Kirrie connection to the offside rule

FOR many years people have used all sorts of things to explain the offside rule - but now all you need is a 50 pence piece.

That’s because the Royal Mint has released a coin with a diagram explaining the rule to celebrate the London 2012 Olympics.

Designed by Neil Wolfson, the 50p coin features a diagram of a football pitch with markers showing when a player is, or isn’t, offside.

But how many people know that it was a Kirrie lad that first thought of the idea?

Local historian David Orr does – and he was able to provide some background on John Gordon’s life.

He was born in the town on November 12, 1854.

When he moved away he never forgot his roots.

He became Lord Mayor of Leeds in 1899 and, in 1901 his firm moved to 19 Bond Street, Leeds.

The firm was restyled John Gordon & Co in 1906 and in 1909 he paid for the Kirriemuir Town Council to revert to the old street names in the town.

In his booklet, “Kirriemuir – It’s Streets & Place Names”, Mr Orr explains that Gordon Park was named in his honour.

“It was John Gordon’s interest in fairness in football that led him to come up with the idea of the much misunderstood offside rule,” explains Mr Orr, who furnished the Kirriemuir Herald with an article that appeared in an 1893 edition of the Kirriemuir Observer.

The article explains that Mr Gordon joined Leeds St. John’s Football Club in 1871, serving as a player, committee member, secretary, treasurer, vice-president and eventually president, a post he held for many years.

“On the occasion of his marriage in 1884, Mr Gordon was presented with a magnificent silver salver in recognition of his services to football,” the article reads.

“He took a prominent part in the first agitation in favour of penalties for rough play, offside play and scoring by points.

“These suggestions were contemptuously rejected by the southern clubs in 1881, but have all since become law, and have exercised a beneficial effect on the game.”

The article also points out that, in 1865, Mr Gordon joined the Leeds Rifles, retiring as Captain in 1887.