Now this all started as a drunken night in the pub as a lot of the best arguments often do.
My brother and I were talking about the best Everton players we have ever seen. Both of us started watching in the 70s so we ended up discussing it by decade and trying to determine the best 5.
It occurred to me that looking back is always popular in these parts so I thought sharing our combined deliberations might at least stimulate some debate and would provide some mild relief from the transfer window.
We had no scientific criteria for what is the 'best'. Just the players who we remember with affection and provided the memories that being a football supporter is all about. And they played at least one game in the decade concerned.
So in order to test the waters, I will start with the first decade, the 70s. A decade where I watched most of my football on the Gwladys Street, mostly dressed with at least three scarves. One around the neck, one around the wrist and one tucked in my waist band.
5. Andy King
A bundle of energy as a player. A midfield player with a lovely touch and an eye for a goal. Written into Everton folklore for one of the great Derby moments. Sadly missed.
4. Brian Labone
A one club Evertonian, a leader of men, a proper centre half and one of a few to raise the Championship and the FA Cup in a blue shirt.
3. Bob Latchford
Bob Latchford walks on water is what my pin badge said. The best header of a ball I've ever seen, a serial goalscorer. He was a British record signing and he paid it in full. His 30 goal season was a welcome oasis in a really barren patch for the club. One of the great Goodison hat tricks as we beat Coventry 6-0 and went top of the league.
2. Mick Lyons
Maybe not a footballing decision and I'm sure the most controversial given the number of 69-70 League winners who could be included. But Mick embodied being an Everton player. A Scouser through and through, played with his heart on his sleeve who gave the impression if he bled it would be blue. Also scored a goal I still remember to this day ( it was the day my Grandad died), a diving header through flying boots.
1. Alan Ball
Not a difficult choice even though most of his football for us was in the 60s. I had his picture on my wall, I got my white boots and like most of us was in a state of shock for days when he was sold to Arsenal. Not just the best player of the 70s but the best I've ever seen.
Reader Comments (75)
Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer
1 Posted 21/01/2017 at 05:27:02
Funny, though we won nothing in the era, we were quite good in patches. When I look back at highlights, read old reports and stats, we were actually a bit better than I remember from the time, though always in the shadow of you-know-who.
2 Posted 21/01/2017 at 06:35:30
1. Latchford – not a complete striker but an unbelievable nose for goal and the best header of a ball I have ever seen.
2. Dobson – midfield royalty. He held the team together in the second half of the 1970s.
And then I'm really struggling - Andy King , Mick Lyons would be up there, Dave Thomas the great winger but he wasn't with us long enough really, ditto Duncan MacKenzie. I think the other 3 places would go to the 1970 team:
5. Colin Harvey
But the last three are all hearsay – I only saw Alan Ball play live for Arsenal.
The 1978 team was quite decent with Latchford, Thomas, King, Dobson and Lyons all excellent players. It was not until 1984 that we put out a better side with Heath, Gray, Reid, Ratcliffe, Southall forming the spine of the dominant side that would emerge in 1985. Andy King popped up in the 1984 FA Cup semi final, but was no longer the player he was.
3 Posted 21/01/2017 at 07:02:51
I seriously hope you follow this up with an eighties, nineties and noughties version and it's for that reason I would leave Labby, Bally and Harvey out of the seventies selections. IMO They were at their finest in the late sixties. I'm hoping somebody will pick up the flag and do a couple from before you were born (fifties and sixties) because this stuff is right up my street.
I think the seventies will be the hardest because we won nothing, but this being TW. you can bet your life somebody will throw up a few unsung heroes that most of us had forgotten about.
This thread would have taken a completely different direction if a certain Welsh referee had gotten himself lost on the way to Main Road in '77.
Still, my memory often lets me down these days, so I`m looking forward to it.
4 Posted 21/01/2017 at 07:13:05
I should be given the stick, detention and a thousands lines for that little howler. We were of course the first champions of the decade.
5 Posted 21/01/2017 at 07:30:33
The '70s - the rain after the sunshine!
I started watching the blues aged 11 in the season we won the league but only started attending regularly (home and away) from around 73-74. We had some right dross but I've great memories of the period. Back then we would NEVER admit, not even think, that the shite would beat us in a derby, even though they usually did with a fluke or a cheat!
