Bob Duncan
Bob Duncan
Bob Duncan
● Bob Duncan, 1895 (FCIE)

born in Scotland

Robert Duncan was born on Sunday, 4th October, 1874, in Bonhill, West Dunbartonshire.

The midfielder signed for Thistle on Friday, 18th June, 1897, having most recently been with Renton.

Aged 22, he made his first known appearance on Wednesday, 1st September, 1897, in a 5-1 friendly defeat at home to Rangers.

Bob scored his only two goals for Thistle on the same day; on Saturday, 31st December, 1898, in a 2-0 win at home to Dundee in the SFL First Division.

He played his last known game for the club on Saturday, 21st October, 1899, in a 2-1 defeat away to Ayr in the SFL Second Division, having appeared for the Thistle on at least 64 occasions.

His club-list included Renton and Partick Thistle.

Bob died on Monday, 8th September, 1958, in Balloch, West Dunbartonshire, aged 83.

Bio Extra

Son of William Duncan and Agnes Duncan (nÊe McMillan). He married Mary Buchanan.

Bob could play on either side of the half-back line and did so with both Renton and Partick Thistle, his only two senior clubs. The 18-year-old signed for his local team in July 1893, and was a near ever-present for the dark blues over the course of the next 4 seasons. Renton were a top-tier side at that time, but the legalisation of professionalism was an ominous development for the Dunbartonshire region, where giants subsequently became minnows, unable to compete with their meagre gates in the hundreds. Bob experienced relegation in his first season at Tontine Park, and Renton never would return. As Wikipedia tells, they continued to run into trouble with the authorities, failing to turn up for their away fixture against Dundee Wanderers in 1894–95, in favour of playing a more lucrative friendly against Queen's Park. The points were therefore awarded to the Wanderers. On a much more positive note, the club were more rigorous in their attention to that season's Scottish Cup, and reached their fifth Scottish Cup final. Alas, it was merely silver for Bob (playing outside left on the day) as the Cup headed eastwards to St Bernard's of Edinburgh, who ran out 2-1 winners in front of 12,000 at Ibrox.

With an immaculate sense of timing, Bob (who had played many times against the Jags) moved over to Partick in the summer of 1897, joining the recently crowned Second Division champions. Promotion for Thistle had been comfirmed via election at the League AGM on 1st June, 1897, and Bob signed one month later. Meanwhile, his Renton mates were doomed. Just 4 games into the 1897-98 season it became acutely obvious to all behind the scenes that they were unable to meet their financial guarantees, and they duly tendered their resignation to the League. This was accepted, with Hamilton Academical taking on Renton's remaining fixtures – less than a decade after their infamous "world championship" win over West Bromwich Albion (Scottish Cup v English Cup play-off).

Meanwhile, Bob played in Thistle's first-ever top-flight fixture, a 3-2 win over the (then) Scottish champions, Heart of Midlothian, in front of a carnival and partisan crowd of 7,000 at Meadowside. Talk about landing on your feet! Willie Paul was outstanding that famous day and “the rushes of the Thistle forwards were simply irresistible”. Along with goalie John Spence, Bob was joint-top of our appearance chart that term, with a 100% record in competitive action. He also topped the chart the following campaign on 30 competitive appearances, alongside Jamie Auchincloss, Robert Gray and the indomitable veteran, Willie Paul. Things weren't so sweet that time around however. A 3-1 defeat at home to Third Lanark in December 1898 (League seasons were much shorter in those days) left Thistle 7 points behind St Bernard's with 3 to play, and a place in the bottom two was assured, meaning that Thistle would, almost certainly, be up for re-election for the third season in a row. Sure enough, the club's first-ever relegation was confirmed via election at the League AGM on 30th May, 1899. Bob was a victim of the inevitable end-of-season cull as the prudent committee tightened the purse strings.

It seems that cordial relations were maintained between Bob and the club-officials though, and the player heeded an emergency call to return for a last couple of games in October, 1899. We have no idea what happened to Bob's footballing exploits after that. Our most likely guess would be that he reverted to the amateur game in his beloved home region of West Dunbartonshire.

Bob's funeral took place on 11th September 1958, at the Vale of Leven cemetery.

(WS/JK)



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