Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Gillespie started his career at local club Falkirk, captaining the side at 17, making him the world's youngest ever first team captain in football. Such was his rapid progression as a player, he was purchased by Coventry City in 1978 while still not quite 18.
A lot of admirers courted Gillespie's skills and attributes as a player who was involved in numerous successful relegation battles with Coventry for six seasons, and ultimately he got his big move to Liverpool in 1984 for 325,000 pounds. He was the first signing to be made by new manager Joe Fagan.
Gillespie took a while to settle in, mainly because world class defenders Mark Lawrenson and Alan Hansen were ahead of him, but eventually he got into the team in 1985 and was part of the side which won the "double" of League championship and FA Cup in 1986, though he missed out on a place at the FA Cup final at a time when still only one substitute was permitted. He scored three goals that season - all in the same game. Hat-tricks have always been rare for defenders, but Gillespie managed one against Birmingham City when he scored a brace from open play and then completed the threesome with a penalty after the Liverpool fans chanted his name when it was awarded - normally he would not have taken it. Liverpool won the game 5-0.
However, Gillespie's luck would change the following year, when he missed just three League games all season. By 1988, when he partnered Hansen in all bar five of Liverpool's games in the League, the Anfield club were a cut above every other side, losing just twice and coasting to the title. Gillespie weighed in with his share of goals, including one in the famous 5-0 hammering of Nottingham Forest which critics describe to this day as the finest domestic performance by any English club.
A week before Liverpool were scheduled to face Wimbledon in the FA Cup final and try to secure their second "double", Gillespie and team-mate Nigel Spackman clashed heads when leaping for the same ball in a League game against Derby County. Both suffered deep cuts but were deemed fit for the game at Wembley and were each given customised protective bandages with red and white stripes to wear during the game. Gillespie was regarded as one of Liverpool's better players on the day (BBC summariser Jimmy Hill said: "Gillespie's been brilliant, headband or not") but Liverpool surprisingly lost 1-0.
In 1989 Gillespie joined his team-mates in mourning the passing of 96 Liverpool fans at the Hillsborough disaster during a year in which he again was a regular feature in the team. This time fortunes were reversed - Liverpool won the FA Cup with an emotional victory over fierce Merseyside rivals Everton but lost the League title to Arsenal with pretty much the last kick of the season.
Gillespie won another League title with Liverpool in 1990 though his appearances record was diminishing owing to the arrival of Swedish defender Glenn Hysen to Anfield. The following year, with Dalglish replaced as manager by Graeme Souness, Gillespie was sold to Celtic for 925,000 pounds. He made 67 appearances for the Parkhead club over three years before winding down his career back at Coventry. He also won 13 caps for Scotland.
Since retirement, Gillespie has kept quite a low profile but continues to represent Liverpool in their veterans' side.
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