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SANDY McMAHON The Weekend Long Read

3 April 2021


It is true that Willie Maley was the “Man Who Made Celtic”, but Maley was lucky in that he had around him loads of men who helped him in the beginning of this awesome tradition. James Kelly was a fine defender, for example, and John Glass was a great administrator off the field, but the man who was most responsible for the launching of Celtic as an attacking force, playing the game as it was meant to be played and scoring plenty of goals was Celtic’s first famous marksman – Sandy McMahon.

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Celtic have always been famous for their goalscoring abilities – and great Celtic teams have always been blessed with great goalscorers. Three super-heroes immediately spring to mind in Jimmy Quinn, Jimmy McGrory and Henrik Larsson. There are others like Jimmy “Sniper” McColl, Joe Cassidy, the McPhail brothers, Dixie Deans and (possibly) Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, but the man who started it all was Sandy McMahon.

Yet Sandy does not fit the popular image of a prolific sharpshooter. Photographs show a moustachioed, magisterial Victorian gentleman with a kindly but perhaps boring expression, not at all the aggressive, competitive demeanour of other strikers of that (or indeed any) age. But appearances are deceptive. Rather like Clement Attlee, the unlikely-looking Labour Prime Minister who was responsible for the social revolution of the late 1940s, what one saw was not necessarily what one got.

Not a great deal is known of Sandy’s life outside football. Tradition has it that he was born in Selkirk in 1871, but the exact day of his birth has been hard to trace. On the other hand there was an Alexander McMahon born in Dundee in 1871, the son of the licensees of a tavern. Is this perhaps our Sandy? Certainly the Irish had arrived in strength in Dundee throughout the 1850s and 1860s, and there are a few local indications in Dundee and Angus folklore that Sandy might have sprung from that source, but it is now almost certain that Sandy hailed from Selkirk,

It matters little. He played his early football in the late 1880s in Edinburgh for teams like Harp Juveniles, Woodburn, Leith Harp and the great Hibernian football club themselves. Hibernian were, of course, the natural club to which the young Sandy would have gravitated. Avowedly and even exclusively Irish, the Hibernian team won the Scottish Cup in 1887 to the great joy of the large Irish community. The only problem with that (as far as Hibernian were concerned) was that it planted a seed among Irishmen in Glasgow that they, too, could form an Irish team, one that would supplant and take over from the Edinburgh Hibs. This one would be called the Celtic.

Sandy had been with Hibernian – indeed, he had been a reserve in their Scottish Cup victory in February 1887 – then moved for a brief and unhappy time to a team called Darlington St.Augustine’s, before returning to Edinburgh in September 1888. He played for Hibernian for two years but then in December 1890 he joined Celtic. Hibs were at that time imploding as a result of the rise of this new Irish team in Glasgow, and they also had major difficulties with their ground. Legally, there was no problem about McMahon jumping ship like this without any indication of a transfer fee because Scottish football until 1893 was, at least in theory, amateur.

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It does, however, stretch our belief more than somewhat to say that McMahon received no money from this young and ambitious Glasgow team. Money would indeed have been a strong factor, but as potent a pull, one would imagine, would have been the clear indications that this Celtic side, which from the start and (unlike Hibernian) would welcome Catholics and Protestants alike, were the one that was going to win trophies. Indeed, they had already been in the Scottish Cup final in 1889.

His debut was in a friendly against Dumbarton at Old Celtic Park on New Year’s Day 1891. Dumbarton had beaten Celtic ten days previously to put them out of the Scottish Cup, and would go on to share the Scottish League that season with Rangers, but on this day they were held to a 1-1 draw. The Glasgow Observer newspaper, sometimes called the “Catholic Observer” and with no real claims to objectivity as far as Celtic were concerned even in the early days, was satisfied with the draw but described McMahon in curious terms: “Arms held high, spread out like ostrich wings, head down, back slightly bent forward, enormous feet”. It is from such slender indications of brilliance that a mighty career was to be launched.

Sandy’s competitive debut for Celtic was against Vale of Leven in Alexandria, near Dumbarton, on 24 January 1891. Sandy may or may not have been a professional, in theory or in practice, but the general amateurishness of Celtic’s approach in the early days is evidenced by the fact that a player missed his train and Celtic had no reserves available. So Sandy actually had to play left-back until the man arrived! The team lost 1-3, thereby losing what little chance they had of landing the League championship in 1891.

