‘Can yer Maw sew? Get her tae stitch that!’
The gangs became infamous for their use of the straight or open razor-one where the blade folds into the handle. But the intention more often than not wasn’t to kill. It was intended to disfigure by slicing open the face. And it wasn’t just razors they used. They used coshes, hatchets, hammers, sharpened bike chains, petrol bombs, and if they ran out of those, there were always the razor blades stitched into their caps and lapels. And as some ambushes started with the chucking of human waste, it can be said that they would use literally anything.
A small consolation to the slum dwellers of Glasgow was that the gangs had a code where only other gang members were targets.
But crossfire casualties were not uncommon.
On the afternoon of the 3 March 1934 a group of about 500 blue scarf, rosette wearing Rangers supporters were gathered at Bridgeton Cross station. They were waiting for a train to take them to the match. But among them was a hardcore of Billy Boys. Then onto the platform arrived a train carrying Celtic supporters. The two sides hurled nothing more than abuse until a Billy Boys man called John Traquair burst onto the train. He set upon the first men he could find–slashing one with a razor and punching another.
A police manhunt ensued and John Trequair was charged with mobbing, assault and rioting. Found guilty, his sentence surprised everyone used to lenient sentences for Protestants. He was jailed for four years. A 40,000 petition appealing achieved nothing. It was a sign of things to come as both police and the judiciary cracked down hard.
Billy continued to spark gang violence by marching his gang into Conk strongholds. After one bruising encounter in Norman Street, nearly every Billy Boy was injured, either by the Conks, or the police. The only Billy Boy to escape without injury was the big drum player. He had hid inside his instrument.
But such blatant public battles were starting to concern the authorities. Sectarian violence was about to be dealt with at street level by the gangbuster, Percy Sillitoe.