Robert Smith

Robert Smith was with James not only one of the first eleven to represent Scotland in the first ever official, football international in November 1872 at Hamilton Crescent in Glasgow but the first brothers to play the international game. He was the younger of the two, being born in 1848, the son child of the Deesiders, Robert Smith Snr, born in Banchory, gardener to the Earl of Fife first at Braemar and then at Innes House by Urquhart in Moray, and Barbara Abercrombie from Crathie. Like his brother he was born in Aberdeen and attended the academy at Fordyce by Banff. 

However, on leaving school in 1864 he moved from the North-East to Glasgow, working firstly for a publisher and then as a cashier for a shipping insurance broker. This letter was to go out of business in 1869 but in the meantime Smith had, at the age of nineteen become a founder member Queen's Park football club. Indeed he was the club's first Treasurer and Captain, and then its second Secretary. 

However, on losing work in Glasgow he moved south, to London, where he joined, presumably on its foundation in October 1871, South Norwood F.C. but must in the meantime have made an impression elsewhere on the football field, perhaps at nearby Crystal Palace and also in the committee room. Of the five unofficial international played in London between March 1870 and February 1872 he played in three, the second in November 1870, the third and the fourth a year later and was listed for the fifth, although in the end he did not take part. He also became the liaison between London and Queen's Park and as such should be credited in the effort that turned unofficial games official. 

In the three unofficial games Smith played as a forward and it was as such that he began and ended that first, official international in 1872, although for a period he did swap with captain, Robert Gardiner, in goal. Then aged twenty-four he was described, in contrast to his brother, as a steady, hard-working player, a "grafter" and that seems to have been an strong element in the rest of his life, as England also failed to hold him for long. After also appearing for Scotland in the second, official international in March 1873 in the Autumn of that same year he left Britain essentially for good, emigrating to the "Wild West", to Wyoming in the United States, there to join another of the Fordyce scholars and Queen's Park founders, William Klingner.     

At the time Wyoming was still a territory and not yet a state, where the younger Smith worked first as a cashier for mining company, then tried his hand at silver mining in what is now neighbouring Utah and finally post-1877 opened a grocery store in Green River, essentially a mining camp. There he founded the local paper before in 1887 moving to nearby Rock Springs, taking his printing press with him, there founding the Rock Spring's Miner, which is till published to this day. Then in 1888 for a year he was elected to the Wyoming council, which became the legislature on statehood and in 1902 would briefly become Clerk to the new States's House of Representatives. However, in 1903, aged fifty-five, he left Wyoming, selling up to join the Indian Service in Oklahoma. He did, however, in the meantime return to Scotland at least once. In 1879 in Glasgow he married Georgina Kidd, with whom he returned to the States and had a son and a daughter, Robert and Georgina, the former becoming a doctor in Chicago. 

In Oklahoma Smith would in 1905 set up his own business selling oil concessions and at sixty-six in 1914 would make the journey to Illinois to visit his son and undergo an operation. It was one, from which he never recovered, dying on 3rd June that year in hospital in the Windy City, where he is buried in its Graceland Cemetery.  

Birth Locator:



Residence Locator(s):

Fordyce Academy

Green River and Sweetwater, Wyoming, USA


Grave Locator:

1914 - Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois, USA


Other Sources:


Sweetwater County

And there is always Andy Mitchell's inestimable: 

Scottish Sports History

and see also

The Sweetwater County and Rock Springs Historical Museums


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