Remembering Celtic Legend Peter Somers – nicknamed ‘The Powder Monkey’ by Willie Maley

The Artful Dodger, Napoleon, The Croy Express, The Powder Monkey and The Dancer

Need I tell you who they were? All right, younger readers may not have heard of Bennett, McMenemy, Quinn, Somers and Hamilton – but they have now, and it was of course the forward line of Maley’s great side in the Edwardian era!

Peter Somers, the inside left, is often grossly undervalued. Of the inside trio, he is probably less well known than McMenemy and Quinn, but he was never considered one iota inferior to these two – and that is saying something!

Born in Strathavon in 1878, he was one of the earliest of the great team to arrive in 1897, but he went out on loan to Clyde and Blackburn Rovers before returning in 1902. He played all over the forward line until he settled in the inside left position alongside Davie Hamilton, (another grossly under-rated player) in the 1903/04 season.

He was called “The Powder Monkey” by Willie Maley. It was a brilliant metaphor. A “powder monkey” was usually a small boy who was able to climb inside a cannon and load the ammunition. This was a great way to describe the way that Somers supplied the ammunition for Quinn, but Somers was also able to score goals himself – often the tap in because he was around to take advantage of the fact that the opposition defence had two men on Quinn!

He won the Scottish League in 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908 and 1909 and the Scottish Cup in 1904, 1907 and 1908. He played 4 times for Scotland and 3 times for the Scottish League – and never let anyone down.

But there was more to him than that. He also played a great part on the social scene at Celtic, and particularly on away trips – something that was so important in the building up of the Celtic spirit which Maley did everything to encourage.

He was a great comedian – apparently he did brilliant impersonations of King Edward VII, Lloyd George and even Willie Maley – and also a great pianist, notably at the concerts to raise money for the unjustly suspended Jimmy Quinn, but also to accompany the many Celtic players who fancied themselves as singers entertaining the other guests at Rothesay and Seamill.

After 1908, the great forward began to break up. Alec Bennett went to Rangers for reasons that no-one could figure, and Peter Somers now over 30 began to lose his place to the talented Fifer called Peter Johnstone.

Somers moved on to Hamilton in early 1910 for whom he played for about a season before giving up the game through injuries some time before he could play in the Scottish Cup final against Celtic in 1911. He became a Director of Hamilton Academical in 1912, but continued to suffer with his left leg. Amputation was necessary, and he never really got over the physical trauma of the operation, and died on Friday 27 November 1914 in the St Andrews Nursing Home in Glasgow.

He was only 36, leaving a wife and young family. He was buried in the Wellhall Cemetery, Hamilton, and his funeral was well attended by most people in Scottish football – even in war time – for he was well loved for his “sunny disposition” and his “pawky humour”.

David Potter

Celtic Graves: Commemoration of Peter Somers


This article appeared on The Celtic Star in April 2018. Since David Potter has written about Peter Somers today we thought it worth adding this to earlier article on The Celtic Graves event to enhance your appreciation of the Peter and also the work of Celtic Graves.  Text below was written by Martin Donaldson.


I took a trip out to Hamilton for the commemoration of Peter Somers, who although only 36 when he died had left his mark on Celtic and a number of other clubs during his short life. The event was put together by the team at the Celtic Graves Society and by kind permission of the Somers family.

Peter was part of the first Celtic team to win 6 league titles in a row back in early 1900s and formed part of one of the most famous front 5 in Celtic’s history. With over 200 appearances and 62 goals, Peter helped establish Celtic on the field in the club’s early years.

Parking the car at the Cemetery, I spoke with a few other people who had made their way from various parts of Scotland for the commemoration. After a quick chat we all made our way to the grave side and newly cleaned headstone.

An introduction from our hosts at the Celtic Graves Society gave the tribute from the Somers family and set the scene for Peter’s career with Celtic, the honours won and anecdotes from during his time at the club.

David Potter then gave an account of that great Celtic team of the early 1900s, singing songs of the famous 5 of Bennett, McMenemy, Quinn, Somers and Hamilton. I know that I won’t ever sing this little piggy the same way again!

David Potter third from the left.

We were then given more details on Peter’s life away from Celtic from the Hamilton Accies historian Peter McLeish, telling the story of Peter Somers quick graduation from Hamilton Accies to Celtic, to Blackburn back to Celtic and finally back to Hamilton. Peter’s Iove of the game that kept him scouting for Hamilton after he stopped playing and ultimately his premature death in 1914.

Finally flowers were laid from a Celtic fan who had made the trip from across the Atlantic ocean.

Normally a visit to a cemetery can be a difficult, but the work of the members of the Celtic Graves Society and the guest speakers ensured everyone there left with a positive memory of a player who achieved so much in his career.

This is only the second CGS event I have been to and the work that the team put in to pull all this together is amazing. If you get the chance, you should make the effort to get along to their events.

Martin Donaldson


Photos with thanks to @photobhoy – photographer for @celticgraves

About Author

I am Celtic author and historian and write for The Celtic Star. I live in Kirkcaldy and have followed Celtic all my life, having seen them first at Dundee in March 1958. I am a retired teacher and my other interests are cricket, drama and the poetry of Robert Burns.

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