Nowadays I expect to lose against the bastards, no matter what our form is. We had "heroes" such as Mike Pejic, Joe Harper, Jim Pearson, Steve Sergeant but we sang their names loud and I clearly remember "Darracott for England" ringing round Goodson after he flipped the ball over an opponent and ran round him to play an inch perfect pass up the line!
But the best times for me were the "Magic" years, with Latchford, Thomas, MacKenzie and Dobbo in the team and seemingly every game saw us scoring six!
I'll never forget the sight of the Blue Streak emptying at Leicester and the whole town centre just exploding with Evertonian on their way to an emphatic battering of the home side. There were blues climbing over the walls to get in there were that many of us!
My biggest disappointment, apart from Clive Thomas turning out to be a bent twat (not just stupid as someone said on another thread – he was determined we wouldn't win that!) was that David Smallman didn't realise his potential.
And us winning f@ck all, obviously!
6 Posted 21/01/2017 at 07:37:07
My formative years as an Evertonian. Should have won the league in '74, I think a decent keeper could have won it for us in '78. Great-ish days!
7 Posted 21/01/2017 at 07:55:35
8 Posted 21/01/2017 at 08:44:33
Some of the middle years of that decade were dire, in truth, and without being a miserable arse, I don't think that we've ever really recovered despite the success that came 10 years later. Not yet anyway...
9 Posted 21/01/2017 at 09:54:34
Bob Latchford (Kendall and Archie Styles went to Birmingham in part-ex.). Jesus saves, but Latchford gets the rebounds.
Duncan McKenzie, because he was fantastically entertaining.
Not Alan Ball, because his best years for us were in the 60s, and we was never the same after returning from the Mexico World Cup. That said, he's the best Everton player I've ever seen, and that includes Alex Young.
10 Posted 21/01/2017 at 10:16:43
Labone, Harvey, Ball etc were at their finest in the sixties. In fact, Labone retired through injury in '71 so can't really be considered. So, leaving the 69-70 Champions side out of it, you'd have to consider:
And Thomas, especially for his combination with Latch.
Other top players weren't around long enough, Henry Newton, Bruce Rioch, even McKenzie, players who's star shone brighter at other clubs than it did here. Bernie Wright... Belfitt... just missed the cut...
11 Posted 21/01/2017 at 10:36:45
First went to Goodison on Boxing Day '75 or '76 I think, 1 1 draw against Boro. My heroes were definitely Big Bobby Latchford whom walked on water as my patch on my denim jacket said. The '78 team were pretty good too when Forest won the league, see to remember we kept pace with them for a while. The 6-0 against Coventry I think was a highlight.
Some really good players too. Dobson very cultured, Gary Jones, Roger Kenyon captain when I first started going, Steve Seargeant, Micky Bernard, bloody goalies though, Dai Davies and Dave Lawson blimey disasters waiting to happen.
So top 5:
5. Duncan Mckenzie awesome talent who showcased it most games
4. Dave Thomas without him Big Bob wouldn't have scored half his goals.
3. Micky Lyons He was Mr Everton at the time for me
2. Andy King if for nothing else he scored "that goal" against the RS, saved me from years of misery at school
1. Bob Latchford as others have said, not the complete player by any stretch of the imagination but he could score goals. My hero at the time.
I will always look at the '70s quite fondly because it was when I started going to the game. My dad said if we had been allowed to sign Peter Shilton before Forest did we would have won the league. Apparently the board wouldn't fork out £300k on a goalkeeper. Very costly mistake. Also the '77 semi, ha ha still rankles that does. They got the luck even then. Still, loved the '70s and the players that were here.
12 Posted 21/01/2017 at 10:57:12
The three of us being allowed a beer in the supporters club even though we only fifteen and the barmen telling us to enjoy it. Just one of the great days in the '70s for me. God bless you, Andy.
13 Posted 21/01/2017 at 11:23:22
So I would go with Kendall, Latchford, Dobson, King and Thomas, with a mention for Colin Todd who just occasionally showed glimpses of the superb player he had been at Derby County.
