Alec Raisbeck
Alec Raisbeck
see also: Alec Raisbeck (opposition manager) β†’
Alec Raisbeck
● Alec Raisbeck (LFC)

born in Scotland

Alexander Galloway Raisbeck was born on Thursday, 26th December, 1878, in Wallacestone, Stirlingshire.

The 5' 10 (12st 9lbs) midfielder signed for George Easton's Thistle on Friday, 11th June, 1909, having most recently been with Liverpool.

Aged 30, he made his debut appearance on Monday, 16th August, 1909, in a 2-1 defeat away to Morton in the SFL First Division.

Alec scored his first two goals for Thistle on Saturday, 18th September, 1909, in a 3-1 win at home to Dumbarton Harp in the Scottish Qualifying Cup.

He scored the last of his 13 goals on Saturday, 8th February, 1913, in a 4-1 win at home to Caledonian in the Scottish Cup.

He played his last game for the club on Saturday, 4th April, 1914, in a 1-1 draw away to Nithsdale Wanderers in a Benefit match, having clocked up 144 appearances as a Jag.

His club-list included Larkhall Thistle, Royal Albert, Hibernian, Stoke, Liverpool and Partick Thistle.

Alec died on Saturday, 12th March, 1949, in Liverpool, aged 70.

Bio Extra

EARLY LIFE

Raisbeck was born in the village of Wallacestone near Polmont, Stirlingshire on Boxing Day, 1878. However, his family moved from the village to Slamannan before eventually settling in South Lanarkshire, living in a house near Cambuslang built on the site of a former infectious disease hospital. His parents, Luke and Jean, had fourteen children, although only eight lived to adulthood. At age twelve, Raisbeck was given the choice of picking a line of work and decided to follow his father and older brothers into the local colliery to work as a coal miner. He would start work in the pit at six in the morning and would not return to the surface until at least five in the afternoon each day.

LARKHALL THISTLE & HIBERNIAN

After playing for a youth team sponsored by a local church, Raisbeck joined Larkhall Thistle at the age of thirteen and was placed in the club's third team. However, after a single season, he was promoted to the first-team and started playing in the unfamiliar outside right position. He later commented on his belief that the club's selection committee "must have noticed my extraordinary tendency to wander into the middle of the field" and he eventually switched to playing as a defender. During 1895 he guested for the town rivals, Royal Albert!

Two of his brothers, Willie and Andrew, were also part of the Larkhall Thistle Junior side and the trio helped the side to win their first trophy since the club was founded. His performances were brought to the attention of Hibernian player Joe Murphy, known commonly as Judge as he wore a wig, who visited Raisbeck's family home to try to convince him to join the club. At the time, Raisbeck had actually given up on playing football due to a knee injury but was eager to leave his mining job and signed for the club on 30 July 1896. Despite looking to leave the mining profession, Raisbeck later commented on his desire to learn the trade, stating footballers "who have no trade will have to turn their hands to menial labour, […] the skilled trades will be able to command the standard rate of wages."

Raisbeck made his professional debut for Hibernian less than two months after signing, playing in a 2–2 draw with Abercorn on 12 September 1896, and scored his first goal for the club in the reverse fixture against Abercorn in a 9–0 victory. He made ten appearances in all competitions during the season, helping Hibs to second place, and impressed selectors enough to be called up to the Scottish League XI as a reserve player for a match against their Irish counterparts. However, Alex Keillor later withdrew from the squad which allowed Raisbeck to start the match played at Solitude.

At the age of seventeen, Raisbeck travelled to Aberdour with the Hibernian squad for a training camp. During a dinner, he rushed to finish his soup during a heated discussion and swallowed a small bone that became lodged in his throat; players and coaches made frantic attempts to help Raisbeck as he struggled to breathe and began to lose consciousness before club trainer Paddy Canon was able to hit him hard enough on the back to dislodge the bone. In his second season at Hibernian, he missed just two league matches as the club finished in third place.

STOKE

At the end of the 1897–98 season, Raisbeck and Hibs teammate Jack Kennedy joined Stoke on a short term deal for two months. English clubs would frequently bring in Scottish players temporarily to bolster their squad in the final matches of the season. He played four league matches for the club as they finished bottom of the Football League First Division and were entered into Football League test matches, a four team mini-league where the bottom two clubs in the First Division and the top two clubs in the Second Division played each other once with the top two playing in the First Division the following season. He played in all four test matches as Stoke finished top of the mini-league, although all four teams were allowed into the First Division anyway as the Football League decided to expand the number of teams.