McMahon did not play in the club’s big success that season, namely the winning of the prestigious Glasgow Cup, but he did play sporadically at first and later regularly for the team, hitting the highlights on 5 May with four goals in a spectacular 9-1 drubbing of Vale of Leven at Old Celtic Park. He was now settled at inside-left and could interchange brilliantly with Johnny Campbell on the left wing. The passing game was, of course, the trademark of Scottish football, and he had an almost telepathic understanding with Campbell. But he was also noted for his individual play, and the coming season of 1891/92 was to indicate the arrival of Celtic’s first superstar. It would also be the first great year in the history of the club.

Celtic retained the Glasgow Cup in December and this time Sandy won a medal, scoring a goal in a 7-1 thrashing of Clyde at Cathkin, and by the turn of the year the team was going well in both the Scottish League and the Scottish Cup, with the crowd beginning to appreciate the inspired play of McMahon. In the Scottish Cup Cowlairs fell in the quarter-final and Rangers in the semi, with McMahon’s name on the scoresheet on both occasions. The Scottish Cup final was at Ibrox on 12 March against Queen’s Park, but although Celtic won 1-0, the game was declared a friendly, such were the chaotic conditions with the huge crowd. The cause? Principally the widespread enthusiasm to see the now-famous left wing combination of McMahon and Campbell.

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Not only were the Celtic fans impressed by Sandy, so too were the Scotland selectors, and he found himself in his country’s team on 2 April at Ibrox. It was a sad day, however, for both Scotland and McMahon, as they were engulfed 1-4 by a strong England team. Sandy never got going, but as he left Ibrox that night, he knew he would be back a week later for what he hoped would be a happier occasion. This would be the replay of the Scottish Cup final.

We all know, don’t we, that the first hat-trick to be scored in a Scottish Cup final was by Jimmy Quinn in 1904, a feat emulated by Dixie Deans in 1972? But was Jimmy’s truly the first? A certain amount of evidence came to light recently to indicate that perhaps it was Sandy McMahon in 1892 who scored the first Scottish Cup final hat-trick. It is, of course, the task of the historian to evaluate evidence and to make up his mind on what is in front of him.

The disturbing (if that is the right word) evidence comes in the shape of The Scotsman’sreport of the 1892 Scottish Cup final. The game against Queen’s Park was played (after the first encounter had been declared void because of overcrowding and crowd encroachment) on 9 April 1892 and Celtic won 5-1. The edition of The Scotsman concerned is that of Monday 11 April 1892, clearly written (anonymously in the style of Victorian journalism) a matter of hours after the final whistle.

The key goal is the first one. Willie Maley, who played in the game, and all orthodox Celtic historians give this to Johnny Campbell. It was the goal which levelled the scores, as Celtic played with the wind which was blowing towards the west goal at Ibrox (i.e. towards what is now called the Broomloan Road Stand or the “Celtic End” of Ibrox). The Scotsman had this to say: “The Irishmen’s (sic) efforts were at length rewarded, as after some smart play in front of the goal, McMahon with a wonderful overhead shot, put through the first goal for his team”.

The scribe of The Scotsman then comments on the “outburst of enthusiasm from the Parkhead club’s followers” and after a short period the second goal “was put through for the Celtic from the left wing”. Curiously, he does not mention who scored it other than obliquely, but the “left wing” presumably means that Johnny Campbell scored it.

Then comes the third goal. Having praised Dan Doyle, who was “simply unpassable”, the reporter says: “McMahon (was) playing up in surprising fashion, and through his instrumentality, Baird was beaten for the third time”. This is the goal which Maley describes thus: “McMahon, indulging in one of those mazy runs – head down, arms outstretched – simply walked through the Amateurs’ defence to register the third goal”. No doubt about that one – it was Sandy McMahon who scored it and “the Celtic followers were now quite beside themselves with delight”.

The fourth came from a deflection by a defender from a James Kelly free-kick, and then Sandy McMahon scored Celtic’s fifth with a header from a corner. But was this Sandy’s second or his third? Everyone seems to agree that Sandy scored numbers three and five, but is the writer of The Scotsman right in attributing the first goal to McMahon?

