William Thomas "Tom" Brandon
(and James, Bob and Harry Brandon)

Tom Brandon, actually christened William, and brothers, James and Robert (Bob), plus cousin Harry were all part of an extended, second-generation, Irish family that first settled and then spread out from Ayrshire. Their fathers had found work as miners, shale and coal, but the sons' future was professional football, Tom, after himself shale-mining, as a full-back, Bob a centre-forward, James an inside-forward and Harry a wing-half. Throw in other brothers and cousins are they might had a full, outfield team. But only one, William Thomas, known as Tom, whose son by the same name would also go on to play professionally, would gain international honours.

All four boys were born in Glengarnock by Kilbirnie. Both families moved to Kilbarchan and it was there the brothers at least learned their football, locally at Clippens or Klippens by Linwood and then with junior clubs, Tom at Johnstone or Renfrew, Harry at Haywood Wanderers, probably the team from the now disappeared shale-mining village in Lanarkshire of the same name, James at Port Glasgow. But they would all gravitate to St. Mirren, Tom in February 1887, James from June, Bob from August, and Harry from 1889. In fact in 1889 for a month all would four cross footballing paths after from 1887-89 all three of the brothers being in the team. Only in May 1889 did they take their differing paths, Bob after fifty-one appearances at twenty-eight to Clyde, Tom with seventy-three at twenty-two to Blackburn and most-used James with eighty at twenty-three back to Port Glasgow. Perhaps encouraged Harry would himself move on only a year later also at the age of twenty-three and again South, to Sheffield and The Wednesday, over one hundred and fifty appearances over eight seasons and an FA Cup win.

Specifically Tom's talent had been recognised early locally. He represented Renfrewshire from twenty, won its Cup in 1888, bringing interest from Blackburn, for which he signed in 1889 and with which he might have won the FA Cup the very next year, except he was ruled ineligible before the semi-final and thus for the final. However, it was a hands-on-a-the-prize delayed. The paperwork was sorted and the next season he was there to the end as the trophy was retained.

However, despite victory Tom had other plans. He had already signed for Sheffield Wednesday, there to be captain, but he did rapidly return to Blackburn, recorded as a joiner, to marry publican's daughter, eighteen year-old Elizabeth Duckworth. They were in 1893 to have just the one son, the future footballer, as Tom that same year tried to return to her hometown and its club, but was initially blocked. So instead he walked away, dropped out of the Football- into the Lancashire-League with neighbouring Nelson for three months until matters were resolved. 

However, now back at Blackburn on the field off the field the marriage floundered. In 1895 he he was convicted of cruelty, a separation was granted as was maintenance. Yet, winning a first and only cap in 1896, he played on in the town until 1900,  before at the age of thirty-two he returned to St. Mirren and Paisley until the end of the 1900-01 season. There he was soon back in court for non-payment of maintenance, which may have been a reason for what is said to have been his next move at the age of thirty-one, emigration. He is supposed to have gone to the USA, specifically to Rhode Island, where there had, of course been a strong semi-professional footballing culture, to which several ex-Scottish pros had gone with some success. 

But no record has been found so far of him footballing or otherwise either in the USA or in Scotland during the two decades until 1921, when he is back living in central Edinburgh, recorded as coal-miner, with a new wife, Mary, and six children, all born after 1902, the first in Glasgow, the five others in Central Fife. Except they were not recorded as his children, their father was a William Morrison, who Mary seems to have married in 1895. Indeed Tom had never married her and never would, although they were to live together for at least twenty years, probably because it would have been bigamy, perhaps doubly so. 

However, there is an alternative scenario. Tom Brandon, after having been taken to court by his wife for money in 1901 simply let it been known he had gone abroad but actually chose to merge into the mining communities of Fife and/or East Lothian, there meeting Mary and finally settling with her in the city, where she had been born, brought up and married. 

Bob Brandon would die in Dumbarton in 1950. Harry had died in Rotherham in 1935, James in Dunfermline in 1942. Tom would pass away still in Edinburgh in 1941 at the age of seventy four, Mary outliving him by fifteen years. And they are buried together in the city's Warriston Cemetery. 

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