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Hereford Hero: Fred Potter

Hereford Hero: Fred Potter
Fred Potter was born at Cradley Heath on 29th November 1940 and played for Aston Villa's junior sides as an inside forward before being converted to a goalkeeper.

He originally signed professional terms at Villa Park in July 1959 and made his league debut in the 1959/60 season.

With the chances of first team football at Villa Park somewhat limited, Fred decided to accept a move to Doncaster Rovers in July 1962 and he quickly established himself as a valuable member of the Belle Vue squad.

Over the next three seasons he was virtually an ever-present in their side, and even made an appearance as an outfield player when Rovers' had an injury crisis!

But after 123 Football League appearances he moved into non-league football with Burton Albion earning a reputation as one of the most difficult keepers to beat outside the Football League. Indeed, he became a very popular player with 'the Brewers' at Eton Park, and he made a succession of spectacular performances in the 1969/70 season which landed him with the trophy as Burton Albion's 'Player of the Year'.

His efforts at Burton were noted by the Bulls' manager John Charles, and he persuaded Fred to join Hereford United in September 1970, making his debut on the 26th of that month away at Bedford Town.

His home debut on the 3rd October co-incided with a storming 4-0 win over Poole Town - United's 6th successive home victory - and one which took the club to the top of the Southern League Premier Division.

Fred went on to make 60 first team appearances in his first season, which included 20 more clean sheets. He was part of the side which earned an FA Cup 3rd Round tie against Brighton & Hove Albion at Edgar Street, after beating league opposition - Northampton Town - in a 2nd round replay at the County Ground.

However, Fred's best season for the Bulls was in the following Southern League Premier Division campaign when he was an integral part of the now famous FA Cup 'Giantkillers' side of the 1971/72 campaign. He played in 61 first team fixtures that term - keeping clean sheets in no less than 38 of those matches!

This phenomenal recorded included games against the league strike forces of Walsall and Mansfield Town in friendlies and, of course, the highlights of his season were the goalless FA Cup matches at Edgar Street against Northampton Town and West Ham United. Even Geoff Hurst, Clyde Best and Harry Redknapp prompted in midfield by Trevor Brooking and Bryan 'Pop' Robson could not get past a resolute Fred Potter on the 9th February 1972 in an epic 4th Round FA Cup tie.

His superb displays as the last line of the Bulls defence during the whole of that campaign earened him the accolade of United's 'Player of the Year' for 1971/72, and when the club was elected to the Football League the following year he lined up in the clubs first ever 4th Division game on 12th August 1972.

Fred played in eight Football League matches, keeping three clean sheets against Reading, Workington and Gillingham before losing his place to the young, agile and athletic David Icke (both of whom are pictured above), who had been signed from Coventry City.

When Icke became injured Fred returned to keep another clean sheet against Bury in December, but could not force his way back into the side on a regular basis. However, Icke had to retire from the professional game at the end of Hereford United's inaugural league season due to severe arthritic knees and Potter was back!

But he was to suffer a broken leg on the opening day of the 1973/74 season and that turned out to be his last match for Hereford United - a sad end to a highly successful period with the Bulls.

In competitive football for Hereford United, Potter featured in 131 matches - recording a staggering 62 clean sheets!

Last season Fred Potter was voted for by Hereford United supporters as the Bulls' 'Greatest-Ever Goalkeeper' taking his place in the Vital Hereford best-ever Bulls' team:

Goalkeeper: Fred Potter
Right-Back: Chris Price
Centre-Half: Tamika Mkandawire
Centre-Half: Darren Peacock
Left-Back: Steve Ritchie
Right Midfield: Terry Paine
Central Midfield: Colin Addison
Central Midfield: Jimmy Harvey
Left Midfield: Kevin Sheedy
Striker: Neil Grayson
Striker: Dixie McNeil

Substitutes:
Wayne Brown
Steve Emery
Dudley Tyler
Paul Parry
John Charles


Do you have any special memories of Fred Potter?

Drop us a line here at Vital Hereford United.

email: hereford@vitalfootball.co.uk

Writer:Colin Green
Date:Wednesday June 11 2008
Time: 10:57AM

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