Benoni, Gauteng, South Africa born centre forward Gordon Hodgson held the goalscoring record at Liverpool until Roger Hunt broke it in the late 1960’s. He started playing football for Benoni in 1919 and later played for Rustenburg in 1921, Pretoria in 1922 and Transvaal in 1924. He toured England with South Africa in 1924 and on 1st October Hodgson caught the eye of Liverpool’s board members as well as the Liverpool Echo’s columnist Bee in the team’s 5-2 win over Liverpool: “The inside right, who took my eye from the first moment, is only nineteen, but plays like a seasoned professional,” he wrote in the local paper about Hodgson, who didn’t though manage to get on the scoresheet.
The South Africans played attractive football “passing along the ground from the backs to the forwards” and “there was no roaming and no dribbling across the field. Each player was bent solely on attack.” Liverpool signed him in December 1925, Hodgson making his Football League debut for them at Manchester City in February 1926. He bagged his first 30 goal haul in 1928-29 and his best season saw 37 goals in 1930-31. In 11 seasons he scored 241 goals in 377 games for The Reds, including 17 hat-tricks, still a club record.
Hodgson who played twice for the South African international team also qualified for England as both his parents were born in “Blighty”. He was first capped for England in October 1930 against Ireland at Bramall Lane, winning 3 caps over a six month period including a goal against Wales in his second game in a 4-0 win at The Racecourse Ground, Wrexham. He also represented The Football League against The Scottish League in November 1930, scoring as The Football League romped to a 7-3 win at White Hart Lane.
In January 1936 Aston Villa signed him for £4,000 but he couldn’t prevent their relegation from the First Division and Leeds United signed him in March 1937 for £1,500 after 11 goals in 28 games for Villa. His spell at Leeds, which finished with the outbreak of The Second World War, was far more successful and he finished with 53 goals in 86 matches at Elland Road including scoring five times when Leeds beat Leicester City 8-2 in October 1938.
He was also a fine cricketer and played 56 matches for Lancashire between 1928 and 1933 taking 148 wickets.
After the War he became manager of Port Vale in October 1946, and was still in the job when he was diagnosed with inoperable throat cancer early in 1951, passing away aged only 47 in June 1951.