Andy Penman by Fraser Clyne
One wet Friday evening during the late winter of 1973 Lichties manager Bert Henderson walked out of Arbroath railway station accompanied by a former Scottish international who was coming towards the close of a glittering career that had seen him perform at the highest level with Dundee and Rangers. The following morning it was confirmed that Andy Penman, who played alongside Henderson at Dundee in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, had signed for Arbroath and would play against Hearts at Gayfield that afternoon.
A crowd of 3416 turned up in eager anticipation of Penman’s debut – and were treated to an impressive display of midfield leadership from one of the game’s true craftsmen. Although struggling for fitness (he hadn’t played for five months when Arbroath signed him), Penman was in sparkling form that day, strolling around the middle of the park spraying passes all around with unerring accuracy. His undoubted class, confidence and ability stood out as he inspired his new team-mates to play with a high degree of flair and enterprise. Penman was instrumental in tearing Hearts apart as he set up numerous chances for the home forwards. Arbroath romped to a convincing 3-0 victory with goals from Billy Pirie and Eric Sellers (2), but it could have been an even more emphatic outcome had all the opportunities been converted into goals.
Penman played in all nine remaining league games that season as Arbroath won three (against Hearts, St Johnstone and Airdrie), drew three (Hibs, Dundee Utd, Aberdeen) and lost three (Dundee, Celtic, Motherwell) to clinch 15th place in the top division of 18 teams. He didn’t score, but was instrumental in many of the goals the Lichties did get during that period.
Although Penman was only at Gayfield for a short time, he was a key factor in the club retaining its place in the top division until reorganisation created the Premier League in the mid 1970’s. Andy was, without question, one of the most polished footballers ever to pull on a maroon shirt and made a big impression on those he played with.
In an interview for the club’s matchday programme at the end of his first season at Gayfield, Penman revealed that the most memorable match of his career came on the final day of season 1961-62 when he helped Dundee defeat St Johnstone 3-0 in front of more than 26,000 spectators at Muirton Park. Two goals from Alan Gilzean and one from Penman gave the Dark Blues the victory they needed to secure the First Division title ahead of Rangers.
Penman’s best days were undoubtedly at Dundee. He played in the Dens Park side’s Scottish Cup Final defeat by Rangers in 1964 and the following season he was the club’s top scorer with 33 goals. In 1967 Rangers paid £30,000 for his services and transferred George Mclean to Dundee as part of the deal. Andy played 101 league games for the Ibrox side, scoring 36 goals, but his final two seasons in Glasgow, before signing for Arbroath, were not successful.
Penman made four appearances for the Scottish under-23 side between 1960 and 1965 but won only one full cap, in a 3-0 friendly defeat by Holland at Hampden Park in 1966 .
Article contributed by Fraser Clyne author of The History of Arbroath Football Club