The incredible story of Celtic legend Bobby Hogg – Chasing glory

The incredible story of Celtic legend Bobby Hogg

Part 5 – Bobby and Albert chasing glory on three fronts

Bobby Hogg

Despite his success at schoolboy level, by all accounts it was more by accident than design that Bobby Hogg was signed by Celtic. A Celtic View article from 1973 commented.

“Bobby was first trysted to Celtic as a 15-year-old, and again it was one of these almost accidental signings.

Steve Callaghan, Celtic’s top scout of the day was in Larkhall to check out a Royal Albert player. On an adjoining pitch, Bobby was playing right-back for the local Y.M.

Someone suggested to Steve that he switch his interest to the juvenile match and, in particular, to young Bobby. The advice was taken, and the outcome was a visit by the scout on a Sunday morning a week or two later to the Hogg household. When he left, he had Bobby’s promise to become a Celt.”

By the summer of 1929, Bobby was turning out for Larkhall-based outfit Royal Albert, who had only been competing in the Junior game since 1928, having previously been a senior club since its formation as a pit works side 50 years earlier. The Royal Albert name derives from a boat belonging to the pit owner at the time of formation, which also explains the club crest. As an aside, a team playing as Royal Albert continued to compete in the senior game via the Scottish Qualifying Cup until 1936, which caused some confusion during my research.

Royal Albert FC club crest

They qualified for the Scottish Cup ‘proper’ twice beyond 1928, their last match in the competition being a 16-0 first-round defeat by Partick Thistle at Firhill on Saturday, 17 January 1931, Jags’ centre-forward John Simpson helping himself to nine of those goals that afternoon in what remains Thistle’s biggest-ever victory. Perhaps to distinguish between the two Royal Albert teams, the Junior version would often have the suffix Athletic.

Bobby gets a first mention in the Motherwell Times in August 1929, as “Hogg put on number two” in a 3-0 win over Newarthill Thistle at Raploch Park. In a 3-3 draw with Carluke Rovers in the Glasgow Cup two months later, Bobby is described in the Daily Record as a “strong Larkhall half-back,” the former full-back now playing slightly further forward. And by the end of the calendar year, despite an under-strength Albert’s 3-1 defeat to Motherwell Juniors in a Lanarkshire League Cup replay, Bobby once again showed up well.

The Daily Record of Monday, 30 December 1929 commented, “Young Hogg, the 15½-years-old International schoolboy did very well at right-back. He kicks a nice, clean ball.” As an aside, the Motherwell Juniors team that day featured ‘another of the Celtic Kelly house’ at outside-right.

Bobby and Albert started the new decade at Tannadice, drawing 1-1 with Dundee North End in the fourth round of the Scottish Junior Cup on Friday, 3 January 1930, despite three of their regulars failing to turn up at the meeting point in Glasgow on the morning of the game. Hogg was part of a ‘superlative defence;’ which resisted the constant pressure from the hosts. The replay at Raploch Park eight days later had to be abandoned at half-time due to the severe weather with the teams locked at 2-2. Albert eventually progressed, winning by the odd goal in three on Saturday, 25 January 1930.

Seven days earlier, excitement was followed by disappointment for Bobby. The teenager had been due to play as a trialist for Celtic Reserves against a Glasgow Welfare Select at Celtic Park on Saturday, 18 January 1930, before learning on the Friday that the match had been called off.

The fifth round of the Scottish Junior Cup brought familiar opposition back to Raploch Park in the shape of Motherwell Juniors. Albert led 2-0 in front of 1,200 spectators on Saturday, 8 February 1930 before a late rally earned the visitors a replay. There was only one goal scored at Camp Park, two weeks later, but it went the way of the Larkhall side, Bobby described in the Daily Record as “the star defender afield.”

But in Junior football, it’s never quite over whilst the threat of a protest exists, and one was duly forthcoming from Motherwell. So it was back to Camp Park on Saturday, 8 March 1930, where once again Royal Albert won by the only goal of the game. That set up a meeting with Wellesley Juniors, from whom goalkeeper John Thomson had joined Celtic a few years earlier, but only after a further protest by Motherwell around the eligibility of Albert player Patrick Kerracher had been dismissed. Motherwell were then censured by the SJFA following a complaint from the Larkhall side that a window of their bus had been smashed by stones thrown at it as the team left Camp Park. A highly unsatisfactory cup tie experience all round.

Incredibly, there was a Groundhog Day scenario in the quarter-final tie with Wellesley, Royal Albert beating the Fifers 1-0 at Raploch Park on Saturday, 22 March 1930, despite the best efforts of visiting striker Joe Cowan, like Bobby a provisional signing at Celtic. The match was watched by representatives of Falkirk, Newcastle United and Hull City. By the end of that week though, Wellesley had lodged a formal protest, claiming that the aforementioned Patrick Kerracher had played in an Intermediate Juvenile Cup-tie.

The next twist in the saga was reported in the Daily Record of Tuesday, 1 April 1930.

“This from Larkhall. The Royal Albert people aver that Wellesley, like Motherwell, are after the wrong Carragher. That’s the latest way of spelling this boy’s name – I wish I knew which is correct. The Royalists say that at the time the alleged infringement – the cause of all this protesting – was committed, their Carragher was only 14 years of age.”

A hearing which took place the following night heard conflicting evidence and delayed any decision, ordering further inquiries. In the meantime, it was decided that the winners of the disputed tie would face Hall Russell’s at Pittodrie in the semi-final on Saturday, 3 May 1930. They were the works team of the Aberdeen shipyard of the same name. By 17 April 1930, it was announced that Wellesley’s protest had been dismissed and Albert were in the last four, whilst in the other tie, Croy Celtic would face Newtongrange Star in a replay at Brockville. The Croy side featured another full-back who was on Celtic’s books and who would later form one of the best partnerships in the club’s history with Bobby Hogg. His name was John Morrison.

