BOBBY SEITH 

Date and Place of Birth

9th March 1932 - Coatbridge

 

Transfers to and from Burnley

amateur then pro - March 1949

to Dundee - August 1960 (£7,500)

 

First and Last Burnley Games

Manchester United (a) - 3rd October 1953

 

Sheffield Wednesday (h) - 2nd April 1960

 

Other Clubs

----------------------------------------

Dundee

 

 

Burnley Career Stats

 

Season League FA Cup League Cup Others Total
                     
  apps gls apps gls apps gls apps gls apps gls
1953/54 23 - - - - - - - 23 -
1954/55 13 - - - - - - - 13 -
1955/56 33 - 6 - - - - - 39 -
1956/57 41 1 5 - - - - - 46 1
1957/58 32 2 3 - - - - - 35 2
1958/59 42 3 5 - - - - - 47 3
1959/60 27 - 8 - - - - - 35 -
                     
Total 211 6 27 - - - - - 238 6

 

Profile by Tony Scholes

 

I never saw Bobby Seith play and my only memories of him football wise came during his time playing in Scotland with Dundee and then later when, in the late 1960s, he was manager of Preston for a couple of years.

It was 1962 when Seith left his mark on Scottish football as the cultured right-half in the Dundee side that lifted the Scottish title and a year later reached the semi-finals of the European Cup before going out to AC Milan, the eventual winners. Seith scored at least one goal in that European Cup against the German side Köln.

That he was ever playing for Dundee in the first place is a story to be told and a story of two years earlier when the Scot, who had served Burnley with distinction, committed the greatest sin of all in falling out with chairman Bob Lord, taking him on and beating him to get his move away from Turf Moor.

There was football in the Seith family; his dad had played in the Scottish League, but at 16 it was to England and Burnley that Bobby moved to start his professional career. He'd been spotted by the Burnley scouts playing for Monifieth Tayside, a junior football club in Dundee and from there made his way to Turf Moor where, after a short time, he signed a professional contract in March 1949.

He proved to be a very good player in the Burnley reserve team, but he had a while to wait for his first team bow because of the likes of Reg Attwell and Jimmy Adamson in front of him. He also had to serve his National Service which he did in the RAF. It was during his time in the RAF that he started to learn chiropody which he continued on his return to Burnley and fully qualified in 1955. It was to hold him in good stead.

That wait for a first team debut took him until October 1953 when he got the toughest of baptisms against Manchester United's Busby Babes at Old Trafford. We won the game 2-1 with goals from Roy Stephenson and Billy Gray and for Seith it was the start of a first team career at Burnley that would see him play a total of 238 games.

He played wing half on either flank in his first couple of years before making the right-half position his own in the 1955/56 season with Attwell by then retired and Adamson playing centre-half or left-half.

Seith was a good defensive right-half but was also a great passer of the ball. Quite often you see his 'cultured right foot' referred to. He certainly wasn't a goalscoring wing-half and in his entire Burnley career he scored just six times with half of those coming in the 1958/59 season.

He'd played every game during that season and was very much a first team regular when the championship season of 1959/60 kicked off. He played the first seven games before an injury proved to be a significant opportunity for another young player.

With Burnley due to play Preston North End at Deepdale, Seith dropped out with a foot infection, a problem that kept him out for five games. It was a late call with Harry Potts' only option to play the twelfth man and that was young left-back Alex Elder. With a bit of a shuffle, Elder came in to provide Potts and Burnley with the final piece of the jig-saw.

Once fit again there was never any doubting that Seith would be back in the side and that's where he continued until the beginning of April 1960. The last two games had seen us concede no less than nine goals, a 6-1 defeat at rivals Wolves followed by a 3-3 home draw against Sheffield Wednesday.

Seith had made a bad error for Wednesday's third goal and Potts' decision was to leave him out of the next game. Seith almost immediately handed in a transfer request. It ensured he'd played his last game in claret and blue but the story was far from over.

He was banished from the club. Not only was he no longer involved with the first team but neither was he allowed to play in the reserves.

In the excellent book 'Never Had It So Good', Seith told author Tim Quelch about his being dropped from the team: "I knew nothing about it until I read about it in the evening paper. I think Harry Potts really should have told me first."

He continued: "I had no problem with Burnley. They were generally very good to me. And in any event that's where I met my wife, Jean.

"They didn't play me in the reserves. I was not involved. But I did listen to the radio coverage of the final part of the game at Maine Road. I was so please for my team mates. It was a great achievement."

With his Burnley career over, Lord decided to sell him to Stoke, but Seith didn't want to go there. We'd already sold Doug Newlands to Stoke and in the 1960s both Jimmy McIlroy and Elder would tread the same path to a club that Lord had a good relationship with.

Seith didn't want to go to Stoke - in fact Seith said he WOULDN'T go to Stoke, but of course football then meant he could be sold to whoever Lord wanted to sell him to. Blackpool manager Ron Suart wanted him but Lord wouldn't sell to Blackpool.

So Seith returned to Scotland and trained with Dundee. There was no way Dundee could sign him, or so they thought. At this point Seith said he would not go to Stoke and if Lord didn't allow him to go to Dundee he would just retire and take up chiropody full time.

He'd taken on the Burnley chairman and beaten him and Lord had no option - Dundee got Seith for £7,500 which was nowhere near the offer from Stoke.

Lord, of course, got his own back and refused to allow Seith a championship medal despite the fact that he'd played 27 of the 42 games.

He played for no other club and on his retirement he joined the coaching staff at Dens Park. He went on to coach at Rangers before accepting the job as Preston manager in 1968. He also managed the Scottish youth side and Hearts.

On his retirement from the game he concentrated on his chiropody and for many years was a sports commentator with the BBC in Scotland.

Back in Burnley, he'd become the forgotten man. We've all seen the team photographs of the championship team but there is no Seith, it is as if he never existed. Thankfully, that was all put right in 1999 and it was down to the new Burnley chairman Barry Kilby who arranged for Bobby Seith to receive his long awaited and much deserved championship medal.

Seith received a wonderful ovation from the Turf Moor crowd as Kilby presented the medal. Burnley Football Club had finally put right what had been so badly wrong almost forty years earlier.

As I wrote, I never saw Seith play and neither have I met him, but I did get the opportunity to speak to him, and his wife Jean, on a couple of occasions during 2010. He's known as either Bob, or more often Rab, north of the border, whereas in Burnley it was always Bobby.

He was intending coming down to Burnley for the Clarets Mad Golden Jubilee Jamboree in May and then taking a bow on the Turf Moor pitch the following day at the Spurs game. Unfortunately the plans were ended when his wife wasn't well enough to travel.

He was an absolute delight to talk to and he also wrote me a lovely letter afterwards. He had some fantastic stories to tell but one he related on the phone was of his friends in the Burnley area where he stays on his visits back to Lancashire.

A while ago they moved into a new house, a house that had formerly been owned by Bob Lord. Concerned at Seith's reaction, they phoned to tell him but assured him everything would be fine for his next visit. "We've had it exorcised," his friends said.

Bobby Seith, for almost forty years was the forgotten man but his contribution to our championship success in 1960 was an important contribution and should never be forgotten.