in the 1939-40 season were expunged from Football League records as the season was abandoned due to World War II. The Association of Football Statisticians does not count them towards official player totals.
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  40. ^ Gordon Hodgson management career statistics at Soccerbase
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  42. ^ Kent, Jeff (November 1998). The Potteries Derbies. Witan Books. p. 153. ISBN 0-9529152-3-5. 

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