HUGH Robertson, who has died, aged 71, was one of the Dundee squad (Liney; Hamilton and Cox; Seith, Ure and Wishart; Smith, Penman, Gilzean, Cousin and Robertson) who captured Dundee's first and still only Scottish League Championship in 1962.
If Alex Hamilton, Ian Ure, Gordon Smith and Alan Gilzean have become the lasting icons of the wonderful side which Bob Shankly assembled and guided to the crown, the contribution of Robertson and some of the other unfairly overlooked players cannot be underestimated. He may have come last in the team order, but not in ability nor influence.
His play during Dundee's annus mirabilis saw Robertson win a single Scotland cap in the World Cup Group play-off against eventual runners-up Czechoslovakia in Brussels' Heysel Stadium on 29 November, 1961. Legend has it that a Scotland team without regular goalkeeper Bill Brown and with Ralphie Brand and Robertson standing in on the wings for the injured Alex Scott and Davie Wilson, lost in extra time – after Jim Baxter and Paddy Crerand fell out over a water bottle in the gap between the end of the regulation 90 minutes and the start of the extra half hour.
On form over that and the next few seasons, Robertson undoubtedly deserved more caps. Indeed, it was from Robertson crosses that Ian St John scored both Scottish goals in Brussels
However, with Davie Wilson – a contemporary with Rangers – already established as Scotland's first-choice No 11, and Willie Johnston to come after him – not to mention the occasional managerial ploy of getting two of Alex Scott, Jimmy Johnstone and Willie Henderson into the same Scotland side by switching one to outside left – and add the competition from the similarly under-capped George Mulhall and Jimmy Robertson of St Mirren and Tottenham, the Dundee Robertson did well to get even that single cap (and the two Under-23 caps he won against England and Wales in early 1962).
After England's "wingless wonders" won the World Cup in 1966, fashion decreed wingers – Johnstone excepted, an endangered species – the likes of Johnston, Charlie Cooke and Bobby Lennox morphed into "wide midfielders" as teams no longer fielded genuinely attack-minded outside rights or outside lefts.
Robertson, too, changed, becoming in the latter part of his career "a creative midfielder", using his weight and variety of pass and his ability to cross with accuracy to remodel and extend his career with Dundee and later with Dunfermline Athletic and Arbroath.
He was born into the close-knit mining community of Auchinleck's Dalsalloch Rows, the third of five children. Hugh went to the local school, and, like so many of his contemporaries, he left and went down the local Barony pit. Again, like so many "Affleck" men, his sporting horizons stretched no further than Beechwood Park, home of Auchinleck Talbot, then in the lengthy trough between Scottish Junior Cup success in 1948 and the recovery to glory under Willie Knox in the late 1970s.
"Wee Louie" as the teenaged Robertson was known, shone on the wing for the 'Bot to such an extent Willie Thornton recruit the 17-year-old to Dens Park in 1957. Initially he was a part-timer, continuing down the pit during the week, but, once he got into the team, full-time football beckoned and he needed no second bidding to exchange the coal face for the football park, moving into club digs in Dundee, which he shared with, among others, the young Craig Brown.
He was still too young to legally enjoy a celebratory drink after a scoring debut in a 5-0 Dens Park win over Partick Thistle, on 16 November, 1957. This was the first of just under 300 games in dark blue for the Ayrshireman; these appearances netted him 61 goals during his eight-year spell on Tayside.
This spell included the glorious European Cup run of 1962-3, when Robertson scored in the 8-1 Dens Park demolition of FC Cologne, although injury kept him out of the two semi-final games against AC Milan. He also played his part in the Cup-Winners' Cup campaign of 1964-5, when he scored Dundee's away goal as they bowed out to Real Zaragossa.
Bob Shankly got a lot out of his fellow former Ayrshire miner, and after the manager departed for Hibs in early 1965, Robertson wasn't far behind him, joining Dunfermline in a 10,000 transfer at the end of that season.
At East End Park he enjoyed further European nights and in 1968 he added a Scottish Cup-winner's medal to his League Championship one and the cup runners-up medal he had won with the 'Dee in 1964, as the Pars beat Hearts in the final. In six years at East End Park he played 239 games, scoring 61, including a brace when the club posted their first win at Ibrox, in December, 1965. From the Fifers he moved on to Arbroath, playing 40 games for the Red Lichties, before injury ended his career.
He immediately became trainer at Gayfield, before returning to Dens Park as a coach, then as Chief Scout. These were hard days for the club, but one of the youngsters he coached in the reserves – Gordon Strachan – has always maintained he learned much from Robertson.
In the 1970s he crossed the North Sea for a successful spell with Danish side Herfolge, taking them from the Third to the First Divisions of the Danish League.
Returning to Scotland, he found his Scandinavian successes cut little ice with Scottish club directors, so he entered the licenced trade. He ran a pub in Hillview, Dundee, before returning to his native Ayrshire in 1989 to run the Royal Hotel in Dalry and it was there that he died, quietly sitting in his favourite armchair.
Hugh Robertson is survived by wife Barbara, whom he met as teenagers; he from Auchinleck, she from nearby New Cumnock; son Derek, also a talented-enough footballer to play for Dundee; and one grandson. His death comes hard on the heels of that of Bobby Cox, his club captain at Dundee and, sadly, it means that five of the 1962 "Immortals" have now passed on.
He was universally liked and admired; nobody had a bad word for "Wee Louie" – he was indeed a gentleman and a fine footballer.