Jim Craig’s 7am start: The tragic death of Barney Battles

On this day in 1901, Celtic full-back Barney Battles got the first of his three caps for Scotland in the 2-2 draw with England at the Crystal Palace.

The life of Bernard ‘Barney’ Battles is a most interesting one. After a junior career in the east of Scotland, he joined Celtic in June 1895, becoming a regular in the first team over the next two seasons.

Unfortunately, Barney was involved in the Players Strike of 28 November 1896 and things were not quite the same after that between the player and the committee which ran the club.

In the summer of 1897, Barney moved to Dundee and a year after that to Liverpool but he always thought of Celtic as ‘his club’ and after the Board at Parkhead ate some humble pie, he was brought back to Celtic Park and starred for the club over the next six years before moving to Kilmarnock in 1904.

One year later, Barney was struck down with a bout of influenza, an illness that, in those pre-antibiotic days, could be very serious. In the case of Barney, it proved fatal and he died at his home in the Gallowgate on 9 February 1905.

After his funeral service at Sacred Heart, Bridgeton, his coffin was carried by out by fellow players Dan Doyle, Sandy MacMahon, Johnny Campbell and Willie Orr; it was then followed by a cortege of 2,000; and a reputed 40,000 lined the route to Dalbeth Cemetery to pay their respects.

At that time, Barney’s wife was pregnant and Bernard, junior was born on 12 October 1905. While he was still a young man, his mother decided to emigrate to America, where Barney junior started playing for various teams, ending up eventually with the newly formed Boston Football Club. He had a very good season and also received a cap for the USA against Canada in Montreal.

Barney Jnr came back to Scotland in 1928, joining Hearts, where he had an outstanding career, culminating in a Scottish cap against Wales in 1930. Unfortunately, over the next few years, he would suffer from knee problems and eventually retired from the game at the relatively young age of 30 in 1936.

DOUBLE TREBLE: “We have a wonderful opportunity to again, re-write the history books,” Brendan

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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