Sunderland born inside forward Bobby Robinson was a goalscoring sensation in the Sunderland school’s tournaments, scoring one season 132 out of his school’s 156 goals, and began his football career with South Hylton in 1900. He played for Sunderland Royal Rovers in 1901 before signing for First Division Champions Sunderland in 1902, making his Football League debut at Stoke in November that year, scoring on his home debut a week later in a 2-1 win over Everton. After a run of games through to mid December he came back into the team for the Sheriff of London Charity Shield win over The Corinthians at White Hart Lane at the end of February, and played in most of Sunderland’s remaining fixtures before the season end.
After 7 goals in 25 appearances he was signed by Liverpool manager Tom Watson for £500 in February 1904 shortly after a fellow Sunderland striker, Joe Hewitt, had gone to Anfield, and he made 9 appearances scoring 5 goals during the run in to the end of the season, which unfortunately wasn’t enough to prevent the Reds from being relegated to the Second Division having fallen short of Stoke by just 1 point. In his first full season at Anfield he was top scorer with 23 from 32 League matches as Liverpool won the Second Division Championship by two points from Bolton Wanderers. This included scoring all four goals in a 4-0 home win against Leicester Fosse on 1st October 1904 during a run which saw him score 10 goals in 6 consecutive games.
Robinson and his colleagues coped astonishingly well back in the top flight, so much so that they ended the season as League Champions four points ahead of Preston North End. Robinson only missed four fixtures and added another 11 goals to his rapidly growing total, also playing in their 1906 FA Cup semi final team that lost to eventual winners Everton at Villa Park. He also scored a hat-trick in a thrilling 5-4 win over Manchester City at Anfield in October 1906. During the latter stages of his Liverpool career, Robinson moved into the half back line and so his goals-per-game ratio inevitably suffered but he prolonged his Anfield stay by three seasons. Prior to the 1909-10 season when Robinson was due to be moved to half-back (a season in which they finished as runners up in the League Championship), being the heaviest man on the team, extreme measures were used to get his surplus weight off. He was made to sit in a small “hot room” in furnace-like conditions and sprinted, ball punched, skipped, and lifted dumbbells. In a 1912 profile it was said that he “believes that energy is invaluable in football as in the daily routine of life, and he relies mainly on his bustling tactics, determination, and unlimited energy, combined with a degree of skill for his success at half back. Is easily distinguished when on the field by reason of his fair hair and well built figure, and as a forward he has demonstrated his versatility.”
Robinson struggled with injury in the 1912-13 season but recovered as the Liverpool Echo reported at end of January 1913: “I am delighted to inform this legion of friends that “Bobby” Robinson, the Liverpool half back, has not finished with football, and under the careful attention of Dr. Ferguson, a director of the club, he is making such progress towards health and strength that there is every hope and chance of his playing football; in fact he in training again.” However Robinson did never add to his 65 goals in 271 appearances for Liverpool’s first team and joined Lancashire Combination Tranmere Rovers prior to the 1913-14 season, where he saw out his career.