Tragedy strikes for teenage football star Bobby Hogg, Part 6 of this Incredible Story

The incredible story of Celtic legend Bobby Hogg

Part 6 – Tragedy strikes for teenage football star Bobby Hogg

Bobby’s second and final season at Royal Albert would see his career continue to develop, his growing reputation in the Junior game acknowledged by inclusion in two Select teams which would face Third Lanark at Cathkin on Tuesday, 12 August 1930 – to raise funds for the Glasgow Junior FA – then Airdrieonians at Broomfield six days later to ‘give Lanarkshire Junior Association a Helping hand.’ The 12 men chosen for the match at Cathkin were as follows.

McConnell (Motherwell Juniors); Hogg (Royal Albert) & Nash (Croy Celtic);
Bolling (Burnbank Athletic), Walters (Cadder United) & Swan (Bedlay);
Garden (Kilsyth Rangers), Shanks (Carluke Rovers), Donnelly (Maryhill Hibs), Bruce (Smith & McLean’s) & Lindlay (Maryhill Hibs).

Reserve: Bulloch (Royal Albert).

The Juniors Select beat Third Lanark 6-3 despite missing two penalty kicks, neither of which were taken by Bobby. For the game at Broomfield, Murray of Douglasdale came in at left-back to partner Bobby, whilst Cullen of Motherwell was at centre-half. Up front, McGuiness of Law Scotia was on the right flank, Kelly of Carstairs at centre and Collins of Burnbank Athletic at inside-left. Details of the match are sketchy, other than noting that £17 was raised!

Back on club duty, Albert’s bid to go one better than the previous season in the Scottish Junior Cup ended in the third round with a 4-0 defeat by Dunipace at Carronbank, Denny on Saturday, 15 November 1930. As always, though, Bobby personally emerged with credit, ‘Behind Comrie, Francis vied with young Hogg of the Albert as the best defender afield,’ and ‘Young Hogg and big Bulloch are gluttons for work,’ according to the Daily Record.

Later that month, Bobby was again included in a Lanarkshire Juniors Select squad, this time as a reserve for the team scheduled to face Glasgow Welfare in the second round of the Scottish Counties Cup at Burnbank on Saturday, 6 December 1930. The named goalkeeper was Willie Kenny, one of four players chosen from host club Burnbank Athletic.

Willie played for Larkhall YMCA, so would perhaps have been a schoolboy teammate of Bobby’s, something which appears even more likely as events unfold later in this section. Kenny had played with Burnbank before joining Partick Thistle in February 1929, the young goalkeeper returning to Athletic for the 1930/31 season having been unable to make a senior appearance at Firhill.

Seven days before that Select match, Bobby enjoyed his first taste of derby action as Larkhall Thistle made their return to the Junior game from the Scottish Intermediate League by hosting town rivals Royal Albert at Gasworks Park in the Lanarkshire League. Albert edged the contest by the odd goal in five. In front of Bobby at right-half that afternoon was James Blair, who would sign for Third Lanark within a few days and would go on to enjoy a lengthy career at Cathkin before ending his playing days with a two-year stint at St Mirren.

Another Royal Albert teammate would make his debut at senior level the following month, highly rated centre-half James Bulloch playing a trial as ‘Newman’ for Aberdeen’s second-string in a 5-3 defeat by Celtic at Parkhead on Saturday, 20 December 1930. Bulloch impressed enough to retain his place for the 3-1 win over Kilmarnock ‘A’ at Pittodrie seven days later.

Bobby Hogg and Willie Kenny would be on opposing sides as Burnbank Athletic hosted Royal Albert in a crucial Lanarkshire League game at Russell Park on Saturday, 13 December 1930. Honours that afternoon would go to Willie and his hat-trick hero striker Gillan as their side ran out 5-2 winners, despite an ‘outstanding’ performance at right-back from Bobby, who had to leave the field with a leg injury with 10 minutes remaining following an accidental collision with Burnbank outside-left Faulds.

Bobby would again play his part in the 3-1 win over defending champions Coalburn United at Raploch Park on Saturday, 20 December 1930, Albert just about maintaining their title challenge, four points behind Burnbank Athletic having played one game more than the leaders.

