When you enter through the main reception at Dens Park, you are greeted with a picture with the simple caption ‘The Penalty King’ and inside the frame is a photo of the boy genius of Dundee, Andy Penman, who made his debut for the Club at the tender age of fifteen and won a Championship medal aged just nineteen after scoring the goal which clinched the title.
Andy Penman was a wonderful midfield player with startling vision and a fine passer of the ball who could clip balls precisely through, round and over defences to give his forwards clear, unhindered runs at goal. He was a genius, a child prodigy in the art of football who went down to Everton straight from school in Dunfermline and turned out for their reserve side in a Merseyside derby at just fifteen years of age.
Born in Rosyth on February 20th 1943, the son of a Fife miner was homesick down in Liverpool and it didn’t take much for manager Willie Thornton to persuade Andy to come back north to Scotland and sign an amateur contract with his Dundee side in 1958.
Thornton knew he had signed someone special and it took just two games in the reserves to convince the Dundee management that they had a real talent and was pitched him into the first team against Hearts at Tynecastle, just thirteen days before his sixteenth birthday, making him the youngest player to ever to turn out in the Scottish League.
Within twelve months Andy was a regular in the Dundee side and wearing the number seven shirt, he made twenty-one appearances in the 1959/60 season. It was towards the end of that campaign that Andy showed his goal scoring potential with a hat-trick against Hibs in a 6-3 win at Dens but it wasn’t until the following year that Penman started to earn his ‘Penalty King’ nickname when he scored his first spot kick for the Club.
That historic strike came in a League Cup quarter-final second leg tie at home to Rangers but it wasn’t enough to see The Dee into the semi-final as the Dark Blues lost 4-3, to be knocked out 5-3 on aggregate. Sharing the penalty duties with Doug Cowie and Bobby Cox, Penman managed three that term but the following season saw Andy take over the responsibility full time and scored five on the way to Dundee winning the League Flag.
At the start of the 1961/62 season, the arrival of Gordon Smith meant that Andy moved to inside-forward and the pair forged a formidable right-wing partnership which was to bring Dundee the Scottish League Championship and then European glory. Having scored twelve goals in the previous two campaigns, Andy’s new position saw him now contribute seventeen goals on the way to the title which included his second hat-trick for The Dee at home against Kilmarnock in October and the third goal in the 3-0 win against St. Johnstone which saw Dundee become Champions of Scotland in April.
The Championship season saw Dundee go on a Club record twenty games undefeated and amongst those matches was a friendly against Swedish champions Elfsborg Boras when Andy scored five in an 8-1 win at Dens and a Dewer Shield 4-2 victory over St. Johnstone in which Andy scored from the spot. Andy also scored three goals pre season which meant that Dundee’s title winning year saw Penman score an impressive twenty-six goals.
Winning the title meant European competition for the first time in the Club’s history and Andy was an ever present throughout the season as Dundee reached the Champions’ Cup semi-final.
In the preliminary round against Cologne, Andy was part of a tie that he would never forget when in the first leg at Dens, he scored in the remarkable 8-1 win and then in the second leg in Germany, he ended up in goal after Bert Slater was stretched off in the twenty-seventh minute.
‘Whoever put Andy Penman in goal have made better decisions’, claimed Ian Ure on the fortieth anniversary of the tie but the youngster was brave enough to take over the number one shirt. Already 1-0 down on the night, Andy let in two further goals before half time and it was a relief to everyone connected with Dundee, when Bert Slater returned between the sticks early in the second half to help Dundee see out the tie 8-5 on aggregate.
That European Cup season would see Andy play fifty-two times, scoring fourteen goals and was the only player to play in every match throughout the 1962/63 campaign. He would again hit fifty appearances the following season but his goal scoring record was more that double the year before scoring a terrific thirty goals in all competitions but astonishingly was only the second top scorer behind fifty-two goal ‘Gillie’. He did however finish top scorer the next two seasons with thirty-three goals in 1964/65 and nineteen the following year.
Season 1963/64 saw Andy and Dundee reach the Scottish Cup Final but he collected a runners-up medal after a 3-1 defeat to future employers Rangers. The Championship win two years before turned out not only to be Andy’s only winner’s medal at Dundee but was also the only winners’ medal of his entire career. Considering that he signed for Rangers for £30, 000 plus George McLean in 1967, it is a surprise he didn’t collect another winner’s medal but these were barren years for Rangers as Celtic dominated and he missed out on the European Cup Winner’s Cup triumph in 1972 through injury.
Before he left for Ibrox, Andy was called up for Scotland in 1966 when he made his full international debut against Holland to add to the Under-23 and Scottish League caps he won while at Dens. It is a tragedy that he only won a further two full caps but it meant he had been capped at every level by Scotland from schoolboy upwards.
After leaving Rangers in 1973, Andy joined Arbroath who were then in the top flight and then after three years at Gayfield, it was off to the Highlands to become player / manager of Inverness Caledonian where he received a testimonial when an Inverness Select played a Dundee XI in 1979.
Andy was a tireless worker in midfield and contributed a terrific 141 goals as one of only ten players to hit over a century for Dundee as the Club’s fifth top scorer of all time. A dead ball expert, his forte was from the penalty spot where he rarely missed, scoring twenty-five times from twelve yards in eight years at Dens.
Sadly, Andy died in 1994, aged just fifty-one but his legacy lives on at Dens Park. Not only are you greeted by Andy’s image when you enter the main door but there is also a hospitality lounge that bears his name showing that ‘Boy Kings’ never grow up and they never die, at least not in the memories of those who were lucky enough to witness the skills and genius of Andy Penman.
Honours at Dundee:
Scottish League Champions: 1961/62
European Cup semi-final: 1962/63
Scottish Cup runner-up: 1964
Scotland full caps: 1
Scottish League caps: 4
Scotland Under 23 caps: 4
Dundee FC Hall of Fame: Legends Award 2011
League: 215, 100 goals
Scottish Cup: 17 + 1 sub, 10 goals
League Cup: 46, 18 goals
Europe: 10, 1 goal
Other: 17, 12 goals
Totals: 306, 141 goals