Paisley born inside left Bobby Rankin joined St Mirren from Strathclyde Juniors in October 1926 and made an immediate impact, scoring a double on his Scottish League debut in a 4-0 win over Dunfermline. By February 1927, Rankin was a regular in the first team at inside left. In May 1929 he went of Scotland’s summer tour to Europe, he made his international debut for Scotland against Norway, scoring within 6 minutes in a 7-3 victory in Brann. He went on to play in both of the remaining tour matches, playing in a 1-1 draw with Germany before scoring a goal in a 2-0 win over Holland. However he never won any further caps for his country.
Rankin continued to be an important part of the Saints team until his departure to Beith in January 1934, following a dispute with the club. He had scored 81 goals in 211 appearances for St Mirren during his time at Love Street. After spells with Dundee and Clyde, he returned to St Mirren in July 1937. He was a regular over the next two seasons but had drifted out of the first team by the start of the 1939-40 season having added 21 goals in 69 appearances to his earlier total for The Buddies.
Nearing the end of his career, he was appointed a director of the club in 1941, while still registered as a player. In 1946, he was appointed manager after the departure of Willie Fotheringham and at this point he resigned from his boardroom position.
He led the team for the next nine seasons and was slowly building a side capable of challenging for honours. At the beginning of season 1953-54, it was announced that Rankin had been in hospital but was able to resume his duties for the first match. However, in January 1954, he was back in hospital and was unable to return to the club for the remainder of the campaign.
In the interim, Willie Reid agreed to take temporary charge of team matters. Fittingly, Reid had been Rankin’s first ever signing for Saints back in May 1945. In June, Reid was officially given the position of assistant manager to cover what was expected to be a long-term absence of Rankin. Sadly, on August 25, 1954, Rankin died in hospital of an unspecified illness. He was just 49. In May 2013 he was inducted into the St Mirren Hall of Fame.