Celtic’s magical journey begins, Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys – cherish it

There can surely be no other football club in the world whose history is devoured, cherished then handed down through family, enabling our children and grandchildren to recite the great names and events of the past with the same feeling and passion as for those they witnessed first-hand. It is a rite of passage. A gift which is uniquely Celtic.

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In Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys, authors from three generations of that Celtic family take you on a magical journey through the early days of the new football club which was springing to life in Glasgow’s impoverished east end.

Through Liam Kelly we meet Celtic’s Founding Fathers. Those men whose compassion, vision and energy created Celtic Football Club for the most wonderful of reasons, to help those struggling to survive.

Those of our forefathers and mothers who had nothing. Origins and principles which set us apart as more than a football club, even to this day.

We walk game-by-game through an incredible debut season with Matt Corr as players are recruited to form a team which will become a cause, a reason for living the other six days in the week. Challenging the established order and creating joy in the communities of the east end by reaching the prestigious Scottish Cup Final from a standing start, then delivering silverware, all within that thrilling first year of existence.

We hear the thoughts of a Celtic supporter, Dan Drake, who lived through that first season and who attended the original Celtic Park with his own father on the day it all began, with a 5-2 victory over Rangers back in May 1888.

Then Celtic historian David Potter shares his thoughts on the inaugural heroes in white and green who would thrill Dan and the other Celtic fans of the early years, playing their way into our hearts and the opening chapters of The Celtic Story.

Men like Kelly, McMenemy and Quinn, whose names still roll off the tongue more than a century later, idolised to this day by the descendants of the men and women who watched them create history.

This unique collaboration between these three Celtic writers, all published authors in their own right, has it all.

Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys is beautifully designed and produced, and is priced at £19.99 and is available now from Celticstarbooks.com, the Celtic stores and the club’s online store and also on Amazon.

Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys – Book Review 

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

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

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