Family and friends pay tribute to former Leith publican

Bob Henderson devoted his life to local club rugby

By David Mclean
Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 4:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 7:21 pm

Tributes have been paid to a well-respected former Leith publican who has died at the age of 80.

Robert “Bob” Henderson passed away on September 3 at Victoria Hospice in Kirkcaldy following a short illness.

Devoting his life to his family, local club rugby and Hibs FC, the father-of-three and grandfather-of-two also co-owned the Spey Lounge near the foot of Leith Walk with his wife Annette until 2002.

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Bob Henderson was devoted to his family, club rugby and Hibs FC.

Born at Albion Road, a stone’s throw from his beloved Hibs, Bob attended Leith Academy after being “bitten by the rugby bug” aged 9 or 10 and went on to represent the senior school as a flanker.

His association with club rugby and Leith Academicals would prove to be lifelong, with Bob eventually being inducted as honorary vice president.

“He just loved team spirit. He played for Leith Accies when they were at their prime, when they had players that were representing Edinburgh,” Bob’s son Frazer told the Evening News.

Frazer, 47, has followed in his parents’ footsteps and now manages a pub, the Piper’s Rest, in the Capital’s Old Town, where a couple of his dad’s old rugby pictures adorn the walls. The pub is also partly named as homage to Bob, who was a piper and previously played at the Edinburgh Tattoo.

He continued: “Every weekend he would jump on the bus and go and watch rugby somewhere.

"He had a huge circle of friends around the rugby and also at Easter Road where he was a founding member of Hibs’ 50 Club.”

Bob and Annette ran the Spey Lounge together with pride for 25 years, serving real ale and home-cooked food.

"Everyone in the family worked there at some point,” said Annette. “He was very much a family man – he was ‘Uncle Bob’.”

Frazer added: "He was a very proud man. Mostly he was very proud of his family and friends. He would do anything to help any one of us out and I think that has manifested itself in a number of comments online, phone calls and floral messages my mum’s received.”

Jim Smith, current club president at Leith Rugby Club, formerly Leith Academicals, knew Bob for more than 40 years.

He played alongside him in the seventies and their friendship continued right up to the present day following Bob’s vice presidency honour.

“Bob was a stalwart of Leith Rugby Club,” said Jim. “He was a wonderful guy and it was always great to be in his company.

"I’ve known him since 1972. His friendship was greatly valued and he was always upbeat and good to have around even in the darkest of days – he always found humour in things.

"Bob was a good man to share a rugby match with and when he came to Leith to watch games he was always supportive of the team. He will be sadly missed.”

Legendary former Evening News rugby correspondent Bill Lothian also played alongside Bob Henderson and joined in the tributes.

"Bob was one of the nicest, most decent of guys. It was always an absolute pleasure, long after we stopped playing, to meet him at a club rugby match on a Saturday.”

Bob Henderson’s funeral service will take place on Thursday, September 17 at Warriston Crematorium. Due to the current restrictions it will be a private service.

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