May 14, 1921
When I was signed on for four pounds.
Remarkable incident in which Bobbie Parker figures.
By Kenneth Campbell
“Kenneth Campbell, the famous goalkeeper for Partick Thistle and Scotland, continues the story of his wonderful football career. In the very front rank among professional players, Campbell, although still quite a young man, yet has had great experience in the highest class of football. Joining Liverpool when a lad, as understudy to the renowned Sam Hardy, the prince of English goalkeepers. Kenneth by brilliant exposition, ultimately succeeded in displacing Hardy, who was transferred to Aston Villa. For several seasons the young and clever Scot was the idol of the Liverpool crowd, and one of the stalwarts of a notable team. A year ago he was chosen to guard Scotia’s goal against England, and shortly afterwards he joined Partick Thistle. This season Campbell has played brilliantly for his club, and against Wales and Ireland.”
I do not know if it be true that goalkeepers, like poets, are born, not made, but I know that in my own case I cannot remember the time when I did not keep goal.
Wherever a ball was being kicked in my boyhood days I generally found myself between the sticks, or, as it was in these days, between the jackets, lumps of stone, or anything which could by any stretch of imagination be indicative of a goal.
I never had any inclination for “shooting in,” like the rest of the lads, and, as there were not many candidates for the position of goalie, I generally got the job.
While attending Eastfield School at Cambuslang, quite near my home, I played in the school team. We had a fairly good side, but the only one who reached senior circles, so far as my recollection goes, was “Sturdy” Maxwell, so well-known in the region of Shawfield.
“Sturdy” was one of our fliers, and he could hustle then, as he can now. These were the days.
Most of our matches were of the friendly order, but we competed in a tourney promoted by Cambuslang Rangers. Need I say how ambitious we were to be champions? We trained hard and often, and our enthusiasm carried us right up to the final stage, where all our hopes were shattered. We suffered defeat.
During my long career as a senior I have been on the losing side often, and have suffered many disappointments, but none which I took so sore to heart as when I felt I was robbed of that honour in my schooldays.
I am not romancing when I confess I took it so sore to heart that I went home and cried.
But, bless you, youthful broken hearts are soon mended.
When I left school I joined up with a local juvenile lot which went by the name of Clyde Vale, a team which played on a pitch near Rutherglen.
I was only half a season with the Vale when the enterprising officials of the Rutherglen Glencairn were after me.
On the first rung.
No need to tell you that I listened to the tale of Team Manager Sam Flanagan. I was ambitious, and with the reputation Glencairn had in these days I felt I had put my foot on the first ring of the ladder of fame. In Rutherglen everybody knows Sam Flanagan. Sam was then – and I believe he is now – the leading light in the Southcroft Park club. When he asked me to don a junior jersey he gave me some sound advice, and I do not regret having listened to dear old Sam.
These were the happy times. Although perhaps, not such an epoch-making eleven as wore the Glen’s colours in 1901, we had a splendid side. The strong man on our side was Archie Mackie, who was at Rugby Park for quite a period. We just missed the Glasgow Junior League championship, were joint champions of the North-Eastern competition along with Ashfield, finalists for the Glasgow Junior Cup, and in the semi-final of the Glasgow Charity Cup.
I remained two seasons with Glencairn, and then the voice of “the charmer” was sounded in my ears again.
In these days junior players were not remunerated as they are now. Not by a long chalk. Sometimes we got the matter of three “bob” after a game for “expenses.” More often we got nothing. Personally, at that time the monetary reward for playing did not trouble me. I was working in the steel works at Cambuslang, and football was more a pastime with me than anything else.
If there was anything I played for, it was the glory and honour of my team winning. I loved football, and at that time I had but lazy ideas of adopting the game as a profession. I have reason to believe my dad held other views, but if he did he kept them to himself.
At any rate I was quite content to play away for Glencairn, when an unexpected thing happened.
My first fee.
One Sunday night I was met on the road by a representative of Cambuslang Rangers. He asked me if I would care to join up with the Rangers, pointing out that I would be playing nearer home; that it was my duty to play for my own village – which was quite true – and finishing up with pressing me to accept £4.
Now, all along I had felt that if Cambuslang Rangers ever gave me a chance of playing I would accept. I wanted to show my abilities before my “ain folks,” so to speak. Remember, I was but a youngster – I was not seventeen years old.
I am not to deny that the present of £4 did not sway me. Four pounds to me at that period was – well, what is such a sum to a young lad?