On balance, probably the historian will conclude that The Scotsman’s reporter may have made a mistake, because the term “hat-trick” is not used in his summing up of McMahon’s performance. Sandy is described as “showing astonishing dash and resource which marked him out as the best of the forward line”. One would have expected “hat-trick” or even “three goals” to be mentioned.

What is certain, however, is that Scottish football was never the same again. The rejoicing in the East End of Glasgow that night was legendary. The Celtic had arrived. “Our Bhoys Have Won The Cup!” cried the urchins, the destitute and the ill-fed, as everyone swirled round the charabanc to the music of the bugles and the flutes, (Yes, flutes!) hoping to catch a glimpse of their heroes. Queen’s Park, the team of the avowed amateurs, the middle class, the rich, the privileged, had been beaten in a Scottish Cup final. The talk of Scotland was now of men like James Kelly, “Dan” (Doyle, but now simply referred to as “Dan”) and, of course, “Sandy” or “The Duke” after the French President Duc de Mac-Mahon, although some say that Sandy was being compared to The Iron Duke, the Duke of Wellington.

The impoverished Irish in Glasgow had been given a boost to their morale. They now had a standard around which they could rally. They could now hold their heads up when football was mentioned, and even if they had not previously been interested in this new thriving Scottish game, they certainly would become so now. Sneers about being Irish could now be counteracted by mention of Sandy McMahon.

But did McMahon score a hat-trick, the first ever in a Scottish Cup Final? Or did the type-setter of The Scotsman simply make a mistake with the first goal? Certainly, the writer was very definite that it was a “wonderful overhead shot”. In some ways, one hopes that The Scotsman was right. It would certainly be no slur on Jimmy Quinn or Dixie Deans to compel them to share the same spot in the Celtic Valhalla as Sandy McMahon. And what a pity Jimmy McGrory and Henrik Larsson did not emulate that mighty feat as well! McGrory scored two in the 1931 replay, and Larsson two in 2001 and 2004. How many did McMahon score in 1892?

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Of more concern in 1892 was whether Celtic could do the Grand Slam and win all four Scottish trophies. For a long time they were neck and neck with Dumbarton, but lost the crucial fixture at Boghead (soon to be called “fatal Boghead” because of the amount of times Celtic and Rangers lost there) on 23 April and the League slipped away to the Sons of the Rock. But Celtic lifted their third trophy of the season when they beat Rangers 2-0 in the Glasgow Charity Cup final on 1 June. Three trophies out of four is not bad, and legend has it that a Celtic committee man, Ned McGinn, sent a telegram to the Vatican asking the Holy Father to light candles in St.Peter’s. His Holiness apparently refused, although had he seen the brilliance of Sandy McMahon, the Glasgow wags said, he would have been hard pressed to refuse canonisation.

But that same summer brought disturbing news of McMahon. He and Neil McCallum had apparently joined Nottingham Forest. Professionalism was, of course, legal in England, and McMahon was clearly neither the first nor the last to be “bought and sold for English gold”. There then occurs one of the most famous stories in Celtic mythology, namely that a group of committee men spearheaded by the energetic John Glass hastened to the Midlands and persuaded Sandy to return home. Words like “kidnap” and “coup” have been used, and we are expected to believe that the still-amateur Celtic persuaded him back for no reason other than the love of the club.

Clearly we will never establish the entire truth of this matter, but some suggestion that Celtic (illegally) offered more money than Nottingham Forest did to the homesick Sandy, and that he accepted, would not appear to be entirely wrong. Yet it is an indication of the reputation and prestige of the man that we hear stories of tables being knocked down as the raiding party rushed to the station, of someone detaining the Forest delegates while Sandy escaped, and a great reception organised by Willie Maley back in Glasgow. Such stories could only accrue to the charisma of Sandy McMahon.

Maley, who both played with and managed Sandy, said that “of speed he had little”, but such were his other attributes that this was hardly noticed. There were possibly three aspects to McMahon’s greatness. One was his goalscoring ability with both feet and head, one was his dribbling (not for nothing was he called “The Prince of Dribblers”) and the third was his telepathic understanding with left-wing partner Johnny Campbell.

