On This Day: 9th February 1905..Barney Battles died in Glasgow

A play-anywhere-in-defence player, Bernard ‘Barney’ Battles joined Celtic from Hearts on 8th June 1895, making his first-team debut two months later. In November 1896, Barney was one of three Celtic players who refused to turn out just before a home match with Hibs unless reporters who had been criticizing the team and its form were ejected from the Press Box.

The club was not amused and suspended the players immediately. Over the next few months, Barney had short spells with both Dundee and Liverpool but eventually he was brought back into the Parkhead fold, much to the delight of the fans, to whom he was ‘St Barney Battles, Patron of Parkhead’.

Over the years before and after the turn of the 20th century, Barney continued to delight the Celtic faithful as the club picked up the Scottish League in 1897-98, the Scottish Cup in 1899 and 1900, as well as several Glasgow and Charity Cups. In 1904, though, as Willie Maley put together a younger side, Barney found himself surplus to requirements and moved to Kilmarnock.



Tragically, though, only a year later – and don’t forget that this was before the discovery of antibiotics – Barney was affected by a bout of influenza and died at this home in the Gallowgate in Glasgow on this day in 1905. He was 30 years of age. After his Requiem Mass in Sacred Heart Church, Bridgeton, just along from Bridgeton Cross, his coffin was carried out by four team-mates with a cortege estimated to be around 2,000 people following behind. And it was reckoned that around 40,000 lined both sides of London Road as his hearse made the trip from the church to Dalbeth Cemetery.

NB Barney played 136 matches for Celtic and scored 6 goals.

NB2 At the time of his death, Barney Battles’ wife was pregnant. A few months later, she gave birth to a boy, named Bernard after his father. Shortly afterwards, the family moved to the USA, where Bernard Jnr, or ‘Barney’ as he also became known, took up football, eventually playing 116 matches for Boston Soccer Club and also gaining a cap for the USA national team. When the club hit financial difficulties, not helped by the start of the Great Depression, young Barney returned to Scotland and signed for Hearts. He was at Tynecastle from 1928 to 1936, making 148 appearances and gaining international recognition with Scotland, his sole cap coming against Wales in 1931.

Jim Craig


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