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The Gallant Pioneers

Peter Campbell

Peter Campbell

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.


blue room medal 

Peter's Medal

PC medal front pc medal back

Our Founder Peter Campbell was part on the victorious Rangers side in 1879 which won the Club's first ever Trophy (The Glasgow Merchants Charity Cup) in a thrilling encounter with our old foes Vale of Leven.
Here now is an account of a quite incredible story that brings our Founders directly into our lives today.

At recent Rangers Supporters Trust meeting the subject of a Rangers F.C. museum was discussed; that sparked my interest in a medal I have been aware of for many years. It is an 1879 Glasgow Charity Cup medal, Ranger’s first ever trophy, won by Peter M. Campbell. It belongs to a friend of mine named Stephen. When Stephen was a schoolboy in the late sixties he found the medal in an East Kilbride park while walking to school one morning. Stephen handed the medal into the local police and after a certain length of time (he thinks it was a year) as no claim or report had been made about it, the medal was returned to him. 
Stephen made contact with Rangers at the time in order, if possible, to return the medal to Peter Campbell’s family; Davie White was the Rangers manager at the time. Rangers could only find out some of the basic information and were unable to trace any surviving family.
I started working with Stephen about ten years ago and as we both are Rangers supporters the subject of the medal naturally came up. Stephen knew very little of the medal’s history but after some research this medal has turned out to have major significance in Rangers F.C. history as well as the tragedy of Peter Campbell’s drowning.
To my limited knowledge, and I am willing to stand corrected, this medal is unique. In conversations with Stephen his preferred choice was to retain ownership of the medal but loan it to Rangers F.C. to display it in the Trophy Room and in any future Ranger’s museum, instead as he has said ‘gathering dust in a drawer’. It is now on display in the Ibrox Blue Room.
William Mason

*'St Columba' - Liverpool mercury Friday, March 2, 1883 

**The Rangers first trophy

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