February 18, 1919
Robert McColl, the famous international, is home again after a long period of Army Service. The “Athletic News” yesterday relates an interesting story told by the late Mr. Tom Watson, of Liverpool, of how McColl became a professional.
“One day in my office at Anfield road,” said Tom, “I was called on the ‘phone.”
Tom Watson, Liverpool F.C.
“’Hullo!’ – ‘Yes!’ ‘That’s you, Tom, isn’t it? ‘Yes, it’s myself, and I know your voice, but I can’t place you at the moment.’
“Look here, Tom. I’m open for an engagement. Will Liverpool sign me on?
“’It depends. You’re a Scotsman, by your tongue, and if you were – say – Bob McColl, of Queen’s Park – I’d break my beck to get you.’
“A clear ringing laugh reached my ear, and then I remembered.
“I’ve got you now, you young beauty (it was Bob McColl at the other end). And don’t you try to pull my leg. What are you up to, and where are you?”
“I’m open for a professional engagement. I’m in Liverpool, speaking from the North-Western Hotel; and honour bright, I’m not pulling tour leg. I have never been more serious in my life.”
“And you’ll sign for Liverpool, eh?”
“If we can arrange terms. You’ll have the first chance of refusal, anyway.”
Bob McColl, Queen’s Park F.C.
Surprise of his life.
“Honestly,” said Tom. “I was never more surprised in my life. I had no idea that the famous amateur contemplated turning professional. In a very short time I had laid the matter before my directors, and within the hour was with Bob in the North-Western, but greatly to my chagrin I found that McColl’s terms were too much for us. He would not relinquish his amateur status unless he benefited considerably, and the situation for which he stipulated was beyond the power of the Liverpool club to guarantee. And so the negotiations were broken off, much to my regret.
“However, I resolved that my friends should have a chance to secure him, and at once ‘phoned the new to my brother-in-law, Mr. Jack Oliver, a director of Newcastle United. He immediately passed on the intelligence to Mr. James Telford, the gentleman at the head of the affairs of Newcastle United. There was a merry hustle. Not a moment was lost in getting in touch with McColl, and the Tynesiders having the influence necessary to fix up the Scot in the situation he desired, the deal was swiftly and satisfactorily concluded.”
(Sheffield Independent: February 18, 1919)