Special trains were put on for the big day, Saturday, 3 May 1930, leaving Larkhall Central at 7.30am with further pick-ups at Hamilton Central, Motherwell and Coatbridge and a price tag of 11/6, less than 60 pence for those who don’t recall decimalisation. With 9,000 spectators inside Pittodrie, the first half was even with defences on top, Bobby’s clearance preventing the Aberdeen side from taking the lead after Albert goalkeeper McWiggan had slipped. With 10 minutes remaining, the match was still goalless, but Hall Russell’s claimed a first-ever spot in the Scottish Junior Cup final for a club from that region with two late strikes, a header from International winger Harry Smith followed by a shot from centre-forward Willie Stephen.

As always, Bobby emerged with credit, the Daily Record commenting that “The Lanarkshire side have a pair of great little backs in Hogg and Dickson.” The same newspaper also paid tribute to Jock Morrison for his performance in the other semi-final tie at Brockville, noting that “Morrison and Nash vied with each other for the best defender afield” but sadly Croy Celtic went down to Newtongrange Star by the same 2-0 scoreline. The East Lothian side would duly beat Hall Russell’s 3-0 in the final at Tynecastle three weeks later. As both teams traditionally wore blue jerseys, they both changed, with Hall Russell’s wearing the black and gold stripes of hometown club Aberdeen and Newtongrange adopting the maroon jerseys of hosts Hearts.

Newtongrange Star, Scottish Junior Cup winners 1929/30 and Action from the cup final against Hall Russell’s at Tynecastle

Bobby turned 16 years old seven days later and both he and Jock were involved in another semi-final that same month, once again Croy Celtic and Royal Albert kept apart in the draw. On Tuesday, 20 May 1930, Croy met Maryhill Hibernian at Celtic Park in the last four of the Glasgow Junior Challenge Cup and sadly there was disappointment once again for Morrison as the Hibs progressed.

Royal Albert faced Burnbank Athletic in their semi-final tie at the same venue on Monday, 26 May 1930, with admission priced at sixpence in old money. A Donnelly header was the only goal of the game, setting up a final between Royal Albert and Maryhill Hibernian at Firhill five days later.

Bizarrely, despite the Glasgow Junior Cup final being scheduled for Saturday, 31 May 1930, Royal Albert were forced to play a vital Lanarkshire League game the night before! Their opponents at Raploch Park on the Friday evening were Shotts Battlefield, who were locked in a three-way fight for the title with Albert and Coalburn United.

Bobby scored Albert’s third goal from the spot in a 3-0 win which left them and Coalburn tied at the summit on 40 points, having played all 28 matches, Shotts finishing the campaign one point behind the leading duo. A play-off would now be required to decide the destination of the title, and that would take place between Royal Albert and Coalburn at neutral Kirkmuirhill on Saturday, 7 June.

Before that though, there was the small matter of the Glasgow Junior Cup final against Maryhill Hibernian at Firhill, a virtual home game for their opponents, and not surprisingly after their efforts the night before that would prove to be a tough afternoon for Royal Albert. Hibs opened the scoring within three minutes and raced two goals clear before Bobby watched his penalty kick crash off the crossbar to safety on the stroke of half-time.

Despite having to reshuffle the side due to injury, Albert pulled a goal back early in the second half through Simpson, but as often happens, a team chasing an equaliser is susceptible to the break, and Maryhill duly restored their two-goal advantage from a free-kick. A final hammer blow was then delivered in the closing stages as Maryhill Hibs beat Royal Albert by four goals to one to win the 1929/30 Glasgow Junior Challenge Cup.

The Royal Albert side as Bobby earned his first medal at Junior level read as follows.

Coutts; Hogg & Dickson; McLaughlan, Bulloch & Clark;
Douglas, Carracher, Donnelly, Simpson & Brown.

Sadly, despite the success they had enjoyed from the late 1920s, both in terms of trophies and the provision of a number of future stars to Celtic – most notably Peter Scarff and Charlie Napier – financial difficulties throughout the next decade forced Maryhill Hibernian to resign from the League in May 1939.

By the end of the following month, a new club Maryhill Harp had been formed to play at Hibs’ previous home, Kelvinvale Park. Harp would continue that productive relationship with Celtic, with such as Willie Miller, Dunky MacKay, Frank Haffey and Bertie Auld serving both clubs, and it was perhaps ironic that they followed Maryhill Hibernian out of business in early June 1967, just as Celtic were beating Inter Milan then Real Madrid to establish themselves as the greatest football team in Europe.

Billy McNeill holding the European Cup that Celtic won in 1967 football Lisbon Lions

The season ended for Bobby and Albert at Kirkmuirhill seven days later, Saturday, 7 June 1930, and despite the full-back converting another penalty kick and the Daily Record remarking that “Hogg was the hero of the defence,” it was Coalburn United who clinched the Lanarkshire League title with a narrow 2-1 win in the play-off. A tremendously impressive first season at that level for a boy in his mid-teens had seen Bobby and his Royal Albert teammates come so close to securing a magical treble.

Whilst failure to do so would no doubt be a huge source of disappointment for Bobby, there would be plenty of time for many football honours to come the way of the talented young defender.

To be continued…

Hail, hail!

Matt Corr

Follow Matt on Twitter/X @Boola_vogue

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About Author

Having retired from his day job Matt Corr can usually be found working as a Tour Guide at Celtic Park, or if there is a Marathon on anywhere in the world from as far away as Tokyo or New York, Matt will be running for the Celtic Foundation. On a European away-day, he's there writing his Diary for The Celtic Star and he's currently completing his first Celtic book with another two planned.

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