Born in Dundee, wing half Bon Petrie started his career in his native Scotland with Stobswell in 1889 and Rockfield in 1890, before moving into Scottish senior football with Arbroath in 1891. He joined Dundee East End in 1892 which merged with Dundee Our Boys in 1893 to become Dundee F.C., and Petrie was part of the original Dees squad. He then moved south to join First Division Sheffield Wednesday in April 1894, scoring on his debut in a 3-1 defeat at Everton in September 1894. In his debut season he was part of The Wednesday team that lost 2-0 to West Bromwich Albion in the FA Cup semi final at The Racecourse Ground, Derby, which is and has been Derby County Cricket Club’s home ground for many years and was at that time Derby County’s home venue. The following season, Petrie was part of the Wednesday team that won the 1896 FA Cup Final when they beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 at The Crystal Palace with two Fred Spiksley goals.
After 3 goals in 62 appearances during his three seasons with Wednesday, Petrie moved to the south coast to join Southern League Champions Southampton in May 1897, displacing John Hodgkinson. In his first season with The Saints, playing alongside Arthur Chadwick and Samuel Meston in the half back line, he only missed two League games as Southampton claimed the Southern League title once again. In 1897-98, Saints also reached the semi final of the FA Cup before going out to eventual winners Nottingham Forest in a replay (played in a blizzard at The Crystal Palace, the first drawn game having taken place at Bramall Lane).
Described in Holley & Chalk’s The Alphabet of The Saints as “very much a team player, Bob was never showy but always reliable and at his best when the chips were down.”. He did, however, have a drink problem and shortly after joining Southampton was reprimanded by the board over his drinking. In the 1889-99 season, as a result of injury he lost his regular place to Scottish international John Robertson and only made nine appearances as Southampton (now in their new home at The Dell), took the Championship for the third consecutive season.
Robertson moved back to Scotland to join Rangers and Petrie resumed his place in the centre of the half back line as Southampton took third place in the Southern League, but reached the 1900 FA Cup Final against Bury at The Crystal Palace. Southampton were the first Southern League club to reach the FA Cup Final, and had already beaten three top flight clubs on the way, but they failed to produce anything like their best form, conceding three goals in the first 20 minutes eventually losing 4-0. Two days later, Petrie made his final appearance for the Saints in a 4-1 Southern League victory over Bristol City, after which he was replaced by fellow-Scot Don Greenlees. In his three seasons with Southampton, he made a total of 68 appearances, scoring 6 goals.
In the 1900 close season he moved to Second Division New Brighton Tower and made 30 appearances, however despite finishing 4th the club was disbanded. He then returned to his native Scotland to join Dundee Wanderers in 1901, before re-joining Arbroath in 1904. He returned to Dundee Wanderers in 1908 before a spell with Brechin City in 1909. He once again returned to Dundee Wanderers before finishing his career with a return to Arbroath in 1911.