Bert Haugh - The Red Jag

by William Sheridan, Jack Little, Stuart Deans & Donnie MacIsaac


There once was a time when health insurance and retirement plans weren't reasonable expectations of a full-time job, but unions and organized labor helped make that a reality – along with child labor laws, collective bargaining, maternity leave, overtime, sick leave, workplace safety oversight, even lunch breaks. My grandfather, Bert Hough, was one of those labor leaders of an earlier era who worked to first organize labor at his workplace into a force to stand as equals with management.

(Tommy Hough)

Bert Haugh, 1914
● Bert Haugh, 1914 (JOH)

BARTHOLOMEW HAUGH was born at 52, Whitelaw Street, Maryhill, in March, 1892, the son of Michael Haugh and Mary Ann Haugh (née Brislain). In Scotland, he signed himself as Bart, but sometimes the press called him Bert, and that's what he became in later life, so we go with that. As for the surname change, we'll have more on that hilarious story later! Bert led a rich and colourful life, and as a man of the people he walked a rockier path for a greater good.


Football wise, Bert's time in the juvenile game concluded at Maryhill Thistle and, having just turned 20, he stepped up to the Juniors with Maryhill FC in mid-1912, where he would now play regularly in front of crowds in the thousands rather than one or two hundred. He was recognised as one of the better players in the League, exemplified by his representing the Glasgow Junior League v the Linlithgow Junior League, early in 1913. In these inter-association matches, the Glasgow Junior F.A. awarded caps to the players selected. Recognition from the senior grade came in April, 1914, when he appeared as a trialist for Raith Rovers. The inside right reportedly did well in supporting his wing man, although no dramatic move to the Kingdom was forthcoming. Two solid seasons at Lochburn Park culminated in a winners medal on 6th June, 1914, as the 'Hill defeated Cambuslang Rangers by one goal to nil in the Glasgow Junior Charity Cup Final.

In his only known photograph as a footballer, we can see that Bert is sporting a representative cap, and that his shirt is stitched with a variant of the Glasgow Coat of Arms as well as the year, 1914. Comparing that badge with medals issued by the Glasgow Junior F.A. in the same era, we can take an educated guess that Bert is pictured, again, representing the Glasgow Junior League at some stage during that calendar year, although, as yet, we've been unable to trace the specific game in question.

It wasn't quite Fife, but Bert moved a mile and a half east to Possilpark in time for the start of season 1914-15, where he would now play with Glasgow Perthshire, although his football career, as it did for so many, would soon come grinding to a halt with the outbreak of the first World War.


HLI, 1917
● Troops of the HLI, roadside resting, 24-Sep-1917 (WIK)

Still in his early 20s, Bert joined the military in 1915, and served with Highland Light Infantry, 1st Army, 6th Battalion, his service number 240309. His address was then given as 42 Cumlodden Drive, Maryhill.


Bernard Haugh [sic], who occupied the inside right-wing position in the Glasgow Perthshire team last season, has been wounded at the Dardanelles.

(DR, 07-Aug-1915)

Hundreds of thousands died in the hellish Gallipoli campaign, so this would have been terrifying news for the family back home. Thankfully, Bert survived that particular ordeal, and did similarly in the Balkans and on the Western Front. Known to be fearless in life in general, he was right in the thick of it, and is deserving of our utmost respect and gratitude.

St Anthony's, 1919
● St Anthony's, 1919 (ANT)

Discharged in 1918, Bert, like everyone, immediately craved normalcy, and he headed straight back to Glasgow, getting his footballing career back on track south-side of the river at Govan, with St Anthony's, a club with a big reputation for developing quality players fit for the senior grade, particularly Celtic, with whom they shared colours and a sense of Irish tradition. Here, "Batty" was the latest addition to Bert's name roster! To say the Ants did very well that season would be an understatement, as they completed a trophy quintuple. They were SJL Division One winners, Glasgow Junior Cup winners, Glasgow Junior Charity Cup winners, SJL Victory Cup winners and Glasgow North Eastern Cup winners. It was very nearly an incredible sextuple clean-sweep too, as a combined 75,000 watched their Scottish Junior Cup Final (and replay) at Hampden Park, against Rutherglen Glencairn, in which the latter prevailed by one goal to nil in the deciding match.


Celtic Park, 1921
● The grand surroundings of Celtic Park (pictured here in '21) were the scene of Bert's Thistle debut. (NLS/PTS)

St Anthony's near-invincible form caught the eye of many senior sides this season, and Thistle, delighted in recent times with other captures such as John Bowie and Willie Salisbury, were on high alert for the upcoming talent from the Moorepark grounds. In a typically wily manoeuvre by gaffer, George Easton, the club made their move a few months ahead of the close-season rush. Bert was playing a big part in the Ants campaign, and he knew that a medal haul was on the horizon (he also missed the big photo), but when Easton came calling in February, 1919, that opportunity was sacrificed in order that he might take that shot at the senior grade, 5 years on from his trial at Raith Rovers.

