Potts Jimmy Image 1 Leeds United 1927

Potts Jimmy Image 1 Leeds United 1927


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Ashington, Northumberland born goalkeeper Jimmy Potts was probably Leeds United’s best goalkeeper of the inter war period. He joined Blyth Spartans in 1920 at the age of sixteen and played for them for three years while he worked as a coal-hewer at Ashington Colliery. His occupation was one of the most dangerous jobs down the pit but it helped build his unique physique and he was known to have hands like shovels. He remained the main stay of the Spartans side until February 1926, when First Division club Leeds United made an approach for his services. In late February 1926, the Blyth officials met with Leeds officials including manager Arthur Fairclough and a £200 fee was agreed for his signature on professional terms.

He made his Football League debut in a defeat at League Champions Huddersfield Town within two days of signing, replacing Bill Johnson. The two full backs in front of him were George and Jackie of the famous Ashington Milburn football family. The trio became known in football as the Ashington Defence, and in his dozen appearances towards the end of the 1925-26 campaign he had helped Leeds secure their First Division status with four priceless wins and four clean sheets. He became firmly established at Elland Road, using his excellent physique to dominate the penalty area. After making his debut, he played 85 consecutive League and Cup matches and was an ever present in Leeds’ 1926-27 relegation season before injury saw him miss 4 matches in February 1928 as Leeds won immediate promotion back to the First Division finishing 1927-28 as Second Division runners up, during which Potts kept 18 clean sheets.

Back in the First Division, after a season of consolidation in 1928-29, Leeds surprised many teams by finishing the 1929-30 campaign in fifth place, their highest position since formation. They also recorded a club-record 8-1 win in the F.A. Cup against Crystal Palace. However the 1930-31 season proved to be a disaster. On occasions, Leeds could annihalate opponents, twice recording seven goal hauls and one of five, but most of their campaign was inconsistent. Relegation, which had always threatened as United spent much of the season in twenty-first spot was confirmed on the last day of the season, when, although United defeated sixth place Derby County 3-1 at Elland Road, Blackpool got the point they needed in a 2-2 draw with Manchester City at Bloomfield Road. Potts again missed only 4 matches.

Potts then played 32 matches as United were back at the first attempt in 1931-32, again finishing Second Division runners up.. Nine consecutive wins, in an unbeaten run of fifteen games, including seven clean sheets in the autumn set them on their way, but poor form during the run-in, when they only managed two wins in ten games, meant they again missed out on the Championship.

A firm favourite with supporters, Potts was the accepted first choice keeper for eight seasons. A commanding keeper he dominated the box and was a great anticipator of crosses, Potts was a consistent performer but he was eventually replaced by the younger Stan Moore after playing his last match of 262 for Leeds United in a home defeat to Sheffield United in March 1933. With no return in sight, Potts joined Port Vale in May 1934, at the age of thirty-five, and stayed at Port Vale for a couple of seasons, making his debut in a 2-0 home win over Sheffield United on 25th August 1934. He hardly missed a match, being ever present during 1934-35 and missing only two games in 1935-36, making 86 appearances overall. He was released by Port Vale at the end of the 1935-36 season and finished his career with a brief spell at Workington before his eventual retirement.

He was the brother-in-law of the Milburns, his sister Bella having married Jack Milburn.

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