Robert "Bob Kelso" was the first of a small footballing dynasty. His younger brother, James, would be a professional player, as would nephew Tom. And Tom and he would play for Scotland, Bob six times, including once as captain.
The eldest Kelso was born on Thimble St., Renton in 1865. His parents were both Irish, but perhaps, unlike some neighbours including the Kellys, Protestant since he would be married by the Church of Scotland, and his father was a Blacksmith.
In fact he would spend the whole of his childhood and adolescence, indeed until marriage, in the same house, no. 37. And in the meantime he had both begun work in the local shipyards and carve a notable, footballing reputation.
Bob Kelso would with Archie McCall form a formidable full-back partnership for the their village team, Renton, as it and they the Scottish Cup Final of 1885, lost in the Final in 1886, won it again in 1888 and in that some year, by beating both the current and the next FA Cup holders were crowned, albeit unofficially, "World Champions". And that triggered attention from a number of clubs mainly down South with several of the players, the twenty-three year-old Kelso amongst them. He went first for the 1888-9 season to Newcastle West East, one half of the future Newcastle United but then outwith the League. He then was recruited by Preston itself, the whole family moving to the town, for thirty-eight appearances over two seasons via a single game for Everton and then for thirty-eight more appearances over five campaigns back at the Merseyside club. Moreover, with Preston he was to win the League in 1890 and with Everton the Cup in 1893.
However, before his adventures Down South Bob had in Renton in 1886 married locally-raised but West Calder-born Ann McKenzie. The were to have six children, three born in Renton, two in Dumbarton and one in Forfar, because firstly in 1896 the Kelsos, having lived in Liverpool came North to Tayside, with Bob spending two seasons at Dundee. Secondly, after a final season with Bedminster, one half of the future Bristol City, in 1899, he aged thirty-two, the Kelsos settled back not in Renton but Dumbarton, he going back to work in the local ship-yards now as a Plate-Fitter.
And it would be in the town at the mouth of the River Leven that Bob Kelso lived out the rest of his life. The family would stay on Park Crescent for a number of years. It was there in the east of the town in 1919 that Annie Kelso died in her mid-fifties. Then shortly afterwards Bob is recorded as a patient at, it seems, the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, why is not stated. That is before he returned to be found retired in the north of the town closer still to Renton when, outliving his wife by fully thirty years, he died in 1950 and just past his eighty-fifth birthday. He is buried in Dumbarton Cemetery in a grave where work on the stone would not go amiss.
1921 - Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Glasgow
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