Bruce Rankin other teams

Bruce at West Bromwich Albion

1905/06 Season

The local paper, The West Bromwich Weekly News, welcomed Bruce's arrival at WBA, praising the Club's Directors for making such an important signing.

Bruce went straight into Second Division Albion's first team at outside-right for the home game against Bristol City, the league leaders, on Saturday, 10th February. Before kick-off, snow had to be removed from the pitch. It was not to be a winning debut for Bruce,however. Albion were two down within the first ten minutes and despite outplaying Bristol after the interval, they lost the game 2-1. Bruce had a quiet game, but the match reporter was of the opinion that he would fit well into the team.

Albion's next game, away to Manchester United, ended in a scoreless draw. Bruce was reported to have performed better than on his debut.

On Saturday, 24th February, Bruce scored his first goal for Albion in a 6-0 win over Glossop at the Hawthorns, watched by a crowd of 7,200. According to the match reporter, Bruce was the best forward on the field.

Albion had beaten Stockport County 3-1 at the Hawthorns earlier in the season and, towards the end of the return game on Saturday, 3rd March, it looked as if Stockport would gain their revenge; they were leading 2-0. However, in the closing stages, Albion scored twice and were unlucky not to win as centre-forward Simmons hit the post. Albion were fourth in the league, but it was their seventh draw of the season, which meant that they fell further behind the three leaders, who all won that Saturday.

The following game, at home against Blackpool, was played in cold, drenching rain and saw Albion's fourth victory of the season by five or more goals. Bruce made another good impression.

A 1-0 win at Bradford on Saturday, 17th March meant that Albion had gone five games without being beaten. Bruce played a part in Albion's goal when one of his crosses was turned into the Bradford net by one of his team-mates.

Albion's next game was against Grimsby Town at the Hawthorns the following Saturday. A 2-0 victory kept Albion's unbeaten run going and Bruce scored his second goal since his arrival.

In their next game, West Bromwich defeated Leicester Fosse 3-0 at the Hawthorns, watched by more than 10,000 spectators. Bruce was not so impressive as he did not get his usual service.

Following an impressive run of seven games unbeaten, Albion were brought down to earth with their heaviest league defeat of the season, 4-0 away to Hull. Bruce was the best of the Albion forwards.

Albion's three-match Easter programme began on Good Friday, 13th April, with a second successive defeat, this time by three goals to nil at Barnsley. They drew their next game 1-1 the following day at home to Lincoln. Their fortunes improved on Easter Monday, when they defeated Clapham Orient 2-0 away from home. The star performers were Bruce and captain Pheasant.

In their fourth game in six days, on Wednesday, 18th April, Albion were unlucky to be defeated 2-1 away to Gainsborough. However, they went on to win their final two games of the season, beating Chesterfield 3-0 away and Burslem Port Vale 4-1 at the Hawthorns. Bruce signed off the season with a positive performance and was on the retained list for the following season.

Albion finished the season in fourth place, 14 points behind champions Bristol City and ten behind Manchester United, who were also promoted.

1906-07 Season

Pin Badge

WBA pin badge.jpg - 98.8 KB

A pin badge of the 1907 West Bromwich Albion team. Bruce is on the front left.

Medal presented to Bruce 1906-07

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In their opening League game away to Burnley on Saturday, 1st September, Albion got off to an excellent start for the new season with a well-deserved victory by a goal to nil. Bruce was at outside right.

The following Saturday, Albion trounced Leeds City 5-0 at the Hawthorns before 15,500 spectators. Bruce, on the wing again, was closely marked by Leed's Kennedy but was generally too good for the defender.

After these two victories, the local papers were touting Albion's promotion chances. However, the following Saturday, the club and spectators were brought firmly down to earth when Albion were unexpectedly defeated 2-1 away from home by Burslam Port Vale.

Albion's next match was at Barnsley. Ten minutes from the end, the game was scoreless, but Albion scored to take the two points. According to the match report, Bruce had not yet found his form of the previous season.

The top match on Saturday, 22nd September, was West Bromwich Albion against Chelsea at the Hawthorns. It was watched by more than 25,000 spectators. Albion lost 2-1 but might have earned a draw if captain Pheasant had not missed a penalty when Chelsea were two up. Bruce had a poor game and was dropped from the first team the following week, a derby game against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molyneux,

Following Bruce's demotion to the Reserves, Albion won six and drew one of their next eight league games without him and were top of the league.

