Book Review: Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys

*Book Review by Pete Duffy

As someone who has read books by each of the authors involved in Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys, I already had a good idea of the quality of writing that I would uncover in the book. I was proven right as it was so good that I read each of the three sections in as many days (thank furlough for that!)

When the book arrived, I was struck by the look and feel of it. Don’t judge a book by its cover they famously say, but this cover was beautifully presented, historic in style and to prove that saying wrong, the content was as good.

The book makes for really interesting reading. I have to say that I love the early years and foundations of Celtic so it was right up my street. The research into the founding fathers was incredible and the stories were top class. How sad that so many of these men who gave us Celtic Football Club have been overlooked in the past.

I loved the different theories presented around the change of status at the club in the 1890s, and the stories of the first Football Fundraisers held by Brother Walfrid, Brother Dorotheus and others at Barrowfield Park. These projects, explained entertainingly, makes you realise how the founding fathers met each other and just how important the little-known historical tales are to the very existence of Celtic.

With all the personal stories and information behind the characters who brought Celtic to be, Matt Corr takes over the baton with a month by month summary of the first season. As the book progresses through the months, we are told of great stories, incredible success and get a feel for how important the campaign was. To some, a win away at Dumbarton in the Scottish Cup semi-final is nothing special. But, as Matt explains, it was remarkable for a new club to go to fortress Boghead and beat the team that would soon become league champions. It’s these facts and glorious information that makes it such a wonderful read.

Having been educated through the foundations of Celtic with a first trophy in the cabinet, David Potter rounds things off with possibly my favourite part of the book.

In his own unique way, he manages to bring early legendary figures to life. Jimmy ‘Napoleon’ McMenemy, Barney Battles and Alec ‘The Icicle’ McNair. All were just names to me before reading, now I put them alongside Larsson, Dalglish and the other greats. They are brought to life page by page. Characters, brave men and terrific footballers.

Their stories should be known to all. I should pay special mention to the remarkable story of Barney Battles enjoying an Albert Kidd-esque moment in the colours of Dundee as his goals handed Celtic the league title. A great piece of research. There are other Celtic stars covered too.

Barney Battles

The bonus of a feature from a Celtic supporter at the first ever game in 1888 was the icing on the cake. An amazing primary source from a man who witnessed history. The article was transcribed from an edition of the Celtic View in 1972 and I’m sure I read it at the time. Maybe that’s just my old mind playing tricks on me.

Kudos Bhoys, this was a great addition to the Celtic library. I’d certainly recommend other Celtic fans to get a copy.

*Book review by Pete Duffy

About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up on the English south coast with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic during the Martin O'Neill era. 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 previously sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores, and are now available on Amazon.

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