Bob Marshall
Bob Marshall
Bob Marshall
● Bob Marshall, c1894 (SOTR)

born in Scotland

Robert William Marshall was born on Sunday, 30th October, 1864, in Kelvinbridge, Glasgow.

The midfielder was initially a guest for Thistle in March, 1885, whilst a Partick player.

Aged 20, he made his debut appearance on Saturday, 14th March, 1885, in a 3-3 friendly draw at home to Cambuslang.

Bob scored his first known goal for Thistle on Saturday, 3rd October, 1885, in a 4-2 friendly defeat at home to Cartvale.

He scored the last of his 26 known goals on Saturday, 9th March, 1889, in a 3-0 friendly win at home to Cambuslang.

He played his last known game for the club on Saturday, 4th May, 1889, in a 6-2 friendly win at home to Rangers, having clocked up at least 104 appearances for the Thistle.

His club-list included St Andrew's, Partick, Partick Thistle, Rangers and Abercorn.

Bob died on Saturday, 5th January, 1924, in Hillhead, Glasgow, aged 59.

Bio Extra

Bob was a plumber to trade, but more excitingly had an excellent second career as a first-class footballer, rising all the way to the top of the game in Scotland. The broad-shouldered Bob was described as a right-half of the rugged type, with inexhaustible energy and the proper temperament for first-class football. The teenager actually started out as a forward player with Pollokshields outfit, St Andrews, before switching to Partick for the 1883-84 season. He spent two years with them at Inchview, broken with a guest appearance for Partick Thistle at Muir Park in March 1885. Bob was still quoted as a Partick player at the end of that season and probably appeared for them in their last-ever matches, one of which was a 4-1 defeat to Partick Thistle, again at Muir Park. With hindsight, the demise of Partick was to his great benefit in footballing terms, and he was one of the players who made the jump to the number one team in the burgh, Partick Thistle. We say “made the jump” but technically it'd be more accurate to say that Partick Thistle made the jump to Bob Marshall, who merely stayed put at Inchview, the ground ruthlessly being taken for a new home by Partick Thistle. Bob might well be the only man in history whose new club moved to him!

Bob spent four full and succesful seasons with Thistle where he really made his name, setting himself up for some major achievements in the game. He mainly played in the forward line in his first season, appearing on 22 occasions and netting 5 goals. Personally, Bob scored in each of his last 3 games of that campaign, one of which was a fine 4-1 victory over Rangers in May 1886. This was a Thistle side eminently capable of pulling off great results against the best of teams on their day, although Queen's Park, 5-1 winners in our FA Cup tie that season, remained the exception to that rule. Yes, Bob played for Thistle against a Scottish team in the FA Cup, such were these crazy days.

Bob's appearances were split between the half-back and frontline positions in 1886-87, a season which was really exciting for everyone at the club, as the Jags went all the way to the last 16 of the aforementioned FA Cup. Bob played in all ties including the brilliant 3-1 win away to recent winners Blackburn Olympic, the 7-0 win at home to Fleetwood Rangers, the 11-1 win against Cliftonville at Belfast (in which Bob scored) and the heartbreaking 1-0 loss at the Old Westminsters in London.

1887-88 was Bob's most succesful season yet, netting 12 goals in 30 appearances. He was never out of the forward line that term, and mostly played on the two right sided positions. To say he enjoyed himself in the Scottish Cup that term would be a bit of an understatement. The 22-year-old bagged his only Thistle hat-trick in a 10-0 win over Westbourne at Inchview in early September. Next, Thistle were drawn against Rangers and Bob had nothing to fear there, being unbeaten in both of his matches against them so far. His hoodoo over the Govanites continued on 24th September 1887 at Inchview, “the Thistle playing grandly and completely nonplussing the light blues by their superior combination”. A quick second half double from Bob himself was enough to secure this great Scottish Cup victory, despite a late fight back from our old rivals. Two-one to the Jags in front of 8,000 – these progressive record crowds were a sign of the times. The local hatter had promised a new hat for each of the winning team – no doubt Bob was looking dapper on his next night out! Niall Kennedy notes that the first November Scottish Cup Tie vs. Kilmarnock (2-2 at Inchview) was historic in that it was the first time that match reports referred to Partick Thistle as “The Jags”. Bob played a big part in the tie, and his goal in the November replay at Old Rugby Park helped “The Jags” on their way to a splendid 4-1 victory, prompting commentators to note “the Partick eleven are an unassuming lot of youths; but there is a smartness, a neatness, about them which is very prepossessing.” Alas, Queen's Park were a bridge too far, as always, their 2-0 win on 26th November spoiling John Hendry's day-after-the-wedding honeymoon.

Season 1888-89 was all-change for Bob who completely played in the half-back line from late October onwards. Rangers took their Scottish Cup revenge that term, but Thistle struck back with THREE friendly victories over their great Govan rivals. Bob was part of the “Super seven” who played in all three of these. Indeed, Bob's last-ever game for the club was in a 6-2 win over Rangers in May 1889, way to go Bob. As he had done with Partick back in 1885, Bob represented Glasgow in the annual match against London in March 1889, the Scots winning by 5 goals to 1. It was a good day for Thistle connections, with Willie Paul getting on the scoresheet and former Jag Andrew Duff keeping goal.

Those successes seem to have backfired somewhat, and all at Inchview were gutted when Bob was poached away by Rangers in the close season of 1889, as Niall Kennedy (@ PT Early Years external-link.png) tells:
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The Scottish Sport carried a notice which they described as a “notice of warning from Partick”. It read: “The Vigilance Committee of the Partick Thistle Football Club would like to meet the acquaintance of a certain government official, who has been poaching the Inchview preserves.” This was clearly an in-joke directed at an agent who had been enticing Thistle players to join other clubs – Bob Marshall and William Hay had signed for Rangers, prompting one member of Partick Thistle to comment that Rangers will soon have the whole Partick Thistle team playing for them. Ironically, Rangers were complaining that English clubs were poaching their players, and warning the English agents away from Ibrox.

So true. Without a hint of irony, John Allan (The Story Of The Rangers, 1923) wrote:

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Once, the Rangers went to England for the annual tour, which was then an indispensable tit-bit in the season's programme, there was some alarm lest Robert Marshall, the half-back, would be spirited away by a certain Nottingham club. Scottish tourists had to watch their players with eyes of hawks, failing which they were likely to return home minus a lamb or two. At breakfast, on the morning after the match, William Wilton, assuming great concern for Marshall's safety, upbraided the worthy John Grant for being remiss in his vigil over the player. “Man, Willie, would you say that to me, and ma very collar nearly burstin' wi' anxiety for him?” was the reply, made with a fine air of injured innocence.

As can be deciphered from that very piece, Bob was a huge hit at Rangers, perhaps even more so than he was with the patrons of Partick Thistle. He was a near ever-present for them as League football was introduced to the Scottish game. Bob took a winners medal in the inaugural Scottish Football League competition of 1890-91, albeit the championship was ultimately shared with Dumbarton (what a cop-out that was). He mainly played as a right half in the 1890s, playing seven seasons with Rangers and one season with Abercorn, where he was still a near ever-present in the top-flight into his thirties. He was capped twice for Scotland; a 3-2 win in Belfast over Ireland in 1892 and similarly in a 2-1 victory almost exactly 2 years later. That was a particularly memorable weekend for Bob who was just married the previous day. The selectors made him captain for the occasion, now that's what you call a wedding present!

(WS/JK)



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