However, he was recalled to Albion's first team for the home game against Chesterfield on 24th November. Chesterfield scored first, but a brilliant shot by Bruce put Albion back on level terms, There were no further goals before the interval, but Albion scored four second-half goals for an easy victory. Bruce had an excellent match and was clearly a crowd favourite. According to the match reporter, Bruce was the one player that the Albion supporters enjoyed watching, particularly when he was in good form.

Albion were joint leaders of the Second Division, along with Nottingham Forest, after 14 games. Chelsea were third, two points behind, but with a game in hand.

Albion's run of success with only one defeat in nine games came to an abrupt end at Leicester the following Saturday with a 3-0 defeat in front of a crowd of almost 20,000. They had been at the top of the table for six weeks but were now in second place. It was also the first time that Albion had failed to score that season.

The next Saturday, Albion faced Nottingham Forest at the Hawthorns in a top of the table clash. A 3-1 victory, watched by a crowd of 17,000, regained the top spot for Albion. The game was scoreless at half-time but, within a minute of the restart, Bruce opened the scoring with a sensational shot that had the crowd on their feet.

Albion were brought down to earth again the following Saturday when Lincoln deservedly beat them 2-1. Bruce had few opportunities to show his skills on a ground that was as hard as a rock and covered with an inch of snow.

After the Lincoln match, the Albion players spent the following week at Droitwich in special training for the four Christmas holiday games, which were all at home. Burton Albion, who were bottom of the league, were the first of the visitors on Saturday, 22nd December, a rather cold day. Within 15 minutes, Albion were two up and had failed to convert a penalty. Bruce had a hand in the first goal when he made one of his dazzling runs on the wing and then crossed the ball for Legge to smack it on the run past the Burton goalkeeper. Simmons scored fck rom a corner soon afterwards. Burton pulled a goal back before the interval and, for the first twenty minutes after the interval, they held their own. However, two more goals from Shinton and another by Simmons made the final score 5-1 in Albion's favour.

More than 19,000 people were thoroughly entertained at the Hawthorns on Christmas morning when Albion recorded another resounding victory, this time beating Grimsby Town by six goals to one.

On Boxing Day, Albion recorded their third victory, defeating Burslem Port Vale 3-0. Their opponents were half-an-hour late in arriving at the ground, which was covered in snow and was hard and slippery. In spite of this, the game was fast and exciting. Shinton missed an early penalty before Bruce scored the only goal of the first half with a brilliant, long shot beating the Port Vale keeper all ends up. Goals by Dilly and Shinton after the interval secured a well-deserved victory to put Albion back at the top of the table.

The Christmas holiday matches were brought to a close with a home game against Burnley on the Saturday. Burnley took an early lead, but Dilly equalised from the spot and Shinton added a second to give Albion the lead at the interval. Both sides scored a goal in the second-half, so that Albion managed to make it four victories out of four during the holiday period.

Following those matches, Bruce was dropped from the first team, for discipline problems it would seem. In the first of the games that he missed, Albion were beaten 3-2 by Leeds City away on Saturday, 5th January 1907. The next match was an FA Cup tie at home against Stoke City, the bottom club in the First Division, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Bruce was recalled at outside-left for the replay at Stoke on Thursday, 17th January. The game, which ended in a 2-2 draw after extra-time, was full of excitement from start to finish. Albion opened the scoring after 12 minutes, when Bruce beat the Stoke keeper with a tremendous shot but, straight from the re-start, Stoke equalised. Stoke scored again before half-time but, five minutes after the interval, Albion were back on level terms with a goal from Randle. Bruce was at outside-left and had an excellent game, according to the Press reports.

Albion's home game with Barnsley on 19th January was abandoned ten minutes before the end, with the score at 0-0, because of poor light. Bruce had been retained at outside-left and put in another fine performance.

Albion and Stoke met again on Monday, 21st January to try to decide their FA Cup tie, this time at a neutral venue, Villa Park. A crowd of more than 32,000 watched Albion go through to the next round with a 2-0 win. Bruce was again at outside-left.

On the Saturday, Albion faced Chelsea away from home. Chelsea won 2-0, but might have scored eight or ten goals but for some poor finishing and some splendid saves by the Albion keeper.

