Campbelltown, Argyll & Bute born left back Bob Pursell had a colourful football career. He started his career with Aberdeen University in 1908 and joined Scottish League amateur club Queen’s Park in 1909. He spent two seasons with The Spiders, making his Scottish League debut as a forward, scoring in a 2-2 draw with Heart of Midlothian in August 1909, scoring twice in 45 appearances for them.
Liverpool were fined £250 and an ex-director of the club, John Fare, was suspended from football for six months (reduced from two years) after buying Pursell for £360 from Queen’s Park in August 1911 as The Reds failed to talk to his club prior to approaching him. Pursell’s main strengths were his physique and speed and he was a regular in his debut season, 1911-12, having made his Football League debut at Sunderland in September 1911. He was in and out of the side during the next two years but did play in all eight of the cup ties which saw Liverpool reach their first FA Cup Final in 1914 but it was Burnley who took the famous trophy home after a narrow 1-0 victory at The Crystal Palace. Pursell was so described: “On his day a brilliant defender. One of the fastest full-backs playing. Provides the counterfoil to the dash of Longworth, his height standing him in good stead in his defensive work.”
Controversy continued to follow Pursell’s career as he along with three Liverpool players; Tom Miller, Thomas Fairfoul, Jackie Sheldon and three United players was found guilty of fixing a game between Liverpool and Manchester United on Good Friday 1915. Incidentally Pursell was the one who conceded a penalty in the game, most certainly on purpose, which Pat O’Connell missed. For his service to his country in the First World War Pursell’s life ban from the game was lifted. The War had taken the best years of his competitive playing career away from him, but he did return to Anfield after peace was declared. Pursell fractured his arm in the first practice match of the 1919-20 season and wasn’t ready for action until December when he was picked in consecutive First Division games against Manchester United and Everton. However, these proved to be Pursell’s only first-team appearances that season and he joined Port Vale in May 1920 after 112 appearances for Liverpool. He featured in 68 games for Vale before breaking his leg in a 1-1 draw against Leicester on 14th April 1922, which finished his playing career.
His younger brother, Scotland international Peter Pursell, who also played for Queen’s Park, played with him at Port Vale.