Samuel Anderson Gilligan (Sam Gilligan) @

All articles about Sam Gilligan on

About Sam Gilligan:
“Standing 5ft 9½in and weighing 12st 2lbs, he is well equipped from a physical standpoint, and is remarkably fit. In the summer months he devotes his time to gold and fishing in his native country. A player who can adapt himself to any position on the field is a useful asset to a club, and the varied experience he has undergone in first class football should provide Gilligan with plenty of League football in the future, either as forward, half- or full back.”
(Joint Everton and Liverpool Match Programme: October 15, 1910)

Born: January 18, 1882: Dundee, in Scotland.
Passed away: June 17, 1965: Youngstown (Ohio), in USA.

Position: Inside right.

Height: 176 cm. (5ft. 9½in.);
Weight: 77 kilos (12st. 2lb).
* Source: Joint Everton and Liverpool Match Programme: October 15, 1910.

Belmont Athletic.
Dundee Violet, 1901.
* 1901-02: ?-? (Dundee and District League).
* Trial with Dundee: December: 1901.
* 1902-03: ?-? (Dundee and District League).
** Transferred to Dundee.
Dundee: Signed: October 23, 1902.
* 1902-03: 8-3 (Scottish League 1); 3-0 (FA Cup);
* 1903-04: 1-0 (Scottish League 1); 0-0 (FA Cup).
** Transferred to Celtic.
Celtic: Signed: September 10, 1903.
* 1903-04: 13-13 (Scottish League 1); 1-0 (FA Cup).
** Transferred to Bristol City.
Bristol City: Signed: May 13, 1904.
* 1904-05: 30-14 (Football League 2); 5-1 (FA Cup);
* 1905-06: 37-20 (Football League 2); 1-0 (FA Cup);
* 1906-07: 37-15 (Football League 1); 2-3 (FA Cup);
* 1907-08: 33-16 (Football League 1); 2-0 (FA Cup);
* 1908-09: 29-10 (Football League 1); 10-3 (FA Cup);
* 1909-10: 22-3 (Football League 1); 3-2 (FA Cup).
** Transferred to Liverpool.
Liverpool: Signed: April 30, 1910.
* 1910-11: 15-5 (Football League 1); 0-0 (FA Cup);
* 1911-12: 24-11 (Football League 1); 0-0 (FA Cup);
* 1912-13: 2-0 (Football League 1); 0-0 (FA Cup);
** Transferred to Gillingham.
Player-Manager: Gillingham: Appointed: July 16, 1913.
* 1913-14: 33-7 (Southern League 1);
* 1914-15: 32-8 (Southern League 1).
Dundee Hibernian: 1918.
* 1921-22: 1-0 (Scottish League 2); 0-0 (FA Cup);

Scottish FA Cup Winner: 1903-04 (Celtic).

Athletic News: January 22, 1906.
Sam Gilligan 1906 II

Denbigshire Free Press: February 10, 1906.
Sam Gilligan 1906

Athletic News: January 21, 1907.

Dundee Courier: December 26, 1907.
Sam Gilligan 1907

Sam Gilligan, 1910, from the collection of James Cotton.
Sam Gilligan JC

Liverpool Echo: August 29, 1911.
Sam Gilligan 1911

Joint Everton and Liverpool Match Programme: February 5, 1913.
Sam Gilligan 1913

One comment

  1. From:

    GOOD old Sam Gilligan” said the Pittsburgh Press on his arrival at Hamarville, Pennsylvania to play against the local team in 1935. Similar sentiments were no doubt heard in Bristol too, especially as the Division 3, South Bristol City team struggled on in the shadow of former glories. City had once been League 2 Champions, League 1 runners up and FA Cup finalists with Sam Gilligan playing a critical role in those heady days. Despite this, by the 1930s nobody in the UK seemed to know what had become of him. For many years his later life was something of a mystery – a combination of unconfirmed rumours and false sightings. It was even stated that he had emigrated to Canada in 1969 and been spotted, aged 98, in 1980.

    Here are the facts.

