‘David Potter: what a Celtic supporter, or Celtic writer, or Celtic historian’

Today The Celtic Star remembers the renowned Celtic historian David Potter. Strangely – and for one very specific issue – when I think of David, the image of former Celtic physio Brian Scott comes to mind. The reason for this is something that makes Celtic so special.

David Potter’s writing legacy – particularly to do with Celtic – is phenomenal, surely unparalleled in its range. He wrote or co-wrote at least 31 Celtic books, as well as on many other topics. This includes Scottish football and cricket.

Photo Peter Marshall

His Celtic tales span the club’s entire existence: from tomes which describe the early years through to more modern achievements, such as the 2016-17 Invincibles season.

In particular, he authored multiple biographies of famous Celts, including Willie Maley, Patsy Gallacher, Bobby Murdoch, Alec McNair and – most recently – Willie Fernie.

One of the motives that many people have for writing a book is that it is something to leave behind, even after you are gone. In David’s case, that is much, much more than just one text. And this brings me back to the Brian Scott link.

David Potter in the mid 1990s

As any Celt over 40 will remember, Brian Scott was Celtic’s physio from the 1970s until the early 2000s. As a child watching Celtic, it always amazed me that even though he wasn’t a player, he still made it into squad pictures.

Being someone who loves football and Celtic – but was never good enough to play – this gave me hope that I could maybe make it into a Celtic picture, or at least be another part of the club. David Potter achieved something similar. The sheer volume of David’s writings – books, articles and online – will mean that his is a name well known to Celtic fans, even though he never pulled a green-and-white jersey.

This is part of what makes Celtic the institution that it is. Most people who love the club will never be adored or score a winner for the team. But collectively we are all what is essential to Celtic’s reputation and record. In fact, even moreso than players who will be here for only a short time before moving on.

In recording the events which shaped Celtic, David Potter helped ensure that generations from now, fans will still know the story of previous Celtic heroes. But in himself becoming known through this work, David (like other renowned Celtic historians) also provides a focal point for recognising and celebrating the contribution of the club’s fans.

One of David Potter’s books was called ‘Charlie Gallagher: what a player!’ It would be fair to title any obituary for him: ‘David Potter: what a supporter! Or writer! Or historian!’. Or any other contribution he made, including to his family.

The only way that we can ever “know the history” is because the work of people like David Potter. Requiescat in pace.

Matthew Marr

Author – The Bould Bhoys – Glory to their name.

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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