UNLIKE his two fellow retailing legends of the High Street,

W H Smith and John Menzies, there was always more to R S McColl than an ability to sell confectionery over the counter in the many newsagents' shops which continue to bear his well-kent name. In fact, as a fresh radio documentary will re-emphasise today, Robert Smyth McColl can justly lay claim to having been Scotland's first soccer superstar.

Not that the man himself would have boasted about his prowess as a footballer. For one thing, it's widely agreed that he was a genuinely modest sort. For another, he easily managed to eclipse his initial achievements in football with his later business success.

So much so, in fact, that many Scots are entirely unaware that

R S McColl was ever anything other than the brand-name above the doors of a nationwide chain of sweetie vendors. Indeed, it was only by accident that McColl's sporting reputation came to the attention of the makers of Toffee Bob - the R S McColl Story.

''We were working on a cookery programme for Radio Scotland a few years ago, Nick Nairn's Adopted Cuisines, about all the immigrants who over the years had imported their distinctive food cultures with them to Scotland, when we came across a reference book about Glasgow written by John Burrowes,'' explains Nick Lowe, of Glasgow-based indie Demus Productions.

''John's Great Glasgow Stories gave us the notion to profile R S McColl - not least because, within the space of 13 months he succeeded in scoring three hat-tricks against each of the other home countries.

''On two successive weekends in 1899 he scored three goals against both Wales and Ireland. Around 13 months later he did the same thing against England in a game played at Parkhead.

''If he'd played in the current era, McColl would undoubtedly be hailed as a global superstar. In fact, as contemporary football commentator Chick Young observes in our programme, he'd certainly be rated in the (pounds) 25-30m transfer fee bracket.

''But McColl had his greatest days as an amateur with Queen's Park in Glasgow. He did make some money, but it wasn't until he turned professional in 1901 with Newcastle United that he began his path to financial achievement.''

Another contributor to Toffee Bob, Ged O'Brien, director of the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden, cites McColl as having been a singular figure in the game's early professional development. Thanks to the surviving members of the McColl family, the museum is able to display the actual Scotland shirt - in the pinkish hue known as rosebery - that McColl wore against England in 1900.

O'Brien has also been loaned 51 letters written to McColl by all the leading English clubs of the late 1890s, seeking to entice him away from Queen's Park. ''It's generally believed that players in that era were treated terribly by the clubs,'' says O'Brien.

''But it doesn't seem true in McColl's case. He was very shrewd. He was certainly very forthright in one letter to Derby County, who seemed to think they could get him on the cheap.''

When McColl did finally head south, he was similarly shrewd about which club he chose - and just as canny in what he opted to do with his signing-on fee. ''He went to Newcastle because they were offering him a pound a week more than Liverpool - (pounds) 5 per week,'' says Nick Lowe.

''They also gave him (pounds) 300, which was a sizeable sum in 1901. He obviously figured the big money wouldn't last forever and so chose to invest (pounds) 100 of it with his brother, Tom, or T N McColl. He had a sweet-manufacturing business, and three shops under the T N McColl name.

''Bob's money led the pair to expand the firm - and the shops' names changed to R S McColl, cashing in on Bob's football celebrity. We talk to Bob's nephew, Donald, about the way in which the business grew quickly in the years after Bob had retired from football.

HE ADDS: ''Cinema was the booming social novelty of the day all over Scotland at this time, and Bob McColl apparently derived great joy from finding prime locations for his sweetie shops - many of them next door to cinemas.

''By the time of the Wall Street Crash in 1929, the McColl brothers had 150 shops. That didn't prevent them losing four-fifths of their wealth when the stock market took a dive - the equivalent of at least a couple of million pounds by today's standards.

''As result, R S McColl was sold to Cadbury's in 1931, although the day-to-day running of the business remained in the hands of Bob and Tom.''

From that day onwards, the McColls were both wealthy men - although they didn't affect any airs and graces. Nephew Donald recalls how boss-man Bob refused to lord it over his employees - even on the football field. While still able to trot out on the greensward for the McColl factory football team, he abandoned the pursuit of goals and glory, preferring to play between the sticks.

In addition, the programme uncovers testimony to R S McColl's generosity. If he came across worthy employees in other newsagent-confectioners, he'd give them jobs with his firm. When a pal became unemployed, he once bought a cinema for him to manage.

More to the point, McColl always re-united his Scotland team mates from the momentous 1900 victory over England in order to take them down to the game at Wembley every other year for an all-expenses-paid treat - as can be seen from the photograph at the top of the page accompanying this article.

Unfortunately, McColl's English playing career wasn't a happy one. Anglo cloggers kept crocking him. He returned to Glasgow to play for Rangers briefly, before being accepted back into the purer-than-pure ranks of amateurism by the noble chaps of Queen's Park.

Says Ged O'Brien: ''In his last home game for Queen's Park in 1910, R S McColl scored six goals in a league game against Port Glasgow. Ninetytwo years later that remains the greatest goal-scoring feat that has ever been accomplished in a single game at Hampden.''

R S McColl: a sweet tale of

all-round victory.

Toffee Bob - the RS McColl Story goes out today on

Radio Scotland at 11.30am.

It is repeated tomorrow night at 11.30.

l During an international career which spanned the years from 1896 to 1908, R S McColl gained 13 Scottish caps, all of them against the three home nations, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. During all that time, McColl only ever finished on the losing side on one occasion. He manged a commendable

tally of 13 goals in his 13 Scotland appearances - nine of these goals being scored in three games.

l Operated by T M Retail, there are currently around

200 Scottish branches of

R S McColl.

l Toffee Bob - the R S McColl Story is narrated by Scotland's leading gravelly-voiced soccer historian, Bob Crampsey. The programme also features hellishly-jacketed commentator Arthur Montford, who will be travelling back in time to talk us through McColl's hat-trick against England in 1900.

l W H Smith derives its name from the son of the founder of the business, which began as a small news vendor in London in 1792. Henry Walton Smith was succeeded by William Henry Smith in 1816. W H Smith's abilities as a footballer are unrecorded.

l Long employed as a bookseller, John Menzies returned home to Edinburgh from London in 1833, opening his own business at 61 Princes Street - premises to which Charles Dickens would become a frequent visitor. Like W H Smith, Menzies's business expanded hand-in-hand with the expansion of Britain's network of railways throughout the 1850s and 1860s. At this late stage it is impossible to divine John Menzies's interest in, or talent for, football. In penning Hard Times, Dickens is, meanwhile, thought to have signalled an allegiance to Partick Thistle.

l Privately commissioned in 1921 as a family home by R S McColl, Hollytree House in Newlands, Glasgow, utilised an architect who was evidently an admirer of the style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Early in the 1990s, however, TV programme makers saw another side to the property - one that was to link the house to yet another famous Scottish name. At that time, the exterior of the house was painted grey, and the programme producers were looking for somewhere that had the air of a jaded manse for their set - for recording the pessimistic ramblings of Rikki Fulton's Rev I M Jolly.

l While it is true R S McColl did actually play for Queen's Park, it is the stuff of cruel Glasgow footballing myth and legend that anyone bearing the surname ''Poundstretcher'' ever played for cash-strapped Albion Rovers, or that Remnant King once turned out for penurious Partick Thistle.