The first Ranger to score a goal for his country, Peter Campbell scored two against Wales at First Hampden Park in March, 1878. Peter’s Rangers’ teammate, James Watson, also scored for Scotland in a 9-0 victory. At Wrexham the following year, Peter gained the second of his two caps. He scored again, in a 3-0 victory. Three years earlier, Peter and his friend and fellow Pioneer, Moses McNeil, became the first Rangers to gain representative honours. They were part of the Glasgow side that defeated Sheffield by 2-0 at Bramall Lane.
Peter Campbell came from a more privileged background than his fellow Pioneers. His father John was a harbour master, his mother Mary was sister of Sir James Jenkins, honorary surgeon to the Queen. The family home was “Craigellan”, a large sandstone villa in the lochside village of Garelochhead.
A forward who played on the left side, Peter was known for his pace and dribbling skills but was also ready to pass the ball to a teammate. Recognised as one of the top players in Scotland, he was one of the first to move south, to Blackburn Rovers, playing there for most of the 1879/80 season.
Peter retired early from football, to concentrate on following in the family tradition by going to sea. He qualified as a marine engineer in 1882. Tragically, in the early weeks of 1883, his ship “St Columba” foundered in the Bay of Biscay.* The youngest of our Gallant Pioneers died aged only twenty-five.
We are fortunate, though, to have something tangible to remember Peter Campbell by. He was a member of the first Rangers’ side to win a trophy, the Glasgow Merchants’ Charity Cup. They defeated old foes Vale of Leven by 2-1 at First Hampden Park on 20 May, 1879. Peter’s medal from that triumphal day is proudly displayed in the Blue Room at Ibrox Stadium.