First professional match attended
I went to see Wales versus Scotland at Ninian Park in Cardiff in 1964. I wanted to go and see that because my hero at the time was Denis Law who was playing in the Scottish team. I remember when Denis scored he slid in from a couple of yards and knocked it in with his arm. I turned to my grandfather and said ‘Why did he handle the ball? Isn’t it a foul?’ The goal stood but Wales won 3-2.
I have kept a lot of the programmes from my playing days. The programmes at Merthyr were only about four pages – the cover, the teams, what happened in the last game, and that was about it. I had quite a few of those, but then the first big programme I ever had was from the Wales v Scotland game which my grandfather bought me. I kept a lot of the ones from Fulham as well, which used to be on display for about 20 years but have since moved along with all of my old shirts, caps and silverware up to the loft now.
Because I was in South Wales it was a local club: Manchester United!! Between the ages of 10-16, Denis Law was my hero and I was a red, but then I signed schoolboy forms for Manchester City at 16 so became a blue. I have supported City ever since.
When I was 11 years old, we went along to a normal high street store because we couldn’t afford boots that were in sports shops. I got a pair of Oliver Spot-Kicks as the first pair of boots that I could call my own.
I played in the local league for Georgetown Boys Club [a club that would also bring former Fulham midfielder Mark Pembridge through] from the age of 10, but after a short apprentice spell with Manchester City in 1972, I joined my hometown club Merthyr Tydfil.
At Merthyr, it would have been a gentleman called Emrys Evans who is still alive and living in Merthyr now. He was the first man to make a real impact on my playing career.
I began life as a central midfielder but in my first season at Merthyr, Emrys put me out on the wing because I was quick. He gave me a chance in the first team and that first season I scored 35 goals from the wing. The following season he decided that I would be better off in the number 10 position and I scored 30 goals then as a striker, and the rest is history.
My first full game for Fulham was away at Blackpool. I had signed in the March of 1978 and, although Bobby Campbell had brought me on for the last 15 minutes against Mansfield Town the previous game, I was given a chance in Blackpool. After six minutes, I gave a penalty away and was put in my place by then-captain Ray Evans who told me never to come back over the halfway line again.
In the second half against Blackpool, I laid on the equaliser for Les Strong and then he returned the favour as he pulled a cross back to me. I hit it with my left foot and it never raised above a couple of inches off the ground and went into the bottom corner. We won 2-1.
I was playing for Merthyr against Yeovil Town in the FA Cup and nothing was going right for me. I went in for a challenge with the goalkeeper. It was a 50-50 ball but the keeper didn’t see it that way and I caught him. He threw the ball straight out and came up to me; I stood nose-to-nose with him and the referee came over and stopped play. I thought I was going to go in the book, but the ref said: ‘Gordon, I’m not going to send you off, but I’m going to ask you one question: What is the difference between the way you are playing and a bucket of poo. Answer: The bucket!’ So basically he used his discretion at the time to stop me going in the book – but I should have been carded!