Football violence involving players and fans, Police involvement, arguments at SFA

One of the great myths in football is when the media expresses outrage at on-field fights and arguments; in truth, most of the time they love the excitement it generates.

But if the criticism is genuine, they can be glad they live now and not in the 1890s. When Celtic first claimed the league title (1892-93), supporter and player violence was much more widespread than now. It even had an impact on which teams were able to play in the Scottish League.

One shocking story involving Celtic’s Bould Bhoys came in February 1893. Glasgow’s green-and-white men went to Paisley to play Abercorn. This match seemed crucial to Celtic’s hopes of winning the title – and it ended in defeat for the Celts.

However the biggest outrage of the day came after the match had finished. As the Celtic players trooped off the field – shocked by their 4-2 defeat – jubilant home fans streamed onto the park.Rather than just celebrating their team’s victory, many became involved in fights and skirmishes with the defeated Celts. It was claimed that some of the Celtic team were punched and even hit with weapons; newspapers said that there was “blood … drawn”.

Footballers in the 1890s were more than capable of looking after themselves and so the Parkhead men soon fought back. It was even claimed that Jerry Reynolds knocked out an Abercorn fan’s teeth, something for which he was later arrested. In fact, Reynolds was later released without any charges. This was very reasonable given that most accounts suggest it was another Celt that threw the punch!


After the day itself had ended, the fight continued to stir bad blood. Celtic blamed Abercorn for the violence. An SFA meeting later cleared the home side of any responsibility, and the Paisley men rubbed salt into the wounds by trying to claiming compensation for the accusations (which was rejected).

When the season ended, Abercorn found themselves ejected from the League. Teams finishing near the bottom were not automatically relegated, instead it went to a vote to decide on this. Some people claimed that Celtic orchestrated votes against Abercorn in response to the attacks.

However the Bhoys alone could hardly be blamed for this. Abercorn fans had a history of violence and other clubs were said to want their removal. Furthermore, Clyde – who were also voted out of the League – may have lost support due to their supporters previously attacking Dumbarton players.

So: football violence involving players and fans. Police involvement. Arguments at SFA committee meetings. Teams being thrown out of the League. No-one can say that Celtic’s first league title was not full of excitement.

Matthew Marr – @hailhailhistory

To read the full story of Celtic’s first ever league title, order your copy of Matthew Marr’s ‘Walfrid and the Bould Bhoys! ‘Glory to their name’ which is published by Celtic Star Books and is available now on hardback (your copy will be personally signed by the author) and also, if you prefer, on Amazon kindle – links below for both. The Bould Bhoys! ‘Glory to their name’ will also be available from all Celtic outlets early in the week.

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

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