Jim Craig – The loss of Celtic Star, Barney Battles

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On this day in 1875, Bernard Battles was born in Springburn, in the north of Glasgow. 20 years later, Bernard, by then better known as ‘Barney’, signed for Celtic after a year with Hearts and went straight into the first team.

The versatile Barney was an inspiration wherever he played. He was in the championship-winning side of 1895/96, the successful Scottish Cup teams of 1899 and 1900 and the British Exhibition Cup victory of 1902.

In 1905, at the age of 30, Barney Battles died suddenly after a bout of influenza. His coffin was carried out of Sacred Heart Church in Bridgeton by teammates Dan Doyle, Sandy MacMahon, John Campbell and Willie Orr. They were followed by a cortege of 2,000 while another 40,000 lined the route along London Road to Dalbeth Cemetery in silent tribute to a popular player.

At the time of his death, Barney’s wife was pregnant and this child, a boy, another Bernard, was born on 12 October 1905. He turned out to be a promising footballer and when his mother decided to emigrate to America, he played for a team in Boston.

Eventually, Barney junior came back to Scotland and a career with Hearts, winning two international caps, one for Scotland and one for the USA.

Jim Craig


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