Bobby was one of the best sprinters of his generation and part of a very successful Victoria Park Relay team that dominated Scottish Championships throughout the 1950’s. Bobby won a total of 14 Scottish Championship titles.
Born in Detroit, USA in 1929, Bobby and his twin brother Harry came to Scotland when they were 3 years of age.
Like many of his generation, Bobby started out by doing his national service in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) and was based at Mill Hill Barracks near London. His time served in the army prepared him for a life as a motor mechanic with the Scottish Development Agency.
Bobby and his twin brother Harry were encouraged to join Victoria Park Athletics Club by the great Ian Binnie and trained with the top athletes in the country. He wouldn’t have known then that his association with athletics would last a lifetime.
He won his first Scottish Amateur Athletic Championship medal in 1951 when he ran the 2nd leg for the winning Victoria Park 4 x 110 yards relay team. The Olympian Willie Jack ran the 4th leg that day.
In 1952, Bobby won two national relay championships. He ran the 2nd leg of the 4 x 110 yards for the Victoria Park Relay team and the 3rd leg in the Medlay Relay.
1954 was an exceptional year for Bobby, being part of the winning relay teams at the Scottish Championships in the 4 x 110 yards, 4 x 440 yards with a championship best performance and Medlay Relay all in the same year. A record that has never been matched. He also had his first individual success that year while finishing 2nd in the 220 yards sprint. This was the year he was awarded life membership of Victoria Park.
In 1955, Bobby was 1st in the 440 yards in a time of 49.6s and 2nd in the 220 yards at the Scottish Championships. He also achieved another double success while winning the 4 x 110 yards with a championship best performance and the Medlay Relay.
He continued his success in 1956 when he finished 1st in the 440 yards with a time of 49.8s and 1st once again in the 4 x 110 relay alongside his brother Harry at the Scottish Championships.
His last Scottish Championship medals were won in 1957 when he finished 2nd in the 220 yards and 1st in the 4 x 110 yards relay. That same year, he travelled to College Park, Dublin and earned a Scotland vest competing in an international match against the Irish along with his club mates Ronnie Whitelock and John McIsaac.
Throughout his career, he competed many times at the Ibrox sports in front of 60,000 sports fans. Success in those days often resulted in a random prize as cash was against the rules of the sport. He won several tea sets, canteens of cutlery, a biscuit barrel, shaving outfit, trays and a chiming clock. All of these paled in significance to the large mahogany display cabinet he won after another successful day at Ibrox. Fortunately, his brother Harry was on hand to help manoeuvre this object through the streets of Glasgow and onto the Tramcar to Penilee.
It was in 1957 that Bobby married Marie, the mother of his five children, John, Elizabeth, Robert, Tony and James.
When he retired from competition, he continued to support Victoria Park by serving in various posts on the committee including match secretary and handicapper.
He became a much respected official and supported athletics events for over 30 years. He was a highly regarded and experienced timekeeper. He served as Secretary of the Scottish Amateur Athletic Association and was transport coordinator for the Commonwealth games in Edinburgh in 1986.
He was involved in designing and measuring the route for the original Glasgow marathon and officiated in the marathon at the commonwealth games in 1986.
Bobby was always smartly turned out in his sports blazer and cap. He kept this high standard even when officiating at the MacAndrew Road Relay in his later years. He always arrived in good time with his clipboard tucked firmly under his arm.
His fellow official Angus Cameron said that he had “profound respect for Bobby, he was good company, good humoured, an honest man and someone you enjoyed working with”.
His last run was in July 2014 when he was granted the honour of carrying the Commonwealth Games baton along 200 meters of Paisley Road West just two days before the opening ceremony at Celtic Park. Bobby who at that time was 85 failed to match his pb of sub 11 seconds but thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
Needless to say, Bobby was accompanied along the route by his proud sons, daughter, grandchildren and friends and parishioners from his church.
Bobby remarried in 2009 and once again found happiness with his second wife Anne.
His funeral is to take place next Tuesday, the 5th of November, at 9.30 am at the Church of Our Lady and St George, 50 Sandwood Road, Hillington, Glasgow, G52 2QE. Thereafter to St Convals, RC Cemetery, 169 Glasgow Road, Barrhead, G78 1TH.
Anyone not able to attend the cemetery is invited to stay within the Church Hall at Sandwood Road where there will be refreshments to await the return of the family.