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"Celtic's Powder Monkey"
PersonalFullname: Peter Somers
Born: 3 June 1878
Died: 27 Nov 1914
Birthplace: Strathaven, Lanarkshire
Signed: 29 Nov 1897 & 26 Aug 1902
Left: 9 Feb 1900 (loan to Blackburn); 9 Jul 1900 (again to Blackburn)
Debut: Celtic 4-0 Third Lanark, League, 4 Dec 1897 (scored once)
International Caps: 4
International Goals: 0
BiogAn all time Celtic great Peter Somers was born in the south Lanarkshire town of Strathaven in the early hours of June 3rd 1878.
The son of John and Mary-Ann Somers, Peter was born and raised at the couples home in Green Street.
An inside-left, Peter started his career with Mossend Celtic and was signed by the Glasgow variety in November 1897 from Hamilton Academicals after having also previously played for Cadzow Oak.
Despite his relative youth Somers made an impact at Celtic Park was immediate. Peter scored on his debut on December 4th in a 4-0 home league victory over Third Lanark. He would score three goals in three league appearances that term as the Hoops claimed the league title. But despite this impressive start Somers spent most of his early days as a Celt either on the fringes of the first team or being loaned to other clubs.
One such loan deal saw Blackburn Rovers pay Celtic £200 for Peter’s registration. He would spend a successful season and a half at Ewood Park before returning to the Hoops in August 1902.
Back in Glasgow Somers, alongside the great Jimmy McMenemy and the legendary Jimmy Quinn, would form an attacking triumvirate which would terrorise a generation of Scottish defences. This trio would be the cornerstone of perhaps the greatest ever side in Celtic history.
At a time when brute strength was regarded as a key attribute for a footballer, Somers shone out among his peers for his nimble footwork and wonderful football brain. He was, in the words of Willie Maley, a “subtle strategist”.
Peter’s wonderful awareness and reading of the game was complimented by his pinpoint passing ability. He would evade the crude challenges of despairing opponents with a deft flick of the ball or a subtle change of direction. He could find space and time during even the most frantic of games to calmly orchestrate attack after attack. Selfless, inventive and entertaining, Peter was a huge favourite of a support who recognised his priceless contribution to the Celtic cause.
His popularity extended from the terraces to the pitch. The Mighty Jimmy Quinn feasted on the seemingly endless supply of goal opportunities provided by Somers. Indeed Maley would christen Peter ‘Celtic’s Powder Monkey’ - a nickname born from a historical naval term given to those sailors tasked with the vital but unheralded job of fetching gunpowder and shot for the gunners.
Off the pitch Somers endeared himself further to both the fans and team-mates by playing the piano and performing a comedy routine at supporters’ functions and on away trips. As nimble with his tongue as he was with his feet, Peter’s ever popular turn included a spot on impression of an apparently none too impressed Maley.
However, he reserved his sharpest moments for his on-field opponents.
During one particular clash with Rangers Peter was on typically fine form. His cute and cunning play had left the Ibrox club’s rearguard bedraggled. No one more so than centre-half Jimmy Galt. The Saltcoats-born Galt – a future Scotland international - was not only normally a fine defender but he was also a golfer of some considerable renown. On this occasion though he had been mercilessly tormented by the brilliant Somers who, after getting the better of the Rangers man for the umpteenth time, turned to Galt and said: “Haw Jimmy, how about you teach me to play golf and I’ll teach you to play fitba.”
Hearts defender Lawrence Abrams, like many others before him, found it near impossible to stop Somers by legitimate means. On one occasion the hard tackling Englishman had spent almost an entire match putting the boot into Peter who eventually could take no more and retaliated with a kick of his own.
With mock innocence Abrams protested: “What was that for?” Somers immediately replied: “It was for you. Don’t tell anybody!”
With Somers at his disposal Willie Maley was able to shape one of the most successful sides in Scottish football history. With Peter pulling the strings of the Celtic attack the Bhoys won six league titles in a row and also claimed the Scottish Cup in 1904, 1907 (in which he scored a brace) and 1908.
Yet in 1909 the decision was made by Celtic not to renew Peter’s registration. The reason behind the decision was and remains a mystery, for Somers still had a lot to offer. As someone never afraid to stand up to the disciplinarian Maley it was rumoured that perhaps Peter had made one witty retort too many.
It perhaps says everything about the contribution of Peter Somers that with him in the team Jimmy Quinn netted more than 20 goals a season for six successive campaigns. After the departure of Somers the Mighty Quinn never hit 20 goals in a season again.
Statistics don’t even begin to scratch the surface of what Peter Somers contributed to Celtic but for what it’s worth he scored 62 goals in 219 appearances.
He returned to Hamilton Accies in January 1910 and was to retire from the game a year later. He became a Director of the Accies. Tragically within just a few years he would take ill and have part of a leg amputated. It was a cruel blow from which he would never recover. On November 27th 1914, little more than five years after his departure from Parkhead, Peter Somers died in a Glasgow nursing home 10 days after an operation from gangrene. At the time of his death he was a Wine & Spirits Merchant in Hamilton and was married to Jane Mitchell. Jane only survived Peter by less than 4 years. (Because of a mix up in a death certificate amendment it was reported before on here that Peter Somers passed away in his bed at a hostel lodging house in Glasgow. The cause of death was given as cardiac failure). He was only 36.
| APPEARANCES ||LEAGUE||SCOTTISH CUP||LEAGUE CUP||EUROPE||TOTAL|
Major Honours With CelticScottish League Titles
A DARK BLUE CELTIC FOOTBALL CLUB CAPinscribed CFC, 1902-03, 1903-4, 1904-5, 1905-6, 1906-7, 1907-8, 1908-9
The above cap was presented to Peter Somers by Celtic F.C. to commemorate his second spell at Celtic from August 1902 to Dec 1909. During this second spell with Celtic, Somers helped the club to the League Championship six successive years and the Scottish Cup three times
Sold for £206
Latest page update: made by GerryMcGregor
, Mar 25 2011, 5:28 PM EDT
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