To know the real man behind Bobby Seith we have to delve into his past with Burnley, then a top team in England. His greatest years were with this team, and his arrival at Dens in 1960 added claret (and blue) to a champagne team that is still remembered with awe by all we old timers who saw them play.
Sadly, he arrived at Dens Park after an apparent fall out with supremo Bob Lord, but his days at Burnley are remembered with fondness by the older brigade of fans who were keen to tell me of his days with that club.
Born in Coatbridge on the 9th March, 1932, which makes him a youthful 71 years old in a few days time, some claret fans remember with pride his arrival at the club as a lad. They speak of him working his way up through their junior team, making his debut for them at the age of 17 in 1949. I should at this point thank the Burnley fans who responded to my request for Bob's Burnley day stats, they done their club proud. I was inundated with information after a simple request on their site, all of which I couldn't possibly put on line in a short article.
He had to wait a while for his introduction to the first team and this took place against Manchester United on 3rd October, 1953, aged 21. He scored his first goal for the club on 3rd November, 1956 against Luton Town. In an illustrious career with Burnley he played 238 games, though scoring only 6 goals.
Goal-scoring, then, was not one of Bobby's more notable achievements. He is remembered more for his intelligent passing game and a wonderful, educated right foot.
A lot of years to cast aside in a few sentences. 11 years in total from his arriving at Burnley in 1949 to his arrival at Dens in 1960. Suffice it to say that at the end of his Burnley days in that fall out with Chairman Bob Lord he was not given his league winners medal for the team he had served so ably all that time.
Arriving at Dens when he did in 1960, he played in the team that finished 10th in the league, behind United, and looking no way like a side ready to challenge the greatest and the best. But fate cannot be thwarted and destiny is out there, waiting to be fulfilled. To every man his day, to every team it’s glory. Dundee F.C. were about to take the football world by storm.
Bobby Seith, the quiet, unassuming man, at 29 years of age, was ready to cast his footprints on Dundee history, and to be remembered for all time by the Dark Blue faithful. He was a major team player in their greatest ever squad of heroes whose memory will never be extinguished while one is left alive who witnessed them play.
And Bobby would do it in his own way, with his enigmatic style of pure football.
Kenneth Wolstenholme, a distinguished English commentator for the BBC rated them as one of the best sides he had ever witnessed. In later years Bob Crampsey of Scotsport fame went further and said they played better football and were a better team than the great Celtic team that went on to win the European Cup in 1967.
Bobby was more than helpful, replying to my letter requesting some personal insight into his Dundee days. I asked for only a few sentences to give me a feel for the spirit within that fine team. I received 4 pages of wonderful memories. Over to the man himself.
"It was a great and enjoyable experience to be part of the league winning side. This was not just from a playing point of view, but because of the camaraderie that existed within the squad. It applied both on and off the field of play and this team spirit was a major factor in the team’s success.
"There were no cliques, no jealousies with each player prepared to play his part as we chased success and ready to help out if a team mate was having a below par performance."
He goes on to talk about some of the games he remembers the most in that glorious league winning year:-
"There were many outstanding matches but three that spring to mind are:-
"1. V. Raith Rovers at Dens when we were 4-2 down with 15 minutes remaining yet ran out winners by 5-4.
"2. V. Rangers at a foggy Ibrox when we won 5-1.
"3. V. St. Johnstone at Muirton Park – the final game of the season when we won 3-0 to clinch the Championship."
Then he talks with pride of the great campaign of 62-63 when Dundee stormed Europe, reaching the Semi-Finals of the European Cup.
"The European campaign, too, was a memorable experience when we were pitted against the "big guns" of Europe. The team surprised many people – and made many friends – as we progressed to the Semi-Finals only to be beaten by the eventual winners of the tournament.
"On the way there were some magical moments. E.g. the 8-1 thrashing of Cologne (favourites to win the tournament) at Dens Park. Perhaps the finest performance was the 4-1 victory v. Anderlecht (Belgium) in the Heysel Stadium after which the 60,000 crowd rose to applaud as we left the field. A fitting testament to the team and the quality of football it produced.
"My years with Dundee F.C. rank amongst the happiest in my career and I consider myself fortunate to have been a member of the Burnley and Dundee teams who, not only won the League Championship, but entertained their respective fans with open, exciting, quality football.
"I hope this is of some use to you. Keep supporting the Club. Sincerely, Bob Seith."
He is listed on a special page on the Burnley official website devoted to their legendary players, their all time greats.
On 23rd October, 1999, the Burnley faithful cheered 67 year old club legend Bobby Seith to the hilt when he was invited down to receive his long lost league winners medal at half time in the Burnley v. Bristol City match. Many older fans who remembered the skillful Seith, whose passing game was way beyond his time, became bairns again as they saw their former hero in the flesh once more. Nearly 40 years late he had his deserved medal at last. He had played 27 games out of 42 when Burnley won that league championship in 1959/60. Like Dundee they were never to win it again.
In those days players seldom played as long as they do today, and Bobby found success as a coach with both Dundee and Rangers, was Manager of the Scotland youth team, and had a spell as Manager with Hearts and Preston North End.
In more recent years he was known and respected as a chiropodist in Broughty Ferry, where he still lives.
But to the Dark Blues he will always be remembered as one of the lynch pins who supplied the ammunition for the likes of Penman, Gilzean and others to strut their stuff and score the amazing goals that took this team to glory. For those few years with Dundee he should never be forgotten and remembered as a dark blue legend in his own right. Like so many in that team, he arrived in the right place at exactly the right time. Thank God you did, Bob Seith, cheers for the wonderful memories. "Keep supporting the club." Those who saw your like play can never support another.