Elgin born Robert “R.C.” Hamilton started his footballing career with local side Elgin City, in the Highland League. He moved to Queen’s Park in 1896, when he relocated to Glasgow to attend the University of Glasgow, playing three Glasgow League matches for The Spiders in April and May 1897. In the summer of 1897 he joined Glasgow Rangers, scoring on his Scottish League debut against St Bernard’s that September, and he remained at Ibrox until 1908, earning a reputation as a potent goal-scorer, particularly accurate from long range, and he was one of the most prolific forwards at Rangers in their early years.
Indeed, he was the first man to net 100 League goals for the club and by the time he left the Light Blues in 1908 he was their record scorer. Although a few have surpassed his tally of 182 goals in 209 competitive appearances and 310 in all matches since then, one mark he set still remains to this day. With 35 goals, nobody has scored as many times for Gers in derbies against Celtic to this day.
He was the club’s top goalscorer for nine consecutive seasons. He was top scorer, played every match and captained the team during the 1898-99 season, in which Rangers won every match and claimed their first Scottish League Championship. He earned further League winners medals in 1899-00, 1900-01 and 1901-02 and was part of Rangers’ Scottish Cup winning sides in 1898 and 1903, scoring in both Finals against Kilmarnock and Heart of Midlothian respectively.
Hamilton moved south of the border to join Fulham in May 1906, spending a single season at Craven Cottage, scoring 11 goals in 33 appearances and helping them to win the 1906-07 Southern League Championship, before returning to Rangers a year later. He left the Glasgow club for a second time in 1908, briefly moving to Morton before joining Heart of Midlothian. He scored once in 6 appearances for The Jambos before he joined Dundee during the 1909-10 season but was not part of the Dundee side which defeated Clyde to win the Scottish Cup, Dundee’s first, later that year. He returned to first club Elgin City in 1913, where he finally retired.
Hamilton won a total of 11 caps for Scotland between March 1899, when he made his international debut in a 6-0 win over Wales at The Racecourse Ground, Wrexham, and March 1911, when he scored twice in a 2-2 draw with Wales at Ninian Park, Cardiff, scoring 15 goals in total, 4 of which came in Scotland’s 11-0 win over Ireland at Celtic Park in February 1901, their biggest ever margin of victory. He was also selected seven times for The Scottish League between January 1898, when he scored twice in a 5-0 win over The Irish League, and April 1904, scoring 9 goals including a hat-trick in a 6-2 victory over The Football League at Ibrox in March 1901.
NB first published in a contemporary magazine in early 1899, this image is re-used on Hamilton’s memorabilia throughout his career!