Thomas Robertson (footballer, born 1875)

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Tom Robertson
Personal information
Full name John Thomas Robertson [1]
Date of birth 1875
Place of birth Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, Scotland
Date of death 8 December 1923(1923-12-08) (aged 48)
Place of death Worthing, Sussex, England
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Position(s) Full-back
Youth career
Newton Thistle [1] [2]
St Bernard's
Senior career*
1894–1895 Stoke 26 (1)
1895–1897 Hibernian 38 (0)
1897 Millwall Athletic
1897–1900 Stoke 88 (2)
1900–1902 Liverpool 42 (0)
1902–1904 Southampton 45 (1)
1904–1905 Brighton & Hove Albion 26 (1)
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

John Thomas Robertson [1] (1875 – 8 December 1923) [3] (usually referred to as Tom and sometimes as Jack) was a Scottish footballer who played at full-back around the turn of the 20th century for various clubs in England, including Stoke, Liverpool (where he was a member of the side which won the Football League championship in 1900–01) and Southampton (where he won the Southern League title in 1902–03 and 1903–04).


Football career


Robertson was born in Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, Scotland, [3] before moving 25 miles north-west to Newton Mearns, near Glasgow. After playing as an amateur for his local village team and for St Bernard's of Edinburgh, he started his professional football career with Stoke of the English Football League First Division in May 1894. [4]

In each of his first two seasons with Stoke, when Robertson generally played as a half-back, he only managed 13 league appearances for the first-team. After spending the next two years at other clubs, firstly in Scotland with Hibernian (where he played on the losing side in the 1896 Scottish Cup Final) and then in England with Millwall Athletic of the Southern League, Robertson returned to Stoke for the start of the 1897–98 season. He now became the established right-back at the Victoria Ground, alongside Jack Eccles on the left.

At the end of Robertson's first season back at Stoke, in which he made 23 appearances, the club finished at the foot of the First Division table, having failed to win once away from home, and were required to enter the end of season play-offs, in a mini "tournament" also involving Blackburn Rovers and the top two teams in the Second Division, Burnley and Newcastle United. Stoke managed their first away victory of the season against Burnley, and finished the play-offs at the top of the table, with Burnley as runners-up. In the event, the Football League decided to expand the First Division by two clubs, and thus Blackburn and Newcastle were able to take their places in the expanded division for the following season. [5]

Stoke's financial problems prevented the club from strengthening the side for the 1898–99 season, other than the signing of goal-keeper George Clawley, who returned from Southampton. [6] The club fared better this season, finishing in mid-table, with Robertson only missing three matches. He also played in all six FA Cup matches, as Stoke reached the semi-finals, where they were defeated 3–1 by Derby County.

Although the FA Cup run improved Stoke's finances, they still struggled to sign or retain players, other than those with a local connection, with the only significant signing for the 1899–1900 season being goal-keeper Tom Wilkes from Aston Villa, to replace Clawley who had moved on to join Tottenham Hotspur. [7] The season saw a further improvement in the club's performances on the pitch, finishing the season ninth in the table, with Robertson appearing in all 34 League games, scoring twice. At this point he came the closest he would get to international recognition, taking part in the Home Scots v Anglo-Scots trial match in March 1900, alongside the unrelated William Robertson and Tommy Robertson. [8] [9]

At the end of the season, Robertson was signed by fellow First Division side Liverpool. In his five seasons spent at Stoke, Robertson made a total of 128 appearances for the Potteries team, scoring three goals.


At Liverpool, Robertson soon established a reputation as a fierce competitor who "added considerable muscle to the Reds' rearguard". [10] He made 22 consecutive appearances from the start of the 1900–01 season, before John Glover took over for the next nine matches, although Robertson was back in place for the final three fixtures of the season as Liverpool secured their first league title by two points from runners-up Sunderland.

In the following season, it was Glover who started as the club's right-back but Robertson came back into contention during the second half of the season and made a further 17 First Division appearances, as Liverpool finished in the lower half of the table. [1]

In February 1902, Robertson was a member of the Liverpool side who were surprisingly beaten 4–1 at Anfield by Southampton of the Southern League on their way to the Cup Final. [4]


In May 1902, Robertson joined Southampton of the Southern League, much against the wishes of the Liverpool management who were reluctant to release him. [4] He made his debut for Southampton at right-back in the opening match of the 1902–03 season, a 6–0 victory over Brentford, with England international George Molyneux on his left. On the pitch, Robertson soon established himself as "a reliable full-back" who "possessed a powerful kick and the ability to time his tackles to perfection", although off the pitch he was known as a "retiring fellow" who had a "holy horror" of being interviewed and was elusive when a reporter wanted a story. [4] He made 25 appearances in his first season at The Dell at the end of which the club claimed the Southern League title for the fifth time in seven years. [11]

Robertson met with a severe injury in the opening match of the 1903–04 season which put him out of the game until late November, during which period Samuel Meston took over from him. Robertson returned on 21 November 1903 and remained in the side for the rest of the season, although he struggled to recapture his old form. At the end of the season, the Saints claimed the Southern League title for the sixth (and final) time. [12]


In the summer of 1904, Robertson moved along the south coast to join Brighton & Hove Albion, where he played out his final season before retiring. [13]

Following his retirement, Robertson became a publican in Hove. [4]

Career statistics

Source: [14]

ClubSeasonLeagueFA CupTest MatchTotal
Stoke 1894–95 First Division 13100131
1895–96 First Division13020150
Hibernian 1894–95 [15] Scottish Division Two 402060
1895–96 [15] Scottish Division One 16050210
1896–97 [15] Scottish Division One18020200
Stoke 1897–98 First Division2302020270
1898–99 First Division31060370
1899–1900 First Division34220362
Liverpool 1900–01 First Division25020270
1901–02 First Division17030200
Southampton 1902–03 Southern League 26130291
1903–04 Southern League19020210
Career Total2394310202724




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  1. 1 2 3 4 "Player profile: Tom Robertson". LFC History. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  2. "Past players: John Robertson". Liverpool F.C. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  3. 1 2 Chalk, Holley & Bull 2013, p. 161.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Holley & Chalk 1992, pp. 285–286.
  5. Gibbons 2001, pp. 388–389.
  6. Gibbons 2001, p. 401.
  7. Gibbons 2001, p. 444.
  8. Football. | Scots V. Anglo-Scots., The Glasgow Herald, 22 March 1900
  9. The Cathkin Trial. | Its Finds And Failures., The Scottish Referee, 23 March 1900, scan via London Hearts Supporters Club
  10. The early history of Liverpool F.C. – The 1900–01 season
  11. Chalk & Holley 1987, pp. 32–33.
  12. Chalk & Holley 1987, pp. 34–35.
  13. Carder, Tim; Harris, Roger (1997). Albion A–Z: A Who's Who of Brighton & Hove Albion F.C. Hove: Goldstone Books. p. 206. ISBN   978-0-9521337-1-1.
  14. Thomas Robertson at the English National Football Archive (subscription required)
  15. 1 2 3 "Tom Robertson". Fitbastats. Retrieved 10 December 2017.