Gerry Follon’s career was temporarily halted before it really got underway when World War Two broke out in the year he was signed from Lochee Harp in 1939 and considering he went on to play 301 times for Dundee, it is remarkable to think how many times he could have played had Hilter not enforced a six year hiatus.
Follon’s time at Dens coincided with an incredibly successful post war period and he would go on to collect four winner’s medals and two runners-up medals while at Dens Park as well as a Scottish League cap.
In his inaugural season, Gerry played ten games for Dundee in the Scottish League Eastern Division as a right winger and continued on the wing after the end of hostilities but it wasn’t until the 1946/47 season when he moved to right back that he became a regular in the side and made the number two jersey his own.
Originally a G.P.O. engineer, Gerry went on to University to attain an honours degree in teaching and despite many tempting offers from Dundee manager George Anderson, he remained part-time during his spell at Dens. The flamboyant Dundee boss wouldn’t usually accommodate part-timers in his first team but such were Gerry’s skills that he bent his own rules to play the Geography teacher.
Gerry was part of the side that won back-to-back Scottish League B Division Championships and in 1948/49 made forty-two appearances as Dundee were pipped by one point to the Scottish League A Division Championship after a last day disaster at Falkirk.
Silverware was just around the corner however as he played no mean part in the back-to-back League Cup wins in 1951 and 1952 as Dundee became the first side to successfully defend the trophy.
Gerry played in all nine matches on the ‘Road to Hampden’ in the autumn of 1951 and in the tenth and ultimately successfully League Cup Final match, he was part of the side which beat Rangers 3-2 with a last minute goal in front of a estimated 30, 000 Dundonians in the crowd.
He played in seven of the ten matches in the 1952/53 League Cup campaign and was one of seven players to pick up a second cup winning medal when Dundee defeated ‘B’ Division Kilmarnock 2-0 with two goals from Bobby Flavell.
In between these two successes, Follon suffered more Dark Blue heartache to add to the disappointment of 1949, when Dundee lost out to Motherwell in the 1952 Scottish Cup Final.
Dundee were at Hampden for the second time in the season after bagging the League Cup in October but the Final against Motherwell in front of a staggering 136, 990 couldn’t see Dundee do a Cup double with Motherwell defeating the strong favourites 4-0.
‘We just did not play at all that day’, said Follon to the Dundee match programme in 1999, ‘but all credit to Motherwell who were worthy winners. It was a huge disappointment not to lift the Cup and was my biggest disappointment of my time at Dens along which that 4-1 defeat at Falkirk in 1949.’
The second League Cup in October more than made up for the Scottish Cup defeat and it was a remarkable for Dundee to reach three national cup finals in a row at Hampden which were played in front of over a quarter of a million fans.
Gerry also played in the match in which Dundee’s record home attendance figure was set when 43, 024 watched a Scottish Cup second round tie against Rangers. It’s a record that is unlikely to ever be broken with Dens Park’s capacity currently sitting at 11, 850 but unfortunately for Gerry, he was at fault for the second goal as Rangers won 2-0.
In Gerry’s eighteen years at Dens, he also picked up international honours when he played for the Scottish League against the Irish League in 1947 not long after Dundee had returned to the top tier.
On leaving Dundee, Gerry signed for St. Johnstone where he teamed up with former team mate Johnny Pattillo at Muirton Park and then finished his career with a two year stint in the Highland League with Keith.
In the 1960s, he returned to Dens Park in a coaching capacity to look after Bob Shankly’s reserve side with Jimmy Toner, a post he left only on attaining promotion to deputy rector at Lawside Academy in Dundee.
Honours at Dundee:
Scottish League Cup winner: 1951/52, 1952/53
Scottish Cup runners-up: 1952
Scottish League Championship runners-up: 1948/49
Scottish League B Division champions: 1945/46, 1946/47
Scottish League cap: 1
League 215, 4 goals
Scottish Cup: 25
League Cup: 58, 1 goal
Totals: 301, 5 goals