England Football Online
Goalkeepers Index Page Last Updated
14 February 2023

Bob Roberts

West Bromwich Albion FC

3 appearances, 5 goals against
two from free-kicks, no clean sheets

P 3 W 2 D 0 L 1 F 16: A 5
67% successful

captain: none
minutes played:

  Robert James Roberts
Birth Friday, 18 December 1863 in 31 Queen Street, Wednesbury, West Bromwich, Staffordshire
  registered in West Bromwich January-March 1864
Birthdate confirmed by 'The Athlete'. Absolutely not 9 April 1859

According to the 1871 census, Robert J. is the middle of five children to James and Ada (née Griffiths) living at 31 Queen Street in the Wednesbury area of West Bromwich. His father is a plasterer.


According to the 1881 census, Robert, now a plasterer like his father, is the oldest of four children, one of which is a new sibling, still living at 31 Queen Street.

First Marriage to Martha Ann Grice on Tuesday, 12 April 1887, at Christ Church, West Bromwich.
  registered in West Bromwich April-June 1887
Children Bob and Martha Roberts had one daughter together. Edith May (b.1888)
  "BOB ROBERTS, the International goalkeeper, has been keeping his public-house open longer than the law permits, and on Saturday was brought up. Mr. Jackson, a prominent West Bromwich Albionite, pleaded for him so well that he got off with a caution. Bob must be careful if he is 'the best goalkeeper in the world, as Mr. J. pleaded." - The Athletic News, Tuesday, 12 July 1887

Bob cannot be found on the 1891 census, although his wife, Martha, and his single daughter, can be found living with her mother, Sarah, at 39 Ovenend Street in Sandwell.

Second Marriage to Sarah Ann Whitehouse, in mid-1893 in West Bromwich
  registered in West Bromwich July-September 1893
Children Bob and Sarah Roberts had two daughters together. Millicent Maud (b.1894) and Myra Ann (b.1895).

According to the Newcastle upon Tyne electoral rolls, in 1898, Robert James Roberts is living at 44 Parker Street in Byker, then from 1899 until 1911, Robert J. is living at 50 Brinkburn Street in Byker.

According to the 1901 census, Robert J. is a masons plasterer, married to Sarah, with three daughters, Edith, Millicent and Myra. Living at 50 Brinkburn Street in Byker with his sister, Ada, and her five children.


According to the 1911 census, Robert James is a barman, still married to Sarah and still with three daughters, now living at 60 Brinkburn Street, which, according to the electoral rolls, is there only year in this property.


According to the Newcastle upon Tyne electoral rolls, from 1912 until his death, Robert J. is now living at 58 Brinkburn Street, along with Sarah Ann and Edith May.


According to the 1921 census, Robert James is again a plasterer and still married to Sarah Ann and with two of his daughters, now living at 58 Brinkburn Street.

Death Monday, 28 October 1929 at 58 Brinkburn Street in Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, after a long illness.
aged 65 years 314 days  registered in West Bromwich October-December 1929


"DEATH OF R. ROBERTS—Famous Albion and England Goalkeeper.
"A stalwart of other days in the ranks of West Bromwich Albion passed away at his home near Newcastle yesterday in the person of Mr. Bob Roberts, one of the greatest goalkeepers of his day. Roberts' association with the West Bromwich club began in the days when goalkeepers may be said to have had more protection in long trousers than in the rules, and opposing forwards were allowed a good deal more latitude in regard to the liberties they took with their opposing forwards invariably found they had caught a tartar.
"Bob Roberts was one of the famous company of Albion internationals and cup finalists who came from Christ Church School, West Bromwich, and his career embraced the period when his club played in three successive finals, in 1886, 1887 and 1888. He covered himself with great distinction in these matches, and his reward was to be capped twice, against Scotland in 1887 and against Ireland in 1890. He was associated with the Albion for many seasons, and on his retirement fro the game after a brief spell with a north eastern club he went to work as a plasterer at Sunderland. In his retirement he never lost his love for Albion, and when they visited Newcastle and Sunderland he not only went to the match but was generally the guest of the club at dinner. Mr. Roberts was about 64 years of age, and is survived by a widow and daughter."
Birmingham Daily Gazette, Tuesday, 29 October 1929.


Douglas Lammings' An English Football Who's Who [1990], Lan-opc & Kevin Powell

Playing Career

Began with Christ Church school FC and George Salter's Spring factory works team in West Bromwich in 1878, which became the West Bromwich Strollers FC, at first as an outfield player, before becoming a mainstay goalkeeper. The Strollers became West Bromwich Albion FC in 1880. After twelve years, and over four hundred games, Roberts joined Sunderland Albion FC on 27 August 1890. He could not settle, so returned to West Bromwich Albion FC in May 1891 for a year. He then moved onto Aston Villa FC in April 1892, before returning north and Sunderland Albion FC again in June 1893.