Johnny was indeed lured away to England, to Aston Villa, for a couple of years (no adequate rescue operation having been arranged for him) and in his absence Sandy struggled for the want of an adequate partner, with 1897 proving a particularly low ebb in the club’s short history. Campbell and McMahon, however, remained good friends to the extent that when McMahon married Annie Devine in May 1896, Campbell returned from England to do the honours as best man. The marriage, incidentally, took place on a Tuesday. On the previous Saturday, McMahon scored as Celtic beat Rangers 6-1 in the Glasgow Charity Cup semi final and on the following Saturday he scored again as they beat Queen’s Park 2-1 in the final.

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But before the departure of Campbell, the club had won the Scottish League in 1892/93 and 1893/94, also losing the Scottish Cup final in both those years. Sandy scored 11 goals in 13 League games in 1892/93 and ten in 15 in 1893/94. Twice he scored hat-tricks against Third Lanark and St Bernards, and the fans of the green-and-white vertical stripes (which Celtic wore until 1903) talked about little other than Sandy McMahon.

Celtic fans in the 1890s were small in number (but growing) and it would be some time before they extended their base beyond the East End of Glasgow. But his fame spread to other parts of Scotland as well and on 7 April 1894, it was McMahon who, on his own pitch at the recently built New Celtic Park, scored the goal that put Scotland ahead against England, only for their hopes to be cruelly denied in the last minute.

Football was a rough game in those days and Sandy, like many forwards, was prone to receive more than a little hacking from none-too-gentle opponents. He was out for a long time on several occasions, notably in the bad season of 1896/97 when Celtic finished trophyless for the first time in that decade. He was injured on 21 November 1896 as Celtic went down to Rangers in the final of the Glasgow Cup, and never reappeared that term. His supporters must have wondered whether he was finished. They might well have asked the same question about Celtic themselves. Of course, 9 January 1897 was the day that Celtic shocked Victorian Scotland by going down to Arthurlie in the Scottish Cup. It would have been hard to imagine that happening if Sandy had been on board.

McMahon’s value to the Celtic cause was underlined in the 1897/98 season. The team swept all before them in the Scottish League. They were undefeated, they drew on three occasions and won against everyone else. This included a spectacular defeat of Rangers at Ibrox on the Monday September holiday, competent victories against other challengers like Hearts and Hibs, and there was a particular relish for Clyde, who were put to the sword 6-1 and 9-1. In all of this McMahon, playing at inside-left, was a goalmaker rather than a goalscorer, supplying the ammunition for George Allan, a Celtic centre-forward whom history has curiously undervalued. Johnny Campbell, too, had returned, and was now playing at inside-right to complete a prodigious inside trio.

But things came to a shuddering halt for Celtic in the Scottish Cup when they went down to Third Lanark in late January 1898, the significant factor being the absence through injury of McMahon, and the consequent necessity to rejig the forward line. Even at this early stage of the club’s history, the Scottish Cup was considered a vital tournament. Celtic had exited two years in a row in January. On both occasions, McMahon was not playing.

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All this was made good in the Scottish Cup of 1899 when Celtic beat Rangers 2-0 to lift the trophy for the second time. League form had not been good. Rangers now had a great side and went through the 1898/99 League season with a 100-per-cent record, and on both occasions that they beat Celtic, they put four goals past them. They had also defeated Celtic in the Glasgow Cup final in October, so the green-and-whites had little reason to approach the Scottish Cup final on 22 April with any degree of sanguinity. No team had ever as yet managed to win both the Scottish Cup and the Scottish League in the same season, but the smart money would have been on Rangers to do it that year.

But Celtic still had McMahon. He had scored in every round on the way to the final, including two in the quarter-final as Celtic edged past Queen’s Park 2-1. In fact, he had also scored the previous week, but the game had had to be abandoned because of “bad light”, although the cynics suspected that the light was good enough, whereas an abandonment would lead to another large gate – such was the desire to see the great Sandy McMahon, who was now talked about incessantly in the ale houses of Glasgow.

The final would be played at Second Hampden, a ground that would be called Cathkin Park when Third Lanark took it over. The Third Hampden Park would not be built until 1903, and it was probably the massive crowd at Second Hampden to see this Scottish Cup final in 1899 which persuaded Queen’s Park that another stadium was necessary. Some 25,000 turned up – a huge crowd, and possibly a record for a game other than Scotland against England. One says “possibly” because crowd counting was not necessarily an exact science at the time, and it was estimated that 40,000 attended the 1892 Scottish Cup final at Ibrox, which had to be declared a friendly because of repeated crowd encroachment. In addition, there had been several claims that season that 35,000 or 40,000 had attended a game but “attendances“, then as now, were often little other than the guess of a newspaper man.

