Saturday 13 November 2010


As a young lad, John Gordon played football locally for Stobswell and the Violet before he made the decision to be a ref. It turned out to be quite a good move as he went on to referee at top level in around 30 countries. In fact, included in his travels were Argentina in 1978 and Spain in 1982, when he was referee at the 2 World Cup Tournaments hosted there. In Spain he was actually officially titled by the sports medical authority as being the "fittest" ref at the 82 World Cup, and he was aged 52 by then!
John did, however, choose to hang up his whistle after the 82 World Cup and retired.
It has not always been plain sailing for him on match day mind you. Once when he was refereeing a televised Hibs v Rangers game, the teams were all lined up in their kick-off positions and after a quick check of his watch, John then signalled for the match to start in the usual ref way with a big sweeping hand motion as he ran forward. He soon noticed the players were all still standing still, and it was then brought to his attention that he didn't blow his whistle! A bit of a minter that day!
One of the highlights of his career was when he was chosen to referee the 1973 Scottish Cup final when the SFA were in their Centenary year. It was the first time in a hundred years that a member of the royal family had attended a Scottish Cup match and the photo above is of him meeting Princess Alexandra just before kick-off.
I also have footage below from the 73 final. An old firm battle with around 130,000 packed into Hampden... and no shortage of Scottish football legends on view!
John Gordon died in 2000.


  1. The wee man standing beside Princess Alex. is Hugh Nelson who was President of Arbroath F.C. and who was also number one man in the S.F.A. which just goes to prove that you don't have to be with one of the top teams to aspire to great things.

  2. And how did things pan out for Mr Gordon? Did he go on to have a glittering career, or was he kicked out of football for accepting gifts, that were against football rules, from Milan.

    The man was a cheat. pure and simple. Anyone who read Davie Syme's stories in the press would know Gordon also took gifts from Turkish officials in 1977, and cheated in favour of the Turks, though Austria eventually won the game 0 - 1.

  3. He was the most successful referee in the football history ever.RIP.

  4. Quite an achievement for JRP Gordon to be voted the fittest referee at the 1982 World Cup, bearing in mind he didn’t officiate at any games as he had been banned by the SFA from refereeing after accepting gifts from AC Milal official..

    1. It should have been an innocent exchange, but was seen as taking a bribe. It wasn’t like he was given money to swing a game

  5. John Gordon was my great Uncle.
    Nice to see him recognised