Bobby Wishart

Born: March 10, 1933

Died: December 2, 2020

BOBBY WISHART, who has died aged 87, was a leading Scottish footballer of the 1950s and early 1960s who achieved the remarkable feat of winning old First Division championships with two different clubs, neither being Rangers or Celtic.

In 1955 he was instrumental in Aberdeen’s first title success, while in 1962 he was a key member of the Dundee team that won its only top-tier league title. At Aberdeen he also claimed a League Cup winner’s medal in 1955 and a loser’s medal in the 1959 Scottish Cup Final.

League success at Dundee led to the European Cup the following season, during which the Dark Blues had an unforgettable campaign, reaching the semi-final, where they lost over two legs to the formidable AC Milan, with Bobby playing in every single match.

Having begun in boys’ football with the quaintly named Corstorphine Swifts, to go on to play Milan in a European Cup semi-final in front of 78,000 fans in the San Siro stadium, was the stuff of which boys’ dreams are made.

Other Wishart highlights included being capped twice for Scotland at under-23 level and twice for the Scottish League. An intelligent player with a powerful shot, he was an excellent passer of the ball who read the game well, playing mostly at inside-forward at Aberdeen and left-half at Dundee.

Robert Whyte Wishart was born in Edinburgh, younger son of William, a factory worker, and Flora. He and brother Ian were brought up in Corstorphine and Bobby attended the rugby playing George Heriot’s School. Initially, he managed to combine both games but then concentrated on football for Corstorphine Swifts, following in his father’s footsteps.

His talent attracted the well-known juvenile side Merchiston Thistle, where he was, in turn, spotted by senior clubs, leading to trials with Hearts and Aberdeen. Bobby joined the Dons in 1951.

Before he could make his debut for them, he had to undertake two years of National Service with the RAF in Northern Ireland, when Bobby played for Irish League side Portadown at centre forward. A frequent scorer, his excellent form saw him being touted for selection for the Irish League team.

After National Service he moved to Aberdeen, living with relatives as he sought to break into the first team, finally making his debut in December 1953. Establishing himself in a strong team was a challenge but by season 1954/55 he had succeeded and was able to play an important role in the historic title win, featuring in 23 of the 30 games.

Later that year he was in the Dons side that clinched the League Cup against St Mirren, his semi-final goal against Rangers, “a 25 yard rocket”, being crucial to progress.

Such excellent form saw him rewarded with two appearances for the Scottish League against the Irish Leagues and two for Scotland

Under-23s against their English counterparts, games in which he kept good company alongside such as Lawrie Reilly and Gordon Smith and against such opponents as Johnny Haynes and Duncan Edwards.

Although Aberdeen’s league fortunes were suffering by 1959 they reached the Scottish Cup final, but an early injury rendered them effectively a man short and St Mirren prevailed.

In early January 1961 Bobby signed for Bob Shankly’s Dundee side. His debut the next day could hardly have been bettered, with two goals against derby rivals United.

By the judicious signing of Bobby, Gordon Smith and Bobby Seith, the astute Shankly added experience and nous to the talents of youngsters Alan Cousin, Alan Gilzean and Ian Ure, among others, and fashioned an attractive footballing side that deservedly clinched the title, with Wishart playing in 29 of 34 games.

He also more than played his part in the European Cup the next season as Dundee astounded Europe by whipping Cologne before comfortably defeating Sporting Lisbon, when Bobby’s display in the away leg earned him top marks.

Then Anderlecht were eliminated – but a combination of unfortunate refereeing, dubious opposition tactics and poor defending resulted in defeat to Milan, and the dream of the Wembley final was over.

A part-timer with Dundee, he also worked in insurance for the National Farmers’ Union in the Lothians, whose secretary was his good friend, Edinburgh lawyer Bill Lindsay, later chairman of Hearts and the SFA.

In 1964 Bobby joined Airdrie, then Raith Rovers for a handful of games before hanging up his boots. It says much for him that throughout 400 games he was never booked or sent off.

In the late 1960s he became manager of Leek and Westbourne Building Society, which later became the Britannia, in George Street, Edinburgh. He retired after 25 years’ sterling service.

In 1958 he married Jean (nee Rae), with whom he enjoyed 62 years of happy and fulfilling marriage, during which they had daughter Carol and son David. The couple originally met in Aberdeen in the cafe Bobby and teammates visited after training and where Jean worked at the time.

Initially, they lived in Aberdeen but after Bobby’s move to Dundee set up home in Currie, where they remained.

A big family man, he also enjoyed golf at Baberton, where he was a long-term popular member and captain in 1979-1981. A warm-hearted, generous spirited gent, Bobby was an excellent raconteur with a good sense of humour who was the best of company.

He is survived by his wife, children, four grandchildren and one great grandson.