But sadly, football would pale into insignificance in the days which followed, as Bobby had to deal with personal tragedy. His beloved mum Cecilia Hogg passed away at home at 131 Raploch Street, Larkhall on Monday, 22 December 1930, aged just 45. Her parents are listed as John Love Smith, a Coal Miner and Janet Smith, nee Gilroy, both deceased. Cause of death is Pulmonary Fibrosis and Cardiac Failure, and it is registered by her husband Robert Hogg, who was present. Son Bobby would still only be 16 years old at that time.

The Hamilton Advertiser of Saturday, 27 December 1930 carried the following obituary.

HOGG – At 131 Raploch Street, Larkhall on 22nd December, Cecilia Smith, beloved wife of Robert Hogg, and eldest daughter of the late Mr and Mrs John Smith, late of Ashgill and Edinburgh.

Oh! How patient in her suffering
When no hand could give her ease;
God, the Helper of the helpless,
Saw her grief and gave her peace.

A broken-hearted Bobby would return to the Royal Albert side which edged a seven-goal thriller away to Law Scotia in the Lanarkshire League on Saturday, 24 January 1931, and he would then be honoured in early March as the Scottish Junior FA selected him at right-back for the forthcoming international fixture with Ireland at Tynecastle on the 21st of that month.

It was interesting to note that one of the players nominated by Fife County but unsuccessful in selection was O’Donnell of Wellesley, who I believe to be Hugh, the younger of the two siblings who would sign for Celtic. Elder brother Frank had moved there in September 1930.

Bobby’s old friend Willie Kenny would be in goals and the full Scotland team was as follows.

W Kenny (Burnbank Athletic), R Hogg (Royal Albert) & W J Cunningham (Tranent Juniors);
A McIntosh (Grange Rovers), D McLaughlan (Denny Hibs) & A Wright (Aberdeen East End);
T McGunnigle (Maryhill Hibs), N McIvor (Tranent Juniors), S M Renfrew (Dunblane Rovers), D Collins (Burnbank Athletic) & J Archibald (Denny Hibs).

Travelling Reserve: Gray (Ormiston Primrose)

The Irish team lined up as follows.

Whan (Glenavon Reserves), McLaughlin (Linfield Swifts) & Neil (Broadway United);
Haire (Dunmurry), Quail (Broadway United) & Boyce (Crusaders);
Martin (Royal Ulster Rifles), Wishart (Crusaders), Close (Charleville), Gough (Crusaders) & Kelly (Carrickfergus).

The Dundee Courier article headlined ‘Skill pulls Junior Scots through’ told the story of the match, whilst complimenting 16-year-old Bobby on his display.

“Traditional Scottish craft gave the junior side victory over Ireland at Tynecastle. The sons of Erin were superior to the homesters in speed, but as footballers they could not be compared with the Scots, who fully deserved their 4-2 win.

Probably the best man on the field was Cunningham, Tranent Juniors, the Scots left-back. There is little danger of his remaining in junior ranks after this season. Hogg, his partner, was little behind. Denny Hibernian McLaughlan took the eye with some great work at centre-half, but Wright, at left-half, never touched club form. McGunnigle was the pick of a clever attack, in which Renfrew was a fine leader.

A faulty judgement by the Irish ‘keeper gave Scotland the lead after six minutes. The visitors fought back gamely, and Gough scored a pretty equaliser. Till half-time exchanges were fairly even. Archibald put the Scots ahead, only to see Gough equalise.

Scotland were the better side after the resumption. Early on, a brilliant goal by McGunnigle put them ahead, and near the end Collins headed number four.”

The Musselburgh News match report was more detailed.

“The first of the internationals in which Scotland take part was played at Tynecastle Park on Saturday, but the counter attractions in the City [Rugby international between Scotland and England at nearby Murrayfield] told against the attendance, only about 6,000 being present.

Play opened briskly, and in the first minute, Close, the Irish centre, had a fine shot which skimmed the post. Immediately afterwards the same player was bowled over when on the point of shooting and was off injured for a few minutes. During his absence, Scotland took the lead, Collins scoring rather softly with Whan out of his goal.

This early score was rather against the run of play and with the return of their centre forward Ireland began to force the pace. The Scottish defence was none too safe at this period and after a shot from Martin had struck the post with Kenny helpless, the visitors deservedly equalised through Gough, who scored with a beautiful left foot drive from twenty yards range.

Subsequent exchanges were very keen, with neither side being able to claim much advantage over the other. After twenty-five minutes Archibald restored Scotland’s lead, but five minutes from the interval Gough again put Ireland on level terms, following a misunderstanding in the home defence.