LIVERPOOL

Stoke hoped to sign Raisbeck on a permanent basis and made an appointment with manager Horace Austerberry to discuss terms. However, Austerberry failed to arrive for the meeting and Raisbeck later met Liverpool manager Tom Watson at the home of the Hibernian chairman. Watson quickly made him an offer to join Liverpool and the transfer was completed on 6 May 1898. He was welcomed to the club with a Lancashire hotpot dinner, a tradition for Liverpool to initiate new players. One of several Scottish players in the squad, Raisbeck commented that he was "welcomed with open arms" and "felt at home right away" and became particularly good friends with fellow Scot John Walker.

After a twelve week training camp near Blackpool, he made his debut in a First Division match against Sheffield Wednesday on 3 September 1898. Liverpool reached the semi-final of the FA Cup in his first season at the club, playing a four game tie against Sheffield United. Liverpool had led 2–1 and 4–2 in the original tie and first replay before drawing both matches after conceding late goals and a second replay was abandoned with Liverpool leading 1–0 after Sheffield fans ran onto the pitch on more than one occasion. Liverpool would eventually lose 1–0 in a fourth match and Raisbeck would be called into a hearing by a disciplinary panel after Liverpool players "severely jostled" the referee at the end of the match having been aggrieved at his decisions. The referee believed Raisbeck had witnessed the incident and asked him to name the players responsible but Raisbeck refused, later stating "I did not think any of our players had had anything to do with the demonstration". Along with teammates Walker and William Goldie, he was reported by the referee over the incident but was later cleared of any wrongdoing. In the league, Liverpool finished as runners-up to Aston Villa after losing their final match of the season.

After two seasons at Anfield, Raisbeck was appointed club captain and led Liverpool to their first ever league title in 1900–01. They claimed the title after defeating West Bromwich Albion in the final game of the season. Following their victory, the team were cheered off at Birmingham Snow Hill railway station by West Brom fans before being greeted by around 50,000 fans upon their return to Liverpool Central railway station. In April 1901, the Football League introduced a Β£4 weekly maximum wage for footballers which severely impacted Liverpool who were seen as one of the higher paying teams in England. To try and ensure they could pay their players extra money, they would assign players jobs within the club that they could be paid for. Raisbeck himself was employed as a bill inspector, his job being to monitor public notice boards to check whether they were correctly advertising the club's fixtures!

Three years after the club won the league title, they suffered relegation to the Second Division. Raisbeck had considered leaving Liverpool at the start of the 1903–04 season but changed his mind when they were relegated, stating "I simply could not leave my club in its day of disaster." He remained with the club and helped them win promotion back to the First Division after a single season after recording a record points total, with only goalkeeper Ned Doig making more appearances during the course of the season. On their return to the First Division, the Liverpool board decided to form the club into a limited company. When the players were informed of the decision by manager Watson during a training camp in The Midlands, several senior players, including Raisbeck, decided to invest in shares of the club with ten of the fifteen players at the camp choosing to purchase shares.

In their first season back in the First Division, Raisbeck enjoyed his most successful campaign with the club as he helped them to lift the league title, the Sheriff of London Charity Shield and the Liverpool Senior Cup. In the FA Cup, Liverpool were defeated by local rivals Everton in the semi-finals. Prior to the match, as captain, Raisbeck had met with the club's directors and pushed for the inclusion of Sam Raybould in the starting line-up which was agreed after it was confirmed that he had sufficiently recovered from injury. However, some players later met with the directors and convinced them to drop Raybould and gave the directors the impression that Raisbeck was in agreement with this decision. The directors relented and the team was rearranged without Raisbeck's knowledge. He would later comment on the changes which left several players out of position for the match, stating "our forwards were all out of tune and they did little that was right. We lost, but I still feel it was an error of judgement which deprived Liverpool of competing in the final."

As a reward for winning the First Division title, the Liverpool squad were sent to Paris for a team holiday where they met swimmer John Arthur Jarvis following his victory in a race in the Seine. In his later years with Liverpool, mounting injuries began to take their toll on Raisbeck's body and his appearances for the club steadily decreased each season. During the 1908–09 season, he developed a knee injury that kept him out of the first-team for four months and the extended time away from the club led him to become homesick and he eventually informed the club of his wish to return to Scotland. The club's board were initially unwilling to allow their captain to leave but relented when he told them it was for health reasons. He played his final match for the club on 30 April 1909, a 1–0 victory over Newcastle United that saw Liverpool avoid relegation. During his time at Anfield, he made 341 appearances in all competitions, scoring 19 goals.

