Celtic have appeared in 33 Scottish League Cup finals, won 18 and lost 15. In comparison with other competitions, we have done worse than in others, for 18 out of 72 is not great. We were slow starters. The competition started in season 1946/47 and we did not even appear in a final until season 1956/57. It is astonishingly true that by the time we lifted the trophy on October 31 1956, East Fife (yes, East Fife!) had won the trophy three times! So 10 lean years to start with, but that was as nothing compared to the 15 lean years between 1982/83 until 1997/98 when we appeared in four finals and failed to win any of them – three to Rangers, and one to Raith Rovers. These of course were the bad Kelly years, and one that last statistic in itself is enough to damn that dynasty.
But let us talk about the good days. We won five League Cups in a row between 1965/66 until 1969/70, beating Rangers twice, then Dundee, then Hibs, then St Johnstone. And of course, there was a certain 7-1 score line on October 19 1957! We have beaten Rangers five times, Aberdeen twice, Hibs twice, Dundee United twice and Partick Thistle, St Johnstone, Dundee, Kilmarnock and Motherwell once each. Four Celtic players have scored hat-tricks in League Cup finals – Billy McPhail in 1957/58, Bobby Lennox in 1968/69, Dixie Deans in 1974/75 and Henrik Larsson in 2000/01.
Everyone has his own favourite final. Sadly I was just too young to be allowed to go in October 1957, but I will believe all that I read about it. The best football final (indeed the best football that I have ever seen Celtic play) was in April 1969 in the 6-2 final against Hibs, (for the simple reason that Hibs played well also!). The best goal was Henrik Larsson’s second one in 2001 when he was fouled repeatedly on the half way line but still managed to run half the length of the park and score with that lovely passing from one foot to another to beat Gordon Marshall. The most poignant goal was the goal scored by Dion Dublin in 2006 against Dunfermline. Here was a man who had been a great player for many clubs but had not a single medal to his name, until he came to Celtic. The most axiomatic moment (and there were two of them!) was John Hughes scoring these two penalties against Rangers in 1965/66, because we might otherwise have slipped back into the inferiority complex about Rangers.
But the one that meant the most to me came in March 2000. We were on our knees. John Barnes had led us into disaster against Inverness, and we now faced Aberdeen who were even more desperate than us. The standard of play was abysmal, but Vidar Riseth and Tommy Johnson scored to see us through, and we could celebrate at least once that season when the inferiority complex was in full spate. (We lay down to Rangers the following week, for example!)
Returning to the bad days – the repeated failures in League Cup finals in the 1970s (a great deal of bad luck, but also a certain amount of not taking things seriously enough against what was perceived as inferior opposition),the dreadful finishing in 1976/77 against Aberdeen and the awful refereeing of David Sime in 1985/86 which lost us five minutes of an opportunity to equalise all spring to mind, but the Scottish League Cup final against Raith Rovers in 1994/95 (the penalty shoot-out) was the day that I honestly thought that Celtic were finished, for I doubted whether the support could take any more. But they did, and we bounced back.
We have won four of the last five League Cup finals. (Not a lot of people could tell you that the fourth was won by Ross County!) We are now going for four in a row. I hear a lot about 10 in a row these days. Four in a row in the Scottish League Cup will be enough to be going on with.
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.