Glasgow: City of Gangs

The follow up to The Gangs of Manchester has now been published in paperback. You can buy City of Gangs: Glasgow and the Rise of the British Gangster here. City of Gangs looks at the Glasgow gangs of the 1920s and 1930s, the era of the Billy Boys, the Nudies and the South Side Stickers.

The Billy Boys, based in Bridgeton in Glasgow’s East End, were the largest and most powerful gang in the city. Their song – “Hello, Hello, We are the Billy Boys!” – is the subject of on-going controversy. The Billy Boys were avid followers of the Rangers Football Club, and the wider body of Rangers support adopted the song as a club anthem. However, the overt sectarianism of the lyrics (“Up to our knees in Fenian blood”) has been fiercely condemned both within Scotland and further afield.

The Nudies were a much smaller gang, based in the Gorbals district on Glasgow’s South Side. Legend has it that the gang’s name referred to the scanty attire of its female members – and nude sun-bathing on the moors was the subject of some controversy in the Scottish press during the 1920s! Gangs on the South Side of the city tended to be more ecumenical than their counterparts in the East End and the largest of the South Side Gangs – the South Side Stickers – had Catholic, Protestant and Jewish members.


  1. Like the sound of the book always been interested in the glasgow billy boys, when do u plan to release this book?

  2. Cheers, David. I’m working on the Glasgow book at the moment, hoping to get the first draft done by the end of this year. Hopefully it will be out some time next year.

  3. Hey Andy Be sure and let us all know on MM when the Glasgow book is out

  4. My brother was born in 19661 and was a member of the Billy Boys as was alot of his friends. We were born in Bridge of Weir, not far from Glasgow. They were always fighting, out of all his friends only he and one friend survived there were at least 12 that I remember whom I loved and respected dearly they were all murdered either in or out of prison. We all went to the Orange walks as a family, my brother and father were a huge influence on me when I was younger. I sing the song even today just out of nostalgia although I always tell myself not to it was so instilled in me I can hardly help myself, I do not agree with any of it now and have had many catholic friends since going to Second Year and moving to England, it does help to be away from the pack and move on.

    The thing about it is that it breeds violence in the family and you carry that attitude with you for ever even you pretend its not there.

  5. Hello Andrew.
    Do you know when your new book “Billy Boys, Nudies and Stickers: Street Gangs in Interwar Glasgow” will be released?

    • Hello Billy, it will be out in 2012. “Billy Boys, Nudies and Stickers” is a working title; I’ll post details on here and on some of the Glasgow local history websites when it’s due out. All the best, Andy

  6. Hi We’re a Facebook concentrating on Kennet House, Smedley and the surrounding area. We’ve been quoting your poems, particularly Snow over Smedley and Crumpsall Biscuits. Would you care to join us?

  7. Hi, Andrew. I was wondering does your new book mention much about Sir Percy Silitoe, his police force and the relationship they had with the Gangs? I think this history is so intresting someone should make a TV show out of it, like a cross between Boardwalk Empire and The Wire. I would watch it. Also is the book out this year or 2013? Can’t wait to read it.

    • Thanks, Thomas. The book will be published in June 2013: I’ll post more details on here nearer the time. There will be plenty of coverage of police strategies for dealing with the gangs, although my take on this differs from Sillitoe’s own account in places. All the best, Andrew.

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