Ye'll No' Believe Who Scored It!

by William Sheridan
Top 12




Saturday 12th February 1921
SFL First Division - game 31
Morton [h] W4-0

In a long playing career which included stints at Linlithgow Rose, Bo’ness, Falkirk, East Fife, Dundee, East Stirlingshire, Reading, Airdrieonians, Partick Thistle, Dumbarton, Albion Rovers and Longcroft Thistle it is reported that “Daft” Rab Bernard notched between 40 and 50 goals – some going for a goalie!

Rab was regarded as something of a penalty kick expert. His exploits contributed to Dundee’s Reserve Scottish Cup success in 1907-08 and East Stirling’s Scottish Qualifying Cup win in 1910-11. It’s thought that Rab became the only man to grab a unique triple haul when he received a Scottish Cup winners’ medal with Thistle in 1921, keeping a clean-sheet in the Quarter Final replay against Motherwell.

It seems like he was a bit of an eccentric. During an FA cup-tie against Blackburn at Elm Park in 1913 he was so busy celebrating a Reading goal that he was still near the centre-circle as Rovers kicked-off. A long shot went sailing into his net as he desperately raced back - his “Daft” moniker was well earned!

In the Telegraph in 2008, Robert Philip wrote: “Romance and humour has always walked hand in hand down the Garscube Road of a Saturday; back in the 1920s a goalkeeper like Rab Bernard, as corpulent as he was clownish, insisted upon taking every penalty and, as he began his run-up at the halfway line, bets would be laid whether the ball would burst the net or land in the adjacent coalman's yard. History suggests that he was successful only once, although legend has it that Bernard hit the crossbar on one occasion and Thistle conceded a goal at the other end.” [note: whatever the truth in this account, Rab only took one penalty for the Thistle first-team]

As far as his goals go, it wasn’t until he hit 36 years of age that he notched his one and only first-team SFL counter – and it came for the Jags at Firhill. For reasons various it was a much depleted Partick Thistle which took to the field on this day. Notably, three of our star men were at Pittodrie on international duty; Kenny Campbell (goalie), Joe Harris (half-back) and Jimmy McMullan (left wing back) helping Scotland to a 2-1 victory over the Welsh to kick-off our successful British Championship campaign.

In the absence of Kenny Campbell, Rab Bernard truly seized his opportunity to shine – not only did he keep a clean sheet but he served up his old penalty kick routine for the Firhill faithful to enjoy! In a fast-paced game, Thistle were always in control with goals from Robert McFarlane (first half), Matt Wilson (first half) and Jimmy Kinloch (second half) putting the game out of reach of the Greenock side.


Close on time, Thistle were awarded a penalty for handball. Up came RAB BERNARD to take it! It is reported that his kick was “safely converted”. With this act, Rab wrote himself into the Thistle history books as the only known goalkeeper to have scored for Partick Thistle whilst on-duty between the sticks. I can find no press reports which seem to think this was anything unusual. Somewhat matter-of-factly the Sunday Post noted: “Morton were at Firhill yesterday, and before 15,000 people got soundly whacked by a depleted Thistle side. Bernard was safe in everything he did, and he scored a goal.

With several players missing, Scotland’s weirdest football team, who, at full strength hadn't been able to muster up a single goal in the preceding 6 games, suddenly found themselves in great scoring form. Strange happenings aside, this result kept Thistle as the third placed team in Scotland. We could now look forward to Tuesday afternoon’s Scottish Cup replay vs. Hibernian. These were happy days for George Easton’s Jags – dafties and all!

Publishing date Originally published on 18-Dec-2014 (WAT).
Thistle Archive publishing date Republished here on The Thistle Archive, 19-Dec-2020.
Latest edit date Latest edit version 14-Dec-2020.

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