The Celtic Star recently published a unique book charting Celtic’s early history, titled Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys. The publication has three sections focusing on the founding fathers of the club, a month by month account of Celtic’s first ever season and the early star players (The Bould Bhoys).
But where does the term “Bould Bhoys” come from? Allow me to explain, with the story of Celtic’s first ever song – The Bould Bould Celts.
Until the 1950s, singing on the terraces at football wasn’t the norm. There are references to the Celtic support singing at various times prior to that era, but it would likely have been bursts of song rather than something which happens throughout the match as we see today.
One of the earliest reports of Celtic fans singing at matches comes from the early 1900s, when the supporters sang God Save Ireland in unison with Hibs fans at a Scottish Cup match. Meanwhile, it is well documented that the Celtic faithful sang songs on their Brake Club travels to and from games and at post match receptions as early as the 1800s.
The earliest recorded Celtic song is The Bould Bould Celts. It’s lyrics appear in The Referee newspaper on 19 November 1888, but it is not confirmed whether fans sang this on the terraces or just reserved it for their travels either side of matches.
Regardless, the words tell a fantastic story of the very first Celtic team. Set to the tune of the classic Irish ballad, Wearing Of The Green, the lyrics to The Bould Bould Celts are as follows:
Oh! Paddy, dear, an’ did you hear the news that’s goin’ round
That the team they call the “Celtic” is the best that can be found;
For the way they play, the people say, they should get champion belts;
But I’ll give my own opinion of the bould, bould Celts.
The first one that I noticed, as they stepped upon the field,
Och! He just lucked like a hayro who wud rather die than yield;
Whin they called him “Captain” Kelly, shure immediately I felt
Admirashun rise ‘ithin me for this bould, bould Celt.
Then another strappin’ fellow, I heard thim shout his name-
Both friends and enemies they praise his “gentlemanly game”
An’ to see him head the leather, shure the collared hearts they melt.
For “Gineral” McLaren is a good bould Celt.
There’s McCallum, he’s another, tho’ his name does not denote
That he’s of the “Emerald colour” still, I’ll give my word an’ vote
Since I seen him from the “touch-line” give the foot ball such a welt.
I have come to the conclusion he’s a bould, bould Celt.
Shure they’ve put wan in the rear rank who shud be In the tan
A sturdy little fellow, but he’s every inch a man.
My, I seen him take it aisy when an awful kick he dealt;
Och! McKeown he is knowin’, he’s a bould, bould Celt.
An there’s handsome Tommy Maley, shure he races like a hare;
Tho’ he has to kick the ball as well, you’ll maybe think it quare.
I have seen men try to catch him but the ball they never smelt.
For he knows the way to dodge thim, does this bould, bould Celt.
There’s wan that’s wantin’ watchin’; they call him Willy Groves;
He’s wonderful to luk at as about the field he roves
Och! He bares no comprehenshun – admirashun I have felt:
He’s a dasher, he’s a smasher, he’s a bould bould Celt.
There’s Coleman, Willy Maley, and there’s Dunbar –all the same –
An’ Dunning in the “gap hole” always plays awinning game;
“Tho’ last not layst” I won’t forget, tho’ long enough I’ve dwelt,
Faugh-a ballagh for O’Gallacher, a bould, bould Celt