January 6, 1914
To-day at Firhill Park one of the greatest centre half-backs of all time takes his benefit match. The player is Alec Raisbeck, of Partick Thistle, once of Hibernian and later of Liverpool, and as an International player never excelled.
On the day that he went into the nursing home to undergo an operation for appendicitis, I had an interesting talk with Raisbeck. He mentioned something that surprised me, although it was something that anyone might have known. In only one of the eleven representative matches in which he has played has he been on the defeated side.
When you consider that he played seven times for Scotland against England, this is a marvellous record.
I asked him about the single exception. The match was the one against England at Celtic Park in 1904.
Just before the game began the field was swept by a blinding snowstorm, and the pitch was in no condition for football.
It was a frame that might fittingly have ended in a draw. As it was, the only goal was the outcome of an excusable miskick by Watson, the Scottish left back, through the ball sticking in the liquid turf, and allowing Bloomer, the brilliant English forward, to dart in and take the scoring chance.
I saw Alec Raisbeck in all his International matches against England. I asked him what he considered his best game in these big engagements.
“I may have played better games than in my first against England, but I like best to think of it. That was the 1900 match at Celtic Park.
“I had the luck to play with a set of players I have never seen excelled. The forwards played beautiful football. Everything came right for Walker, McColl, and Campbell, the inside men, and we had the match win in the first twenty five minutes.
“Bob McColl scored three glorious goals. Jack Bell and Alec Smith were on the wings, and completed a wonderful forward line.”
When I recalled the 1906 match at Hampden, and told him that most people believed that to be his finest display, Raisbeck smiled and said, “Ah, well, that may be. I know things came off for me that day.”
That is a nice way of putting it, but I would still say that the 1906 game was Raisbeck’s best. I am not going to say that no Anglo-Scot ever served his country so well as Raisbeck did on the sward of Hampden.
The fact remains, however, that Raisbeck’s play was more talked about, more marvelled at than any individual achievement by an Anglo-Scot ever had been or has since. He took the eye and kept it. Wherever the ball was, there also was this broad-shouldered, flaxen-haired giant. He fascinated.
It was a kind of hypnotism, the spell of which he threw over not only the English players but the spectators as well.
Ashcroft, who kept the English goal, confessed afterwards that he could not tear his eyes away from the huge form of the Scot. He was transfixed with wonder. Such heading as Raisbeck performed was, as a particular feature of his game, never surpassed in all the internationals I have seen, nor can I find older men disposed to withhold the palm from the man who now captains Partick Thistle.
And now Alec Raisbeck is getting his benefit. He will not be at the match, for he is still confined to the nursing home, although doing well.
But his interest in the outcome of the generous efforts to give him a bumper will be the same.
A team of International players will oppose a Thistle side, and on the line will be R.S. McColl and James Quinn.
From the number of players eager to assist, the teams could easily have been duplicated. The sides are: –
Partick Thistle – Campbell; McKenzie and Bulloch; McCraig, Shimwell or Hamilton, and Joe Harris; Hamilton, Hynd, N. Harris, Marshall, and McIntyre.
Internationals – Brownlie (Third Lanark); Gordon (Rangers) and Dodds (Celtic); May (Morton), Robert Mercer (Hearts), and McGregor (St. Mirren); Hogg (Dundee), McMenemy (Celtic), Jack Parkinson (Liverpool), Croal (Falkirk), and McNeil (Hamilton Accademicals).
(Source: Daily Record: January 6, 1914)