PARTICK THISTLE

Raisbeck's teammate Maurice Parry was out of contract at Liverpool at the end of the 1908–09 season and was in talks with Partick Thistle over a potential move. Thistle club secretary George Easton, a friend of Raisbeck, approached him for his opinion on Parry and during their conversation he remarked to Easton over his desire to move. Easton quickly contacted Liverpool and the transfer was completed soon after for a fee of Β£500. The team had finished bottom of the Scottish First Division the previous season but were due to move into their new ground Firhill and Raisbeck and Parry were part of several signings brought in to boost the club's fortunes. He was appointed club captain on his arrival and went on to make almost 150 appearances for the club during a five-season spell. Speaking to the Weekly News in 1915, Alec cast his thoughts back to June 1909 when he first saw the embryonic Firhill:

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My first impressions of Firhill! I shall never forget them. When I entered what was supposed to be the playing field I could not help but smile and remark to director Lindsay 'Are we going to play here this August or next? You ought to have seen it. One half of the playing field was not so bad. It was a kin o' level, but, oh! the other half! Tons of rubbish were heaped up here and there, and one would have been lucky to find a blade of grass. I tell you, I nearly had a fit when I saw what I had come to after the beautiful enclosure of Anfield. And I may just as well tell the truth - I was at the time sorry that I had left Liverpool. This was my first impression, but not a lasting one, I'm glad to say. The Partick Directorate had many willing workers, however, and by the middle of August Firhill preesented a fine appearance, and I must say I was agreeably surprised.

This was, however, a very good time to be signing for Thistle, albeit Firhill was a rather chaotic environment at the time. The club had been homeless the season before and the results had been horrendous. However, this was a fresh start with new impetus. The Directorate were indeed to be congratulated, but as the first season got underway it soon became apparent that the blend of raw juniors and seasoned pros would take time to settle. Alec took control of the captaincy from the off, and settled into his familiar centre half role. Alas, positive results were hard to come by for some time as the club took time to re-settle in Maryhill. The first two League games were actually lost home and away to Morton, the "home" leg taking place at Ibrox as the executive continued to encourage the builders to hurry along at Firhill.

Eventually the ground was opened on 18th September 1909. Due to Thistle's awful League performance the season before, they were faced with the ignominuous task of having to qualify for the right to play in the Scottish Cup proper. Having won at Renton (in an extremely hostile atmosphere) by a goal to nil two weeks earlier, Dumbarton Harp were the opponents for the first-ever game at Firhill, and Alec wrote himself into the history books. With Thistle surprisingly trailing by one goal to nil, they were awarded a penalty in the 42nd minute. Alec duly despatched the kick and the standites in the 4,000 crowd roared their approval and stamped their feet on the timber. It was a fast and exciting game and it was only really settled when Thistle got a second penalty in the second half. Alec again did the needful to secure the win. Two Harp players were sent off as things got towsy near the end. Final score; Partick Thistle 3, Dumbarton Harp 1. Alec would notch 13 goals for Thistle in total, 6 from open play and 7 from the penalty spot, although, overall, his record from the spot was less than perfect, 4 of his 11 having been missed, 3 of which would have turned 1 point into 2 in the League.

A victory over Nithsdale Wanderers 3 weeks later meant that Thistle's place in the Scottish Cup draw was, indeed, secured. The Jags had to wait until Christmas day for their first League win at Firhill when a strong Hibs side were defeated by 3 goals to 1. A corner was turned. Alec had been injured against Rangers the week before and didn't actually play that day, and perhaps it's just as well. Tragically, there was a fatal accident during the match, when Thistle's Frank Branscombe slipped on an icy surface in a challenge for the ball with James Main, striking the Scotland defender in the stomach with his boot with some force. Main died from his injuries 4 days later.