Scotland had the best of matters on the resumption, and in nine minutes McGunnigle put them ahead with a rocket drive. Ireland fought back pluckily, but the home defence was now playing with great confidence and easily coped with the Irish attack, though one try by Gough almost brought about the downfall of the Scots goal. The visitors tired latterly, however, and in a strong Scottish finish Collins netted a fourth goal to settle the issue.

Result: Scotland 4 (Collins (2), Archibald, McGunnigle), Ireland 2 (Gough (2)).

After the match the following side was chosen to meet England at Birmingham [on Saturday, 4 April 1931]:

Kenny (Burnbank Athletic), Hogg (Royal Albert Athletic) & Cunningham (Tranent Juniors);
Bolling (Burnbank Athletic), McLaughlan (Denny Hibs) & Birnie (Arkleys Dundee);
McGunnigle (Maryhill Hibs), Benzie (Burnbank Athletic), Renfrew (Dunblane Rovers), Comrie (Denny Hibs) & Sharp (Alva Albion Rangers).

Travelling Reserve: Robertson (Alva Albion Rangers).”

That Scotland side reflected five changes from the team which beat Ireland. The Birmingham Daily Gazette previewed the match on the opening day of April.

“The Junior International, one of the main events of the season in Midland junior circles, is to be played at Villa Park on Saturday, when teams representative of the Birmingham County FA and the Scottish Junior FA will meet in the 33rd match of the series which commenced in 1894.

The following strong side has been selected to represent the Birmingham County FA:

E Crowe (West Bromwich Albion), H J Young (Aston Villa) & W Thomas (Redditch);
W Cormell (Aston Villa), R Talbot (Hednesford Town) & S P Wallington (Birmingham);
H F Askew (Atherstone Town), E Postin (Cradley Heath), C A Coxall (Piggots), R Edwards (Brierley Hill Alliance) & F Warrilow (West Bromwich Albion).

Reserves to attend: R V O’Brien (Coventry City) & R E Mason (Bournville Athletic).

The Scottish party arrive in Birmingham on Friday.

Of the 32 previous matches each have won 13, whilst six have been drawn. The goal record being 59 to 52 in Birmingham’s favour. Birmingham, however, have not won since 1927, but they drew at Edinburgh last season and hope to go one better this time.”

Three of the players in that line-up would be reserves for the FA Cup finalists who would meet at Wembley three weeks after the Junior International, Birmingham and West Bromwich Albion, whilst Aston Villa would finish runner’s up to Herbert Chapman’s Arsenal in the English First Division. Note that Birmingham did not add ‘City’ to their club name until 1943.

The English won this match 5-2, the Birmingham Weekly Mercury of Sunday, 5 April 1931 choosing to go with the rather blunt headline of “Scots Thrashed” the following day.

“In the Junior International match at Villa Park yesterday the Birmingham County Juniors were successful over the Scottish Juniors by five goals to two. They thus not only avenged the defeat of their seniors at the hands of the Scots last weekend [Scotland won 2-0 at Hampden, thanks to second-half goals from Motherwell’s George Stevenson and Celtic’s Jimmy McGrory], but by virtue of the win take the lead in the number of matches won. Up to yesterday both sides had won thirteen games in the series (six have been drawn).

These matches are important in that “scouts” of various first-class clubs are present to snap up a good man, and it is worthwhile noting that players such as Hibbs, Tate, Evans, Houldey, Kingdon, Bond, Short, Pearson, Morrall, Rhodes, Houghton, Trentham, and many other local football stars have risen to fame after taking part in such matches.

It was a game worth watching, and the quality of football served up was equal to that of many first-class matches. Birmingham won mainly owing to their persistent efforts. They were not equal to the visitors in individual cleverness, but on the whole their combination was by far superior.

It was not so in the first half, when the Scots would have undoubtedly taken the lead had it not been for excellent work on the part of the Birmingham full backs and goalkeeper, but it was distinctly so in the second session, when they put on four of the goals.

There were one or two flaws in an otherwise sound team, the most apparent being in the half-back line. The trio worked hard and with effect in defence, but their passes to the forwards were, in the main, weak for they lacked direction and sting. They were brilliant in spasms, and although their display left something to be desired, it was a good one.

R Talbot, at centre half-back, was a great asset to the side. He worked hard and methodically and sent in several hard shots, proving himself to be an opportunist.