The following Saturday, 2nd February, Albion were to play Norwich City in the second round of the FA Cup, and the players were taken to Rhyl to prepare for the game. The trip had dire consequences for Bruce. He was suspended, sine die by the club for insubordination, probably fuelled by drink, according to two of his daughters.

Bruce at Manchester City

1906-07 Season

Surprisingly, within days, Bruce signed for Manchester City, for a reported fee of £500. The transfer fee is more likely to have been in the region of £250, the amount Albion paid Everton for him.

Manchester City were in the First Division so Bruce was presented with an unexpected opportunity to resurrect his career with a club in the top division of the League.

Bruce made his first team debut on the right wing in a 3-1 win over Preston North End at Deepdale on Saturday, 9th February. Despite a reasonable debut, he was dropped to the Reserves for the next game but was recalled to the first team on Saturday, 23rd February, on the left wing this time, against Aston Villa at Villa Park. City were well and truly beaten by four goals to one.

Bruce did not play again in City's first team, but he did appear for the Reserves in a dozen or so games, scoring two goals. At the end of the season, he was transferred to Luton Town.

It seems strange that City should pay a fee for Bruce, play him twice in the first team and then move him on within a few months for nothing. Luton, who were in the Southern League, did not pay a fee for Bruce. It could have been that Bruce did not play to his potential, but it may well have been that his behaviour and commitment to training left a lot to be desired, leaving the City Directors, like their Albion counterparts, with little choice but to transfer him out of the Club. However, that is only conjecture and may be widely inaccurate speculation.

Luton Town (1907- 08)

1907-08 Season

In 1906-07, the season before Bruce joined them, Luton had finished fourth in the Southern League. So, their pre-season hopes for the following year were high, particularly as they had signed five new forwards, including Bruce.

Although Luton were a professional club, they were not in the habit of paying transfer fees at that time. However, Bruce did receive the regulation £10 signing on fee and was to be paid £4 a week during the playing season and £3 a week in the close season.

The first game of the season was away to Southampton on Monday, 2nd September. Luton included four of the new forward signings in the team, with Bruce at outside-left. In heavy rain, Southampton scored within a minute of kick-off, but Luton equalised midway through the second-half from the penalty spot following a handball. In the meantime, Bruce had hit a shot from 30 yards which skimmed the crossbar and shortly afterwards hit the upright with a second shot. But, ten minutes before the final whistle, Southampton got the winner. Bruce had been the most effective of the Luton forwards.

Bruce retained his place for the next game at Northampton on Saturday, 7th September, a disappointing 0-0 draw.

The following Saturday, Luton faced Southampton again for their first home game. Bruce moved to the right wing, but Southhampton scored a goal in each half without reply. According to the match reporter, it was Luton's poorest home display for a long time.

Luton's next league game was at Plymouth. The team left Luton on Friday afternoon and travelled to Teignmouth, where they stayed overnight. Bruce retained his place at outside-right. Despite giving a much better display than in their previous matches, Luton were beaten 2-1 and were rooted at the bottom of the League. Bruce had played well.

Luton faced West Ham at home the following Saturday with Bruce again on the right wing. They lost 3-0 and dropped a number of players, including Bruce, for the next game.

After three games in the Reserves, Bruce was recalled to the first team at centre-forward for the home game against Crystal Palace on Saturday, 26th October. The experiment of playing Bruce in the middle certainly paid off. Crystal Palace were completely outclassed and deservedly beaten 4-0. Bruce hit the bar in the first-half and scored after the interval. According to the match report, the win was largely due to Bruce's excellent play and the way in which he created scoring opportunities for the other forwards. The win lifted Luton off the bottom of the table, with two points more than Tottenham who replaced them.

Following their excellent victory the previous week, Luton fielded the same team for the next home game against New Brompton. However, they were unable to provide their supporters with a repeat performance, losing 2-1, despite scoring first and missing a penalty. Bruce was not as prominent as he was against Crystal Palace a week earlier. Defeat left them second from bottom of the table.

Luton had high hopes for their next game, away to Brighton and Hove Albion, who had not won since the opening day of the season. But there was disappointment again when the team lost 1-0. In the first-half, Bruce, again at centre-forward, had a relatively straightforward opportunity but, with only the goalkeeper to beat, he shot over the bar. Soon afterwards, he hit a fine shot, which missed the upright by a few inches.

