Newcastle upon Tyne born left back Joe Potts began his football career with local junior side New York and joined North Eastern League club Ashington as an amateur in 1911, from where he joined Second Division Hull City for £50 in March 1912. He made his Football League debut at Leeds City in March 1913 but made just 5 appearances for The Tigers. While at Hull a local sports journalist commented that Potts had “all the qualifications for a class back. A strong kicker, good tackler, judicious placer and a non believer in aerial flight”.
Potts joined Southern League club Portsmouth in June 1914 and played for them both sides of the First World War, helping them to win the Southern League Championship in 1919-20. When Pompey were elevated to League status in 1920, Potts played in their inaugural League fixture in a win over Swansea Town in August 1920, but only made 6 appearances across the season before a transfer to Leeds United in June 1921, but he found it difficult to dislodge Jimmy Frew. He managed one game in the 1921-22 season and nine in 1922-23, mostly when Jimmy Frew was not available and once when Bert Duffield was injured.
Potts moved to Third Division (North) club Chesterfield in June 1923 where he was an ever-present in his first season with The Spireites despite being already into his mid 30’s, as Chesterfield finished third in the division. However he lost his place in September 1923 and joined Bradford Park Avenue in June 1925 after 56 appearances for Chesterfield. A regular in his first season, playing 32 matches as The Avenue finished runners up in the Third Division (North), narrowly missing out on promotion, he made only 10 further appearances in their 1926-27 campaign as they again finished high in the table in third place.