Ian Black: An Appreciation

By SFC Media Mon 17 Dec Club

Saints Historian David Bull remembers the club’s record-holding goalkeeper, Ian Black

Ian Black, who has died aged 88, has two special claims to feature in the Saints' records: as the sole Scot, throughout the 20th century, to be capped while on the club’s books; and as the only goalkeeper to concede fewer League goals (95) than the number of games he played (97) for the club.  

Black had barely joined Aberdeen when he was called up. Serving in REME, his numerous billets included Catford and Bordon. While at the former, he guested for Chelsea in the 1945 League South Cup Final. Then, when stationed at Bordon, he made a few “unofficial” appearances for Southampton in the transitional season of 1945-46. His inaugural performance for the Saints attracted rave reviews: “a young leopard”, said one national, while the Echo applauded “the calm assurance of a top-class player.” 

Reciprocally, the young Scot was impressed by the club’s player-coach, Bill Dodgin, not only for his professional knowledge and “terrific enthusiasm” but also for the way in which he and his wife Gladys embraced him, as “a second father and mother,” at their Bitterne home. Ian was soon posted back to Scotland, en route to Malta, where he remained until his demob in November 1947. Not surprisingly, both Chelsea and Southampton were keen to sign him. Aberdeen were equally loth to part with him, but “Daddy Dodgin” – by now the Saints manager – held all the cards, plus a cheque for £1,000, that enabled him very soon to sign Black.

Before that 1947-48 season was out, Ian was keeping goal for Scotland against England at Hampden. The Scots dominated, but Tom Finney – with a “screamer” that thrilled the Daily Herald – and Stan Mortensen secured a 2-0 away win. In so far as Ian “hardly touched the ball,” he reckoned, he had a limited opportunity to prove his case for a second chance. He had to be content with being a fixture in Southampton’s goal, as they narrowly missed promotion three seasons running, the third of them under Sid Cann, following the departure of Black’s “second father” to Fulham. Unhappy with a manager who “was not a good communicator,” Ian rejoined Dodgin at Craven Cottage, thereby forsaking “the best club that I’ve been at.” 

That said, he would chalk up 263 League games for Fulham – and one goal: when injured against Leicester City in August 1952, he was obliged to abandon his jersey for an outfield position, from which he headed Fulham's goal in a 6-1 defeat. In retirement, he ran a sports-shop in Tolworth, while developing a keen interest in bowls, a sport at which he represented Surrey, both outdoors and indoors. He was secretary, into his seventies, of the massive club at Tolworth, where he was still playing in his late eighties.


27 Mar 1924 - 13 Dec 2012

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