Heath Old Boys Association


Obituaries


Martin Potts: [Heath 1977–1984]

Martin sadly passed away in , following his two-year battle with motor neurone decease.

Since leaving school Martin played pro RL with Bradford Northern as well as being an excellent cricketer in the local leagues. Following his retirement from pro rugby he continued to play for Queensbury and Clayton RL before moving into amateur coaching.

He was a regular attendee at the Old Boy functions, enjoying a few pints with his pals and was generally one of the last to leave. Such was his popularity over 400 people attended his funeral. The bands he chose to play him out were The Clash, The Pogues, Billy Bragg and Stiff Little Fingers.

Martin lived in Queensbury with his family. He will be missed by many.

Rest In Peace

Martin Potts — Eulogy

Well done, Martin, your final performance is a sell out. The number of people here today is testimony to the warmest, most generous, and wittiest human being that any of us have had the pleasure and privilege to know and his family’s loss is shared by us all. Martin died the way he lived with a twinkle in his eye and that’s how we will all remember him. He never had a harsh word for anyone and he met those twin impostors of triumph and disaster with the same even-handed, calm response.

He was passionate about everything he did and never more so when it came to his great hobbies in life: rugby and cricket and music and smoking, and drinking and women!!!!!

But for all his bravado, all his attempts to convince you younger lads that drinking was the most important thing, for all his attempts to convince me that it was cricket that drove him, for all you ladies who thought, I am the one... Well, I’m afraid you’re all wrong. Rugby was Martin’s mistress. Rugby was his life. It always was and always will be. Martin was lucky enough to play with some of the great players of his generation: Brian Noble, Jeff Grayshon, Jon Hamer to name but a few.

A massively talented and quick full back Martin was player of the year at Bradford Colts. But for the senior side some would say he was in an untenable position, playing behind the greatest full back of all time. Not a bit of it. Martin relished both the challenge and accepted the honour of being the great mans replacement. He was Martin’s idol, his mentor, his friend. When Martin meets Jesus and he is introduced to his father I just hope Jesus doesn’t say as they shake hands, Do you know God? because Martin will reply, Yes. Keith Mumby and I are the best of friends!

Martin played 19 first team games and numerous reserve matches for Bradford Northern but it is at this point in his career that change occurred. Having a clause in his contract that paid a handsome bonus at 20 league starts Martin was shipped out to Doncaster for a season long loan. Not a bad move, regular first X1 rugby, culminating in a great Challenge Cup game at home against the unbeatable Wigan side of the early 90s. Hanley, Edwards, Lydon and half time score of 6 a piece which nearly took the tin roof off what was left of the ground. Defeat inevitably followed but Martin had done Donny proud.

Following his return to Bradford Martin was informed he was going out on loan again. Now when most people fall out of favour they usually get sent to Coventry. Martin dreamed of going to Coventry — he ended up at Barrow. Hell in black and white according to Martin! A town stuck in the 70s. The 1870s. Pottsy, his brother Steve, Heath Godfrey and Paul Rhodes — the four horseman of the apocalypse — stopped for all of one game against Hull — a battering and a sixty point reverse at the Boulevard — and then decided hell was just not for them.

It’s at this point in time Martin was tapped up by his friend Mark Anderson to go to play at Clayton, under legendary man motivator, and according to Martin part time training sadist, Glenn Marriott. At Clayton his ability shone through and they went on to win numerous Pennine League trophies, Pennine Cups and Bradford Cups. Martin made lifelong friends at Clayton, and it is a testament to that friendship that the players and officials at Clayton have helped to support Martin throughout his illness. He would have wanted me to acknowledge and thank them for their friendship today.

When Glenn left Clayton to take up the coaching post at Queensbury, Martin returned home. Success once again followed. Martin eventually took on the coaching role himself for a season but it was not for him. Martin was not an authoritarian figure. He was a leader, but he led from within the group, by example. He instilled unshakable belief. He had that presence that said, We will not go quietly into the night; we will not go down without a fight. Even when the odds were hopeless, even when matches were clearly lost, Martin would not surrender; he would not give in. He would drive you on with an unswerving commitment to succeed. He created the atmosphere that said, We play for each other.

