A Trip To Bonhill Cemetery: Grave of the first man to score for Celtic

Neil McCallum caught Brother Walfrid’s eye by scoring five goals in Renton’s 6-0 win over Edinburgh Hibernians in August 1887. That match was organised by Marist Brothers Walfrid and Dorotheus, along with an embryonic committee of men who would go on to establish Celtic Football Club.

Having beaten Hibs to McCallum’s signature, Neil entered the history books as the first player ever to score for Celtic, setting the Bhoys on their way to a 5-2 victory over Rangers on 28 May 1888.

He was a good player to bring to the club and helped Celtic to ensure early success, including the 1892 Scottish Cup trophy.

An interesting piece of trivia is that, in February 1888, McCallum played for Rangers as a guest player in a friendly against Aston Villa at Parry Barr, Birmingham. He was the first Roman Catholic to play for Rangers, 16 years after the club’s inception, and also the first individual to play for both sides of the Glasgow divide. Sadly, few Catholics would have that same opportunity at Ibrox until the very late stages of the 20th century.

Neil McCallum died in November 1920 at the age of 52 and is buried in his hometown of Bonhill (Bonhill Churchyard, Main Street, Bonhill, Alexandria, G83 9HR). His grave, positioned next to two other McCallum’s, did not originally have a headstone. However, the burial plot was eventually found by the Celtic daft Minister of the church, Ian Miller, and the Celtic Graves Society then gave McCallum a fitting memorial headstone and commemoration in 2012.

Neil McCallum’s unmarked grave & Celtic Graves Society’s image from their commemoration


The Holy Grounds of Glasgow Celtic: A Guide To Celtic Landmarks & Sites Of Interest is a popular book, covering over 60 stories and locations (including McCallum’s grave).
All proceeds go to Celtic FC Foundation and you can purchase a copy by clicking on the image above.

About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up in Bournemouth with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic during the Martin O'Neill era. Still living on the south coast, I have a season ticket at Paradise and also travel to European away matches when possible. I have written four Celtic books since the age of 19: Our Stories & Our Songs: The Celtic Support, Take Me To Your Paradise: A History Of Celtic-Related Incidents & Events, Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys: Celtic's Founding Fathers, First Season & Early Stars, and The Holy Grounds of Glasgow Celtic: A Guide To Celtic Landmarks & Sites Of Interest. These were/are sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores, and are available on Amazon.

1 Comment

  1. Great story. i was born right across the road from the graveyard, albeit the entire street has now gone. Rev ian Millar a good man, loves Celtic, some of his “sermon’s” I hear don’t always go down too well with the locals !!!