This time the Glasgow Herald reported that the crowd was orderly and well behaved, and that although the weather was worthy of a Scottish Cup final, the standard of play was less so. Rangers had the better players (as their League form indicated) but Celtic’s defenders marked their forwards tight. By no means as tight, however, as Rangers’ notorious Nick Smith, whose coarse challenge severely disabled McMahon’s left-wing partner, Jack Bell.

Half-time came with no score, then in the early part of the second period, the game swung decisively in favour of Celtic. Rangers had a goal chalked off, allowed themselves to be flustered about it, and Celtic took the initiative. They forced a corner, then for once McMahon eluded the eager attention of the two Rangers defenders detailed to mark him and rose “like a bird” to meet the dispatch and head home brilliantly. Celtic now took charge with McMahon on song, winning balls, dribbling and “passing to a degree of excellence”. It was no surprise when Hodge added a second, although Rangers claimed offside.

The game finished with Celtic 2-0 ahead, and Rangers were sporting enough to admit that, on this occasion, their Glasgow rivals were worthy winners. Thus Celtic had won the Scottish Cup for the second time, and McMahon had earned himself another niche in the club’s history for having scored a glorious header. Of course, Sandy had had a point to make as well. He had been dropped from the Scotland team after the draw in 1894, and had felt that he was good enough to regain the spot. In 1899, two weeks before the Scottish Cup final, Scotland had lost 1-2 to England at Villa Park. McMahon still felt that he could do a job for his country.

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Another Scottish Cup would come Celtic and McMahon’s way a season later. The year was 1900, and the new century was bringing in a new order to Scottish football. Rangers, having won the Scottish League in 1898/99, had done so again in 1899/1900 and were now quite clearly emerging as the rivals to Celtic. Rangers were never likely to take support away from Celtic, for Celtic’s support was firmly anchored in the Glasgow Irish, but the Ibrox club was definitely, in this respect, getting the better of Queen’s Park.

Queen’s Park had stayed amateur and refused, at first, to join the Scottish League. They were thus left behind with their middle-class support, whereas the Protestant working class turned more and more to Rangers. Sectarianism had not yet arrived to foul Scottish football, but the seeds were there.

McMahon, however, defeated both these outfits in spring 1900. The semi-final at Ibrox was drawn (another sinister and suspicious dynamic at work in those days was the tendency for Rangers and Celtic to draw Cup-ties, leading to the necessity of a replay and another big crowd!) but then in the re-match, Celtic chose to turn on the style. They defeated Rangers 4-0, with McMahon “ubiquitous, ambitious and dominant”, scoring two goals from the inside-left position.

It was a mighty forward line of Hodge, Campbell, Divers, McMahon and Bell, when they were all on song. They were on this occasion and the 32,000 fans left Celtic Park that day singing paeans of delight and clamouring for the inclusion of the whole Celtic forward line in the Scottish team for the game against England. In the event, Jack Bell and Johnny Campbell got the nod, albeit not in their normal Celtic positions, but McMahon was once again sidelined to the annoyance of the fans.

Any feelings of frustration, however, had to be tempered when Scotland played brilliantly on 7 April and beat England 4-1, with Robert McColl of Queen’s Park scoring a hat-trick. In any case McMahon had a chance to prove his point the following week in the Scottish Cup final when Queen’s Park faced Celtic at Ibrox. It was a game played in a gale blowing in from the west. McMahon scored twice in the first half as Celtic went in at half-time 3-1 up, but that was with the benefit of the wind.

Realising the necessity of keeping the ball on the ground as much as possible against the wind, McMahon was instrumental in Celtic scoring early in the second half, releasing Divers to find the net. From then on, however, it was backs to the wall, with McMahon having to play his part in defence as Queen’s pressed and pressed. They did score twice, but too late in the game to have any effect, and when Mr Walker of Kilmarnock blew for up for time, the green-and-white vertical stripes had captured their third Scottish Cup, and Sandy McMahon and Johnny Campbell had participated in all three triumphs.