Askew and Warrilow, the outside wing forwards, were good. They sent across some capital centres and they were fortunate to have Coxall in the centre. Coxall, a capable centre-forward, has the right idea of what to do. He was not as good as Renfrew, the Scots’ centre-forward, in distributing the ball, but in shooting he was much superior.

N J Young, of Aston Villa, was a stalwart in defence, reliable in emergency and always cool. E Crowe, of West Bromwich Albion, was a brilliant goalkeeper, and he undoubtedly saved Birmingham from crossing over in arrears.

On the visitors’ side, Kenny, in goal, was good, and Cunningham, at left back, equally so. Their best man, though, was Renfrew, at centre-forward, and if he had received more support from his wingmen the Scots would have made better progress. After a promising commencement they fell away.

Birmingham scored through Coxall (2), Talbot (2), and Postin, and the Scots replied through Comrie, who secured both goals.”

The Birmingham Daily Gazette of the following day was more measured in its analysis.

“Birmingham County Juniors decisively beat Scottish Juniors in the Junior International match at Villa Park on Saturday by five goals to two.

The score would suggest a one-sided game, but it was not so. Play was evenly divided in the first half, the visitors having the better of the exchanges, but in the second period Birmingham were in the ascendancy. It was hardly a case of stamina that enabled England’s representatives to win, but rather an improved display in one department. That was the half-back line, R Talbot, of Hednesford Town, was particularly prominent in attack and defence, and this youth should go far.

His colleagues, S P Wallington (Birmingham) and W Cormell (Aston Villa), gave of their best, the first-named showing up more in progressive movements when he ably assisted F Warrilow (West Bromwich Albion) on the left wing.

The passing in the forward line left something to be desired, and although J Coxall (Piggots) proved a fine opportunist, he did not distribute the ball to his wing men as did Renfrew, the leader of the opposition.

The honours on the Birmingham side, however, go to the defence. E Crowe (West Bromwich Albion) is almost sure to get promotion after his very capable display between the sticks, as is N J Young (Aston Villa) at right-back. These two, with the assistance of W Thomas (Redditch) saved Birmingham from crossing over in arrears.

On the Scots’ side, Renfrew, Cunningham at left-back, and Kenny in goal, were prominent.

The game itself was exciting enough, and the football of good standard. There were times, though, when it was apparent that there were 22 men instead of two teams, but this became less apparent as the game progressed.”

Back in Scotland, the Dundee Courier went with the headline “Scottish Juniors Well Beaten,” with Bobby one of three players avoiding criticism.

“Wholesale changes in the Scottish Junior side to visit Wales on May 2 is certain.

The team representing Scotland at Aston Villa’s ground (Birmingham) came badly out of their encounter with the Birmingham County FA. Holding their own till the interval and giving a nice display of combined football, the Scots fell to pieces in the second half. The homesters were taller, heftier and faster going, and the Scottish defeat by five goals to two was a fair criterion of the second half showing.

Reputations were lost by members of the Scottish side, but Kenny (Burnbank), Hogg (Royal Albert), and Cunningham (Tranent) were not at fault.

It was in attack and at half-back the weakness lay. In the latter division McGunnigle (Maryhill Hibs) and Comrie (Dunipace Juniors) are likely to be seriously taken into account when the selection for Llandudno is under review, but the Dundee player, Birnie, of Arklay’s, was not equal to the occasion.”

Bobby’s progress was not going unnoticed, the Dundee Courier of Wednesday, 8 April 1931 commenting on his future, albeit adding a year to his age!

“Hogg, the Royal Albert Athletic back, who played for Junior Scotland against England at Birmingham, was playing in schools football a couple of seasons ago. He is only 17 years old.

Hamilton Accies, as well as Portsmouth and Hull City, are interested in the lad, but it is understood that when he decides to take the senior ticket it will be for one of the Glasgow clubs.”

Teammate Danny McLaughlan was another from that team being touted for a step up, the Milngavie and Bearsden Herald stating that the Campsie-born centre-half would be following in the footsteps of his father John three decades earlier by signing for Hibernian. Both Bobby and Danny would be selected for the Scotland Juniors team to face Wales at Llandudno on Saturday, 2 May 1931.

Seven days before that, a Scottish Junior League select beat the Irish Free State 6-3 at Dalymount Park, Dublin but neither player was in the travelling party. Indeed, only forwards McGunnigle, Renfrew and Comrie of the side which played at Villa Park made that trip.