This time, there was no trial necessary; Easton was a master surveyor of the junior scene and would have had him keenly under the lens in recent times. Indeed, Bert was signed on the Tuesday, and made his Thistle debut at Celtic Park on the Saturday (22nd). How's that for confidence? The move was a huge compliment to Bert, as Thistle were one of the top sides in the country at this time, and finished 4th in the League. It would also have been an incredibly exciting time for the player himself. His head's bound to have been turned, suddenly playing in front of more than 20,000 at the grand Celtic Park, sharing the pitch with giants of the Scottish game such as Willie McStay, Patsy Gallacher and Jimmy McMenemy on the Celtic side, as well as Kenny Campbell, Joe Harris and Jimmy McMullan in his own team; Irish or Scottish internationalists one and all.

sc-1921-badge.png Since we're great admirers of Bert, here's a complete list of his games for the Thistle first team:
on Saturday, 22nd February, 1919, in a 2-1 defeat away to Celtic in the Scottish Football League.
on Saturday, 1st March, 1919, in a 4-3 win at home to Renton in the Victory Cup.
on Saturday, 5th April, 1919, in a 2-2 draw away to Falkirk in the Scottish Football League.
on Saturday, 12th April, 1919, in a 2-0 win at home to Motherwell in the Scottish Football League.
on Saturday, 19th April, 1919, in a 1-1 draw away to St Mirren in the Scottish Football League.
on Monday, 21st April, 1919, in a 2-0 win at home to Hibernian in the Scottish Football League.
on Saturday, 17th May, 1919, in a 2-2 defeat (on corners aet) at home to Clyde in the Glasgow Charity Cup.
on Saturday, 16th August, 1919, in a 1-1 draw at home to Morton in the Scottish Football League.
on Tuesday, 19th August, 1919, in a 0-0 draw away to Third Lanark in the Scottish Football League.
on Tuesday, 26th August, 1919, in a 3-0 win at home to Raith Rovers in the Scottish Football League.
on Tuesday, 9th September, 1919, in a 1-0 win at home to Kilmarnock in the Scottish Football League.
on Saturday, 25th October, 1919, in a 3-2 win at home to Clydebank FC in the Scottish Football League.

The first two were played at his preferred inside right position, but he switched over to inside left for all of the others. He'd have received a great deal of satisfaction from the 2-0 win at Firhill over Motherwell in April. That day, in front of 13,000, the local boy scored for the Jags and was described as one of the best players on the park. Thistle had led from the first minute and Bert's goal sealed the two points:


When Haugh increased the Thistle's lead after five minutes of the second half had gone, the interest from a Motherwell point of view dropped somewhat. Bowie had rounded Bell and crossed over, the ball going to Whittle. That player centred beautifully, and Rundell was beaten to the world with Haugh's shot.

(SP, 13-Apr-1919)

In what was an exceptionally strong Thistle team, Bert failed to command a regular place the next season, and was back in the juniors with Maryhill for 1920-21, the season in which Partick Thistle won the Scottish Cup. Brilliantly (or not, if you're a hard taskmaster) he himself won two runners-up medals that season. The first of these came in a 2-0 defeat vs. Ashfield in the Maryhill Charity Cup Final of 6th May, 1921, which was played, as fate would have it, at Firhill. One month later, on the 11th June, 1921, Maryhill's season ended at Shawfield, with a 4-0 defeat to St Roch's in the Glasgow Consolation Cup Final.


Roll Up Glasgow Reds, 1923
● “Roll Up Glasgow Reds!”, March 23/30 1923. (FWD)

Away from the football, Bert took an active interest in politics, and, by now, was starting to think ahead to his future life prospects. The Central Labour College was a British higher education institution supported financially by trade unions, established on the basis of independent working class education. Bert enrolled for the Scottish equivalent, which had been founded by John Maclean in 1916. He was a Scottish schoolteacher and revolutionary socialist of the Red Clydeside era. As Wikipedia tells, he was notable for his outspoken opposition to the First World War (bet there were a few interesting conversations between he and Bert), which caused his arrest under the Defence of the Realm Act and loss of his teaching post, after which he became a full-time Marxist lecturer and organiser. In April 1918, Maclean was arrested for sedition, and his 75-minute speech from the dock became a celebrated text for Scottish left-wingers. He was sentenced to five years' penal servitude, but was released after the November armistice.

Maclean's classes would prove to be highly influential in Bert's life from hereon. We note from contemporary press accounts that our man regularly cropped up as a speaker at various public meetings of the short-lived Scottish Workers' Republican Party in the summer of 1923, and sometimes he shared the stage with Maclean himself. The SWRP combined Communism with a belief in Scottish independence, a dual political doctrine which put the fear of God into Conservative England. In the Scottish central belt, socialist fervour was especially strong from the early 20s, and if you Google “Red Clydeside” you’ll see how concerned the government was with regards to the possibility that it might lead to revolution. At one stage, tanks were brought in to George Square in Glasgow to control the crowds.