After some more talk I agreed to throw my lot with the Rangers. It being Sunday, to sign any document would have been illegal, and I must confess that it never struck either club official or myself to post-date the form. And so I met him again on the Monday, and duly “signed on.”
Might I just mention here that the close of my association with Glencairn was very near to being the close of my career. In the final for the Glasgow Cup we played Ashfield at Firhill Park. At this time Ashfield possessed a dashing centre forward by the name of Bobbie Parker (Robert Parker). I suppose you’ll all heard of Bobbie. He has made a great name for himself since then, both in Scotland and England.
Nearly away for good.
Well, Parker had some reputation then. He had been getting goals galore for Ashfield, and was never very far away from the vicinity of the goal. Needless to say, play was very keen, and I was very much in the thick of it. Getting near the close of the game I rose to catch a high ball. Bobbie tried to rush me through, but got under me somehow, and in coming down I fell awkwardly on my shoulders.
There I lay, unable to move, and after first aid treatment I was taken off to the Glasgow Infirmary. It was thought that I had twisted my spine, and as I lay in the infirmary I fancied that at least my football days were finished.
Fortunately, however, first fears were groundless, and after two days’ treatment in the institution I was able to be out and about. It was a near thing for Scotland losing a goalkeeper, eh?
As I mentioned last week, I was only one season with Cambuslang. But what a year! And what a team! I have been trying to recall some of the players who were at Somervell Park at that time.
There were Johnny McNaught, still footballing it away with Kilmarnock at outside right. Willie Raitt, who went to Third Lanark; and his brother; Watson, who played for a time, I think, with Hamilton Academical; Duncan (Clyde); Robertson, who also was at Douglas Park; and Willie Anderson, the back, who was with Motherwell for a time, but who, I understand, is now back again to Renfrew Juniors.
I have told you of all the honours that fell the way of the club and myself. Perhaps the proudest moment of my career up till that time was when I was chosen to represent Scotland against England. To every junior it is the one big object worth striving for.
Well, I had my wish, and when we beat the Birmingham side at Firhill by 2 goals to 1 there was no prouder man than Kenneth Campbell.
It may seem strange that the one particular item about that match which stands out in my memory was the brilliant play of Claude Jephcott. I could not get this fellow’s play out of my mind, and when I ran against him when playing for Liverpool against West Bromwich Albion almost every incident in which he was connected flew to my mind.
Many a crack I have had with this fine chap and sterling player since.
That ends my chronicles of juvenile and junior days. Only three season had I been in what might be termed really decent class football, when as a raw youth I found myself bound for Liverpool.
I journey south.
I must confess I was full of misgivings. My first experience had not been a long one, and I had some doubts as to whether I would be able to justify the step I had taken. I suppose most young lads have this feeling when embarking on the big venture of their lives as full-blown professional football players.
As I have already mentioned, Donald Mackinlay, who had already established himself at Liverpool, lived practically next door to me at Hallside. I am afraid I leaned very much on Donald in the early days. Indeed, I have to thank him for man kindness. He undertook the role of pater, and but for him my entry to football at Anfield Road would not have been so easy as it was.
There was another new lad from the West booked up for Liverpool at that time. This was Bob Pursell (Robert Pursell), of Queen’s Park. Bob, who hailed from Campbelltown, had quite as unfortunate luck as I had before he was long in Liverpool. In his case matters were more drastic than mine, and later on I will tell what happened in connection with his signing.
Well, the day arrived for my going to Mereyside, and I found there were five Scots travelling from Glasgow. Joining Bob and I on the train were Donald Mackinlay, Jock McConnell (John McConnell), of Ayr, and Jimmy Stewart of Dumbarton.
That train journey was not a pleasant one to me. It was my first time away from home, and although I had plenty of company, I was perhaps, the most miserable human being in the universe. To show how raw I was, when the rest of the boys got settled down a game of cards was suggested. I had to confess that I knew nothing about cards.
A game of solo? No. Twenty-five? No, I didn’t know it. Nap? Know less – and so on until in desperation someone suggested a game of “puggy,” and it being a game of the “snap” order. I was able to take a hand, to my great relief.
And so I landed at Liverpool.
Next week I shall tell you how Sam Hardy took my arrival at Anfield Road.
(Weekly News: May 14, 1921)
Kenneth Campbell meets with his old friends on the golf course. Left to right – Geo Waddle, Campbell, Montgomerie, and Thomas Fairfoull.