GORDON HODGSON, 13th October 1952 - April 1999
Former Stags midfielder Gordon Hodgson died in April 1999. He was only 46. A minute`s silence for Hodgson, along with Stags supporter and historian Jack Retter who also died in April, was held prior to the home match against Southend.
He is considered by many fans to be one of the best midfielders in the club`s history and his four full seasons for the club covered surely the most dramatic period in the club`s history.
Gordon Hodgson was born in Newcastle and joined Newcastle United at the age of 18. He was a member of Newcastle`s FA Cup Final squad at Wembley in 1974 and also earned England youth international honours whilst with Newcastle United. He joined the Stags in May 1974 and over the next four seasons, he incredibly missed just two games (both due to suspension). By the time he left in September 1978, he had made a total of 184 league appearances (not 144 as reported in The Chad and the Stags Matchday programme). He scored 23 league goals plus a further one in the FA Cup. Hodgson`s four full seasons covered surely the most dramatic period in the club`s history.
In 1974-75, the Stags were promoted from Division 4 as champions with a record number of goals (90), a record number of wins (28) and a record number of points (68). Hodgson scored ten of the goals to make him 3rd top scorer of the season behind Ray Clarke and Terry Eccles. He picked up five Man of the Match awards. His first goal for the club came in a 2-2 draw away to Cambridge in September. It was a wonderful goal, as described in The Chad - Hodgson started the move in midfield and after passes to Pat Kruse and John Lathan, Sandy Pate crossed from the right wing and Hodgson`s header left the keeper helpless. Five of his next six goals were described as shots hammered from the edge of the box from about 20 yards, the other being one that went in off his knee. Hodgson`s penultimate goal of the season came in a 2-0 home win against Hartlepool in April which sealed promotion. The goal came after fine work by Jim McCaffrey. His final goal of the season came in a 7-0 win over Scunthorpe that sealed the championship. Hodgson and team mates Sandy Pate and Ray Clarke were included in the PFA Division 4 All Stars Eleven, selected by fellow players.
In 1975/76, the Stags had an amazing season in Division 3. In the middle of February, the Stags were 5 points adrift at the bottom of the table having won just 4 out of 27 games, but incredibly went the remaining 19 games of the season unbeaten to finish in the top half of the table. The season also saw the Stags beating First Division Coventry and Wolves in the League Cup before losing to Manchester City in the 5th round. Hodgson scored 7 goals during the season, and although he was not Player of the Season, he did collect more Man of the Match performances than any other player. Six of Hodgson`s seven goals were described as shots from distance. The most memorable goal that I can remember came in a 3-0 home win against Sheffield Wednesday in front of 13,400 fans at Field Mill.
In 1976/77, the Stags were promoted (as champions) from Division 3 to Division 2 for the first and only time. Hodgson`s first goal of the season came in November in a 3-1 home win against Lincoln and it won him a £5 bet he had with player manager Peter Morris based on which of them would score the first goal of the season. A week later, Hodgson scored again in a rare defeat at Gillingham. Two weeks later Hodgson scored again in a 1-1 draw with Swindon for his third goal of the month - strangely all tap-ins. In mid-December, Hodgson scored another tap-in in a 2-0 home win against Wrexham, coming three days after a 5-2 home defeat to Matlock. Strangely, it proved to be his last goal of the season but he remained ever-present in a glorious, championship-winning team culminating in a 1-0 win at Wrexham on the final day of the season to clinch the championship. He picked up nine Man of the Match performances and despite this being more than any other player, failed to win the Player of the Season award for the second year running. However, he did get to hold the championship trophy aloft as he was made captain in mid-season taking over from Sandy Pate.
Hodgson was once again an ever-present during the 1977/78 season that turned out to be Stags` only ever season in the old Division 2. Hodgson scored just twice during the season; firstly in a 4-1 win over Burnley from close range, and secondly in a 2-2 draw at home to Cardiff - a header from a Johnny Aston corner in a game that proved to be Peter Morris` last in charge of the club.
The following season Hodgson made just 8 appearances before, in September 1978, he moved to Oxford United. Commenting on the transfer, Hodgson said at the time I was a little surprised how the events moved - I had not asked for a transfer, and in fact did not really want to leave the area. Since I came to Mansfield I have turned down several opportunities of changing clubs, because my wife, family and myself have been extremely happy in Mansfield. I am very sorry to be leaving Mansfield and I would like to thank everyone for the way they have made my family and I feel at home since we first arrived. Stags` new manager Billy Bingham did not really explain the reason for the departure other than to say There comes a time in most players` careers when a move does not come amiss. Needless to say, the cash we received from the deal will be most useful.
Two years after the move to Oxford, Hodgson joined Peterborough United where he ended his league career to join the police force.
By Martin Shaw
Gordon Hodgson pictured during 1974/75
Pictured during 1976/77
Gordon Hodgson holds the Third Division Championship trophy aloft in 1976/77.
Hodgson about to be presented with the Third Division Championship trophy 1976/77.
Hodgson is part of the Fourth Division Championship team in 1974/75.