Hope Robertson
Hope Robertson
Hope Robertson
● Hope Robertson, 1889 (JK)

born in Scotland

Hope Ramsay Robertson was born on Friday, 17th January, 1868, in Govan, Glasgow.

The 5' 9½ (12st 0lbs) defender joined Thistle in 1889, having most recently been with Accrington.

Aged 21, he made his first known appearance on Saturday, 10th August, 1889, in a 3-3 friendly draw away to Kilbirnie.

Hope scored his first known goals for Thistle on Saturday, 17th August, 1889, in a 7-2 friendly win away to Airdrieonians, netting a haul of four on the day!

He scored the last of his 7 known goals on Saturday, 23rd September, 1893, in a 2-0 friendly win at home to Northern.

He played his last known game for the club on Saturday, 21st April, 1894, in a 3-2 friendly win at home to Cartvale, having appeared for the Thistle on at least 38 occasions.

His club-list included Westburn, Queen's Park Strollers, Morton, Accrington, Partick Thistle, Royal Arsenal, Everton, Bootle, Airdrieonians, Walsall Town Swifts and Liverpool Police Athletic.

Hope died on Saturday, 27th September, 1947, in Goole, Yorkshire, aged 79.

Bio Extra

The third child of John and Catherine Robertson. An early school leaver, by 1881 Hope was learning the ropes as an apprentice, initially tasked with heating rivets, at the Barclay, Curle & Co. firm of shipbuilders. Away from the heat and the noise of the shipyard, he could indulge his great sporting passion, playing for Westburn FC, a Junior club in the Partick district, with whom he played from 1883 to 1888. He classed himself as an inside right specialist, although he was versatile enough to play as a defender, midfielder or forward and would do so with Partick Thistle. Hope bonded for life with the Westburn young team and he spoke about them with a great fondness and passion when he wrote his memoirs more than 20 years later. Undoubtedly, they were his team and he was beaming with pride when they finally beat their great rivals, Rosevale, to Partick Junior Cup success in both 1887 and 1888. According to Hope's personal diary record for 1887-88, Westburn played 53, drew 2 and lost only 1! He contends that only an unwarranted disqualification (on a player-registration issue) cost them the Scottish Junior Cup itself. Incidentally, the annual Partick Junior Cup was donated by the most prominent club in the burgh, Partick Thistle FC. In those cup winning years, Westburn played at Jordanvale, formerly home to the Thistle. Clearly, it was written that Hope would become a Jag!

In that 1888 springtime, Hope turned out in several games for the Queen's Park reserves and recalls one match in particular at Vale of Leven when he played alongside (his Westburn teammate) David Hislop (also a future Jag) and that the famous internationalist Charles Campbell was also tempted out of retirement that day, playing his very last game as a Queen's Parker. As Hope would later reflect, “Those games were a good source of football education for me. They proved how much I had to learn”. In the close season of 1888, Hope was selected to play for The Spartans, a team of players from the leading Junior clubs of the day. They would play in charity fund-raising matches - the first of which was on Morton’s ground when the Spartans ran the Greenock Senior team very close, losing 2-3. It's highly likely that he came to the attention of the Cappielow officials at this time. His first known ‘senior’ club was Morton in season 1888-89, and he played in both their 7-3 win at Port Glasgow and their 1-4 defeat at home to Abercorn in that season's Scottish Cup. Just several weeks into his spell at Cappielow, Hope was tempted away from Scotland for the first time, landing at Accrington, who clearly had spies searching far and wide. There, Hope made history for himself by playing in the first-ever edition of the Football League. Accrington did well, finishing 7th out of 12. In those days a player could play three matches in England and return home to play without having to re-register with the Association. Hope admitted that he played more than three but didn't let on, and what the SFA didn't know didn't harm them!