Now some people equate camaraderie with being jovial. It is anything but. Camaraderie is born from sharing hardship. It is bruises and cuts. It’s a sore back and lungs that burn from exhaustion. It’s the heat on your neck and the pit in your stomach. It’s not being asleep when it’s your turn at watch. It is trust, it is respect, it is acting honourably.

And Martin was one of the best, most honourable losers I have ever met. Never one to make excuses if he lost fair and square..he said so. He had a sense of humility.

And he needed it cause he was damned unlucky.

When he lived on Thornton Road his car was parked in between two others. Martin was awoken at 3 am by the local constabulary asking him to move a twisted heap of junk off the pavement. What is it? asked Martin, in a not so polite manner. Your car, sir, was the reply. Martin said afterwards that the woman driving couldn’t have been that drunk as she swerved expertly just to hit his car.

When he won the play your cards right in the Con Club, which had been won the week before to the tune of £300. Martin announced a round for everyone — he won £19 and the round cost £28.60.

But this was Martin. He had the abilty to laugh at himself and at others in the same even handed way. He was a fiercely intelligent and free thinking man. He abhorred prejudice, pompousness and hated discrimination. He wasn’t a tactile man. Indeed, if you were to go to him for a manly hug, he’d give you the cold shoulder. But to me he was deeply emotional. I spent months in Martin’s company in the New Dolphin and Queensbury Conservative Club after our friend, Richard David Smith, passed away. We talked but it was the company that mattered; there was a sense that some things between us just didn’t need saying to be understood.

In fact to those of us who know Martin well know it was a bit of a standing joke that we spent so much time in a Conservative Club. A man of the people, for the people. Martin will regret leaving this mortal coil before Maggie Thatcher. I do believe that he will already have the no vacancies sign up as and when she tries to join him. He would never forgive me if I didn't get that in.

I don’t think Martin’s ever regretted that much in his colourfully short life. But I know what his biggest disappointments will be. He will miss his daughter Gemma and lovely grandson Wesley’s growth and development. He was a devoted grandfather, for a big kid himself, and I know he was so proud of his newest family member.

Finally I'd like to make a few gesture of thanks on Martin’s behalf.

Martin was a team man — so the thanks offered will not be to individuals although you know who you are...

Thank you to Queensbury Rugby Club whose fundraising efforts, friendship and hard work ensured Martin lived as comfortably as possible in his later days. The organisation required to host the Charity Day at Odsal and the Dinner at the Hilton hotel was revered by Martin and he was truly honoured by the events and those who helped and attended. Thank you to the carer services who I know Martin respected and who treated him with the utmost dignity in sometimes undignified situations.

Thank you to his close friends and family who enriched Martin’s life and who helped him continue to enjoy life until the very end.

I'd like to make one final thank you on Martin's behalf.

To Christine and Michael, his mum and dad. I cannot begin to imagine the strength of character it has taken to see you through and to support Martin through these troubled days. I know that, whilst he did not always show it, he was truly grateful for the love, comfort and care you gave to him. He understood that he could not have been anywhere more caring, more safe, more secure than home. You are truly remarkable people and we all admire you more than words can really express.

Martin maintained his indomitable sense of humour right until the very end.

He dealt with his final challenge with enormous courage and dignity. I can honestly say I never once heard him say, Why me? Indeed, he said not long after his diagnosis that he would rather not have MND but would not swop his life for anyone else’s. I know, Martin, that all of us here today would not swop our lives because we have had you in them. He brought pride where there was defeat, happiness in times of despair, colour where there was black and white and light where there was only shade.

Martin James Potts, you will be sorely missed.

Martin's choice of songs at his funeral

Phil Sharples