Celtic legend Bobby Collins dies at the age of 82

FORMER Celtic, Everton, Leeds and Scotland midfielder Bobby Collins has died at the age of 82.
Bobby Collins lines up for Scotland before the match against England at Wembley in 1965. Picture: PABobby Collins lines up for Scotland before the match against England at Wembley in 1965. Picture: PA
Bobby Collins lines up for Scotland before the match against England at Wembley in 1965. Picture: PA

Collins, affectionately known by Celtic supporters as “The Wee Barra” (he was only 5ft 3in tall), signed for the club in August 1948 and made his debut in a 3-2 League Cup section victory at Celtic Park over Rangers the following year.

He would go on to make a total of 320 appearances for the club, scoring an impressive 116 goals, one of only 28 players to have scored over a century of goals for Celtic.

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Collins was a central part of Celtic’s post-war triumphs prior to Jock Stein’s arrival at the club as manager, helping the team to the Scottish Cup in 1951, beating Motherwell 1-0 in the final.

In 1953 Celtic unexpectedly won the Coronation Cup, beating Hibernian 2-0 in the final. On their way to Hampden, they beat Arsenal 1-0, with Collins scoring the only goal of the game direct from a corner. And in 1953/54, Celtic won the league and cup double, with Collins playing a pivotal role.

He also played his part in Celtic’s first two League Cup triumphs. In 1956-57, he scored the first goal in the 3-0 replay victory over Partick Thistle, and a year later he was part of the legendary Celtic team which beat Rangers 7-1.

Collins was transferred to Everton in 1958 – there were rumours that the deal was done to finance new floodlights for Celtic Park – and he remained at Goodison for four years before joining Don Revie’s Leeds United, then in the English Second Division, for £25,000.

As captain he helped them gain promotion to the old First Division, and was awarded the English Football Writers’ Player of the Year in 1965 in recognition of his contribution as Leeds finished runners-up in both the league and FA Cup that season.

His sparkling form at Leeds also won him a recall to the Scotland squad after a six-year absence, and he earned three more caps.

The following season he suffered a horrific broken thighbone in a Fairs Cup tie against Torino, effectively ending his top-flight career, but he went on to play for Bury (1967-69), Morton (1969-71) and in Australia, finishing his playing career in Ireland in 1974 with Shamrock Rovers – and scored once for them at the age of 42.

While playing for Morton he doubled up as a scout for Revie, and recommended team-mate Joe Jordan, who went on to become a respected and feared striker with both Leeds and Scotland.

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Collins’ international record was also impressive, as he was capped 31 times for Scotland, scoring ten goals, and he scored 12 goals in 16 games for the Scottish League XI.

Collins had management spells at Huddersfield Town, Hull City and Barnsley, as well as having two spells coaching with Leeds.

Everton chairman Bill Kenwright says the Glaswegian helped transform the club when he arrived, while former team-mate Eddie Gray said he rated Collins as “the most influential player” in Leeds’ history.

“In my opinion, Bobby Collins was probably the most influential player in the history of Leeds,” Gray told Leeds’ website. “He will be sadly missed by all who knew him and played with him.”

Collins made 167 appearances during his five-year stint at Elland Road, scoring 26 goals, having previously played 147 times for Everton, scoring 48 times.

Kenwright told Everton’s website: “I am extremely saddened to hear of the death of one of my idols, Bobby Collins. Bobby was very much a part of Everton’s life and helped transform the club from the minute he arrived at Goodison Park in 1958 as our record signing.

“He was pivotal and inspirational during his four seasons with the Blues and will never be forgotten by our fans and everyone at Everton Football Club.”