The Scotland side chosen on Wednesday, 22 April 1931 to face Wales 10 days later showed four changes from the match against England and was as follows.

Kenny (Burnbank Athletic), Hogg (Royal Albert Athletic) & Cunningham (Tranent Juniors);
Smith (Dunipace Juniors), McLaughlan (Denny Hibs) & Ronan (Rosslyn Juniors);
McGunnigle (Maryhill Hibs), Benzie (Burnbank Athletic), Hillan (Burnbank Athletic), Comrie (Denny Hibs) & Ferguson (Rothesay Royal Victoria).

Travelling Reserve: Robertson (Alva Albion Rangers).

The Welsh team – referred to in some reports as the North Wales FA – lined up as follows.

Williams (Colwyn Bay), M H Roberts (Bangor) & J Roberts (Rhyl);
Spencer Evans (Llanfairfechan), Chester (Bangor) & Kelsall (Connah’s Quay);
Ferguson (Rhyl), Foulkes (Flint), M Griffith (Llandudno), Talou Jones (Rhyl) & Brookes (Llandudno).

Bobby’s son still has the handwritten postcard invitation for his dad’s third and final outing for Scotland Juniors, which took place at Llandudno on Saturday, 2 May 1931, eight days before his 17th birthday. It is signed by SJFA Secretary Ed M McPhee of Stewarton, Tollcross, Glasgow and advises that the train would leave Glasgow Central at 10.05am on Friday, 1 May 1931, with players requested to be at the ‘Shell in the station at 9.45am prompt.’ The return journey from Llandudno would then commence at 9.05pm on the Saturday.

Invitation for Bobby to travel to Wales with Scotland Juniors in May 1931

That would no doubt be a happy journey home following Scotland’s resounding 6-3 win, the visitors having been 4-2 ahead at the interval. Left-winger J Ferguson of Rothesay Royal Victoria scored four of the goals and was reported to be on the radar of St Johnstone, whilst the man who had played in that position in the first international against Ireland – John Archibald of Denny Hibs – signed for Raith Rovers that week, as did his club’s other winger Joe Mackay. A third Denny Hibs player – inside-left Comrie – scored Scotland’s other two goals as they recorded a first victory on Welsh soil since 1925.

The Glasgow Herald of Monday, 4 May 1931 actually reported that the Welsh had won 6-3, but it did add a comment at the foot of another column that “Despite the fact that their opponents were bigger and heavier, the Scottish juniors won their game with the Welsh juniors at Llandudno in convincing style by 6 goals to 3.”

There was a strong representation in those 1931 international games from Burnbank Athletic and Denny Hibs, who contested the Scottish Junior Cup final at Tynecastle three weeks after the match in North Wales. In the semi-final ties, Denny Hibs had beaten Lochee Harp 3-0 at Dens Park whilst Burnbank Athletic defeated Rothesay Royal Victoria 1-0 at Love Street.

Researching his dad’s story has hopefully helped solve a bit of a Hogg family mystery, as when I visited Bobby junior at his home, he showed me a medal from the 1931 Scottish Junior Cup final engraved ‘W Kenny, Burnbank Athletic’ but he was unsure of the context. Willie had not played against his dad and Royal Albert in the Glasgow Junior Cup semi-final at Celtic Park 12 months earlier, as at that point he had signed for Partick Thistle, but he was the goalkeeper at Tynecastle as Burnbank lost 1-0 in the national showpiece on Saturday, 23 May 1931.

The Lanarkshire club then lodged a protest, claiming that Denny Hibs goalkeeper Joe Toner was ineligible. The appeal was upheld and a replay ordered, but Burnbank refused to play in it, and it took almost a year of court action before it was decided that the original result would stand and Denny Hibs were finally awarded the cup, just seven days before the 1932 final!

As mentioned previously, Willie had played at Larkhall YMCA, and although he was a couple of years older than Bobby, they had both represented Scotland Juniors for the same three games that spring, so perhaps they had become and remained good friends. Given the personal tragedy his young friend had suffered recently, I’m wondering if Willie gave Bobby his medal as a gesture of friendship and support.

To be continued…

Hail, hail

Matt Corr

Follow Matt on Twitter/X @Boola_vogue

The Celtic best-seller
Visit Celtic Shorts today – we think you’ll like it!

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.

Leave A Reply