In the final analysis, there was improvement in 1909-10 (it could hardly have been much worse), but Thistle won only 8 of their 34 League matches and finished 16th of the 18. It was nowhere near good enough, although Alec wasn't despondent. He had missed around in 1 in 3 of the games in his first season due to various injuries, but he was feeling strong going into the next season and was confident that the team would be a whole new proposition with the 'season of adjustment' behind them. And he was right - oh what a differenece in 1910-11! The Jags rocketed to 4th in the League (above Celtic), and finished just 10 points behind the champions. They went through the entire League campaign unbeaten at Fortress Firhill. Crowds were up as Maryhill took Thistle as one of her own. Supporters brake clubs increased in number, and one of them raised a new banner in the image of their heroic captain (see 'Gallery' tab above) who was seen as one of the main men responsible for the great revival.

Alec, having turned 32, might have thought his days as an internationalist were over, but he got the call to represent the Scottish League against the English League in March 1911. These were big occasion matches; 70,000 were at Hampden for the 1-1 draw. [He would again get the Scottish League call just before turning 34. In November 1912, he played for Scotland at Belfast and was on the right side of a deserved 3-1 victory.]

The consistency and feel-good factor was maintained in 1911-12. Alec fondly recalled one match in particular from that season, when he scored from a free-kick, equalizing matters in a Glasgow Cup tie at Parkhead. Alec relished his tussles with the Old Firm in particular, and we could always hold our own against them in his era, against the odds. Thistle battled back from 3-1 that day to earn a replay. Said Alec:

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A game is never lost until the final whistle blows, this has always been the motto of Partick. We got set properly agoing before the finish, and then we did not half rub it in. We equalised close on time, and I'll say this much, that had we another five minutes to play we would have whacked them.

But whack them we did in the Firhill replay; Partick Thistle 3 Celtic 0. Third Lanark were also defeated in a replay by 2 goals to nil, as Thistle reached their second Glasgow Cup Final. They really should have won it too as they were by far the better team on the day, but Rangers scored a scarcely deserved goal while Archie McKenzie was off injured, 10 munutes before half-time. Back to 11 men, Thistle rued wasted chances and, with just one minute to play, Hugh Thomson blasted over with just the keeper to beat. Groan. In the League, the Jags finished in joint-4th place in 1911-12. Winning goals (from open play!) at Airdrie and at Motherwell were also memorable for Alec who played in 34 of the competitive games; it was another great season all round.

Over confidence alert! Thistlefully, just when we thought we had established ourselves as contenders we slumped in the two seasons which followed; 2 away wins in 36 brutally underlined where the problems lay in 1912-13 and 1913-14. Alec's game time shrunk back to 60% in the first of those two seasons. Thistle, without Alec, lost 1-0 to Dundee in the Cup on 22 February 1913 and he bitterly recalled his first-ever experience of having being dropped from the team as a 34-year-old:

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I was dropped for the first time during my career, which covered a period of seventeen seasons. Never before had the officials of any of the clubs I had been with deemed it necessary to give my place to another, and I tell you I felt my position. I felt it all the more because, in my opinion, I was playing well at the time. I would not have thought so much of being left out had I been made aware of the fact sooner than I was. It was just a few minutes before the kick-off when I was informed of the Directors' decision, and I must say that I resented their decision very much.

The following Saturday Alec was back in place, we can only imagine at the conversations that might have taken place in the interim period! No matter who was right or wrong, Alec's appearance record was further on the wane in 1913-14, as Thistle continued to struggle. He sustained a blow to the abdomen during a league match against Dundee, but played on after an initial wave of pain. However, in the dressing room after the match he experienced more pain and the club doctor advised that the injury, although not serious, could lead to appendicitis. He played on for several matches but grew uneasy over the increased pain after matches, and eventually sought further advice from a professor who advised him to undergo surgery, which took place on Christmas Day 1913 in Glasgow. The injury ruled him out of his benefit match and he never played a competitive match for the club again.

Such was the esteem in which he was held by the Partick Thistle community, some 10,000 were at Firhill for his benefit match (which had been agreed before the start of the season) played on 6th January 1914. Partick Thistle played an "International XI" which included 10 players from Scottish clubs and 1 from Liverpool! To be fair, the Anfield club offered to send a strong team, but the communication was received too late to re-arrange matters. The handsome gate receipts were a tonic for Alec in his hospital bed:

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It was very good of the players and officials of the other clubs to do so much for me without receiving a halfpenny for their trouble. My old friend the late Tom Watson, came from Liverpool at his own expense along with β€œParky,” and before the match paid me a visit at the nursing home. Their presence did much to cheer me up. Old Tom was just the sort to put new life into anyone who was the least bit depressed. It was not until I was in the nursing home that I fully realised how many good and true football friends I had. I did not get much chance to feel lonely, for I had visitors almost every day of the week.

