Like his uncle Bob, Tom Kelso was born in Renton. Like his uncle too he was a full-back who played for Scotland, albeit only once with the proviso that it was in 1914 and but for The Great War might have been more. But unlike his uncle he never played for the home village team but started his fifteen-year footballing career with Third Lanark.
Born in 1882 he was the son of Thomas Kelso, a Ship Fitter to trade, the elder, surviving brother of Bob and James but with a decade's gap. That was because of the birth in between of two brothers and sisters and the young deaths of two boys, also called Robert and James. But unlike his uncles he was not brought up in Renton, his father taking the family to Dumbarton by the time he was ten.
In fact Thomas would be raised with his two younger sisters in Dumbarton and learn his football there. At eighteen he was an apprentice engineer, later an engineer/fitter playing the junior game. He had started with Dumbarton Union, went to Clydebank Juniors and then back to Dumbarton Corinthians. In 1904 he had a trial with Rangers but signed for Third Lanark, then in the Scottish First Division. In the two seasons he was at Cathkin Park the team finished an impressive third and sixth. And from there at the age of just twenty-three there came a move South, to Manchester City in the English top-flight.
With City he once more reached third place in 1908, suffered relegation in 1909 and promotion in 1910. That was before he returned to Scotland, to Dundee for a season, Rangers for another and to Dumbarton for the rest of the conflict. At the end of The Great War Tom Kelso was thirty-six but still he played on. For a season he dropped out of the Leagues to Abercorn in Paisley and then went into coaching, or at least player/coaching and not in Scotland. He was recruited by the South Walian club, Aberdare Athletic, whilst working as a engineer in the local Bwllfa Dare colliery. He even guided the club to second place in the Welsh section of the Southern League before coming home, back to Dumbarton, giving up the game definitively as a supporter of The Rock.
And whilst all this footballing coming and froing was taking place Tom Kelso had in 1910, whilst still at Manchester City, back in Dumbarton married Isabella Miller, the sister of Johnnie Miller, the Dumbarton goalkeeper from 1911 until 1921. They were to have three children, a boy and two girls, all Dumbarton-born.
Tom was to end his days still in Dunbartonshire, dying in 1974 it is said in Alexandria at the Vale of Leven Hospital but actually recorded in Helensburgh. He was aged a venerable ninety-one. In doing so he had outlived Isabella by almost two decades. She had passed away in 1957 definitely at the same hospital but far closer to it, living not in Renton but the second centre of Leven vale football, Bonhill, on Campbell St..
1974 - N/A
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