If You Know The History – 19th December 1931 Celtic 6 Leith Athletic 0

A routine league match at Celtic Park, the Bhoys proving far too strong for the visitors. Of the six goals, Jimmy McGrory scored four, the others coming from Bertie Thomson and Charlie Napier. Yet, as we look back to that day 82 years ago and assess the statistics, the most important feature of the occasion was that Peter Scarff played his last match for the club.

Scarff had arrived in August 1928, made his debut against Arthurlie in the Scottish Cup in January 1929 and later that year, became a regular in the side at inside-forward. He played in both matches of the 1931 Scottish Cup final, when Celtic beat Motherwell after a replay, went on the first tour of North America in the summer of 1931 and was on the field at Ibrox when John Thomson received the head injury from which he later died on 5th September 1931.


Only a few weeks later, Peter had to leave the field at half-time in a testimonial match at Ayr, suffering from a shortage of breath. This got worse in the autumn of 1931 and the match mentioned above was the last one Peter played for Celtic. In January 1931, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and admitted to a sanatorium in Bridge of Weir. There was little positive treatment for the condition in those days. Penicillin had been discovered in 1928 but the production of antibiotics did not start till the days of the 2nd World War and what patients received in 1931 were palliative treatments, like fresh air, good food and rest.

There were periods of remission in Peter’s case which gave rise to false hopes but on 29th July 1933 it was announced that Peter Scarff would never play again and he died on 9th December 1933. He was 25.


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