Hope was back up the road for the start of season 1889-90, and he made his first known Thistle appearance on 10th August 1889 as a 21-year-old in a 3-3 thriller at Milton Park, the home of Kilbirnie. He himself puts down the following week's game at Airdrie as his debut, but that's probably due to the fact that he claims to have scored a haul of four and that his memory is swayed to the glory of a great 7-2 win at Mavisbank! With this promising start, the Inchview committee must have been sorry to learn that Hope was to take up an offer of employment in London, before he'd really got started at Thistle. The arrangement was made by a friend of his, who fixed him up with a room in his Woolwich home. Almost naturally, Hope joined up with the local Royal Arsenal team in September, 1889, endearing himself to the Londoners by scoring twice in their first-ever FA Cup game. He did well at Arsenal, appearing around 30 times in all games and averaging almost a goal-per-game. Hope then returned to Glasgow again at some point, and was once again in place at Inchview for the start of 1890-91, seeking to make the centre-forward position his own. At the start of October, he scored the first goal of his second spell for the club in a 2-2 friendly draw at home to Hibernian. However, after just 6 games, he was approached in person by Everton’s club-captain, Andrew Hannah, who was on a covert mission to find new recruits. Hope found the attraction of English football (£50 down and £3 10s a week) too much to resist and, for the third time, headed for England’s green and pleasant land.

The ambitious Everton were one of the biggest spenders in the League and Hope was by no means guaranteed a first-team place, although he would later play in the first match at Goodison Park (2 September 1892). The Everton centre forward was English internationalist Fred Geary, alongside Edgar Chadwick and Alfred Millard, fellow England internationalists. Also playing for Everton at that time was Dan Doyle the Scottish Internationalist, who would later join Celtic FC. High company. Hope did appear more than 30 times for the first team, but the majority of his appearances were made with the (very successful) Everton Reserve side. Everton Reserves joined The Combination in 1891, where they began a remarkable period of domination, sweeping all aside with three successive championships. After some considerable time with Everton and Bootle, Hope rejoined Thistle for a third spell in 1893-94, marking his return brilliantly with a goal in our very first game in the Scottish Football League – a 3-2 win at Cappielow on 19th August 1893. He returned as a forward but settled as a full back several weeks in. We know there was some financial tension between Hope and the Thistle committee and this probably explains why he appeared as a guest/trialist for Airdie at Dundonians on 10 March 1894. By season’s end, our man was off on his southwardly travels yet again, joining Walsall Town Swifts for the start of season 1894-95, making his debut in the opening game of the season against Burslam Port Vale in Division 2. His long and winding footballing road ended with Liverpool Police Athletic, for whom he signed in April, 1895.

The advent of the Second Boer War in 1899 necessitated the mobilisation of volunteer forces to support the regular army. Hope, already in a volunteer militia, enlisted on 29 January 1901 with the Yeomanry, shaving four years off his age and claiming to be a bachelor on the paperwork, for reasons unclear. He set sail for South Africa a month later after completion of his training. He kept his hand in as a footballer with the army team and, amazingly, met Jock Gillespie, another who had played for Queen's Park, and who would go on to play for Partick Thistle and Everton. After just over a year there, Hope took ill and, back on British terra firma, he received treatment under the auspices of the Chelsea Military Hospital (making him a Chelsea Pensioner), being discharged in April 1902. He would receive a military pension which amounted to 19/5 per week by the time of his death. Like fellow volunteers, he had the freedom of the city conferred on him by the Corporation of Glasgow.

Hope and his wife, Elizabeth, had their first child, Hope Junior, in 1905. Elizabeth (known as Lillian) arrived soon after. In 1917, the family moved to the Humberside town of Goole. There, Hope worked for Goole Shipbuilding and Repairing Co. as a ship’s plater until retirement in the early 1930s. He also found time to nurture his love of writing poetry, producing a number of works, elegiac in nature, which, more often than not, harked back to his youth and his homeland. Hope and Elizabeth celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1940, a landmark worthy of a mention in the Hull Daily Mail. By this point, Hope was living with the onset of dementia. On 24 September 1947, at 79, he succumbed to heart failure.

75 years later, his series of 1910 memoir articles, preserved by the family for all that time, gave an unsurpassed first-hand insight into the life of a footballer in the late Victorian period. The result is The Hope Robertson Chronicles external-link.png, an 80-page booklet now available as ‘print on demand’ via Amazon, priced at just £3.50 plus postage. Click on the image below to get your hands on a copy!
The Hope Robertson Chronicles

Historian's note: Many sources give Minerva as one of his junior clubs but we've never seen any contemporary evidence to substantiate that, and Hope himself makes no mention of them in his memoirs of 1910. We speculate that Robertson [ii] and the here-profiled Hope Robertson may be one and the same. If that were to be the case, Hope's Thistle debut would have been as a trialist 18 months earlier than currently thought.

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