Born: September 28, 1943;

Died: June 10, 2022.


BOBBY Hope, who has died aged 78, was a highly talented Scottish footballer who enjoyed a successful career in England, mostly with West Bromwich Albion.nHe spent 13 seasons at West Brom, playing 403 games in the old First Division and winning the League Cup and the F.A. Cup.

He represented Scotland 11 times at schoolboy, under-23 and full international level when, thanks to 10 wins and a draw, he attained the unusual distinction of never having lost in a Scotland shirt.

After West Brom he played for Birmingham City and Sheffield Wednesday while spending summers playing in the US. for Philadelphia Atoms and Dallas Tornados, in total recording nearly 600 top-class games.

Subsequently he became player/coach with Southern League side Bromsgrove Rovers, later managing them, and Burton Albion, before returning to West Brom where he became Chief Scout.

He was the epitome of the old-fashioned Scottish inside forward, a scheming intelligent playmaker with excellent ball skills, vision and pinpoint accurate passing. While not a prolific scorer despite having a powerful shot, he compensated by providing countless invaluable assists. At about 5’ 8” he was not the tallest, but he was very competitive and liked to win.

Born in Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire, he was brought up in Clydebank with sister Eleanor by parents Bill and Jessie. His football skills were first noted at Linnvale Primary and later at Clydebank High School, leading to selection for Dunbartonshire West Schools at primary and under-15 levels, teams run by local headmaster, Archie Galbraith.

Selection for Scottish Schoolboys soon followed in 1958/9 when Bobby’s team defeated the other home nations to claim the Victory Shield. By now he was also playing for Drumchapel Amateurs, with a host of senior clubs vying for his signature including Rangers, Sunderland and West Brom. The latter persuaded him to join in the summer of 1959, aged 15.

At the same time three other Scottish Schoolboys’ teammates were also signed by the ‘Baggies’, including lifelong friend Campbell Crawford. Bobby recalled being well treated by the club with all four being allowed to return home each month for a four-day break. He also relished being able to train alongside established names such as Bobby Robson, Don Howe and Ronnie Allen.

His progress was such that he made his first team debut at 16 on April 30, 1960 against Arsenal, in front of 27,000 fans at The Hawthorns in a 1-0 win. He became the second-youngest player ever to represent the club and the last amateur to do so, being unable to sign professional forms before his 17th birthday. After the match he was delighted to be congratulated on his performance by Scottish international opponent Tommy Docherty, later the renowned manager.

His name began featuring regularly on the team-sheet as his stylish play won widespread plaudits. In 1966 he helped West Brom win the League Cup against West Ham, 5-3 on aggregate, the Final then being played over two legs on a home and away basis. That qualified the team to play in Europe in the Fairs Cup the next season when Bobby scored their first goal in European competition, against Dutch side Utrecht.

The same season they again reached the League Cup Final, at Wembley this time against Queens Park Rangers but lost 3-2, although Bobby had memorably scored a hat trick en route against rivals Aston Villa.

Their next visit to Wembley in 1968 had a much happier outcome as the Baggies claimed the FA Cup in an extra-time victory over Everton in front of 100,000 fans. In a later interview Bobby, with customary modesty, stated, “The FA Cup was the highlight – there were better players than me never got a sniff of a medal.” Countering that innate modesty, Bill Shankly, the iconic Liverpool manager whose team was defeated earlier by West Brom, had declared prior to the tie, “Stop Bobby Hope playing and you stop Albion”.

Meantime his senior international career began with an under-23 cap in a win against Wales. In 1967, during Scotland’s ‘World Tour’ he played in eight of the nine matches, including games against Israel, three against Australia and one against Canada, for which full caps were retrospectively awarded.

Manager Bobby Brown considered him one of the successes of the Tour leading to selection for games against Holland and Denmark in 1968. He was unfortunate not to win more caps but competition for places then was fierce with the likes of Bremner, Greig and Baxter around.

At club level other highlights included an FA Cup semi-final in 1969 and another Wembley appearance in the League Cup final in 1970, an extra-time defeat to Manchester City.

As manager he took Bromsgrove to second in the Conference League and the third round of the FA Cup – the club’s best-ever performances – and, given his fine eye for a player, it was no surprise that he returned to The Hawthorns as scout and Chief Scout till retirement in 2014. A supporter of the ex-Players’ Association he also played in many charity games for the Albion All Stars.

In 1966 at the Old Church, West Bromwich he married Carol Deeley with whom he enjoyed a long and happy marriage during which they had sons, Adam and Jamie.

In retirement he ran post offices in Birmingham area and enjoyed golfing and spending time with his family. He was universally well thought of; his friend Campbell Crawford commented: “He was a first-class bloke and such a classy player.”

He is survived by his wife, sister, children and grandchildren David, Matilda and Madeleine.