Robert Roberts (footballer, born 1864)

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Bob Roberts
Personal information
Full name Robert Roberts
Date of birth July 1864
Place of birth Penycae, Wales
Date of death 15 March 1932(1932-03-15) (aged 67)
Place of death Wrexham, Wales
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Playing position Wing half
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1882–1884 Druids
1884–1892 Bolton Wanderers 71 (3)
1892 Preston North End 5 (0)
1892–1893 Lincoln City 16 (3)
National team
1884–1892 Wales 9 (1)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Robert "Bob" Roberts (July 1864 – 15 March 1932) was a Welsh professional footballer who played at wing half for several clubs, spending most of his career with Bolton Wanderers in the English Football League. He made a total of ten appearances for Wales.

Playing career[edit]

Roberts was born at Penycae, near Wrexham and, on leaving school, obtained employment in a terracotta works.[1] He joined Druids, based in the neighbouring village of Ruabon, as an amateur in 1882 and helped them reach the fifth round (last eight) of the F.A. Cup in 1883. Roberts replaced Jack Powell in the third round replay against Bolton Wanderers and retained his place for the quarter-final match, losing 4–1 to eventual winners Blackburn Olympic.[2]

Druids also had a long run in the Welsh Cup, reaching the final for the fifth year out of the six since the competition was inaugurated in 1877. Roberts played in the final on 21 April 1883, with Druids losing 1–0 to Wrexham.[3] Druids reached the Welsh Cup final again the following year, this time to lose 1–0 to Oswestry White Stars in a replay.[4]

The week before the 1884 Welsh Cup Final, Roberts was called up for his first appearance for Wales, when he took the place of Jack Powell at right back for the final match of the 1884 British Home Championship against Scotland on 29 March.[5] Although Roberts scored after seven minutes, Scotland equalised midway through the first half and ran out 4–1 winners to claim the trophy with three victories.[6]

In April 1884, Roberts moved to Lancashire to join Bolton Wanderers in the Football League, where he was re-united with several former Druids players, including Jack Powell and Jackie Vaughan, both of whom had moved to Bolton the previous year.[1]

Described as "a good athlete and a useful boxer", Roberts had a "burly frame"[1] and soon became an established member of the Wanderers' eleven. Roberts scored on his debut, in a friendly match against Preston North End and was soon converted to a wing-half. In 1887, Bolton Wanderers were involved in a protracted first round F.A. Cup match against Everton. Roberts scored the only goal of the initial match played on 15 October 1887, but the result was declared invalid as Bolton had fielded an ineligible player, Robert Struthers.[2] There then followed two drawn matches (with Roberts again scoring in the first), before Everton won the second replay (the fourth match altogether) 2–1.[7] This time, however, Everton were disqualified for fielding two professional players who had been registered as amateurs,[8] and the match was awarded to Bolton, who were then defeated 9–1 by Preston North End,[2] with Jimmy Ross scoring six goals.[9]

Bolton were one of the twelve founder members of the Football League, which formed in 1888.[10] In the inaugural Football League season, Roberts was ever-present, scoring twice as Bolton finished fifth in the table.[11] In 1889, Roberts was described as "a very fast man (120 yards in 13 seconds), a splendid dribbler and difficult to overcome in possession of the ball". One newspaper dubbed him "the best half back in England".[1]

Roberts remained at Bolton until March 1892, when he moved to Preston North End where he played five league matches at the end of the 1891–92 season. Later that year, he dropped down to the Second Division, spending one season with Lincoln City before retiring.[1]

Later career[edit]

On completing his playing career, Roberts was briefly trainer to Leicester Fosse before returning to settle in the Wrexham area.[1]

Towards the end of his life, he lived in the almshouses at Ruabon where he was known as "Bob Bolton". The walls of his room were said to be covered in photographs of Bolton, Preston and Wales, leaving little room for anything else.[1]

International appearances[edit]

Roberts made nine appearances for Wales in official international matches, as follows:[12]

Date Venue Opponent Result[13] Goals Competition
29 March 1884 Cathkin Park, Glasgow  Scotland 1–4 1 British Home Championship
21 March 1887 Racecourse Ground, Wrexham  Scotland 0–2 0 British Home Championship
4 February 1888 Nantwich Road, Crewe  England 1–5 0 British Home Championship
10 March 1888 Easter Road, Edinburgh  Scotland 1–5 0 British Home Championship
23 February 1889 Victoria Ground, Stoke-on-Trent  England 1–4 0 British Home Championship
15 April 1889 Racecourse Ground, Wrexham  Scotland 0–0 0 British Home Championship
22 March 1890 Racecourse Ground, Wrexham  Scotland 0–5 0 British Home Championship
27 February 1892 Penrhyn Park, Bangor  Ireland 1–1 0 British Home Championship
26 March 1892 Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh  Scotland 1–6 0 British Home Championship

In addition, he appeared in the second match played against a visiting Canadian XI in 1891.[14]




  1. ^ a b c d e f g Davies, Gareth; Garland, Ian (1991). Who's Who of Welsh International Soccer Players. Bridge Books. p. 180. ISBN 1-872424-11-2. 
  2. ^ a b c Collett, Mike (2003). The Complete Record of the FA Cup. Sports Books. pp. 279–280. ISBN 1-899807-19-5. 
  3. ^ "Wrexham 1 Druids 0 (21 April 1883)". Welsh Cup Final. Welsh Football Data Archive. Retrieved 1 February 2010. 
  4. ^ "Oswestry White Stars 1 Druids 0 (14 April 1884)". Welsh Cup Final. Welsh Football Data Archive. Retrieved 1 February 2010. 
  5. ^ "Scotland 4 Wales 1 (29 March 1884)". Welsh international matches. Welsh Football Data Archive. Retrieved 1 February 2010. 
  6. ^ "Scotland 4 Wales 1 (29 March 1884)". Scotland international football results. Retrieved 1 February 2010. 
  7. ^ "Everton Season Statistics 1887–1888". Everton Stats. Retrieved 1 February 2010. 
  8. ^ Gibbons, Philip (2001). Association Football in Victorian England – A History of the Game from 1863 to 1900. Upfront Publishing. p. 97. ISBN 1-84426-035-6. 
  9. ^ The Complete Record of the FA Cup. p. 498. 
  10. ^ "In the Beginning – 1800s". Bolton Wanderers official website. Retrieved 1 February 2010. 
  11. ^ Association Football in Victorian England – A History of the Game from 1863 to 1900. pp. 111–112. 
  12. ^ Samuel, Bill (2009). The Complete Wales FC 1876–2008. Soccer Books. pp. 7–10. ISBN 1-86223-176-1. 
  13. ^ Wales score first
  14. ^ Who's Who of Welsh International Soccer Players. p. 224.