Celtic’s first ‘Albert Kidd’ moment at Dundee

Another snippet from Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys this morning, this time from David Potter’s section of the book. The Celtic Historian tells the stories of all the early Celtic Stars, while Liam Kelly writes about the Celtic Founding Fathers and their remarkable stories while Matt Corr takes us through in great detail that very first season for Celtic.

Over the weekend we published snippets from both Liam and Matt’s sections in Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys so today it is the turn of David Potter. We join him as he tells the tale of a real Celtic hero the brilliantly named Barney Battles…

“Bring out your rattles for Brave Barney Battles is back with the Celtic again”

Barney’s big mistake came in the ‘strike’ of November 1896, when he was foolishly prevailed upon to join Peter Meehan and John Divers in their refusal to play, unless a journalist was removed from the Press Box before a game against Hibernian.

The journalist had come perilously close to libelling some Celtic players, saying that “they were always the aggressors” in the Glasgow Cup final against Rangers. In truth, the freedom of the Press being a very important Victorian concept, the ‘strike’ was foolish and ultimately self-defeating, with dire consequences for Battles himself and for Celtic. He did not play again for Celtic this year. Celtic’s season imploded after their shock Scottish Cup defeat at Arthurlie in January 1897 and Battles spent the 1897/98 season with Liverpool and then Dundee. He never really settled in Liverpool – the truth was that he wanted back to Celtic – and his move to Dundee was a stepping-stone to that aim. His heart had never really left Celtic.

Barney had one great moment for Celtic while still playing for Dundee. On Saturday, 12 February 1898, he scored for Dundee against Rangers at Carolina Port. As Celts beat St Mirren that day, Barney, even though playing with a broken wrist and being “a glutton for work,” according to The Dundee Courier, scored the goal which won the League for Celtic! Sound familiar?

Yes, Albert Kidd did a similar thing in 1986, did he not? It was by no means an exact parallel, although the similarities lie in the rain, Celtic playing St Mirren and the crucial Dundee goal being scored by a man who wished he was playing for Celtic! In 1898, however, it made all of the Celtic family yearn for the return of the wayward and now repentant Battles, with The Glasgow Observer outspoken in its desire for the re-introduction of ‘St Bernard Battles, the Patron of Parkhead.’

Willie Maley, the recently appointed Secretary, was all in favour, however, it needed a poor run of form in the early part of the 1898/99 season to convince the Celtic Directors that such an addition was necessary. Barney had, in the meantime, returned to Liverpool and more unhappiness, but was clearly pining for home, and eventually in early October 1898, Maley went down to Liverpool and brought him back.

READ THIS…Book Review: Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds 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

Comments are closed.