Annathill, near Coatbridge, Lanarkshire born outside right or centre forward Bobby Flavell began his football career with Eastfield Heatherbell and played for Kirkintilloch Rob Roy from where he joined Scottish League club Airdrieonians in 1937 as a teenager, but only played two seasons before the Second World War broke out in September 1939. He had to wait until the 1946-47 season to make another League appearance for The Diamonds. During the conflict, Flavell had made guest appearances for both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur and also played for Scotland in an unofficial wartime international as Scotland were beaten 6-2 by England at Wembley in February 1944.
When the Scottish Football League resumed in 1946, Flavell scored over a goal per game for Airdrie, which convinced Heart of Midlothian to pay £10,000 to acquire his services in December 1947. By then he had won two inter league caps for The Scottish League, first scoring in a 3-1 defeat to The Football League at Hampden Park in March 1947 and then scoring a remarkable 5 goals in a 7-4 win over The Irish League at Windsor Park Belfast the following month, and two caps for Scotland on their 1947 European tour, making his international debut in a 2-1 defeat to Belgium at the Heysel Stadium, Brussels in May and scoring twice in a 6-0 demolition of Luxembourg six days later.
He had two and a half years at Tynecastle, scoring 31 goals in 83 appearances, but in June 1950 he followed several players to join FC Millionerios in Colombia of the breakaway Colombian League, a move that Hearts manager Dave McLean said meant he would “never play for Hearts again” but at the end of the Colombian season he returned to Scotland in December 1950; he was punished heavily for his actions in going to Colombia, attracting far stronger sanctions than English players who had made a similar move. He was fined £150 – then a record fine for a Scottish player – and suspended from playing until May 1951. He was transfer-listed by Hearts in February 1951, before signing for Dundee for £6,000 in April, making his debut for the club in a Dewar Shield game against St Johnstone on 5th May 1951.
Flavell scored goals in both the 1951 and 1952 Scottish League Cup Finals, which helped Dundee win the Cup in successive years. He also played in the 1952 Scottish Cup Final, which ended in a 4-0 defeat by Motherwel, scoring 32 goals in 68 appearances for The Dark Blues. He signed for Kilmarnock in December 1954 where he scored 13 goals in 38 appearances and finally he joined St Mirren in July 1956 before retiring as a player having scored 6 goals in 22 matches for The Buddies, becoming their coach in 1958.
He first became a manager when he took over the reins at Ayr United in November 1961 but only a month later he became the manager of St Mirren, before returning to Ayr United as manager in 1963, leaving in 1964, In 1965 he became manager of Albion Rovers for two spells, firstly from 1965 to 1966 and again from 1969 to 1972, and he subsequently worked as Chief Scout for Berwick Rangers before his retirement from football.