Robert Smellie, affectionately known by family and colleagues as Bob, was born at Park Farm, High Blantyre on 27th December 1867. He was educated at St John’s Schools in Hamilton and it was there he adopted a keen interest in playing the new sports of football. He played for the school team and at a young age played for Portland Rangers, who in one season over 14 matches never lost a game.
By 1881, Bob was 14 years old and left school. That year, he wished to join Hamilton Academical Football Club but in those days boys were not encouraged as they were in future decades to join football teams as a career. His application was turned down not in favour with the Directors of the club and as such, this was a wake up call to find ‘proper work’
So that year, Bob started his working career at the young age of 14 in 1881 joining the family business at LS Smellie Auctioneers in Hamilton and instead in spare time settled for playing with Alpha, a football club where he still provided excellent service.
And so his working career in the auctioneers business was set to always sit alongside his football career.
Repenting on their error and after watching his success, Hamilton Academicals pleaded with him to join them the following season, which Bob eventually did in 1884. It was the success of playing for this club which would see other clubs come chapping. Like for example Quuens Park.
Mr. Smellie was only a few months with the famed amateurs when he was called upon to play in one of the trial games of the Scottish Football Association. That was 1886, and in 1887 he was chosen to play against Ireland, while in 1888 he captained Scotland against Wales!
In 1889 , he was entrusted to play against England, a BIG game! An injury in 1890 saw him having to sit out against England, but was selected anyway. Another mishap in 1892 saw him having to take yet another break from playing International Football.
After playing against Ireland and England in 1893, he retired from International football. His love of football though did not retire and so he engaged himself in helping to form the Scottish Amateurs and he was its life and soul for many years.
Mr. Smellie was one of the most reliable backs in Scotland in his time, and to witness him and colleague Walter Arnott was an education in polished play and splendid defence. Smellie’s style was rather breezier than Walter Arnott’s, but the two made a perfect couple, and the Queen’s were not so easily overcome in those far off days as they were later, simply because their defence was more resolute and more scientific than in those later days.
A firm believer in amateurism the oldfashioned kind, Mr. Smell was in his element in presiding over the deliberations of the Queen’s Park who, amid all the changes and changing times, remained true to the original principles of the club.
He was a player and director of Queens Park FC for over 52 years and oversaw the construction of what would become Scotland’s national stadium. Robert Smellie passed away in East Kilbride on 14th October 1951, aged 83.