Hall of Fame - Wallace
Ask any Dundee supporter who Gordon Wallace is and you will get the reply: “He’s the man who scored the winner in Dundee’s League Cup victory over Celtic in December 1973!”
And so he did, chesting down a Bobby Wilson free-kick with his back to the goal, turning and, almost all in the one movement, firing the ball past the desperately diving Ally Hunter for one of the best goals ever seen in a Hampden Cup Final.
In a career laden with goals his 265 League goals was a Scottish record for over 20 years until broken by Ally McCoist.
Born and bred in the city, Gordon watched Billy Steel make his debut at Dens in 1950 and started out his own football career at Rockwell School, Lawside Rangers and junior club Dundee North End. Whilst at North End, he impressed watching Dundee scouts but although signed on a provisional form, he was devastated to learn that he was not to be offered a professional contract. It was April 1961, but, undeterred, he returned to the juniors with Alyth United and within a year, he signed senior forms with Montrose.
The prolific Wallace was to make his mark with 86 goals in four years for the Second Division strugglers alongside future Dundee strike partners George Falconer and Joe Gilroy. Promotion-chasing Raith Rovers took note and after joing them in December 1966, he went on to net 18 goals and help the Kirkcaldy side to promotion. In 1967-68, Raith finished just above the relegation spot but with 30 goals to his name, it was clear where much of the credit was due. The Scottish Football Writers Association named him as their Player of the Year - the first non-Old Firm player to get the award and in September 1969 Dens boss John Prentice brought him back to Dens Park for a transfer fee of £14,000.
Soon, “Gor-don, Gordon Wallace” was the chant as Wallace forged a fine scoring partnership with Jocky Scott. Scott, of course, was a real speed merchant but, though not as fast, Wallace had a lightning-quick football brain and was the catalyst of much of the fine football at Dens over the next few years. Nicknamed “Stubby”, Wallace scored a total of 119 goals in his seven seasons at Dens, finishing the club’s top scorer on three occasions and is Dundee’s sixth top scorer of all time. There were many memorable strikes.
In 1970, there was a thunderous shot from a free-kick which flew past the Morton keeper at Dens, there was the double in the 6-4 win over Dundee United at Dens in 1971, and yet another cracker in a 3-2 win over Rangers at Ibrox. There was also the winning goal in that dramatic 5-4 aggregate victory in the UEFA Cup tie against Cologne at Dens and, having realised another dream by playing in Milan’s San Siro Stadium, Wallace’s headed goal in the Dens return took Dundee within a hairs-breadth of another European shock.
The 1973-74 season brought League Cup glory but in the summer of 1974, the striker had the misfortune to break his leg during pre-season training and for a number of months his presence was sorely missed. Dundee’s failure to beat Celtic in four semi-finals between 1970 and 1975 ranks high in Wallace’s list of disappointments, as does the club’s relegation in season 1975-76. That was to be his last as a player at Dens but he returned as manager in 1989 only for the club to be relegated again in 1990. There was the consolation of winning the Scottish League Centenary Cup, with Billy Dodds, Wallace’s most successful signing, netting a hat-trick in a 3-2 extra-time win over Ayr United.
In September 1991, he left Dundee to become assistant-manager to old friend Jocky Scott at Dunfermline but in 2004 Wallace returned to Dens to oversee youth development and he remains as first team advisor on the coaching staff to this day. The former striker is always to be seen on match-days at Dens and though many fans were not even born in December 1973, they know of Gordon Wallace as a true Dundee FC legend.