Saturday, 16th November, saw a battle between the two bottom teams in the league, with Luton overcoming Portsmouth at home by two goals to nil. Bruce had several shots saved in the first half. After the interval, play was stopped for an injury to Bruce and he was off the field when Luton took the lead. Two or three minutes after he resumed, Bruce got possession of the ball some way from goal. His shot rebounded from the crossbar to one of his team-mates, Fred Hawkes, who had no difficulty scoring. Despite their victory, Luton were still second from bottom in the League.

Bruce's injury prevented him from playing in the next game against Bradford Park Avenue, which Luton lost 1-0 and he was not selected for the home game against Millwall the following Saturday, a 3-1 victory for Luton.

However, he was back in the first team, on the left wing this time, for the away match against Brentford on Saturday, 7th December; Brentford were unbeaten at home. Soon after the start, following a dazzling run, Bruce passed to his team-mate Moody who, with only the goalkeeper to beat, blazed the ball over the bat. Shortly afterwards, Luton found themselves a goal behind and never recovered, losing 3-1.

Bruce retained the outside-left berth for the 2-0 home defeat by Bristol Rovers the following Saturday in what was one of Luton's worst displays for a long time. He was then dropped for the following two matches a 5-0 away defeat to Clapton Orient on Saturday, 21st December and a 1-1 draw in the home game with Watford on Christmas Day.

He was recalled for the 0-0 draw at home with Norwich on Boxing Day and kept his place in the 3-1 home win over Reading on Saturday, 28th December. Reading took the lead in the 20th minute, only for Luton to equalise shortly before half-time. Five minutes after the restart, Bruce put Luton ahead with a fine headed goal; Luton's Walder added a third to make the game safe.

Luton's next match was an FA Cup-tie at home against Fulham from the Second Division of the Football League on Saturday, 11th January 1908; Bruce was at centre-forward. The ground was covered with snow and the frost-bound ground underneath was very slippery. The 5,000 or so spectators that braved the cold weather were treated to eleven goals, the highest total scored in any first team match on the ground. Three goals were scored in the first eleven minutes and no fewer than seven before half-time.

Luton went ahead after three minutes, only for Fulham to equalise four minutes later. Luton took the lead again, when Bruce scored from a rebound. Fulham soon pulled level for a second time and, then, minutes later, Bruce's shot hit the post and went behind for a goal kick. That was a crucial point in the game for Fulham scored a further three times before the interval to go in leading 5-2 at the break. Fifteen minutes after the restart, Luton pulled a goal back with a headed goal from Moody. However, any hopes that Luton had of getting something from the game were dashed when Luton scored another three times before the final whistle to win 8-3. Luton were far from disgraced, taking the lead twice against a team from the Football League and giving the crowd a game that they would remember for a long time.

The next match was a scoreless draw away to Plymouth, one of the best teams in the Southern League. Bruce was at centre-forward and an early shot by him went yards wide. In the last minute of the first half, he was fouled in the box as he attempted to convert a centre, but the referee dismissed the claims for a penalty. In the second half, Bruce had the best shot of the match, but the goalkeeper instinctively stuck out his arm to divert the ball for a corner. Luton were still second from bottom with 14 points from 21 games, two points behind Brentford, who had played a game more.

Luton were extremely unlucky to lose their next game at West Ham on Saturday, 20th January by a goal to nil. Bruce was at inside-right.

In their next League match on Saturday, 8th February, Luton recorded their first away win of the season when they defeated Tottenham Hotspur 2-1, despite going a goal down in the first half. Bruce was at inside-right but did not score.

The following week, Luton had their first home game for a month when they defeated Swindon, with Bruce scoring the only goal of the game 15 minutes from the end. Luton had missed a penalty earlier.

There was no League game for Luton the next weekend, as it was FA Cup Saturday. Then, on Saturday, 29th February, the team recorded its second consecutive away win with a 1-0 victory over New Brompton. Bruce was at inside right.

Following a midweek 4-2 away defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace, Luton defeated Brighton 1-0 at home on Saturday, 7th March.

Luton faced Portsmouth at Fratton Park the following Saturday. Having never managed to win a point at Portsmouth, it was hardly surprising that they lost, albeit by the smallest of margins. Portsmouth scored the only goal of the game with half-an-hour to go. Bruce almost scored an equaliser soon afterwards, with a fine run and an excellent shot which brought out the best in Portsmouth's goalkeeper.

