Bobby Collins – “Affectionately known as ‘Wee Barra’ with Celtic”

On this day in 1931, in the Govanhill district of Glasgow, a baby boy came into the world and was christened Robert Collins.

17 years later, that boy, by now a man of around 5 feet 4 inches and 9 stone 6 pounds and known as Bobby Collins, signed for Celtic and went on, during the following 10 years, to make quite a name for himself, as well as helping his new club to some good moments.

Celtic won the Scottish Cup in 1951, the St Mungo Cup in August of the same year, the Coronation Cup in 1953, the League/Scottish Cup ‘double’ of 1953-54 and the consecutive League Cup victories of 1956 and 1957.

He left for Everton in 1958, accompanied by rumours that he had been sold to pay for the new Parkhead floodlights. His stay at Goodison Park was not a great success but his career was resurrected when he moved to Leeds United in 1962, where he was credited by manager Don Revie for being the cornerstone of the very talented Leeds side of the 60s and 70s.

In addition to his role as mentor to the young players, the ‘Wee Barra’ picked up the Football Writers Association Footballer of the Year Award in season 1964/65.

 

After leaving Leeds in 1967, Bobby was associated with a number of clubs as a player, coach or manager – both in Britain and Australia – before coming out of football altogether in 1985.

Thereafter, Bobby worked at a variety of jobs outside of the game before being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2002.

He died on 13 February 2014 at the age of 83.

Jim Craig

“The Wee Barra” was little more than 5 feet tall when he joined the club in 1948, but it was soon observed that he was a superb player with many skills of dribbling, passing, shooting and goal scoring.

He won a Scottish Cup medal in 1951 when Celtic beat Motherwell, but he wasn’t always in the team for reasons of injury, loss of form or sheer madness in team selection!

Bobby Collins training to be a miner while playing for Celtic. Can you imagine Jota doing that shift?

In 1953, he played in the Coronation Cup winning team, and then in September of that year performed the unusual feat of scoring three penalty kicks as Celtic beat Aberdeen 3-0.

He missed out on the 1954 Scottish Cup final, but played in the first game in 1955’s Cup final against Clyde. Inadvisedly, he indulged in a shoulder charge with Clyde’s goalkeeper, was dropped for the replay and Celtic duly lost!

He was also a star in the 7-1 team of 1957.

He played 31 times for Scotland, as late as 1965 turning out for Scotland against England, some 7 years after Celtic let him go, apparently to pay for the Parkhead floodlights. He went to Everton and Leeds United, and was a success with both. He was one of the players, one feels, that Celtic might have made a lot more of…but Mr Kelly didn’t like him.

David Potter

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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