Mr and Mrs Dumbarton Academy
Robert McNab Chalmers and Elizabeth Somerville Muir Dalling Chalmers
Robert Chalmers, Electrician and football coach. Born: April 30, 1930, in Dumbarton. Died October 26, 2018, in Dumbarton. Elizabeth Chalmers, shorthand typist. Born: September 5, 1930, in Shanghai, China. Died on October 28, 2018, in Paisley
Robert and Betty Chalmers, pictured right, who died within 48 hours of each other, were a devoted couple who took great pleasure together from their large, extended family. And from Bobby’s sporting success, which was extensive and included managing the Dumbarton Academy Former Pupils’ team, which won the Scottish Amateur Cup and a host of other trophies in the 1970s. They were aged 88 when they died, Bobby of dementia and Betty of a stroke. Betty was delighted to share in that success and supported her husband in the manner of many football wives during that era by going along to the matches and washing the strips afterwards. The clothes line at the Chalmers’s Dumbarton home in the High Mains area of the town was a sight to behold with its colourful, hung out to dry bunting of blue, white and gold, the football kit of four Academy FP teams. Bobby and Betty were from very different backgrounds. She was the privately-educated at the Cathedral School in Shanghai and only daughter of prosperous parents who owned a chain of bakery shops in China.
Betty moved to Scotland with her parents at the outbreak of the Second World War and continued her education at the then fee-paying Hermitage Primary School in Helensburgh. She completed her secondary education at Hermitage Academy before learning shorthand and typing and taking a post with the Prudential Insurance Company in Dumbarton.
Bobby was the handsome son of a working-class family who lived in Station Road, Dumbarton. He was educated at Dumbarton Academy across the Common from his tenement home and became an apprentice with the South of Scotland Electricity Board (SSEB).
The couple met at night school in the Academy and went on to get married in the Cardross Parish Church in the village, where Betty lived with her parents.
Their first home was in Castlegreen Street, Dumbarton, and the couple then moved to High Mains, where Betty gave birth to their three daughters, Linda McCuaig, Gail McLellan and Carol Williamson.
The Chalmers house was a busy, happy home as the family grew up and the daughters got married and had their own children, six grandsons and three grand-daughters.
The siblings in turn had their own children and their eleven great grandchildren gave Bobby and Betty great pleasure.
“We were always having parties for family and friends and for the football team, of course,” said daughter Gail McLellan. “Footballers were always in and around our house.”
“Unforgettable” was the song sung as the large congregation left Bobby and Betty’s funeral service, conducted by the Rev Ian Johnston of Riverside Parish, Dumbarton, at Cardross Crematorium.
Academy captain Billy Muir lifts the Scottish Amateur Cup high in the air after the FPs’ victory at Boghead Park in 1971.
Gail said: “We chose that song because that is what the parties were – unforgettable. We had wonderful parents and an unforgettable childhood.”
Highlights of that childhood were the many family holidays at a caravan in Berwick on Tweed and earlier summer breaks doon the watter in Rothesay.
Bobby and Betty also spent a number of holidays in Jersey with their good friends, Pat and Bernard Kennedy, whom they had known since their schooldays.
Gail said: “My parents had many friends, but Pat and Bernard were always around for them even when my dad had dementia and could not remember much about the past.
“This was a real shame, of course, since through his life and work, family and the football he had so many good things to remember.”
When he became too old to continue as coach at Dumbarton Academy, Bobby took up the old man’s game of bowls and was made President of Dumbarton Bowling Club – “The Big Green”.
Gail said: “Football was a major part of my father’s life and he loved it. He liked bowls and enjoyed the sport and the company of the people he met at the club, but he was forever a football man.”
Bobby’s shrewd management led to unbridled joy when Dumbarton Academy Former Pupils’ captain Billy Muir lifted the silverware at Boghead Park in 1971.
Dumbarton Academy FPs pictured in front of their old school at Braehead and after winning the Scottish Amateur Cup at Boghead Park in April, 1971.
The team which beat Mearns Amateurs that memorable day was Harry Skinner, Buchanan Campbell, Jim Brannan, Scott Lettis, Jim Kennedy, Billy Muir, Bobby Davenport, Jim Leitch, Ian Hulme, Bobby Dowdles, David Brooks and Eddie King.
Bobby celebrated with the victorious Dumbarton Academy FP team hoisted the trophy with the players and officials who sank the many bottles of champagne.
Bobby Chalmers receives recognition for Dumbarton Academy FPs’ achievements from Provost Ian MacDuff and Academy Rector James Colraine.
Dumbarton Academy FC Honours
Scottish Amateur Cup 1970-71
West of Scotland Amateur Cup 2011-12
West of Scotland League Div 5 1969-70
West of Scotland League Div 4 1970-71
West of Scotland League Div 3 1971-72
West of Scotland League Div 1 1974-75
West of Scotland League Div 1 1975-76
West of Scotland League Div 1 1977-78
West of Scotland League Div 1 1978-79
WOS League Cup 1972-73 and 1975-76
Scottish Amateur League Div 7 1975-76
Scottish Amateur League Div 6 1976-77
Scottish Amateur League Div 3 1985-86
Scottish Amateur League Div 2 1988-89
Colin Munro Cup 1976-77 and 1985 -86
Ball Trophy 1982-83
Central Scottish League Div 1B 1989-90
McAvoy McIntyre Trophy 1989-90
McEwans Cinema Cup 1991-92
Glasgow & District FP League, 18 occasions between 1924 -68
Glasgow & District FP League 1973-74
Glasgow & District Victory Cup
Caledonian Premier Div 2005-06
Douglas Smith Trophy 2007-08
Douglas Smith Trophy 2008-09
Douglas Smith Trophy 2015-16
Douglas Smith Trophy 2016-17
Scottish Cup runners up 2001-02
More than 500 players have played for the FPs. Amateur international caps were awarded to Accies players Joe Hutchison, Jim Park, Alan Jackson, Andy McGillivray and Paul Leggatt, although many more on the list have also achieved glory at junior and senior level.
It is clear that the Accies enjoyed success through all ten decades of their existence and with Bobby Chalmers at the helm they had their most successful period during the 60s, 70s and 80s. His influence remains to this day with League and cup glory continuing under gaffer Michael Dickie and his backroom staff.
In 2002 Bobby was invited with his Scottish Cup winning Captain Billy Muir to join the pre match build up as the Accies prepared for their second Scottish Cup final. This time at Hampden. He was in glorious form.
He was so delighted to see his club on the famous turf and more than proud to see his grandson, Cameron, in the Accies line up.
Bobby would always say that the West Cup had eluded him as manager. In Accies centenary year, Accies fulfilled his wishes and won it for him after a penalty kick decider against Colville Park at New Douglas Park. Again he was there to witness it.
He was the perfect ambassador for his club, singing Accies praises at every opportunity.
Bobby Chalmers was the Accies longest serving manager and the most successful.
Accies Honorary President, David Muir, has fond memories of Bobby Chalmers from both his playing days and from the touch line.
David said: “He was the most inspirational manager and, most importantly, a winner. He still regularly appeared on the Accies touchline after his retirement and his presence and aura continued to lift our players to further glory.
“He is Mr Dumbarton Academy and his legacy reverberates throughout his beloved Accies to this day.
“A truly great man and a great lady. Together forever Bobby and Betty.”