A home victory over Bradford Park Avenue on Saturday, 21st March, in which Bruce scored the only goal of the game, saw Luton sitting 16th in the league of 20 teams.

After a 0-0 draw at Millwall, who were third in the League, Luton fielded the same team for the fourth match in succession, with Bruce at inside right, for the 1-0 victory at home against Brentford on Saturday, 4th April.

Luton's next fixture was away to Bristol Rovers on Saturday, 11th April. It was another victory by the narrowest of margins. Bruce was the best forward on the field and it was he who scored the decisive goal ten minutes after the interval.

Having won three and drawn one of their last four games, the players and supporters were anticipating a successful Easter programme. It was not to be. A 2-1 away defeat at Watford on Good Friday, followed by 3-0 and 1-0 home defeats by Clapton Orient and Northampton respectively on Easter Saturday and Easter Monday meant that it was a pointles weekend for Luton. Bruce was inside-right for the three games and had an excellent game against Watford.

In the penultimate game of the season, Luton were thrashed 6-1 by Norwich. Bruce played in that game and was included in the team for the final match away to Reading on Saturday, 25th April. However, when the team turned up at Reading's ground, they found that there were no spectators and no referee. Once the referee did arrive, he decided that the conditions were too bad for the match to be played.

The Reading game was played the following Wednesday but, for some reason, Bruce was not included in the team. It ended with another defeat for Luton, which meant that they finished the season 18th of the 20 teams in the league, three points ahead of Leyton and five ahead of New Brompton.

Having been fourth the previous season, the directors and spectators had harboured ambitions to do even better, especially as the Club had engaged a number of new players to strengthen the forward line in particular. The critics and supporters pointed the blame at the new "stars". Bruce's performances had been mixed, ranging from outstanding in the victory over Crystal Palace and the defeat at the hands of Watford to poor in the home defeats by West Ham and Bristol Rovers.

In all, he played 31 games for the first team, scoring 7 goals, at least three of which were the only goal in the game, winning the points for Luton. So, he was far from the worst of the newcomers.

When the list of players who had re-signed was published in The Luton News and Bedfordshire Chronicle, Bruce was not included, but neither was he reported as having left the club. However, he did move on for some reason, whether it was his choice or at the club's insistence is unclear.

Wrexham FC

1908-09 Season

After leaving Luton at the end of 1907-08 season, Bruce played for Egremont Social and Wirral, before signing for Wrexham sometime after the start of the 1908-09 season.

Wrexham played in the Birmingham and District League, which included the reserve sides of Midland League clubs such as Aston Villa, Birmingham and Stoke and teams from towns such as Dudley, Kidderminster, Stourbridge and Walsall. Wrexham played at The Racecourse, which hosted internationals until 1991.

Bruce's first game for Wrexham was on Saturday, 19th December 1908, away to Wellington Town who were bottom of the table, so Wrexham anticipated winning both points. It was not to be, as the home team emerged worthy winners by three goals to one. Bruce was on the left wing.

Wrexham made three changes for the home game on Boxing Day against Stafford but Bruce retained his position on the left wing. The crowd of about 3,000 was delighted when Wrexham went in two goals up at the interval. They were less than happy, however, when Stafford scored twice after the interval to gain a point. Bruce hardly had a single chance to distinguish himself in the first half and fared no better when he swapped wings during the second half.

Bruce retained his place for the next fixture, a 4-2 defeat away to Stoke Reserves on Monday, 28th December. This defeat left Wrexham in 11th place in the league of 18 teams, with 14 points from 13 games.

Wrexham crushed Dudley 4-1 at The Racecourse on Saturday, 2nd January 1909, for Bruce's first winning appearance. Bruce opened the scoring in the 10th minute and then had a hand in the third and fourth goals. The Dudley keeper had saved shots from Bruce on both occasions only for one of Bruce's team-mates to follow up and score.

The following Saturday, Wrexham beat Oak Alyn Rovers 4-0 away from home in the Third Round of the Welsh Senior Cup. Bruce was ineligible, having signed too late for Wrexham.

On Saturday, 16th January, Wrexham faced Exeter City from Division One in the Southern League in the First Round proper of the FA Cup at The Racecourse before a crowd of some 5,000. Bruce was centre-forward and, almost straight from the kick-off, he broke away into the Exeter half. His powerful shot was saved at full-length by the Exeter keeper. However, Wrexham did take the lead shortly afterwards but Exeter equalised just before half-time. The game finished 1-1, although both sides had opportunities to win.

