On This Day: Gary Gillespie

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On this day in 1984 Gary Gillespie made his Liverpool debut.

At just 17 years of age, Gillespie was appointed Falkirks captain in the Scottish second division, making him the youngest ever skipper in Scottish League history. He was snapped up by Coventry in March 1978. The former Reds defender was bought from Coventry City for £325,000 in the summer of 1983 where he played for six years, making around 200 appearances. He had been approached by Arsenal in the summer of 1983 but chose to come to Merseyside instead. The young defender had his work cut out for him early on in his Liverpool career as he had this task of trying to break up the famous Hansen and Lawrenson partnership, this dynamic duo in the centre of the defence meant that the defender spent most the 1983/84 season playing for the reserves. His fist team debut came against Walsall in the first leg of the League cup semi-final in February 1984.

Gillespie made most of his 19 starts in the 1984/85 season due to Mark Lawrenson being injured. Kenny Dalglish took over for the 1985/86 season and Gillespie finally made his breakthrough in the second part of the season where he appeared in 24 out of 29 games. He even scored a memorable hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Birmingham at Anfield in April of 1986 when playing in defence, he had only scored one previous goal for the Reds in his 45 appearances since joining so this goal extravaganza was a shock for everyone.

The Scotsman played a big part in the 1986/87 and the 1987/88 season, he was now a first choice centre back for the Reds alongside Alan Hansen forcing Lawrenson to appear at full back most of the time. The three defenders also joined forces to appear as a back three on some occasions. However, the following seasons proved to be tough for him as he had a rough time with injuries but he did manage to appear in 35 matches in Dalglish final season in charge 1990/91.

In came Greame Souness, this unfortunately meant that Gillespie fell down the pecking order. He left Liverpool for his boyhood club Celtic at the age of 31 where he played 82 matches in three years. In 1994/95, he joined Phil Neals Coventry where he only appeared in four matches before having to retire due to a serious knee injury.

Following his retirement from football, he joined the coaching staff at Stockport county when the club got promoted in the 1996/97 season. Since then he has also drifted into the media side of the game where he has worked for Radio Merseyside and has been employed by LFCTV in recent years.

The Scottish defender made a total of 214 appearances for the Reds, scoring 16 goals.

Article by Lauren Black

@LaurenBlack9

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