Robert "Bobby" Kinloch

Robert "Bobby" Kinloch

former footballer

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Born: 1934

Died: 28 August, 2014, aged 79.

BOBBY Kinloch, who has died following a battle against cancer, was a fine Hibs player, who is best-remembered for scoring a crucial penalty for the Easter Road team.

However, there was more to him than that single goal, from a penalty which he wasn't supposed to take. He gave the Easter Road club sterling service during a spell when they were more than a match for the best in Europe.

Glasgow-born, Kinloch was raised in Forres, to where his family had moved and he first caught the eye of senior clubs whilst playing for Forres Mechanics in the Highland League. He had decided to join the Royal Air Force on leaving school and it was whilst while dividing his playing time between the RAF and Forres Mechanics that he attracted the attention of Hibs in 1959.

As was the case back then, he had to serve an apprenticeship in the Reserves, before making his first team debut against Kilmarnock, in the 1960-61 League Cup.

That debut came as a wing half, but, manager Hugh Shaw soon handed him the number eight shirt and his reward was 17 goals in that opening season. These goals included a hat-trick against St Mirren and doubles against Aberdeen and Hamilton Academical.

The most vital of these goals came in February, 1961, as Hibs faced Barcelona in a Fairs Cities Cup-tie at Easter Road. The first leg, in Spain, had finished 4-4, a result which had somewhat shocked the Catalan giants. The second leg, at Easter Road, didn't have as many goals, but was equally tight and the match was tied at 2-2, the overall tie at 6-6 when, late-on, Johnny McLeod was tripped inside the Barcelona box.

The German referee immediately pointed to the spot, sparking-off a 13-minute delay as the Catalans protested loud and long. The hold-up clearly got to Hibs' regular penalty taker, former Scotland inside forward Sammy Baird, who opted out of taking the kick, which could win the game for the Hibees.

Kinloch then stepped forward to despatch the set piece and win the tie 7-6 for Hibs. Even today, it is regarded as one of the greatest goals in the club's long history and it won one of the greatest games.

Hibs progressed to the semi-final and a three-game epic against FC Roma, where, again, Kinloch had a part to play. The sheer pace of Joe Baker - who would move to Italy with Torino at the end of that season - terrified the Italians, and Hibs knew he would be in for some "special" treatment, so, he and Kinloch swapped shirts, with Bobby taking the punishment to allow Baker greater freedom, and scoring a terrific goal of his own.

Sadly, Roma's cynical tactics paid-off when, after the teams had drawn 5-5 on aggregate, they won the third game in Rome 6-0 to qualify for the final. Under today's rules, Hibs would have gone through to the final under the away goals rule, and there would have been no third game.

Kinloch's fortunes sagged the following season, when he lost his place in the side. He made a mere 11 appearances, before departing to Morton in September, 1962. However, his tally of 22 goals in 34 first-team games for the Hibs, gives him a goals-per-game ratio which is right up there with the best Hibs goalscorers such as Baker, Gordon Smith and Lawrie Reilly.

From Morton, Kinloch moved on to play-out part one of his Scottish football career with Berwick Rangers, before, in 1964, he emigrated to Canada. He joined the police and continued to play for Toronto City and Hamilton Steelers, before, after he was caught-up in a shooting incident, his wife persuaded him to seek a safer occupation.

Returning to Scotland, he played for Raith Rovers and Dunfermline, where he was a member of the 1968 Scottish Cup-winning squad. He then hung up his boots and entered the world of business.

Bobby joined a bank, rising to become head of their IT department, prior to retirement. The competitive juices still flowed, however and he was a ferocious bridge player, perhaps an unusual hobby for a footballer.

In his later years he was an enthusiastic member of the Hibs Former Players Association and a regular attender at Easter Road, where his connection with the club is maintained by grand-sons Sam and Max Todd, who have followed him onto the Hibs' books. His grand-daughter also played for Hibs Ladies, but has crossed the great divide, to wear the maroon of Hearts Ladies.

Kinloch had great self-belief, he packed a fierce shot and his enthusiasm lifted his team mates. For all his many fine qualities, however, it is that crucial penalty goal against Barca which has cemented his place in Hibernian folk lore.

Amongst the other legends which surround him, was his claim, that he survived three separate plane crashes during his life, also, he once appeared for Malaysia in an international match and scored six goals, as his adopted country lost 7-6. Clearly, he was one of those Scottish footballers to whom things just happened.

By Matt Vallance