John Forbes

John Forbes was essentially a two-place man. He was born in Alexandria  in 1862, grew up there and played for first Star of and then Vale of Leven. And in 1928 he died in Blackburn, the one in Lancashire, where from his mid-twenties he had made over a hundred appearances over six seasons with the town team.  

Back in Dunbartonshire prior to going South at nineteen Forbes had been working as a Sketch-Maker, the second of the five children of George and Janet, he born in Balloch and an Engraver, she Dumbarton-born. By that time too he had already been playing for The Vale for two seasons, starting at seventeen, as a lightweight but fast full-back, who read the game more than well enough to overcome a perceived lack of more conventional defender's heft. 

In fact such was his ability he was to turn out for Vale of Leven for more than a decade and between 1884 and 1887 winning five Scotland caps, what might have been seven had he not turned two down. That is until, with him in his prime aged twenty-six, he was in 1888, after a couple of appearances for Rangers, signed by Blackburn Rovers, at that time one of several "Scotch" recruits to the club. And he was to prove one of the most successful of them. From 1888 until 1894 he was major cog in the team's revival under Thomas Mitchell, the first Scot after George Ramsay at Aston Villa to "manage" a major English club. He became club captain. And before retiring in 1893 he played a leading role in the winning of the FA Cup twice in succession, in 1890 and 1891. 

And once installed in the town of Blackburn he, unlike many other contemporary Scottish players, was never to return north. In fact, with him not marrying, his family eventually came to him. After the death of his mother in 1884, the funeral of whom was one of the reasons Vale of Leven allowed a walkover in that year's Scottish Cup Final, he continued to live with his father until football took him away. Then in 1891, recorded in the Lancashire mill-town as a Hosier, he was sharing a house with a brother and a sister. In 1901 it is with the same sister and his now retired father. And he is clearly prospering. He had by then opened a gentleman's outfitters, the Hosiers, and then a second. By 1910 he owns several houses in the town as a year later is shown as living with a different brother, the same sister with another joining them. And on his death in 1928, aged sixty-six and clearly comfortably off, was granted to his two brothers.

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