By February, Alec was back again making his morning commute from Larkhall to Firhill, via the train, although he was resigned to the fact that his first-class playing days were over. What to do next was occupying his thoughts. About that time, he got chatting with an official from Hamilton Accies on the morning train and a (jokingly-made) suggestion turned serious, the result being that Alec applied for, and was appointed to, the position of manager at Hamilton! Amazingly, just after taking over the role at Hamilton, Alec was back in a Thistle strip for one last hurrah on 4th April, 1914, appearing for the benefit of Morrison in a 1-1 friendly draw played at Castleholm Park, home to Nithsdale Wanderers. The two sides had met at Firhill in the Scottish Cup a couple of months earlier, and Morrison, their centre forward, retired injured at half-time in that match. Alec would have been mindful of his own benefit just months earlier.

Despite some of the inevitable frustrations associated with advancing years, Alec could look back on his time with Partick Thistle with a great deal of fondness and satisfaction. The club was back on the right path after the doom and gloom of 1908-09; in the post-Raisbeck seasons Thistle went 5 seasons straight in the Top 10. There's no doubt that some of his prestigious magic rubbed off at Firhill, inspiring teammates and supporters alike.

INTERNATIONAL CAREER

Having represented the Scottish Football League XI, Raisbeck made his senior international debut for Scotland on 17 April 1900 in a 4–1 victory over England. On 5 April 1902, he played in a match against England that was later declared void following the 1902 Ibrox disaster in which 25 people died when a stand at the stadium collapsed. Raisbeck later recalled the moment he heard the stand give way, believing initially that the crowd had attempted to storm the pitch. The match was temporarily halted and the teams returned to the dressing rooms where some of the injured spectators were being treated. Describing the scene, Raisbeck commented "I shall never forget the scenes inside. Dead bodies and groaning men were lying on the seats where only a short time ago the Scottish players had stripped. Even some of the players' clothing was requisitioned for bandages." The match later resumed but was not counted by either the English or Scottish Football Associations in official statistics. Of his 8 caps for Scotland, 5 of them were as captain. 7 of the 8 came against the Auld Enemy, a surefire sign that he was considered by the selectors to be the best #5 in the land. Only once did he suffer defeat!

MANAGERIAL CAREER

As previously mentioned, in March 1914, Raisbeck met an official working for Hamilton Academical who informed him that the club were looking to employ their first manager. He enquired about taking the job and was eventually hired. He spent three years in charge of the club before changing roles to a director for a further three and a half years.

On 28 December 1921, Raisbeck was appointed manager of Second Division side Bristol City, but was unable to avoid relegation to the Third Division South in his first season. The following year, he led the team to promotion back into the Second Division by winning the Third Division South titles. His success with Bristol saw him named as one of the candidates to take over as Liverpool manager from David Ashworth but the post was eventually given to Matt McQueen. Bristol suffered relegation again in the 1923–24 season and, despite returning to the Second Division three years later, he resigned from his post in June 1929.

After a six-year spell with Halifax Town, he took over the manager's role at Chester in 1936, after being chosen from over 100 applicants, as the permanent replacement for Charlie Hewitt. In July 1938, Raisbeck was appointed manager of Southern Football League side Bath City, however the outbreak of World War II in 1939 led all competitive football to be suspended and he left his position at the club. He later returned to Liverpool following the end of the war, working as a scout until his death in 1949.

PERSONAL LIFE

Alec married Elizabeth Maxwell Stewart on 1st November 1901 in Larkhall. He fathered fourteen children during his life (see 'Gallery' tab for a picture with 12 of them). During World War II, six of Raisbeck's sons served in the armed forces, four of them as officers. He lived near to Anfield until his death there on 12 March 1949 at the age of 70, leaving Β£276 and 18 shillings in his will. Two of his brothers were also footballers: Bill's clubs included Sunderland and Falkirk, while Andrew appeared for Hibernian and was a reserve at Liverpool, then played for Hull City. Both emigrated to Canada in 1907 along with other family members. A cousin of the family, Luke Raisbeck, played for West Ham United and Blackpool among others.

(WIK/WS)



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