    Born on January 18, 1882, in Dundee, his father Peter was an Irish immigrant and his mother Isabella, a local girl. Sam had two sisters and three brothers with all four Gilligan boys playing football at the highest level – something that must be almost unique. Elder brothers Sandy and Will both started at Dundee before following a well-worn route to the English League where they played for Bolton Wanderers and Derby County respectively. But while his youngest brother, John, played for Clyde, Sam headed south to Bristol City. Starting his working life as an apprentice riveter, Sam soon abandoned ship-building to became a professional footballer joining Dundee in 1901 at the age of 18. He moved to Celtic for the 1903/4 season where he had the honour of kicking-off at the new Hampden Park ground.

    Sam’s appearances, however, were sporadic, as manager Willie Maley experimented with the team. Ultimately he lost out to a golden generation of Celtic stars including Jimmy Quinn, considered by many to be the best centre forward in the world. In 1904, before embarking on his Bristol adventure, Sam married a Scots girl, Elizabeth Cree. The Bristol Times and Mirror newspaper enthused over his imminent arrival saying, “Bristol City’s latest capture is a centre forward, and one of a stamp which they most want if they are to make a serious effort to secure promotion next season” Making something of a habit of this, Sam kicked off at the new Ashton Gate in their pre-season friendly against Arsenal in September, 1904. After finishing the season in fourth position manager Hollis was replaced by Harry Thickett. The 1905/6 City team included another great Scottish forward, Willie Maxwell, the dangerous Walter Bennett plus another emerging talent, Billy (“Fatty”) Wedlock. City then swept all before them, with Maxwell, Bennett and Gilligan scoring an incredible 75 goals between them.

    Sam weighed in with 19, including 4 goals in one game against Stockport. The end of the season saw City emerge as champions with 14 consecutive victories. The 1906/7 season surprised everyone when the Bristol team took the runners-up spot behind Newcastle. Sam chipped in with 22 goals. When asked some years later about that season Sam, in his modest way, said simply: “We were tremendously lucky that season – simply couldn’t do wrong” The other major highlight of Sam’s career was the famous FA Cup run of 1909, which saw City beaten 1-0 in the final by Manchester United. Reports on his performance were mixed with some labelling him an, “absolute failure” and others saying that it was Sam who came closest to rescuing the game. The year 1910 saw Sam receive a testimonial against Aston Villa with much made of his good, quiet, unassuming character, a “modern footballer unspoilt by excessive praise.” As a player Sam was said to be occasionally slow and lacking that “champion shot” but words such as “dash” and “cleverness” were frequently used to describe his play. One contemporary wrote,”In every match you will find him where the battle rages hottest” After that Sam was sold to Liverpool where he stayed for two years before moving to Gillingham as player-manager. His UK career, however, came to a close in the summer of 1915 when the club packed up for the remainder of the First World War. Sam’s last appearance in Bristol was in March of that year when he scored against Bristol Rovers for Gillingham in a 2-1 loss. Sam’s life then enters a murky period. Although records mention him at Dundee Hibernians and Forfar later obituaries make no mention of these clubs.

    Conventional wisdom has it that Sam emigrated to Vancouver, in Canada, in 1969 when he would have been 87. But that’s unlikely and doesn’t fit the facts. Here’s what really happened. During the First World War Sam returned, as many footballers did, to his old trade. But with ship building in Dundee in the early 1920s subject to strikes and unemployment, Sam decided to emigrate. In October, 1923, he sailed on the ss Columbia from Glasgow to Boston ultimately arriving in Youngstown, Ohio, a centre of the American steel industry. Here Sam worked as an attendant at the Butler Art institute being joined by his wife and children some three years later. In the interim he became one of the leading lights in introducing soccer to the US. As player-manager of the Youngstown based Mahoning Valleys, Sam continued playing until 1932 finally finishing with the Republican Iron and Steel soccer club at the age of 50. But he continued to be involved in the game until as late as 1935 – just long enough to earn the “good old” tag.

    In 1942, at the age of 60, he registered for the US Draft but fortunately wasn’t required to fight. Sam worked for the Republican Iron and Steel Company as a foreman and, after retiring, returned to Dundee to meet up with old family and friends. Sam died in June, 1965, aged 83 – just few months after fellow player Billy Wedlock – but the news apparently never reached Bristol. Not a name instantly recognised by City fans, Sam Gilligan still sits at number nine – 87 goals in the list of all time City greats.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.