This was the zenith of McMahon’s fortunes with Celtic. He was now nearly 30, and although he earned a Scotland recall against Ireland in 1901 and Wales in 1902, he never made it for the games that really mattered against England. Ireland and Wales seldom troubled Scotland in those days, and it was common practice for them to play virtually a reserve side.

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Yet for all that, Sandy McMahon can claim to be part of a Scottish record. The game against Ireland at Celtic Park – it was also widely believed and scarcely denied that for games against Ireland at Celtic Park, the Scottish team was full of Celtic players for reasons of attracting a large crowd –  ended up in an 11-0 win for the Scots over a woefully inadequate visiting team. This still stands as a Scottish record. Sandy scored four goals that day, as did Bob Hamilton of Rangers.

But the Celtic team were now ageing, McMahon as much as any of them. In addition, the Rangers teams of 1900/01 and 1901/02 were as good as had ever previously come from Ibrox, and Celtic also had the misfortune to lose two successive Scottish Cup finals to Hearts in 1901 and Hibs in 1902. McMahon had reason to feel ill done by on both occasions. He scored in the Hearts final – a game that Celtic would have won but for dreadful goalkeeping errors –and the Hibs final also proved to be unlucky. It was played at Celtic Park only three weeks after Glasgow had been stunned by the Ibrox disaster, in which 26 people had been killed and many more injured at the Scotland v England game. In this unfortunate atmosphere, Hibs scored the only goal of the game with a backheeler.

There would have been less justification for self-pity on New Year’s Day 1902. It was Celtic’s last game of the Scottish League campaign (the Scottish League usually finished at the turn of the year in those days) and Celtic were two points ahead of Rangers, who had a game in hand. Thus a Celtic victory would have won the League, and a draw would have guaranteed at least a play-off. Around 40,000 were at Parkhead, and Celtic, without the impressive young Jimmy Quinn, played very badly, losing 2-4. McMahon scored one of the goals, but then, infuriated by one or two eccentric decisions by the referee, Mr Nesbit of Cowdenbeath, he got himself sent off in a melee in which he seemed to push and trip the official. Celtic never recovered from this blow, and Rangers won their fourth consecutive Scottish League title when they beat St Mirren in their remaining game.

It was now becoming clear to the energetic manager, Willie Maley, that changes were required. This involved the gathering of young talent from which would emerge the mighty and virtually unchallengeable forward line of Bennett, McMenemy, Quinn, Somers and Hamilton. This meant that the old guard had to be gradually and gently pushed out the door. McMahon, in any case, missed a large part of the 1902/03 season through injury and his last big game was the dreadful Scottish Cup quarter-final against Rangers at Parkhead, when the team went down 0-3.

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He finished his playing days with Partick Thistle. It was perhaps appropriate that the Celtic team changed its jersey to the horizontal hoops rather than the vertical stripes round about the time that McMahon left and the new Celtic began to take shape. Thus McMahon never wore the hoops, but he had certainly worn the stripes. He, as well as Maley and others, certainly laid the foundation for the new Celtic.

He lasted barely a year with Thistle, but then he did what so many other ex-footballers did in those days – he bought a pub. It was at 209 Great Eastern Road, not far from Celtic Park, and became know as “The Duke’s Bar”,where he proved to be a genial host. McMahon had the advantage as well of being a well-read man, who recited Shakespeare and Burns at Celtic soirees. Like so many great men and great Celts, he was not snobby, conceited or big-headed. He was proud of his achievements, but he also relished the glory of his successors, delighting for example in the goalscoring exploits of Jimmy Quinn, the wiles of Jimmy McMenemy and continuing success of his old colleague and friend Willie Maley.

He lost his wife, Annie, in March 1908 in the most tragic of circumstances, in childbirth. She was only 33, and from then on Sandy’s own life and health went downhill. Too old for war service in 1914, he found employment in the munitions industry as an iron-borer, a job he tried to combine with his interests in the licensing trade, but this did not last long. He suffered from nephritis, a chronic complaint of the kidneys, a condition which compelled his removal to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in late 1915. It was left to Willie Maley, who had attended him assiduously, to tell the story of what happened a few days before his old friend’s death on 25 January 1916. One Sunday night at the height of a dreadful war saw the great Maley in tears as Sandy rolled back the bedclothes, pointed to his emaciated legs, bruised and scarred by many injuries sustained on the playing field. “Willie”, he said, “at least these two legs have done their bit for the Celtic”.

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.

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