Birthdate: 16 April 1904
Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa
Date of death: 14 June 1951
Other clubs: Benoni (1919-21), Rustenburg (1921-22), Pretoria (1922-24), Transvaal (1924-25), Aston Villa (1936-37), Leeds United (1937-39); Hartlepools United, York City (wartime guest)
Bought from: Transvaal
Signed for LFC: 14.12.1925
International debut: 20.10.1930 - England vs. Ireland / 24.09.1924 South Africa vs. Ireland
International caps: England 3/1 - 28.03.1931 + South Africa 2/0
Liverpool debut: 27.02.1926
Last appearance: 28.12.1935
Debut goal: 10.03.1926
Last goal: 09.11.1935
Contract expiry: 08.01.1936
Win ratio: 38.99% W:147 D:92 L:138
Games/goals ratio: 1.56
Total games/goals opposite LFC: 5 / 3
LFC league games/goals: 358 / 233
Total LFC games/goals: 377 / 241
Player profileOne of Liverpool's and indeed the Football League's greatest-ever goalscorers; only Roger Hunt has scored more League goals for Liverpool but all of Hodgson's 233 League strikes came in the First Division from 358 games, a fantastic goals-per-game ratio. Hodgson came to England as one of the youngest members of a South African touring side with players chosen from all over; Transvaal, the Western Province, Orange Free State and Natal. The amateurs arrived in Ireland, facing Bohemians in their first game on 30 August 1924, before playing a number of teams in London, usually winning convincingly with Green scoring the majority of the goals. On 1 October Hodgson caught the eye of Liverpool's boardmembers as well as Echo's Bee in the team's 5-2 win over Liverpool: "The inside right, who took my eye from the first moment, is only nineteen, but plays like a seasoned professional,” he wrote in the local paper about Hodgson, who didn't though manage to get on the scoresheet. The South Africans played attractive football "passing along the ground from the backs to the forwards" and "there was no roaming and no dribbling across the field. Each player was bent solely on attack.” The tour took them to Wales and Scotland as well to Holland and Belgium and then back to England again, concluding their exhaustive schedule of 25 matches in three months in Liverpool, where they beat Everton 3-1, their fifteenth win. They returned to South Africa on 5 December 1924, but the tour changed the lives of two men in the party; two men that Liverpool fans would cherish for years to come.
Hodgson signed for Liverpool on 14 December 1925, having agreed to the move, while in South Africa, the month previous. He made his debut in February and featured in 12 matches in the 1925/26 season, scoring four times, just a taste of what was to come. The goalkeeper of the South African touring side, Arthur Riley, had already made his debut for Liverpool in October 1925. Hodgson, who is still Liverpool’s hat-trick king with 17 to his name, scored his first treble for Liverpool against Sheffield United on 11 September 1926 in his seventeenth game. The Liverpool Echo was impressed: “Based on this performance, I would suggest it will not be the last we see from this very talented South African... Chambers (Inside Left) had proven to Liverpool over many years now that 20-30 goals a season was well within his scope. Forshaw (Centre Forward) scored hat-tricks for fun and also weighed in with 20-30 goals a season. With the addition of the South African, Hodgson (Inside Right), I fail to see how any opposition will keep a clean sheet when all three play in the same side. A good striker is a necessity in the game. A brace of good strikers is very rare indeed. The Liverpool side now contains triplets of awesome power, that’s just downright greed. God help the first division when Liverpool come to town.
Over the next nine seasons, Hodgson missed very few games in the League and Cup and scored prolifically throughout that period. It was a shame that this golden run coincided with a barren period for the club because his contribution to the Liverpool cause was massive and he deserved to end up with more than the handful of England and Football League representative honours he received. Hodgson who played twice for the South African international team also qualified for England as both his parents were born in "Old Blighty". The 36 League goals Hodgson scored in the 1930/31 season beat Sam Raybould’s 1902/03 record total of 31. Hodgson's feat would not be beaten for over thirty years, until Hunt came onto the scene. Hodgson scored three hat-tricks that season at Anfield but perhaps it was the four goals he scored in an away match at Hillsborough that gave him most satisfaction of all? He was top-scorer in seven out of the nine whole seasons he played at Liverpool. Hodgson's popularity among the crowd prompted an ingenious biscuit seller to name his home-made ginger nuts, that he sold in a quantity of five for a penny on matchdays at Anfield, in his honour. "Hodgson’s Choice! Hodgson’s Choice!" he would call. The same shrewd character, mind you, was at Goodison the following week shouting, “Dixie’s Choice! Dixie’s Choice!” Rarely had Merseyside boasted such great goalscorers simultaneously as Gordon Hodgson and Dixie Dean.
