David Potter’s Celtic Player of the Day, No.48 – Peter Scarff

The tragic death of Peter Scarff in December 1933 has possibly tended to hide just what a good player he was.

Peter Scarff and Jimmy McGrory

He joined the club from Linwood in 1928 and was freely compared as an inside forward to Jimmy McMenemy, soon becoming part of the great forward line of R Thomson, A Thomson, McGrory, Scarff and Napier which won the Scottish Cup in those epic finals of 1931 against Motherwell and then went on that triumphant tour of the USA and Canada.

Photograph taken in Detroit while on their visit to play Michigan all Stars who they beat 5-0 at the University of Detroit Stadium. While in the city they were given a tour of the famous Ford Motor Works.

Scarff was a visionary inside forward with tremendous passing ability, and as whole hearted a Celt as one was ever likely to see. He played once for Scotland.

September 1931, of course, saw the tragedy of John Thomson, and that was only one of the tragedies of that year, for Peter Scarff began to show signs of exhaustion at training sessions and occasionally coughed up blood.

Just before Christmas 1931, he played his last game for Celtic but left the field early clearly unwell, and then in January he was admitted to hospital where pulmonary tuberculosis was diagnosed. TB was, of course, the scourge of the age caused by inadequate housing and poor air quality, and there was no real cure.

There were occasionally some periods of remission, but Peter never played again. He died in December 1933, but not before the tearful Willie Maley had brought the Scottish Cup, won in April of that year, to the Bridge of Weir Sanatorium to show to one of his greatest players.

At his funeral, Maley threw the green and white jersey on to the coffin as it was lowered.

David Potter

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About Author

I am Celtic author and historian and write for The Celtic Star. I live in Kirkcaldy and have followed Celtic all my life, having seen them first at Dundee in March 1958. I am a retired teacher and my other interests are cricket, drama and the poetry of Robert Burns.

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