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Celtic in the League Cup by David W. Potter; Tempus Publishing; 192 pages illustrated throughout ; £14.99 paperback

Although not around to witness Celtic's heyday in the League Cup, I still thought I had a decent knowledge of the club's history in this particular competition. I could have told you, for instance, that they had won it twelve times, or that they once, famously, beat Rangers in an eight goal thriller in a little remembered final back in the Fifties. However, after reading this book I realised how little I really knew about Celtic and their past concerning this trophy.

In recent years the League Cup has become a much-maligned competition due to the loss of an automatic European spot for the winners. It might be regarded these days as nothing more than a Mickey Mouse sideshow by the Old Firm, but David Potter has meticulously researched Celtic's involvement in it through the years, and his factual narrative together with some compelling anecdotes has resulted in a book which will fascinate any Celtic fan who wants to know their history.

Unlike many recent efforts sanctioned by the club's commercial department, 'Celtic in the League Cup' does not simply highlight the memorable victories for the Bhoys and gloss over the bad times. You could say that this would be difficult to do given some of our disasters in League Cup finals, but Potter describes the nightmares in as much detail as the twelve occasions on which the trophy has returned to Parkhead.

Potter even makes the total embarrassments against Thistle and Raith Rovers bearable to read.

Adding to the enjoyment of the book are the illustrations placed throughout its pages. Although only in black and white, they help bring the story of Celtic's League Cup history to life, and help keep the reader's mind on the ball just when it seems you will get lost in a world of facts and figures. For example the picture of Jock Stein in amongst a section of Celtic fans giving them 'a round of the guns for singing unsuitable songs', as Potter puts it, is particularly comical, with the look on the big man's face unforgettable.

There are also plenty of action pictures from various games and it is interesting to view how the strips, balls, and, not to mention, haircuts, have changed over the years!

Apart from describing what was happening on the field, Potter uses anecdotes throughout the book give a realistic view of the club at this time. Stories of behind the scenes trouble and infighting, particularly between then chairman, Bob Kelly, and manager, Jimmy McGrory, seemed to characterise the club in the early years of the League Cup covered in the opening chapters.

The period covered ranges from the late forties to the semi-final defeat by Rangers in 2002, so a wide cross-section of fans will be able to read about games, which they remember or indeed attended. Older supporters will love the tales of 'The Early Years' as they reminisce of the days when Peacock, Fernie, Tully and McPhail graced the Parkhead and Hampden turf; youngsters will enjoy Potter's recounting of the days of the Three Amigos.

This is a book which has homed in on a niche in the club's history that fewer Celtic fans care about each year and for this reason many might be inclined to regard the book in the same manner. That would be a pity, because to do so would be to ignore a fine read and a worthy addition to anybody's Celtic library.

JAMIE MAXWELL

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