Bert Haugh, 1938
● Bert addressing the House Labor Committee in Washington, D.C., July 1938. (TOH)


Bert's next move (taking the heat off?) was a dramatic one - straight to the world's capitalist heartlands! Departing from Liverpool on 25th October, 1923, he sailed on the Montclare for Montreal, ultimately bound for the United States, as granddaughter Jocelyn explains:

He immigrated to the U.S. through Montreal Canada and as the story goes, his brogue was so thick, that the immigrations person wrote his last name as H-O-U-G-H, so our family line became Hough. I asked my father why his Dad never corrected the last name and he said his Dad never cared about it, so everybody else in the family is Haugh and we are Hough! Whenever we search in Ancestry archives, we always have to search for both spellings. His brogue also contributed to his name being Americanized as 'Bert'.

It's such a relatable tale for us Scots - we are all Bert Haugh! Somehow, he was signed in as aged 30 on the shipping list, when he was actually 31. At some stage after his birth was registered, Patrick had been added to his middle name. Amazingly, by the time he got to the States, his paperwork suggested that the Montclare may have been a time machine in disguise, and that he was now born in 1894. Clearly, leaving Partick Thistle can take two years off a man! With his new name and new year of birth, Bert was a born-again twenty something. This wouldn't have done his employment prospects any harm, and might just have kept him clear of the F.B.I.'s anticommunist crusade, in the near future at least. And, hey, who doesn't like a little air of mystery about their person? Jocelyn:

He joined his brother in America in 1925, settling in a mill town near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He got a job at the mill, but because many of the workers had also just arrived from other European countries, they didn't speak the same language. However, the one language they ALL spoke was football, so my Grandfather started a team that played in the Mill Leagues. By 1929 he was actively working to organize workers at his plant.

Newspaper clippings unearthed by historian Christian Hesle (see the 'Scrapbook' tab on Bert's profile page) tell us that Bert was initially keen to get involved with some of the American clubs when he arrived in the States, and that his reputation as a Scots player of some renown went before him. He reportedly played with one of the clubs in the Pittsburgh district in 1925 (although we've been unable to identify which one) before switching to the Philadelphia Field Club in early 1926, albeit his involvement there seems to have been fairly minimal, given the lack of subsequent reports.

Bert's grandson, Tommy, takes up the story of Bert's working life:

Unlike organizing in a major city, Bert's activism presented problems living in a small "company town" like Midland, where everyone knew each other's business, and city services and the police were recruited and paid for by [Bert's employer] Crucible [Steel Company]. Intimidation, violence, and even bomb threats were a part of the blowback to the organizing process that demanded courage. But with support from mill colleagues and fellow organizers, Bert and his team prevailed, and in 1936 he founded United Steelworkers Local 1212 as the local's first president.
Bert Haugh Building, 1959
● Midland, PA, 1st May, 1959. A happy Bert on the left as the building is named in his honour. (TOH)


The United Steelworkers of America members union is almost a million-strong to this day. In its first decade, activism was an extremely dangerous business, but even after that had calmed to a certain extent, McCarthyism continued to bring trouble to Bert's door all of his days; google "Bert Hough surveillance" to glimpse the tip of the iceberg. However, Bert's resolve was strong. After all, if you can survive Gallipoli et al, you can deal with just about anything life throws at you. Tommy Hough:

There once was a time when 40-hour work weeks, eight hour days and a minimum wage weren't the norm in the United States, but unions and organized labor made that a reality.

Brilliantly, in 1959, the local 1212 USW union named their HQ in Midland, Pennsylvania, “the Bert Hough building”. How about that? Up until that time, Bert had lived in various towns in the Pittsburgh area, such as Beaver, Midland and Sewickley. In the year of that plaque being unveiled, however, his doctor told him he needed to move to a warm, dry climate for his emphysema. Alas, despite heeding that advice and moving to Phoenix, Arizona, he passed away in 1960, aged 68.

Bert and his wife raised four sons in the United States. Tommy Hough's fine piece, “My Grandfather's Labor Legacy” external-link.png has more detail on Bert's incredible life's work and is well worth a read. It's truly amazing what tales lie behind some of our Jagsmen, and we're indebted to Jocelyn and Tommy Hough for sharing their stories, and also for preserving and providing the brilliant profile photo of Bert Haugh, the red Jag.

Gaun yersel' big man!

Publishing date An original Thistle Archive publication, 22-Mar-2021.
Latest edit date Latest edit version 21-May-2023.

p.s. We were explaining the play on words with regards to this story title to Jocelyn and, just when we thought we couldn't possibly have enjoyed Bert's story any more…

Oh. One more thing. And this may be a weird one. The word "Jag". Thistle bushes in Pittsburgh are known as "Jagger Bushes" or simply "Jaggers". It's a very specific linguistic idiosyncrasy heard primarily in the Pittsburgh region. Parents would warn their children to avoid the jaggers. Over time, the term "jagoff" was used as a friendly insult, a back-handed compliment (great game, ya jagoff), a verb, a noun, an adjective and even a present participle (quit jaggin' around). Its origin is a mystery, but legend says it came from the Scots who settled in huge numbers in and around Pittsburgh in the '30s. Anytime an actor from Pittsburgh is featured in a movie, they work in the term "jagoff" somewhere in the script. Wikipedia external-link.png has a great entry on the word!

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