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Archibald "Archie" Gemmill (born 24 March 1947 in Paisley, Renfrewshire) is a Scottish former footballer. During his career he won the European Cup, three English league titles and captained his national side. He scored a goal against the Netherlands in the 1978 FIFA World Cup, which is regularly cited as one of the greatest scored in the competition.

Archie Gemmill
Personal information
Full name Archibald Gemmill
Date of birth (1947-03-24) 24 March 1947 (age 72)
Place of birth Paisley, Scotland
Height 1.65 m (5 ft 5 in)[1]
Playing position Midfielder
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1964–1967 St Mirren 65 (9)
1967–1970 Preston North End 99 (13)
1970–1977 Derby County 261 (17)
1977–1979 Nottingham Forest 58 (4)
1979–1982 Birmingham City 97 (12)
1982 Jacksonville Tea Men 32 (2)
1982 Wigan Athletic 11 (0)
1982–1984 Derby County 63 (8)
Total 686 (65)
National team
1971–1981 Scotland 43 (8)
Teams managed
1994–1996 Rotherham United
2005–2009 Scotland U19
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Club careerEdit

Early careerEdit

Gemmill's early career at St Mirren was ruined by a succession of injuries, not least a broken ankle in early 1966. He was sent on to replace Jim Clunie on 13 August 1966 in a Scottish League Cup tie at Shawfield to become the first tactical substitute in Scottish football history.[2] Gemmill was sold for £13,000 to Preston North End.

Derby CountyEdit

He came to the attention of Peter Taylor, Derby County's assistant manager. Taylor then told Derby manager, Brian Clough, about Gemmill who had been considering signing for the reigning champions Everton. Clough saw him as a player who could pass well and had the type of energy that would drive an attack forward. Clough drove to Gemmill's house. When the player refused to sign for Derby (who had never won the league title), Clough told him that he was going to sleep outside in the car. "But my wife invited him in and he stayed the night," Gemmill said. Clough, eventually, got his man for £60,000 over fried eggs the following morning.

Gemmill scored only three goals for the Rams that season, but they became Football League champions the following year. He was suspended for the 1973 European Cup semi-final, but he became club captain in place of the injured Roy McFarland when the Rams won their second title in 1975. He made 324 appearances in total for the club and scored 25 goals. He left Derby after playing five times for them early in the 1977/78 season.[3]

Nottingham ForestEdit

Gemmill joined Nottingham Forest for £25,000 in September 1977[3] becoming the third ex Derby title winning player of Clough's to join him at Forest. John O'Hare and John McGovern were the other two. He played 58 times for Forest in the league, scoring three goals. He was integral to the success of the club in the late 1970s, but was dropped for the 1979 European Cup Final. Gemmill referred to the decision later:[4]

I was devastated at the time. I was led to believe I'd be playing in the match... I was far from happy. I hated every minute of the 90 and I hated afterwards as well.

Later careerEdit

He signed for Birmingham City debuting on 18 August 1979 in a 4–3 defeat at home to Fulham. He played 97 League matches for the Blues, scoring 12 goals.

In early 1982, Gemmill crossed the Atlantic to play for the Jacksonville Tea Men of the NASL. He only stayed for one season playing 32 league games.

In September 1982, he joined up with former teammate and club manager Larry Lloyd at Wigan Athletic but only stayed for 11 matches. He returned to Derby County as player-coach to become Peter Taylor's first signing for the club in 1982. He retired from playing in 1984.

International careerEdit

Gemmill played 43 times and scored eight goals for Scotland. He captained the national side on 22 occasions. Gemmill scored a goal against the Netherlands in a Group D fixture at the 1978 World Cup. Scotland needed to win the game by three goals to qualify for the next stage of the tournament, having had very poor results in their first two games. With his team leading 2–1 in the 68th minute, Gemmill scored a goal which was described by The Scotsman as follows:

In 68 minutes, however, Scotland went 3–1 up when Archie Gemmill scored one of the great goals of this World Cup so far. The little midfield player homed in on goal, played a magnificent one-two with Dalglish, then sprinted into the box and thumped a glorious goal past Jongbloed to revive all the hopes which had died the death this past fortnight. It was an extraordinary goal and an extraordinary moment. Suddenly Scotland were dreaming of glory again".[5]

Three minutes later Johnny Rep scored for the Netherlands, and the game ended 3–2, denying Scotland a spot in the second round. Rep's effort was deflected off Gemmill's outstretched leg and flew past Alan Rough's dive. Nonetheless, Gemmill's goal is regularly rated as amongst the greatest goals ever scored in the World Cup.[6][7]

The goal is referenced in the film Trainspotting, in which characters Tommy and Lizzie decide to make love while watching a homemade porno film, only to see it has been replaced with a football tape called "100 Great Goals" which features Gemmill's strike. At the same time, Renton (Ewan McGregor), who had switched the tapes in their cases and borrowed Tommy and Lizzie's tape, says after climaxing during sex, "I haven't felt that good since Archie Gemmill scored against Holland in 1978!" Gemmill first saw Trainspotting on a club outing with Rotherham, and his reaction was:[4] "I got absolutely slaughtered by the lads... to be fair I was a bit embarrassed by it."

After playingEdit

Gemmill returned to Nottingham Forest to be a coach alongside Brian Clough in 1984. Later he managed Rotherham United for two seasons in the mid-1990s.

His son Scot Gemmill became a Scotland player in the 1990s. In 1970, Archie drove his pregnant wife back to Scotland to ensure that Scot would be born there.[8] Archie became unhappy that Scot was selected for squads but was rarely used in games.[8] He eventually told Scot to stop making himself available for selection, but Scot disagreed and continued to play for Scotland until late in his career.[8]

Gemmill managed the Scotland national under-19 football team that finished second in the 2006 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship[9] and thereby qualified for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada.



  • Gemmill. Archie, Both Sides of the Border, 296 pages (12 September 2005), Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (ISBN 0-340-89570-5)
  • John Hodge and Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting: Screenplay, Faber and Faber, 2000 (ISBN 0-571-20320-5)
  • McLeish and Gemmill back Celtic Cup, STV interviews, 22 June 2007
  • Brown unconvinced by home internationals return STV interview, 22 June 2007


External linksEdit