- Published: Saturday, 10 October 2015 20:58
Montrose FC Legend Giles Gillett
Giles Marshall ‘Gil’ Gillett
Originally from Edinburgh, Giles Marshall ‘Gil’ Gillett played for Haddington FC before national service shortly after WW2, in the BAOR (British Army of the Rhine). Having impressed whilst playing for the BAOR, a number of Scottish clubs including Kilmarnock, were interested in his services, but he instead accepted an offer from South of the border, signing for English top flight side Middlesbrough as a 19-years-old shortly before being demobbed in April 1947.
Having impressed Middlesbrough manager David Jack, who tipped him to “become a star within two years”, Giles received an unfortunate knee injury during the last few minutes of the first practise match in August 1948, just days before the start of the 1948/49 season.
A short spell playing for Middlesbrough’s Reserve and ‘A’ sides followed, and Giles was joined for a short time by his brother George Gillett who in November 1948 also signed for the ‘A’ side. Their elder brother, Jack Gillett, acted as agent for both players in these deals.
These were successful times for the ‘Boro, flying high in the English First Division with a number of world-class players including George Hardwick and Wilf Mannion. The reserve squad were themselves very strong and played in front of thousands of supporters at their famous Ayresome Park Ground, winning the North Eastern League in ’48/49 (scoring 126 goals in 38 games), finishing third in 1949/50 with the best goal scoring record (124 goals in 38 games), and runners-up in 1950/51 (with 100 goals in 38 games). Giles was a key part of this free-scoring team, linking up well with veteran and ex-England cap Micky Fenton to create and score many goals.
Despite having a transfer fee placed on him by the Middlesbrough Directors, home-sickness and lack of first team opportunities led to a free transfer early in the 1950/51 season to Leith Athletic of the Scottish ‘C’ League. After playing well, Giles was retained by Leith for 1951/52, before leaving for Montrose in August 1952.
At Montrose, Giles was an important member of the first team throughout 1952/53, due to his ability to score and to create with both feet. As such, ‘Gil’ was used on the right and on the left side of the pitch in different matches, and records show he wore the number 6 and number 8 shirts for the Gable Endies.
After his time with Montrose, Giles returned to live in Middlesbrough. Adjusting his Football League registration from professional to amateur status in 1954, Giles took full-time employment at ICI and played for the works’ team, for whom he memorably netted 7 goals in a single game (final score…11-1!).
Also of interest to fans of football history is that fact that Giles’ nephew, David Gillett, was on the books of Hibernian, Crewe Alexandra, and Seattle Sounders, and played in the famous “Soccerbowl ’77” North American Soccer League 1977 championship final against a New York Cosmos side featuring the great Pele.
Settled in Middlesbrough, Giles had three children with wife Jeanne, and is today a Great-Grandfather.