Alexander Barbour, known as "Alick", was one, with Archie McCall and Donald McKechnie, of the three older hands in the mould-breaking Renton team of the latter half of the 1880s. At twenty-three he was one of the six-forwards in the 1885 Scottish Cup-winning team. He is also said to have been its physical-, perhaps even tactical-trainer. But he was not in the eleven that in 1888 repeated the feat, his place in the now five forwards taken by the nineteen year-old, Bonhill-born and -raised Neilly McCallum.
Alick had been born in Dennystown in Dumbarton in 1862. He was the first child of the second marriage of John Barbour, a Glasgow-born Patent (perhaps Pattern) Maker. However, his mother was a Renton girl, Margaret Colquhoun, who herself was widowed in her village in 1868, with by then three children, six and under.
Margaret would then turn to work in the print-fields. Alick himself would start as a Dye-Works labourer. But he was clearly playing futba' locally and in 1883 would join Renton itself. However, work would then take him to Tayside. He spent 1885 to 1888 also playing and training there at Our Boys, the club that in 1893 was to be one half of Dundee. It explains the Barbour absence from Renton's all-conquering 1888 team. But, despite his growing reputation as a trainer, also perhaps calls into question any part he could have had in those same years in the tactical change Renton underwent, the introduction of the attacking centre-half.
It would actually be from Tayside that Barbour, now aged twenty-six, would make his next move. At the end of the 1888 season he would go South, signed by Bolton in what was the first year of the Football League. However, he would initially stay with the Wanderers for just a season before spending most of the next, 1889-90, outwith the League with nearby Nelson. Yet he would be back in Bolton the following season with more success as player and still training before in 1891 once more moving on again outwith the League to Glossop. By now he was almost thirty and married. In late 1890 he had returned north to wed Glasgow-girl Agnes Towie, but with the wedding itself in Edinburgh and he curiously recorded as a "Public House Waiter".
After Glossop Alick would remain in the English Midlands just one more year, now at Nottingham Forest and more as trainer than player. But Scotland was clearly calling. In 1893 he would head home and back to the Vale of Leven. It is said that he would return to the cloth-dye-works. Certainly he played a final season for Renton but clearly had other plans. By 1901 he was living not in his home village but on Bonhill Main St. with Agnes and their children, a boy and a girl, and he was a pawnbroker.
It would be the profession he pursued until his passing in 1930 in his adopted village, at the age of sixty-eight and comfortably-off. He would be survived by Agnes. Her death would be in 1936 but in Pollok. However, both he and she would be buried together in Alexandria in the Vale of Leven Cemetery.
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