Bobby Ferguson will be 71 today. If, in football like life, timing is everything perhaps Bobby in his Kilmarnock days had it in spades. In season 1964’-65, Kilmarnock and Scotland goalkeeper Campbell Forsyth was injured in the last few weeks of the season and it was Ferguson that stepped into his shoes. Now, had this been any other season it would perhaps not be as remarkable however, Kilmarnock were to win the Scottish First Division on the very last day, winning the Championship for the one and only time.
November, 1965 saw Ferguson fit into Forsyth’s International shoes too under Jock Stein. Bobby played in the Home International against Wales. Scotland won 4-1 with two goals from Bobby Murdoch and one a piece from Willie Henderson and John Greig. Also making their debuts that night were Dundee’s Charlie Cooke and Jim Forrest of Rangers.
Scotland’s next game was the vital World Cup match against Italy in the World Cup qualifiers in Naples. Jock chose to go with Burnley’s Adam Blacklaw but the Scots lost out 3-0 and ultimately lost out in a World Cup place too.
John Prentice would choose Ferguson as goalkeeper for his first game in charge which was the 3-4 match against England at Hampden in April, 1966 that I posted on the Facebook page on Sunday. John would only manage Scotland for four games before taking up the managerial post at Dundee. Bobby played in all four as Scotland lost 3-0 to the Netherlands at Hampden with a side that contained only home based players in early May, followed by a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to a Portugal side that would light up the World Cup in late June. The Portuguese side won through a goal by Torres and playing alongside him that day was the great Eusebio. A week later and Pele would grace Hampden for the one and only time on June 25th, 1966, Scotland would go into an early lead through Stevie Chalmers in the first minute but Servilio would equalise quarter of an hour later and that is how it remained.
October, 1966 would then see Kilmarnock manager Malky MacDonald in charge of Scotland in a caretaker role and he, not too surprisingly would continue with Ferguson in goal for the Home International against Wales, (which I also posted on Sunday) that doubled up as a Euro Qualifier. Scotland were to draw one each and this was quickly followed with a 2-1 win over Northern Ireland at home with Murdoch and Bobby Lennox scoring the goals.
Bobby Brown then took charge of Scotland and went with Ronnie Simpson for Scotland’s next game, the famous 3-2 win over England at Wembley, so perhaps Bobby’s timing didn’t hold out for that one. He did, however, move to West Ham the following season for what was then a World Record fee for a goalkeeper of £65,000 and would play for the Hammers over 250 times before losing his place to the great Phil Parkes.
Bobby would then move to Australia and become involved in coaching but more bizarrely ran a diving firm which he gave up shortly after a colleague was killed by a shark, probably a wise move.
So Happy Birthday, Bobby and all the best.