Standing at 5ft 3in the little 'big man' of the great Celtic side of the fifties was affectionately known as 'The Wee Barra'.
Bobby Collins, a Glasgow-born native, was born in the Govanhill area of the city on February 16th 1931. At the age of 17 he signed for Celtic during the close season of 1948, and played his first game in the Hoops against city rivals Rangers in a 3-2 League Cup victory at Celtic Park. Not a bad start by all accounts.
He would later go on to make 320 appearances for the club, scoring over a century of goals and in doing so becoming one of 28 Celtic players to achieve the feat.
Collins was played as outside right for some time before he was moved to what is considered to be his more natural position on inside right. The Scotsman often switched between the two positions, and he won the, one-off, St Mungo's Cup and Coronation Cup while playing on the wing, beating Hibs 2-0 in the final. On route to the cup final against Hibernian, the Hoops overcame English side Arsenal in a 1-0 victory, with Collins scoring the only goal of the game directly from a corner. Celtic also saw off Manchester United with a 2-1 victory in the semi-final.
In fact his one-step corner kick routines provided great entertainment and were looked upon with great fascination. He was known to deliver with great accuracy using this unique routine.
Bobby was a natural playmaker and was at the heart of every Celtic honour won in the post-war period until he departed for Everton in 1958. As stated above he helped Celtic lift the one-off Saint Mungo's Cup contested in Glasgow as part of the 1951 Festival of Britain celebrations. Remarkably, the Hoops came from two goals down to win the game 3-2 in front of 81,000 spectators at Hampden Park. Aberdeen took a two goal advantage in the first 45 with goals from Harry Yorston and Tommy Bogan. The great Charlie Tully was the man who took the game by the scruff of the neck assisting two Sean Fallon goals in the second half and then scored the winner himself.
The Wee Barra was part of the Scottish Cup winning side of 1951, beating Motherwell 1-0 in the final. He also helped the Hoops lift the lucrative league and cup double in season 1953/54. Collins played his role in Celtic's first ever League Cup triumphs; in season 1956/57 the Wee Barra scored the opening goal in the 3-0 replayed final victory over Patrick Thistle and in season 1957/58 the bold Collins was at the heart and centre of the legendary Celtic side which beat Rangers 7-1 at Hampden Park to retain the trophy.
Bobby later became the midfield general around whom the great Don Revie's Lead United side of the sixties would be formed. For such a little guy he packed a punch and proved to be a deadly finisher. Great in a dead ball situation Bobby was awarded the role as the team penalty taker and he famously scored a hat-trick of penalties in a match against Aberdeen at Celtic Park in September 1953.
The Scottish Cup was a real bogey tournament for Collins. He would perhaps have more winners medals in that department if he hadn't been injured for the 1954 (won 2-1 against Aberdeen) and 1956 (lost 3-1 to Hearts) finals. In the replayed Scottish Cup final against Clyde in 1955, Collins was controversial dropped. Upon losing the final 1-0 to Clyde, many supporters believed Collins had been made a scapegoat. It really isn't a coincidence that Celtic lost two of the three Scottish Cup finals that Collins missed.
Upon his departure The Wee Barra left an enormous gap in the ranks at Celtic Park. I dare say it also may not be a coincidence that our last piece of silverware won in 1958 League Cup Final - that tremendous 7-1 victory etched in the memory of every Celtic supporter - was our last piece of silverware for 7 years until Stein's arrival in 1965.
Collins moved from Everton, staying there for five seasons in all, to Leeds United were he helped The Peacocks gain promotion to the then First Division. In 1965 Bobby was awarded the English Football Writers Player of the Year in recognition of his role at Leeds United as the Peacocks finished runners-up in both the league and FA Cup that season.
Bobby Collins sadly passed away four years ago in January 2014 but will always be remembered as a true Celtic legend and one of Scotland's all-time greats.
"Oh, Hampden in the sun.
These blog posts offers a collection of stories regarding Celtic's greatest ever players.