Barrhead, Renfrewshire born inside left Bob McPhail started his football career at Glasgow junior side Pollok from where McPhail signed for Airdrieonians in 1923, soon forming a potent partnership with Hughie Gallacher at Broomfield Park. The Diamonds won the Scottish Cup in 1924 beating Hibernian 2-0 in the Final when McPhail was still only aged 18. McPhail later said, “The terror-like attitude of Gallacher caused havoc with the Hibs defenders. He and Russell were easily our best forwards”. Willie Russell scored both goals.
McPhail was signed by Rangers in the summer of 1927 for a then substantial fee of £5,000 and went on to become one of the most prolific strikers ever to play for the club, scoring 261 goals in 408 appearances. He made his first appearance for Rangers on 13th August 1927 in a 3-2 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie. He netted his first goals on 3rd September 1927, a double in a 5-1 win over St Johnstone at Ibrox. Rangers won both the League title and the Scottish Cup in McPhail’s first season with the club and McPhail scored a total of 23 goals in 42 appearances, including a goal in the 4-0 Scottish Cup Final win over Celtic.
McPhail continued to be an important member of Rangers’ team in what was a highly successful period for the club. During McPhail’s 12 years at Ibrox, he won a remarkable 9 Scottish League Championships and 6 Scottish Cups – a joint record number of Scottish Cup wins for a Rangers player (Dougie Gray also won 6) and a record shared with former Celtic stars Jimmy McMenemy and Billy McNeill. He scored a total of 230 League goals in 354 League appearances for the club, a record which stood for over 50 years before being broken by Ally McCoist in 1997.
McPhail also had a highly successful Scotland international career, winning 17 caps and scoring 7 goals between April 1927, when he made his debut against England at Hampden Park, and November 1937, most notably scoring twice in a 3-1 win over England at Hampden on 17th April 1937 in front of a Hampden record crowd of 149,415. He also represented The Scottish League on 6 occasions between 1926 and 1936, scoring 5 goals.
NB This photograph features Airdrieonians, winners of the 1924 Scottish Cup in a 2-0 victory over Hibernian:
Back Row – G Carrol (Trainer), William Neil, Bob McPhail, Jock McDougall, Jock Ewart, T Preston, D Gordon, Jimmy Allan, John Murdoch, W Reid (Assist Trainer)
Front Row – J Somerville, James Reid, Willie Russell, Hughie Gallacher, G McQueen (Capt), Andrew Dick, Bob Bennie, Jimmy Howieson.