Rankinston, Ayrshire born centre half Bob Clifford began his football career with junior team Rankinston in 1901 and played for Trabboch in 1902 before joining Second Division Bolton Wanderers, making his Football League debut at Preston North End in January 1904. While he hadn’t played in any of the prior rounds in Bolton’s cup run, he ended his debut season by playing in the FA Cup Final in April 1904, which Bolton lost 1-0 to Manchester City at The Crystal Palace, having got into the Bolton team late on in March. He was a regular in Bolton’s line up over the next four seasons, helping them to promotion in 1904-05 as Second Division runners up, and to successive 6th place finishes in the First Division.
However after their relegation in 1908, and having played 11 times in what would prove Bolton’s Second Division Championship season, he was transferred to First Division Everton in November 1908 after 6 goals in 167 appearances for The Trotters. He spent two years at Everton making 45 appearances for The Toffees and helping them to the runners up spot in the League Championship in his first season at Goodison Park, however he joined non league South Liverpool in 1910 before returning to Football League action a year later with Second Division Fulham, for whom he made 8 appearances during 1911-12 before retirement.
NB although unconfirmed, he holds an uncanny similarity to Glossop player Tom Clifford, also from Ayrshire, and it’s likely they were brothers.