The replay was at Exeter the following Wednesday. The players and officials left Wrexham on the Tuesday, breaking their journey overnight at Bristol, and arriving in Exeter about noon. Wrexham fielded the same eleven and took the lead in the first half through Bruce. However, Exeter equalised late in the second half from the penalty spot forcing the game into extra-time. They then scored a second goal to move into the next round of the Cup.

Afterwards, one of the Devonshire reporters wrote that he had never witnessed a more exciting tie. It was generally agreed that the Welsh club had been the better team and that Bruce had had an excellent match.

The next league game was at home to Birmingham Reserves, one of the highlights of the season for the Wrexham supporters. Bruce moved to outside-right. Wrexham were a goal up at the interval and were the better team in the second half, but a mistake by a Wrexham defender allowed Birmingham to equalise with ten minutes to go. Encouraged by their supporters, Wrexham scored the winner three minutes from time.

Wrexham lost their next two league matches, both away from home. Halesowen scored the only goal of the game 15 minutes from the end on 30th January, whilst Walsall were easy 5-0 winners on 6th February. Bruce was at centre-forward in both games.

Bruce was eligible to face the Druids away in the fourth round of the Welsh Senior Cup on Saturday, 13th February and turned out on the right wing. Wrexham fell behind in the first minute but were back on level terms soon afterwards. Later in the first-half, the Druids' right-back, was injured and unable to continue, leaving his team with ten men. Wrexham scored two further goals before half-time and got a fourth in the second-half when a Druids defender handled a shot from Bruce in the penalty area and Hayden Price converted the spot kick.

For some reason, Bruce missed the league game the following Saturday, a 3-0 defeat away to Stourbridge and was also absent for the 2-2 draw with Connah's Quay in the semi-final of the Welsh Senior Cup.

However, he was back in the team at centre-forward for the replay at Chester on Wednesday, 3rd March. Deep snow had been cleared from the ground prior to kick-off. After ten minutes, Bruce gave Wrexham the lead when he shot into the top corner of the net from about 25 yards, giving the keeper no chance. Wrexham went two up, before Bruce scored a third for Wrexham shortly before the interval. Bruce went on to complete his hat-trick in the second half, ensuring that Wrexham went through to the final by four goals to nil.

The away game with Wolves Reserves on Saturday, 6th March, was postponed because of a blizzard. On the following Monday, Wrexham were beaten 1-0 at home by Kidderminster, although they were the better team throughout. Bruce was at centre-forward. This defeat left Wrexham fourth from bottom of the League with 18 points from 19 games, although the teams around them had played five or six games more.

Wrexham lost again on Saturday, 13th March, a 3-0 defeat away to Burton United. Two days later, however, they secured both points with a home victory over Shrewsbury Town by two goals to one. Shrewsbury were leading 1-0 at half-time, but Bruce equalised within three minutes of the restart. Wrexham took the lead in the second-half, holding on to it for both points.

The following week, Wrexham suffered their heaviest defeat of the season when Aston Villa recorded a 7-0 victory in Birmingham, although the score of 1-0 at the interval gave no clues as to what was to happen later. Wrexham had four first team players missing for various reasons.

Two home victories followed: 2-1 over Stoke Reserves and 9-0 against Burton United. Bruce scored the first goal against Burton with a fierce shot and he notched their third before half-time. He was not among Wrexham's six goals after the interval, however. Wrexham were now in 11th position in the League with 24 points from 26 games.

Wrexham failed to make it three wins in a row when they lost 3-1 at Crewe on Saturday, 3rd April, but returned to winning ways on the Monday, beating Walsall 2-0 at The Racecourse. In conditions made difficult by a strong wind, Bruce gave Wrexham the lead at the break. With under 30 minutes of the game left, Bruce increased the lead when he seized on a Walsall goal kick and struck the ball into the net from 20 yards out.

On Good Friday, Wrexham earned an away point in a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Birmingham Reserves with Bruce at centre-forward. For the Saturday fixture, with the Welsh Senior Cup Final coming up on Easter Monday, Wrexham rested seven players, but not Bruce. With so many first-team regulars missing, it was hardly surprising that Wrexham slumped to a 6-1 defeat by Kidderminster Harriers.

