588 Bobby McNeil

Biography

Robert Muirhead “Bobby” McNeil was born in Bellshill near Hamilton on the eastern fringes of Glasgow and came to Hull City as a teenager. He had a trial period with the Juniors side in March 1979 and signed on as an apprentice professional in August 1979, playing regularly for the Juniors during the 1979/80 season and turning out for the Reserves in the second half of the season.

Bobby made his first team debut in September 1980, deputising for experienced regular full back Gordon Nisbet. Despite missing a few games in October 1980 due to a knee injury McNeil kept his first team place for the next three months and signed professional terms for Hull City in November 1980. When City signed Steve Hoolickin from Carlisle United in December 1980 to replace the departed Nisbet, McNeil’s chances of first team action at right back were limited although he did briefly deputise for Dennis Booth in the left back role. It wasn’t until October 1981 that McNeil had a lengthy run in the first team, replacing Hoolickin at right back as the experienced Mancunian battled with a heart condition that led to his retirement. By late February 1982 McNeil was again out of the first team picture as manager Mike Smith came to the end of his tenure.

When Colin Appleton was installed as City manager in the summer of 1982 he saw potential in Bobby, who by now was approaching his 20th birthday, and installed him as first choice right back for much of the 1982/83 season until he was briefly replaced in April 1983 by ex-England defender Emlyn Hughes, whose experience and influence helped City win promotion out of Division Four. McNeil was restored as first choice right back at the start of the 1983/84 season with the Tigers elevated to Division Three – he was an ever-present in the league and missed only two games in all competitions, two early rounds of the Associate Members’ Cup. He scored goals in a September 1983 5-0 drubbing of Millwall, a December 1983 defeat at faraway Exeter City and a March 1984 win over Bournemouth, contributing to City’s rise under Appleton that culminated in missing out on promotion by the narrowest of margins when Burnley were beaten only 2-0 in the last game of the season (a 3-0 win was required). McNeil also scored in the May 1984 Associate Members’ Cup Final against Bournemouth, which City lost 2-1 days after Appleton had resigned.

When Brian Horton took over the reins at Hull City in the summer of 1984 Dale Roberts was initially preferred to McNeil at right back, though Bobby did win his place back from late October 1984 onwards. It was therefore a surprise when McNeil was not offered a new contract in the 1985 close season and was transfer listed by the Tigers. After agreeing a week-by-week contract and completing pre-season training with City he was granted a free transfer and left the club in August 1985 after possible moves to Colchester United and Scunthorpe United fell through.

He then had talks with Barnsley, where he scored twice in a Reserves game, and Blackpool, where he spent a couple of weeks training, before joining Division Three side Lincoln City in October 1985 on non-contract terms. He made 4 appearances at right back for the Imps in November 1985, to last of which ended in a 0-7 drubbing and precipitated his departure from the Lincolnshire club.

In December 1985 new Preston North End Brian Kidd signed McNeil on another short-term contract and he made his Division Four debut against Aldershot a week later. This time Bobby impressed sufficiently to win a longer contract and he stayed at Deepdale for a season and a half, making 50 appearances and helped the Lilywhites win promotion to Division Three at the end of the 1986/87 season. For a second time in his career Bobby’s joy at winning promotion was cut short when he was released by Preston in the 1987 close season.

In August 1987 Bobby joined Division Four side Carlisle United, he made 24 appearances for the struggling Cumbrians before dropping out of the first team in January 1988 and leaving the club in March 1988. Returning to East Yorkshire, later that month he signed for North Ferriby United for the remainder of the 1987/88 season. In August 1988 he switched to Bridlington Town, managed by former Hull City boss Colin Appleton, and served the Queensgate side for five seasons, playing an important role in Town’s run to the FA Vase Final at Wembley in May 1990. Leaving Bridlington Town in January 1993, McNeil joined Hall Road Rangers and split the rest of the 1992/93 season between the two clubs, playing at Wembley a second time when Town reached the May 1993 FA Vase final and beat Tiverton Town, completing a League and Cup double for the Northern Premier League First Division side.

McNeil switched to Goole Town in August 1993 before making a final return to North Ferriby United in January 1995. He sustained a broken leg in April 1995 that kept him out of the side for a year, he returned to first team action in April 1996 and played on for a further season, returning to Wembley Stadium for a third time in April 1997 when the Villagers also reached the FA Vase final only to lose out to Whitby Town. Bobby retired from playing in August 1997 and became assistant manager at North Ferriby United for the next year and a half before leaving the game in early 1999.

When he returned to the East Riding in 1988 McNeil became a police officer in the Hull area, a role that endured after his playing days ended.

Details

Nationality: Scotland
Date/Place of Birth: 1 November 1962, Bellshill
Hull City First Game: 13 September 1980, Blackpool A (Division Three), 17 years, 317 days old
Hull City Final Game: 23 April 1985, Preston North End A (Division Three), 22 years, 173 days old

Clubs

Hull City (1979-1985), Lincoln City (1985), Preston North End (1985-1987), Carlisle United (1987-1988), North Ferriby United (1988), Scarborough (1988), Bridlngton Town (1988-1993), Hall Road Rangers (1993), Goole Town (1993-1995), North Ferriby United (1995-1997)

Hull City Record

Career: 168 apps, 4 goals

Bobby McNeil
SeasonLGE
App
LGE
Gls
FAC
App
FAC
Gls
FLC
App
FLC
Gls
EUR
App
EUR
Gls
OTH
App
OTH
Gls
1980/8114 (0)04 (0)0
1981/8221 (0)06 (0)01 (0)01 (0)0
1982/8330 (3)02 (0)02 (0)02 (0)0
1983/8446 (0)32 (0)02 (0)04 (0)1
1984/8524 (0)03 (0)01 (0)0

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