The Wee Barra – Bobby Collins stands tall amongst the Celtic greats

My generation had the pleasure of witnessing a wonderful midfield player in John Collins, but further back there was another man by the name of Collins, and he was just as good if not better, and his name was Bobby…

Standing at just 5ft 3 inches Bobby was aptly nicknamed ‘The Wee Barra’ but what he lacked in height he made up in the talent category.

The Toryglen boy signed for the club in 1948 despite interest from down south, mainly Everton and made his debut a year later as an 18 year old and starred in a 3-2 league cup win over Rangers in front of 70,000 supporters at Celtic Park. The mesmerised crowd witnessed young Bobby torment his marker the battle hardened experienced defender Jock Shaw as he inspired the Hoops to victory.


Bobby never looked back and became a first team regular and was even selected for international duty with Scotland in 1950 at the age of just 19. It was the first of 31 caps in which he scored an impressive 10 goals. Bobby was one of four Celtic players at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden which was won by Brazil. The other three were Bobby Evans, Willie Fernie and Bertie Peacock.

Despite playing for the club in an era we weren’t exactly overly successful, Bobby helped the club win two Scottish cups, two league cups and a league title and of course played his part in the famous Coronation Cup win in 1953. Success is relative I suppose.

Particularly highlights were the league and cup double in 1954 although Bobby was bizarrely to the outrage of everyone from the players to the supporters left out of the 1954 cup win over Aberdeen on the instructions of chairman Bob Kelly.

Footballer Joe Walters looks on as Bobby Collins heads wide during the Celtic v Clyde game.

He was dropped again for the following year’s Scottish cup final replay against Clyde for what was described as an undignified charging of the Clyde goalkeeper who was at least a foot taller than Bobby. Celtic would go on to lose the replay in Bobby’s absence.

The biggest highlight for Bobby would undoubtedly be starring in the famous Hampden in the Sun 7-1 thumping over Rangers in 1957. A feat like the rest of his teammates that day he will be forever remembered for and lauded in Celtic folklore.

“All my days I will sing in praise
Of the Celtic team that played that day”

Bobby left the club in 1958 when he joined Everton and reports suggested he instigated the move although it was also suggested that the club cashed in to fund the new flood Light system.

Bobby Collins at Leeds

Whatever the reason Bobby will always be remembered as a Celtic great. He also left an impression down south with Everton and Leeds United and Bury who he served with just as much distinction. He won the English player of the year award with Leeds United in 1965 which is testament to how much he was regarded in the English game.

18.01.2014  Celtic players during the minutes silence for Bobby Collins who died earlier that week before the Scottish Premier League game between Celtic and Motherwell from Celtic Park. Photo Vagelis Georgariou

The Wee Barra may have lacked in height, but he stands tall among those many greats who have passed through those famous Parkhead gates. Bobby sadly passed away at the age of 82 on 13 January 2014. His status as a Celtic legend lives on.

Just an Ordinary Bhoy

Here’s the late, great David Potter writing about Bobby Collins…

“The Wee Barra” was little more than 5 feet tall when he joined the club in 1948, but it was soon observed that he was a superb player with many skills of dribbling, passing, shooting and goal scoring.

He won a Scottish Cup medal in 1951 when Celtic beat Motherwell, but he wasn’t always in the team for reasons of injury, loss of form or sheer madness in team selection!

Bobby Collins training to be a miner while playing for Celtic. Can you imagine Jota doing that shift?

In 1953, he played in the Coronation Cup winning team, and then in September of that year performed the unusual feat of scoring three penalty kicks as Celtic beat Aberdeen 3-0.

He missed out on the 1954 Scottish Cup final, but played in the first game in 1955’s Cup final against Clyde. Inadvisedly, he indulged in a shoulder charge with Clyde’s goalkeeper, was dropped for the replay and Celtic duly lost!

Bobby Collins scoring against Rangers in a 4-4 draw at Parkhead in a Scottish cup tie in 1957. Celtic win the replay 2-0 at Ibrox

He played 31 times for Scotland, as late as 1965 turning out for Scotland against England, some 7 years after Celtic let him go, apparently to pay for the Parkhead floodlights. He went to Everton and Leeds United, and was a success with both. He was one of the players, one feels, that Celtic might have made a lot more of…but Mr Kelly didn’t like him.

David Potter

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About Author

An ordinary everyday Celtic supporters hailing and still residing in Govan in the shadows of the enemy. I’m a season ticket holder. I Witnessed my first Celtic game in 1988 and have attended when I can ever since. Growing up in the 90s I witnessed Celtic at their lowest, and now appreciate the historic success we enjoy today. I enjoy writing about this wonderful football club and hopefully will continue to do so. I’ve always been a keen writer and initially started this a hobby. My ambition is to one day become as good an author as my fellow Celtic Star colleagues.

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