R. C. Hamilton

Whether he understood it or not, and as a very intelligent man it was very probably quietly the former, R.C. Hamilton, Robert Cumming Hamilton, was not only one of the best most innovative figures of the early 20th Century game but also most inspirational. It would be the ex-Queen's Park, ex-Rangers and elevenfold, fifteen goal Scottish international's training ethic and inside-forward/false number nine positional play that Jimmy Hogan would as a player alongside him absorb at Fulham then as a coach take to 1930s Vienna and to Budapest, from where it would re-emerge in 1950s with the Magic Magyars.

But R.C. was not from Glasgow. Nor would he stay there for long. He was born in Elgin in Moray and would on retirement return to his home-town, where he was a sporting stalwart, particularly cricket, and prominent, including being Lord Provost for six years, but locally somewhat controversial, if again progressive figure for some forty years.

Hamilton's father, James, was a Net manufacturer, particularly herring nets. Robert, having begun his football with Elgin City won a place at Glasgow University and there from 1896 both trained as a teacher and joined Queen's Park for a season, of course as an amateur, before being signed by Rangers, captaining the team by 1898. He would go on to spend ten seasons at Ibrox's two iterations of the time and in two spells, nine years and then a single one in 1907-8. In between he had a season at Fulham, taking the club into the Football league and crossing Hogan's path. And in the meantime he had married in 1904 in Glasgow to Mary Craig, with whom he would have three children. However, on his wedding certificate his address is Elgin not Glasgow, his occupation given not as professional footballer but like his father as "Net Manufacturer" and the church is the United Free.    

After his second Rangers' stay Hamilton then seems to have spent two more years in the Central Belt before returning north. In 1911 he and family are living back in Elgin, despite he being in a final three league, playing years at Dundee. And again he is recorded as in the net business, as he is still in 1921, having taken over the family firm, but at a different and far more modest address, the same one and same occupation as recorded on his death, aged seventy in 1948.   

However, in the years between 1911 and his death Hamilton had had seemingly lived something of a roller-coaster. In 1914 he was elected to Elgin Town Council. There he was politically to the left, involving himself in a number of projects, not least council housing, health and education. It resulted in his election in 1931 as the town's Lord Provost, a position he held for six years. And even on retirement from active politics aged sixty he became honorary sheriff-substitute for Inverness, Elgin and Nairn and a member of a Government committee on youth and physical education.

Yet, when he died, Robert Cumming Hamilton, Scottish and internationally pioneering sportsman and regionally prominent businessman and public servant was buried in an unmarked grave. And the reason given is said to have been religious disapproval following a possible extra-marital affair. It meant no visual recognition of a person with substantial local, political heft and of a footballer, who was the prototype for Austria's Sindelar, Hungary's Hidegkuti and beyond However, this has now been rectified and by the Rangers Restoration of Graves project. A stone now stands, where he and one of his daughters, Georgina, lie in Elgin's cemetery.    

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