The Welsh Senior Cup Final against Chester was played at The Racecourse on Easter Monday afternoon, 12th April. The teams were:

Wrexham: Husbands; Chappell, Blew; Huffadine, Williams, Davies; Cook, Wynne, Rankin, Smith, Hughes. Hayden Price was missing as he had been injured on Good Friday against Birmingham.

Chester: Keeley; Russell, Davies; Matthews, Grainger, Gordon; Stockton, Roberts, Cotton, Lappin, Jones.

It was a sunny afternoon with a strong wind and the pitch was in excellent condition. Chester, the cup-holders, were the better team in the early stages of the first half with Husbands being called upon to make several saves. As the match progressed, however, it became more evenly balanced. A centre by Hughes was smartly headed away by Russell, Bruce collected the ball and shot just over. Shortly after, another shot by Bruce rebounded away off one of the Chester defenders. Wrexham were the more satisfied of the two teams at the interval, having played against the wind and keeping the score at 0-0.

After the resumption, Bruce was prominent in Wrexham attacks forcing Keeley to save on one occasion and shooting over on another. Chester did have the occasional attack, but thirty minutes into the second half, Huffadine scored his first goal of the season when he headed a corner in just under the bar. Wrexham practically monopolised play after the interval and Bruce had another four attempts at goal. There were no more goals and the Welsh Cup found its way back to Wales. This was the seventh time that Wrexham had won the Welsh Cup, the previous occasion being in 1904-05.

Following the Cup-final, Wrexham completed their League programme with four games in ten days. In the 2-0 win over Stourbridge at The Racecourse on Tuesday, 13th April, Bruce scored the second goal just on full-time from the penalty spot, after the visitor's right back handled the ball in the area. Wrexham were well beaten in their next two games, which were both away from home, going down 3-1 to Brierley Hill Athletic on Saturday, 17th April and losing 5-0 to Worcester City the following Thursday. Bruce was at centre-forward in both matches. In their final fixture of the season, at the Racecourse, on Saturday, 24th April, Wrexham easily defeated Wellington Town 5-1, with Bruce scoring the fifth and final goal.

Wrexham finished a disappointing 11th place in the League, following a very respectable sixth place the previous year. Aston Villa Reserves won the title.

It would seem that Bruce left Wrexham at the end of the 1908-09 season for he does not feature in the list of players in "Wrexham: A Complete Record 1872-1992" by Peter Jones in any of the following seasons. Nor is he included in the list of re-signed players published in the 15th May issue of The Wrexham Advertiser and North Wales News.

Summary of his Football Career

Bruce was clearly a gifted footballer who, perhaps, did not realise his full potential. Selected to play in an England trial early in his career, it was unfortunate that he had to vie with Jack Sharp, an Everton legend, for the outside right berth. Following his move to West Bromwich Albion, he was undoubtedly a great favourite with the supporters there and may well have gone on to greater things with the club had it not been for the unfortunate incident of insubordination, which led to his transfer to Manchester City. There had been no indication of any problems with his behaviour at Goodison. His stay at Manchester City was short-lived and was followed by one season at Luton and then another at Wrexham. He would certainly have had to live in lodgings at Luton, while his family remained in Liverpool. Maybe he was unhappy with that particular lifestyle and that may have been the reason he left Luton. From the match reports, it would not appear to be because of too many poor performances. During his season at Wrexham, he would have resided in Liverpool as the football club would not have expected him to move into Wales, according to Geraint Parry, the Club Secretary. Even in the early 1900s, there was a direct train service from Liverpool to Wrexham, and the station was next to the football ground. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to unearth any concrete evidence to explain the nomadic end to Bruce's career.

Life after Football

Once a professional footballer's career was over, few remained in the game in another capacity. However, according to Bruce's youngest daughter, Teeny, her father was offered the job as groundsman at Everton; he turned it down, saying, "I'm being no groundsman, I used to play on that ground". Instead, he worked on the Liverpool Docks as a goods checker, but there was no guarantee of regular employment.

Bruce died in hospital on 16th February 1954, aged 74, from bronchopneumonia and tuberculosis. His wife, Mary Jane Jackson, survived him by just over six and a half years. She died in Walton Hospital in December 1960 at 76 years of age, from acute bronchopnemonia following a fracture of the right femur when she was blown over by the wind on her way to work as an office cleaner about seven in the morning.