Alan Gebbie

Alan Gebbie was born in 1901 in Kilmarnock, and although officially ‘Alexander’, he was known as Alan throughout his life. Gebbie escaped the coal mines of Ayrshire as his father Robert was a lace weaver, and in 1919 the young half back signed for Muirkirk Athletic before catching the eye of Saints and John Cochrane who signed him for Saints just prior to Christmas 1924, another part of the intricate jigsaw which brought so much success to the club during this period.

The transition from amateur to professional football for Gebbie was seamless, and he scored in only his second match for the club, against his hometown team when Saints defeated the Ayrshire side 3-0 on the 5th January 1925. This is one of four goals Gebbie managed this debut season, including the winner against Celtic on the last day of the season to secure sixth position in the table for Saints.

The next season of course was a historic one for Saints as they finished fourth and won the Scottish Cup, and Gebbie played a massive part in this as a 6-1 defeat at Parkhead on the 9th of March 1926 was followed by Saints winning seven out of the last eight matches including the semi-final cup win over Rangers and the final over Celtic.

Gebbie scored six times in the three matches directly after this 6-1 defeat, with a double in each match as Saints beat Raith Rovers, Rangers and Cowdenbeath, hauling the club from rock bottom morale back to the one of the best sides in the country which they undoubtedly were. The Ayrshire man finished second top scorer at the club that season with nine goals, including one in the cup, the crucial clincher against Airdrie in the quarter final, who were arguably the best side in the country at the time.

The following season Gebbie scored six times, including another winner against Rangers, and remained a virtual ever present in the side over the next decade, with his best individual contribution coming in the 1928/29 season when he scored an impressive thirteen times, including a fine hat-trick in a 5-0 victory over Falkirk on the 16th March 1929.

An all action player blessed with wonderful stamina, Gebbie was a regular scorer for Saints for several seasons after this, but as he got older played a more disciplined role in the team, scoring just three goals in his last four seasons at the club and the team suffering the indignity of being relegated in the 1934/35 season, as the long serving player surpassed a decade at the club.

Gebbie scored his final goal for Saints on the opening day of the 1935/36 season during Saints first ever match in the lower tier, a 6-1 win at Bayview. At the end of the campaign as Saints won promotion, Gebbie was released and joined Aldershot as player/coach, but surprisingly was not given a benefits match despite twelve years at the club and over 300 appearances.

Almost a hundred years after Gebbie made his debut for Saints he remains the fifteen highest ever appearance maker for Saints, as well as the twenty fourth highest goal scorer in the history of the club despite not playing in a forward position. Alan Gebbie is an unsung hero of the glorious 1920’s for Saints, and another who should be considered an all-time great.

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