The first of our 2021 inductees to the Motherwell FC Hall of Fame is Bobby Ferrier.
Regarded as the club’s true world-class player of his time, he will be formally inducted at our event in November.
His two grandsons, Robert and James, will attend the event to witness his inclusion.
The legend of Robert Ferrier began in Sheffield when he was born to a father who himself was a football icon of the local “Wednesday” football club.
His dad had previously turned out for his local side Dumbarton at a time when the Sons were operating at the very top of Scottish football, winning the title twice in successive seasons, before being transferred to Sheffield Wednesday in the summer of 1894.
Three weeks after his birth, young Robert was brought back to Dumbarton, and lived there for the rest of his life.
Ferrier’s career at Motherwell, his only club, was incredible not only in its length and quality, but in its achievement.
For eight seasons in the period between 1926 and 1934, Motherwell were never out of the top three in Scotland. When the Steelmen won the championship in 1932, they were the only team outside the Old Firm to do so in 44 years.
Even then, Scottish football was dominated by the two large Glasgow clubs. Ferrier was captain of the title-winning side and always maintained that they were the greatest team he ever played with, although he rated the Motherwell side of the early 20s, including stars like Willie Rankin, Davie Thackeray and Hughie Ferguson, almost as highly.
The Motherwell championship-winning team was a side of moulded talents allied with supreme elegance and style. That season 66 points were won from a possible 76, with 119 goals being scored in 38 matches, with legendary striker Willie McFadyen netting 52 times.
Bobby Ferrier had a long, lazy and deceptive stride which allowed him to float past defenders with ease. He could flick, clip and back heel in the air, balls any other player could not reach.
His was a game of spaces and angles played with infinite grace, and his control of a ball through the air was often quite exquisite. He could float, chip, hook or slice crosses to his liking with a left foot which many commentators claimed was akin to a magic wand.
That left peg also possessed enough strength to allow him on occasion to drill a ball into an opponent’s net with accuracy and power.
In 1929/30 Ferrier scored 32 goals from 37 games playing in his favoured left-wing position, often scoring from the touchline, beating goalkeepers at both the near post, and drifting a cross by them, and nestling the ball inside the far post.
Ferrier was a cultured footballer in an era where many hard men were playing the game. Players like Meiklejohn and McPhail of Rangers, with McGrory and McGonagle at Celtic, would rejoice in repeatedly going in heavy on Ferrier, but the Motherwell man would routinely get up dust himself down and continue his task of mesmerising full-backs.
By the summer of 1927, Motherwell were keen to exploit the world’s developing love of Scottish football by arranging lucrative tours during the close season. That summer, Spain and France were the destinations, where eight games were arranged for a Motherwell squad now captained by Ferrier.
The captain had a very productive time of it on tour with goals against both Swansea City and Real Madrid, a double against Celta Vigo and a hat-trick in Paris against Red Star Olympique. Six games were won, with only one loss, and scoring 23 goals in the process.
This successful tour, combined with the excellent season that had gone before, had set Motherwell up for an unprecedented run of success over the next decade, as they put up a sustained challenge to the two Glasgow clubs who had dominated league football in Scotland since the game had turned professional in the late 18th century.
By April 1932 the Fir Parkers were on the verge of achieving something special, with captain Ferrier only having missed one game in all competitions, and scoring 16 times in that campaign.
With three league games to go Motherwell, travelled to Firhill looking to confirm themselves as champions with a win, and as a result a huge army of fans headed through from the Steel Town to the north side of Glasgow in anticipation of a wonderful occasion.
The 32,000 crowd were largely disappointed with the dull 0-0 draw which left Motherwell still looking for a point from the last two games.
A 3-0 win at home to Cowdenbeath, in which Ferrier opened the scoring, left a chasing Rangers outfit with no margin for error. That margin was lost the following midweek when the Ibrox club could only draw leaving Motherwell as champions of Scotland by the time they took the field for the final game of the season at Fir Park against Clyde.
The title triumph was dedicated by the players to manager Sailor Hunter, who had spent years developing a squad and a way of coaching which was years ahead of its time.
April 1937 saw the great man’s final goals for Motherwell, a brace in a 6-0 demolition at Fir Park against Dunfermline, whilst his final season registered as a player was 1937/38.
After the summer of 1938, Bobby, with his boots hung up, was appointed Motherwell’s first-ever assistant manager. This meant the break-up of one of the greatest wing partnerships the game had ever seen, lasting almost 15 years.
Bobby Ferrier was without question Motherwell FC’s greatest ever outside left. He had all the qualities that a winger requires: great skill, peerless dribbling and pinpoint crossing. With a knack of shooting with power and accuracy, he was also a prolific scorer in his own right, notching close to 350 career goals, an astonishing return for a wide man.
Robert “Bobby” Ferrier died in April 1971, aged 71, and is buried in Dumbarton. Revered in his time by Motherwell fans, he should still be revered by fans today, because if ever we had a truly world-class footballer at our club that we should celebrate, then Bobby Ferrier is that man.
Our Hall of Fame will welcome its new inductees in a special event in November.
Taking place at the Bothwell Bridge Hotel on Saturday 13 November, the event will induct the classes of both 2020 and 2021.
The event is priced at £60 for adults and £30 for children aged under 12.
We will induct both the 2020 and 2021 intake at the event.
Current Hall of Famers include George Stevenson, Willie Pettigrew, Phil O’Donnell, Ally Maxwell and James McFadden.
The delayed 2020 class, who will also be inducted on the night, includes John Hunter, Andy Paton, Joe Wark, Davie Cooper and Steven Hammell.