Gordon Marsland 1945-2009

Last updated : 05 January 2009 By Gerry Wolstenholme

He was one of the first players signed under The Football League's newly introduced scheme after he had played for St George's School and was the Blackpool Boys town team captain. On joining Blackpool he was to earn £6 per week in the 1960/61 season, terms that were in place for two seasons.

In his first season at the club he was a stalwart of the Blackpool Youth side and in a Youth Cup tie against Liverpool on 13 December 1961 he was "the pick of the full backs" as Blackpool lost 2-1. He spent his first two seasons at the club in the junior sides before signing as a professional on 15 May 1962 when his weekly wage for the 1962/63 season was fixed at £8 plus an extra £5 if and when he played in the first team and an extra £2 when playing in the Central League side.

Having played in a reserve team pre-season friendly game against Bury reserves, he made his Central League debut against Liverpool reserves in the opening game of the 1962/63 season on 18 August 1962 when Blackpool won 3-1 and he scored his first senior goal for the club in a 2-1 defeat by Stoke City reserves on 8 September 1962.

Back in the Blackpool 'A' side, he had "a real 'stormer' of a game" against Preston North End 'A' on 11 May 1963 when he was "a rock in defence and when he went up to aid the forwards, constituted a real threat to the Preston North End defenders". Blackpool won 3-1 and the match headline was HALF BACKS WERE BLACKPOOL STARS and the report opened with "Doherty, Berry and Marsland played almost faultless games, combining the classic half back skills of stern first-time tackling and intelligent distribution to the forwards."

As well as being a regular in the junior sides, he played nine Central League games, scoring two goals, in the 1962/63 season. Seven of his games were at right half and the final two at left half. His performances were such that he merited a weekly wage increase to £10 for the 1963/64 season and he was to receive an extra £15 if and when playing in the first team and an extra £2 when playing in the Central League side.

He became something of a utility player in the 1963/64 season, operating between the right back, left back, right half and left half positions, and he played in 24 Central League games as well as appearing in 11 games for the 'A' team. He was mainly denied a first team opportunity by the depth of talent that Blackpool had at the time and when he played in the reserve side, the team often comprised such players as Dave Durie, Des Horne, Roy Gratrix, Bruce Crawford, 'Mandy' Hill, Tommy Thompson, Ray Parry, Alan Taylor, all of whom were first teamers at the club. But Blackpool recognised his worth by increasing his wage for the 1964/65 season to £15 plus an extra £15 if and when he played in the first team.

He started that season at right back in the Central League side but he went on to play in both full back positions and all three half back positions, in addition to playing a few games at centre forward and inside right. He played in 39 Central League games in the 1964/65 season, scoring three goals, ironically all of which came when he played half back.

After 71 Central League games, seven Lancashire Senior Cup ties and three reserve team pre-season friendly games, plus his many games in the Youth and junior sides, Blackpool placed him on the transfer list in May 1965. He was subsequently transferred to Carlisle United on 27 June 1965 for a fee of £2,000.

Sadly at Carlisle, on 5 October 1966 he broke his leg in a League Cup tie against Southampton that was drawn 3-3. Ironically it was the same night as Chelsea's Peter Osgood broke his leg at Bloomfield Road. He made 63 League appearances plus three substitute appearances for Carlisle United and scored four goals before he was transferred to Bristol Rovers in June 1969.

Bristol Rovers loaned him to Crewe Alexandra in September 1970 and to Oldham Athletic in March 1971 and he retired from League football after the 1970/71 season. After retirement from football he became a low handicap golfer and he will be sadly missed by family and his many friends alike.