Thomas Robertson (footballer, born 1875)

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Tom Robertson
Personal information
Full nameJohn 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)
Playing position 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)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

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).

Association football team field sport

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

Liverpool F.C. association football club

Liverpool Football Club is a professional football club in Liverpool, England, that competes in the Premier League, the top tier of English football. The club has won 5 European Cups, more than any other English club, 3 UEFA Cups, 3 UEFA Super Cups, 18 League titles, 7 FA Cups, a record 8 League Cups, and 15 FA Community Shields.

The 1900–01 season was the 30th season of competitive football in England.


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]

Lesmahagow town

Lesmahagow is a small town on the edge of moorland, near Lanark in the central belt of Scotland. Lesmahagow was also a Civil Parish.

Newton Mearns town

Newton Mearns is an affluent suburban town and the largest settlement in East Renfrewshire, Scotland. It lies 7 miles (11 km) southwest of Glasgow City Centre on the main road to Ayrshire, 410 feet (125 m) above sea level. It has a population of approximately 22,636, stretching from Whitecraigs to Mearnskirk.

Glasgow City and council area in Scotland

Glasgow is the most populous city in Scotland, and the third most populous city in the United Kingdom, as of the 2017 estimated city population of 621,020. Historically part of Lanarkshire, the city now forms the Glasgow City council area, one of the 32 council areas of Scotland; the local authority is Glasgow City Council. Glasgow is situated on the River Clyde in the country's West Central Lowlands. Inhabitants of the city are referred to as "Glaswegians" or "Weegies". It is the fourth most visited city in the UK. Glasgow is also known for the Glasgow patter, a distinct dialect of the Scots language that is noted for being difficult to understand by those from outside the city.

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.

Hibernian F.C. Scottish association football club

Hibernian Football Club, commonly known as Hibs, is a professional football club based in the Leith area of Edinburgh, Scotland. The club plays in the Scottish Premiership, the top tier of the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL), finishing 4th in the 2017–18 season.

The 1896 Scottish Cup Final was played on 14 March 1896 at New Logie Green in Edinburgh and was the final of the 23rd season of the Scottish Cup. The Edinburgh derby rivals Hearts and Hibernian contested the match. Hearts won the match 3–1, thanks to goals from Davie Baird, Alex King and Willie Michael. Jo O'Neill scored a consolation goal for Hibs.

Southern Football League English football league

The Southern League, currently known as the Evo-Stik League South under the terms of a sponsorship agreement with Bostik Ltd, is a men's football competition featuring semi-professional clubs from the South West, 'South Central' and Midlands of England and South Wales. Together with the Isthmian League and the Northern Premier League it forms levels seven and eight of the English football league system.

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]

Blackburn Rovers F.C. English football club

Blackburn Rovers Football Club is a professional football club in Blackburn, Lancashire, England, which competes in the Championship, the second tier of the English football league system, following promotion from League One at the end of the 2017–18 season.

The Football League Second Division was the second level division in the English football league system between 1892 and 1992. Following the foundation of the FA Premier League, it became the third level division. Following the creation of the Football League Championship in 2004–05 it was re-branded as Football League One.

Burnley F.C. association football club

Burnley Football Club is a professional association football club based in Burnley, Lancashire, England. Founded on 18 May 1882, the team originally played only friendly matches until they entered the FA Cup for the first time in 1885–86. The club currently plays in the Premier League, the first tier of English football. Nicknamed the Clarets, due to the dominant colour of their home shirts, they were one of the twelve founding members of the Football League in 1888.

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.

The 1898–99 season was the 28th season of competitive football in England.

George Clawley was an English professional goalkeeper who played for Stoke, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He was the goalkeeper for the Spurs side that won the 1901 FA Cup Final.

Southampton F.C. association football club

Southampton Football Club is a professional association football club based in Southampton, Hampshire, England, which plays in the Premier League, the top tier of English football.

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.

The 1899–1900 season was the 29th season of competitive football in England.

Thomas Henry Wilkes was an English footballer who played in the Football League for Aston Villa and Stoke.

Aston Villa F.C. association football club

Aston Villa Football Club is a professional football club based in Aston, Birmingham, England. The club currently competes in the Championship, the second tier of the English football league system. Founded in 1874, they have played at their current home ground, Villa Park, since 1897. Aston Villa were one of the founder members of the Football League in 1888 and of the Premier League in 1992. Villa are one of only five English clubs to have won the European Cup, in 1981–82. They have also won the Football League First Division seven times, the FA Cup seven times, the League Cup five times, and the UEFA Super Cup once.

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". [8] 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. [9]

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. [10]


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. [11]

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

Career statistics

Source: [12]

ClubSeasonLeagueFA CupTest MatchTotal
Stoke 1894–95 First Division 13100131
1895–96 First Division13020150
Hibernian 1894–95 [13] Scottish Division Two 402060
1895–96 [13] Scottish Division One 16050210
1896–97 [13] 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. The early history of Liverpool F.C. – The 1900–01 season
  9. Chalk & Holley 1987, pp. 32–33.
  10. Chalk & Holley 1987, pp. 34–35.
  11. 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.
  12. Thomas Robertson at the English National Football Archive (subscription required)
  13. 1 2 3 "Tom Robertson". Fitbastats. Retrieved 10 December 2017.