Bobby Harper
Bobby Harper
Bobby Harper
● Bobby Harper, 1949 (SWA)

born in Scotland

Robert Harper was born on Sunday, 6th June, 1920, in Glasgow.

The forward signed for Donald Turner's Thistle on Tuesday, 25th April, 1939, having most recently been with Kello Rovers.

Aged 21, he made his debut appearance on Saturday, 18th October, 1941, in a 7-2 win at home to Third Lanark in the Southern League.

There were no goals for Bobby during his time with Thistle.

He played his last game for the club on Saturday, 9th May, 1942, in a 1-1 draw away to St Mirren in the Southern League, having appeared as a Jag on 18 occasions.

His club-list included Kello Rovers, Partick Thistle, Ayr United, Huddersfield Town, Newport County, Southend United, Linfield and Gloucester City.

Bobby died on Monday, 18th December, 1978, in New Cumnock, East Ayrshire, aged 58.

Bio Extra

This left winger was a former junior internationalist for Scotland. He was associated with Kello Rovers for several seasons, before and during the war. Although he had been provisionally signed by Donald Turner prior to the outbreak of war, Bobby never got his first-team chance until 1941-42 when the 21-year-old made all of his appearances for Thistle. Appeared for Ayr United in August 1945. After the war was over he had a brief spell with Huddersfield Town, before settling with Newport County for the duration of the 1940s. The Division Three (South) side caught the imagination of the public with their run to the last 16 of the FA Cup in 1948-49. Huddersfield & Leeds United were defeated en route, and some 10,000 Welshmen made the journey to Portsmouth in February for a David v Goliath clash against the English champions-elect. Bobby drew County level at 1-1 in front of 48,541 (see video), and they put up a great show, only losing by the odd goal in five after extra-time. Bobby joined Southend in the close season of 1950 before final flings at Linfield (1951), Gloucester City (1951-52) and Linfield again (1952-53).

On 31 January 1953, whilst making his weekly trip to Belfast from his New Cumnock home, disaster struck when his ferry, the Princess Victoria, was overwhelmed in a gale, and was sunk in the Irish Sea (see 'Scrapbook' tab). There were 135 deaths, including the Deputy Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Maynard Sinclair, and the MP for North Down, Sir Walter Smiles. There were no women or children among the survivors. Eyewitnesses reported seeing a lifeboat containing at least some of the women and children being smashed against the side of Princess Victoria by the huge waves. The disaster shocked many people because, although it took place in extreme weather conditions, it involved a routine journey, on a relatively short crossing (20 miles, 32 km) in what were believed to be safe waters.

In Larne and Stranraer, small towns that largely relied on their seaports, most families were affected in some way. A ceremony was held in Larne; wreaths were thrown on the water and the crowd sang β€œLord, hear us when we cry to thee, for those in peril on the sea”. The bodies of 100 people who died in the disaster were eventually recovered, although some of them came ashore as far away as the Isle of Man. Bobby was one of only 44 who survived the ordeal, eventually being rescued by the Donaghadee lifeboat, the 'Sir Samuel Kelly'.


Β© The Thistle Archive 2015-2024. All rights reserved. Third-party trademarks and content are the property of their respective owners, and subject to their own copyright terms and conditions. See the website links provided in each case.