League History
53 appearances
West Bromwich Albion FC 1888-90, forty appearances
debut: 8 September 1888 Stoke FC 0 West Bromwich Albion FC 2.
West Bromwich Albion FC 1891-92 nine appearances
debut: 5 September 1891 West Bromwich Albion FC 4 Everton FC 0.
Aston Villa FC 1892-93 four appearances
debut: 26 November 1892 Aston Villa FC 3 Preston North End FC 1.
last: 25 March 1893 Aston Villa FC 6 Accrington FC 4.
Club honours FA Cup runners-up 1885-86, 1886-87, winners 1887-88, 1891-92 (0ᵃ);
Football League Division One fourth place 1892-93 (4ᵃ);
Individual honours Football Alliance;
Birmingham FA;
Height/Weight 6' 1" 15st 3lbs [1890], although Lamming states 6' 4", without a year.


Douglas Lammings' An English Football Internationalist Who's Who [1990] & ENFA.

England Career

Player number 139th player to appear for England.
Position(s) Goalkeeper; seventeenth goalkeeper to appear.
First match No. 31, 19 March 1887, England 2 Scotland 3, a British Championship match at Leamington Street, Wagtail, Blackburn, aged 23 years 91 days.
Last match No. 38, 15 March 1890, Ireland 1 England 9, a British Championship match at Ulster Cricket Ground, Ballynafeigh Park, Belfast, aged 26 years 87 days.
Major tournaments British Championship 1886-87, 1887-88, 1889-90;
Team honours British Championship winners 1887-88;
Individual honours The North (two appearances 6ᵍᵃ, 1884-87)
The Players (one appearance 1ᵍ�ᵍ�, March 1886, withdrew in January 1886)
The Blues
(one appearance 2ᵍᵃ, March 1890)
Distinctions The 139th and final player to be given an England badge by Charlie Alcock's Selection Committee. The first from West Bromwich Albion FC.
In his final outing, Roberts became England's longest serving goalkeeper alongside Albemarle Swepstone. It was broken a year later by Billy Moon.
Died eleven days after Arthur Henfrey.

Beyond England

A plasterer by trade. He returned to the Newcastle upon Tyne area after retiring to carry on his trade. - An English Football Internationalists' Who's Who. Douglas Lamming (1990). Hatton Press, p.124.
During his playing days, we was landlord at the Three Crowns Inn in West Bromwich up until August 1890, and at the Albion Inn, in Freeth Street in Oldbury, from May 1891.

The Numbers
parties Apps Comp
minutes Goals
GA Av.
Comp GA Clean
Sht Av.
6 3 3 270 5 54 min 5 none 0% none
The minutes here given can only ever be a guideline and cannot therefore be accurate, only an approximation.
3 2 0 1 16 5 +11 0 0 5.333 1.667 66.7 +1
All of his matches were played in the British Championship competition

Venue Record

Venue P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
Home 1 0 0 1 2 3 -1 0 0 2.00 3.00 00.0 -1
Away 2 2 0 0 14 2 +12 0 0 7.00 1.00 100.0 +2

Tournament Record

British Championship Competition
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
BC 1886-87 1 0 0 1 2 3 -1 0 0 2.00 3.00 00.0 -1
BC 1887-88 1 1 0 0 5 1 +4 0 0 5.00 1.00 100.0 +1
BC 1889-90 1 1 0 0 9 1 +8 0 0 9.00 1.00 100.0 +1
BC All 3 2 0 1 16 5 +11 0 0 5.333 1.667 66.7 +1

All Competition
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
BC 3 2 0 1 16 5 +11 0 0 5.333 1.667 66.7 +1
3 2 0 1 16 5 +11 0 0 5.333 1.667 66.7 +1

Match History

 Club: West Bromwich Albion F.C. - three full appearances (270 min) 5ᵍᵃ F.A. Committee - one full appearance (90 min) 3ᵍᵃx

Age 20 trial  
one appearance - The South vs. The North, 26 January 1884;
Age 22    
withdrew - The Players vs. The Gentlemen, 16 January 1886;
one appearance - The Gentlemen vs. The Players, 20 March 1886;
Age 23    
one appearance - The North vs. The South, 22 January 1887;

apps match match details comp res. rundown pos

29 5 February 1887 - England 7 Ireland 0, Yorkshire Cricket Ground, Sheffield BC HW reserve
30 26 February 1887 - England 4 Wales 0, The Surrey Cricket Ground, Kennington BC HW reserve
1 31 19 March 1887 - England 2 Scotland 3
Leamington Street, Blackburn
BC HW 3ᵍᵃ
cs: 30min
cs rec: 47min
ᵍᵃinc. free-kick & rushed-in

the 139th player to appear for England - the last new player from Charlie Alcock's selection
the first player from the West Bromwich Albion FC to represent England
The seventeenth goalkeeper to play for England - third competitive

  F.A. International Select Committee - two full appearances (180 min) 2ᵍᵃx

Age 24
2 34 7 April 1888 - Ireland 1 England 5
Ulster Cricket Ground, Belfast
BC AW 1ᵍᵃ
cs: 69min

Age 26
3 38 15 March 1890 - Ireland 1 England 9
Ulster Cricket Ground, Belfast
BC AW 1ᵍᵃ
cs: 127min

one appearance - The White vs. The Blues, 24 March 1890;

40 5 April 1890 - Scotland 1 England 1, Hampden Park, Glasgow BC AD reserve