Just heard the devastating news about David Potter, DP to his friends.
Heartbroken for Rosemary and his family. Hopefully they will be comforted in some way by the outpouring of love and respect which has flowed since the dreadful news broke this evening and which no doubt will continue over the coming weeks and months as folk share their memories of David.
Where do you start to talk about DP, this extraordinary man? A force of nature. A dear friend to whom so many of us owe so much.
I was first introduced to him around three years ago, when David Faulds had the idea of putting three authors of different generations together to tell the story of Celtic’s birth and the immediate aftermath. Liam Kelly and myself were the other authors involved. David’s name and reputation were legendary amongst aspiring writers like us so I admit to being a bit apprehensive ahead of meeting him. I need not have been so. What struck me immediately was his enthusiasm for ‘the project’ from the get go, which would have done justice to someone half his age and writing his first book.
“What do you need from me and when do you need it?”
And that’s what you got.
That was DP then and that was DP for the next three, all too short now, years.
New ideas. Offers of help. Nothing ever a hassle.
The joint project, Walfrid & the Bould Bhoys, was a huge success, selling out completely, David’s name a guarantee that it would be worth reading.
DP loved the Celtic. End of. A love he inherited from his father, Angus, to whom he constantly referred in his earliest memories of following our great club. Like the day of Hampden in the Sun, back in October 1957, with his dad so excited about the result he couldn’t get the words out coherently, a young DP hanging on desperately awaiting the outcome. He brought history to life with his anecdotes. And he made it fun.
And he was as comfortable discussing today’s stars as those of a century ago, or more in some cases. DP is responsible almost single handedly for ensuring that the story of Alec McNair was shared with today’s generation of Celtic supporters. That was the nib. It wasn’t about making money from selling books, for the bulk of David’s literary career I suspect it cost him to get those stories out there. It was about writing the stories of those players who wore our Hoops in a way that readers could embrace and enjoy. And he did it brilliantly.
I’ve had the pleasure of editing his books over this past few years but that’s not really an accurate description. It would be fairer to say that I had the pleasure of reading his work first and then being in a privileged position to see it being devoured by Celtic supporters all over the world with nothing but positive feedback.
Not that the praise would ever go to his head. A great example of DP’s humility for me was with his next book, the Willie Fernie biography ‘Putting on the Style.’ DP called on his old university pal John McCue to write the chapter on Willie’s brief spell at Middlesbrough. It was one chapter in the book which covered Willie’s life with the vast majority researched and written by DP but it was not a matter for debate that John would share full author credit. That was the deal.
DP’s third solo publication with Celtic Star Books was The Celtic Rising, looking at the year of 1965 from the re-signing of Bertie, the appointment of Jock and the subsequent domestic and continental success enjoyed by a team that appeared to be going nowhere, ironically following that 7-1 cup final more than seven years earlier. Reading the account of the then teenage DP brought every emotion vividly to life, from the pain of yet another defeat at the hands of our rivals to the elation of that glorious victory in the spring of 1965, when the world changed forever.
I laughed out loud at David’s attempt to remain undercover on the train returning from Hampden after the League Cup final victory over Rangers later that year, getting on at the wrong station after two Yogi penalties had confirmed us as the new dominant force in Scottish football. Trying not to look happy as a stranger asked him about the match, nodding in the right places, only to find in the Central Station concourse that the stranger was a Celt doing exactly the same thing!
They say that every man should write a book, so that he has a legacy to leave behind him when he passes on. Well, David W Potter, DP, you have left the most incredible legacy, a lifetime of work which will ensure that the stories of the past will continue to be regaled in Celtic circles well into the future. It is a priceless gift you leave us.
I treasured your friendship, loved your passion and I will miss you immensely.
A final couple of thoughts.
In a past life, DP was a Classics teacher. A scholar. So it was with a bit of doubt that I mentioned to my son one midweek at Easter Road that I thought the elderly gent bouncing up and down a few rows in front of us with the Ultras was David Potter! As we left at the end, I shouted ‘David’ and getting no response I left thinking I was mistaken. Dropping him a note and a photo when we got home he confirmed rather sheepishly that it was indeed him.
And when I asked him for a photo to go on the sleeve of his Icicle book he sent me two, one of the scholarly grandad and another of him as a supporter, celebrating the Treble Treble at Hampden. DP was both and much more, but I will choose to remember him with that fabulous image from Hampden, pure joy in the rain as HIS team make history.
You’re a huge part of that history now, DP.
Rest in peace my dear friend.
💚 Everyone at the Club is saddened to hear of the passing of #CelticFC historian and author, David Potter.
Our thoughts and prayers are with David’s family at this extremely sad time 🍀 pic.twitter.com/7SjnqhQuoD
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) July 31, 2023