When you enter through the main reception at Dens Park, you are greeted with a picture with a simple caption ‘The Penalty King’ and inside the frame is a photo of the boy genius of Dundee, Andy Penman, who made his debut for the club of the tender age of 15 and won a Championship medal just four years later after scoring the goal which clinched the title.
Andy Penman was a wonderful midfield player with startling vision and a fine passer of the ball who could clip balls precisely through, round and over defences to give his forwards clear, unhindered runs at goal. He was a genius, a child prodigy in the art of football who went down to Everton straight from school in Dunfermline and turned out for their reserve side in a Merseyside derby at just 15 years of age.
Born in Rosyth on February 20th 1943, the son of a Fife miner was homesick down in Liverpool and it didn’t take much for manager Willie Thornton to persuade Andy to come back north to Scotland and sign an amateur contract with his Dundee side in 1958.
Thornton knew he had signed someone special and it took just two games in the reserves to convince the Dundee management that they had a real talent and was pitched him into the first team against Hearts at Tynecastle just 13 days before his 16th birthday making him the youngest player to ever turn out in the Scottish League.
With 12 months Andy was a regular in the Dundee side and wearing the number 7 shirt, he made 21 appearances in the 1959/60 season. It was towards the end of that campaign that Andy showed his goal scoring potential with a hat-trick against Hibs in a 6-3 win at Dens but it wasn’t until the following year that Penman started to earn his ‘Penalty King’ nickname when he scored his first spot kick for the club.
That historic strike came in a League Cup quarter-final second leg tie at home to Rangers but it wasn’t enough to see The Dee into the semi-final as the Dark Blues lost 4-3, to be knocked out 5-3 on aggregate.
Sharing the penalty duties with Doug Cowie and Bobby Cox, Penman managed three that term but the following season saw Andy take over the responsibility full time and scored five on the way to Dundee winning the League Flag.
At the start of the 1961/62 season, the arrival of Gordon Smith meant that Penman moved to inside-right and the pair forged a formidable right-wing partnership which helped bring Dundee the Scottish League Championship and then European Glory. Having scored 12 goals in the previous two campaigns, Andy’s new position saw him now contribute 17 goals on the way to winning the title including a hat-trick at home to Kilmarnock (against whom he had broken a leg the year before) in October and the third in the 3-0 win over St Johnstone at Muirton Park on the final day to clinch the Scottish League Division One title.
The Championship season saw Dundee go on a club record 20 games undefeated and amongst those matches was a friendly against Swedish champions Elfsborg when Andy scored 5 in an 8-1 win at Dens and a Dewer Shield 4-2 win over St Johnstone in which Andy scored from the spot. Andy also scored three goals pre season which meant that in Dundee’s title’s winning year, Penman scored an impressive 26 goals.
Winning the title meant European competition for the first time in the club’s history and Andy was an ever present throughout the season as Dundee reached the Champions’ Cup semi-final.
In the preliminary round against Cologne, Andy was part of a tie that he would never forget when in the first leg at Dens, he scored in the remarkable 8-1 win and then in the second leg in Germany, he ended up in goal after Bert Slater was stretchered off in the 27th minute.
“Whoever put Andy Penman in goal has made better decisions,” claimed Ian Ure on the 40th anniversary of the tie but the youngster was brave enough to take over the number one shirt. Already 1-0 down on the night, Andy let in a further two goals before half time and it was a relief to everyone connected with Dundee when Bert Slater returned between the sticks early in the second half to help Dundee win the tie 8-5 on aggregate.
That European Cup season would see Andy play 52 times, scoring 14 goals and was the only player to play in every match throughout the 1962/63 campaign. He would again hit 50 appearances the following season but his goal scoring record was more than double the year before, scoring a terrific 30 goals in all competitions but astonishingly was only the second top scorer behind 52 goal ‘Gillie’.
He did however finish top goalscorer in the next two seasons with 33 goals in 1964/55 and 19 the following year.
Season 1963/64 saw Andy and Dundee reach the Scottish Cup Final but he collected a runners-up medal after a 3-1 defeat to future employers Rangers. The Championship win two years previously turned out to be not only Andy’s only winner’s medal with Dundee but also the only winner’s medal of his career. Considering that he signed for Rangers for £30,000 plus George McLean in 1967, it is a surprise that he didn’t collect another winner’s medal but these were barren years for Rangers as Celtic dominated and he missed out on a European Cup Winner’s Cup triumph in 1972 through injury.
Before he left for Ibrox Andy was called up for Scotland in 1966 when he made his full international debut against the Netherlands to add to his Under-23 and Scottish League caps he won while at Dens. It is a tragedy that he only won a further two full caps but it meant he had been capped at every level by Scotland from Schoolboy upwards.
After leaving Rangers in 1973, Andy joined Arbroath who were then in the top flight and was signed by his former Dens Park team mate Bert Henderson who was then manager of the Red Lichties. A crowd of 3416 turned up for his debut against Hearts at Gayfield and although struggling for fitness having not played for five months, Andy was in sparkling form, strolling around the park spraying passes with unerring accuracy. He was instrumental in tearing Hearts apart as he set up numerous chances for the home forwards, including fellow Dundee Hall of Famer Billy Pirie who scored the first in a 3-0 win.
After three years at Gayfield, in which he scored 10 goals in 79 league appearances, it was off to the Highlands to become player/manager of Inverness Caledonian where he received a testimonial in 1979 when an Inverness Select played a Dundee FC XI.
Andy was a tireless worker in midfield and contributed a fantastic 141 goals as one of only ten players to score over a century of goals for Dundee and is the Dark Blue’s fifth top all time scorer. A dead ball expert, his forte was from the penalty spot where he rarely missed, scoring 25 times from 12 yards in his eight years at Dens.
Sadly Andy died in 1994 aged just 51 but his legacy lives on at Dens Park. Not only are you greeted by his image when you enter the main door but there is also a hospitality lounge that bears his name, as does the official DFC supporters club in his native Fife. Penman was also inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2011 with a Legends Award which was accepted on his behalf by his son, Andrew Junior and for Dundee fans of a certain vintage,, who had voted him in, it showed that ‘Boy Kings’ never grow up and they never die, at least not in the memories of those who were lucky enough to witness the skills and the genius of Andy Penman.
Honours at Dundee:
Scottish League Division One (top tier) winners: 1961/62
European Champions Cup semi-finalists: 1962/63
Scottish Cup runners-up: 1963/64
Scotland full caps: 1
Scottish League caps: 4
Scotland Under-23 caps: 4
League: 215, 100 goals
Scottish Cup: 17 + 1 sub, 10 goals
League Cup: 46, 18 goals
Europe: 10, 1 goal
Other: 17, 12 goals
Totals: 306, 141 goals