Hodgson moved to Aston Villa in January 1936 at the age of 31. He got relegated to the Second Division with Villa and left the Midlands for Yorkshire where he joined struggling first division Leeds United in the second half of the 1936/37 season, scoring six goals in 13 games, helping the club to beat the drop. Leeds improved the following season in which Hodgson continued to impress, at 33 years of age, with 25 goals in 36 League games, three goals away from being top-scorer in the League. Hodgson remained admirably focused despite the loss of his 27-year-old wife on 8 March 1938 after she had been for a while in poor health. Hodgson was left a widower with two children. He was still as prolific as ever in the final season of his career, scoring five times when Leeds beat Leicester City 8-2 in October 1938. Hodgson scored 51 goals in 81 League games for Leeds in the First Division and could have undoubtedly added to his tally if World War II hadn't intervened.
Hodgson was an all-round sportsman, having played 56 first-class cricket matches as a fast bowler for Lancashire. But football was his first love and it was no surprise that he progressed from player to manager by taking charge of team affairs at Port Vale in October 1946. He was there for over four years and saw them move to their current stadium, Vale Park, in 1950. Port Vale legend, Roy Sproson, had Hodgson as his first boss: "Gordon Hodgson was a fair chap. He would give you a rollicking one minute and then it would be forgotten. Everybody liked him and his loss was so sad." Following George Kay’s resignation in January 1951 due to health reasons Hodgson was among the hopefuls who were interviewed for the manager's job at Liverpool. Don Welsh eventually was appointed while Hodgson was admitted to hospital a couple of months later but his “throat complaint” was deemed inoperable. He returned to his home in Burslem after a month in hospital and a few days later, with a promising managerial career still in its infancy, he died of cancer on 14 June 1951 at the early age of 47.
Appearances per season
A more detailed look at the player's appearances
|11||West Ham United|
|3||Preston North End|
Goals per season
A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring
|4||West Ham United|
|1||Preston North End|
|1||27.02.1926||Manchester City||Maine Road||League|
|1||0||10.03.1926||Manchester United||Old Trafford||League|
|100||43||04.10.1930||Newcastle United||St James' Park||League|
|150||18||29.03.1932||Huddersfield Town||Leeds Road||League|
Dundee Courier on 3 May 1935.More
Evening Telegraph on 2 March 1937.More
When one of Liverpool's greatest goalscorers reveals "The Art of Shooting" you sit up and listen. Published in the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette on 27 September 1930. More
The Daily Mail on 14 August 1929.More
LFChistory.net is opening a memorabilia corner where we want to feature rare items from Liverpool history. Send us images of them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will feature them in a way they deserve.More
From Gloucester Citizen on 23 November 1928.More
Wooltonian looks at Liverpool matches from 1927-1929.More
Liverpool beat Everton and Sheffield United 5-1.More
Me and my mate went on the Kop one day. It was during the 1930s. Liverpool were playing Bolton. My pal, a little bloke he was, was dead keen fan of Gordon Hodgson. Loved him, he did, couldn't do wrong for him. Hodgson was playing that day with Sam English alongside him at centre-forward. This particular day, the Bolton defender must have said something to English because suddenly there they were, throwing punches at each other. So big Gordon Hodgson jumps in to seperate them and this Bolton defender starts having a go at Hodgson as well and pushing him around. My mate was furious. 'Hang on', he says to me, 'I'll be back in a minute.' I thought he was going off to the toilet or something. He said it quite casually. Well, off he goes, straight down the Kop, over the wall, on to the pitch and makes for Hodgson and the Bolton defender. It all happened so quickly. The next thing, my little mate's throwing punches at the big Bolton defender. Then a policeman comes diving on to the field, and my mate turns round and punches the policeman as well.
'Hang on a minute', he'd said. It was six months before I saw him again. He spent the night in the Bridewell and was in court first thing on the Monday morning. The magistrate gave him six months inside.
Billy O'Donnell Kopite
"There is more thought put into the game now then when I was playing. In my playing days we depended far more on individual skill than today's team-work. A player like Gordon Hodgson, for instance, had tremendous heading ability and we used to play to that."
Tom Bush on Gordon Hodgson in 1969
|Club||Season||Club rank||League apps||League goals||Total apps||Total goals|
|Aston Villa||1935-1936||England First Division||15||4||15||4|
|Aston Villa||1936-1937||England Second Division||13||7||13||7|
|Leeds United||1936-1937||England First Division||13||6||13||6|
|Leeds United||1937-1938||England First Division||36||25||38||26|
|Leeds United||1938-1939||England First Division||32||20||34||21|