The approach of Easter in 1916 probably did not mean much to the average Celtic supporter in Glasgow. The only real difference was that Easter Monday (April 24) would be a Holiday (a rare event in wartime Britain) and that Celtic would be playing Third Lanark, after they had played Hearts on the Saturday. Not that it really mattered of course, for Celtic, thanks to their heroics the week before against Raith Rovers and Motherwell (two victories on the one day!), were now League Champions for the third year in a row!
Possible because the League race was over, the game against Hearts at Celtic Park did not attract a great crowd. 5,000 was not a huge attendance, even allowing for the fact that war-time transport was not great, and in the event they did not miss very much. Hearts were struggling to get a decent side together and had to recruit a player or two from other teams, but today Shaw, McNair and Dodds; Young, Johnstone and McMaster; McAtee, Gallacher, O’Kane, McMenemy and Browning failed to make any impression on the Hearts defence.
It was rather an anti-climax, and there were only 4,000 at Celtic Park on Easter Monday to see a local derby against Third Lanark. The only change for Celtic was McGregor for McNair, but this time it was a far better performance. After going down to an early goal from ex-Celt Dave McLean now playing for Third Lanark, Patsy Gallacher equalised and then in the latter stages of the game, Joe O’Kane scored a hat-trick, and Celtic provided some happiness for their fans by winning 4-1.
While this was going on in Glasgow, other more significant events were taking place in Dublin. St Stephen’s Green and the GPO were seized by Sinn Feiners of the Citizen Army and the Republican Brotherhood. Oddly enough, (well, maybe not, given wartime censorship) these events were not mentioned in the Scottish Press on the Tuesday morning. Tuesday’s Courier and Glasgow Herald contain mentions of Roger Casement’s arrest for gun running, but nothing about the actual rebellion. That had to wait until Wednesday! Clearly, the British Government had been hoping that it would all go away. But “go away” it didn’t, and the “terrible beauty” was born.
Most Celtic supporters probably didn’t realise the significance of the Easter rebellion until years later. They were convinced however that their team in 1916 was virtually unbeatable!
Born in 1948, David Potter first saw Celtic at Dens Park, Dundee in March 29. It was a 3-5 defeat, which equipped him admirably for the horrors of the early 1960’s. He had “followed” Celtic for a few years before that and recalls having been called upon to impersonate Jock Stein and receive the family silver teapot which had to do for the Scottish Cup as it was presented on April 24 1954, after he and his father had spent a nerve wracking afternoon listening to the radio! Since then, he has “followed” every Celtic game with bated breath, and has written extensively about the club in magazines and books. His favorite team was that of 1969 (which he rates marginally better than 1967) and his favorite player was Henrik Larsson.
His ambition for Celtic is for them to keep on winning silver in Scotland and to be something in Europe once again. His other interests are cricket and drama. He is 70, a retired teacher of Classical Languages, married with three children and five grandchildren. He now travels on the Joseph Rafferty bus from Kirkcaldy. He also loves Forfar Athletic.