14 Posted 21/01/2017 at 12:02:40
I would even go further, the 1966 cup team was a swansong for many players, because it took a Ball, Kendall and Harvey partnership to freshen up and revitalise Everton football club, that was very unlucky not to have won more trophies.
15 Posted 21/01/2017 at 12:18:50
Peter @ 13; Too right, he kept us up on his own (much like Best did with Man Utd) His reward was to be sold on.
16 Posted 21/01/2017 at 12:19:18
Like others I will exclude the 69-70 side as if I didn't no one else would get a look in. I go with Stan # 9 in selecting HK as No 1 because without him we would have been relegated without a shadow of a doubt. He was a one man team for a couple of years and his contribution in that period was no less than what he did in the '80s.
Then follows Bob cult hero, great scorer and I named my first car after him! No 3 Andy King. He came along at a time when the RS and media were ramming Keegan down our throats and Andy was the one we flung back at them because he had more skill and a better brain than Keegan. If only he had half of the dedication that Keegan had he would have been an England regular.
I heard a story that during a derby he threatened to fight the fearsome Souness after the game. Souness duly turned up in the players lounge but Andy had calmed down by that time and very wisely declined to have anything to do with it. Great player, great Evertonian and God rest his soul.
My No 4 is George Wood I named my second car after him! A tall and very athletic keeper who would try his best to make the most simple save look spectacular by flinging himself across goal with beautifully arched back when he could really have just taken a step and gathered the ball. Never the same for me after letting in 3 against Keegan inspired England at Wembley on what might have been his Scotland debut but a great character who I really enjoyed watching.
No 5... this is difficult Graham because of an absence of outstanding players I' m stuck between John Connolly and Mick Bernard. Mick was a wonderfully hard- nut who feared no one and got stuck in but he also had a good degree of skill- another who could have been so much more had he been more dedicated with his conditioning.
Connolly was a will-of-the-wisp left winger who had silky skills on the flank and a good shot on him too. His career was ruined when he had his leg broken in a rough FA Cup game against ( I think) Altrincham and whilst he played again he was never the same and moved to Birmingham to disappear from view.
On balance I'll go for Mick Lyons for his dedication to the cause and devotion to the club- they don't make them like that any more.
Great piece Graham I really enjoyed that and having considered Alan Whittle but decided against as he would feature in my '60s top 5 I watched a bit of YouTube and my word doesn't Tom Davies look like him on the pitch ! Alan's hair was white whilst Toms is just blond but you can see the likeness!
17 Posted 21/01/2017 at 12:26:30
Then there was Rioch a no nonsense Scot who knew how to look after himself but could also play a bit too, Rioch's former Derby County team-mate Colin Todd was another rolls royce of a player but didn't really settle at Goodison.
Mike Pejic was one of my favourites, he never flinched from a tackle and used to love going forward. But as others have said the real joy of watching the Blues in the 70s was the combination of Thomas, Latchford, Dobson, King and Lyons, the almost team who never quite got the honours they deserved. That 1977-78 team was a far better side than given credit for and like many others have noted, the addition of Shilton, may have been enough for them to have achieved immortality by bringing silverware to Goodison.
18 Posted 21/01/2017 at 12:35:25
Small an was a goal scoring machine at Wrexham and didn't he score four in his first eight games for us before he was injured? Looked like the foil for Bob we had been looking for but that injury as good as finished him.
Shame Rioch departed so quickly what a hard uncompromising player he was in the Souness mould and he would have been interesting had he stayed.
19 Posted 21/01/2017 at 13:45:40
It was great when Latchford was signed, but it was a shame that Kendall went as part of the package. A midfield continuing with Kendall, with Latchford up front, could have been very effective.
20 Posted 21/01/2017 at 13:51:33
Andy (is our) king was my first idol. I wore EFC wristbands when playing kids football, simply because he did!
George Wood was another favourite, although he was replaced in my goalkeeping idol stakes a few years later!
Bob latchford, he goes without saying.
Struggling now, as I say my memories are but a youthful haze. But it was probably that era that cemented a love for our club!
21 Posted 21/01/2017 at 13:54:20
22 Posted 21/01/2017 at 14:16:03
As you say his form did go off quickly and I think he left us shortly after it did.
23 Posted 21/01/2017 at 15:06:57
After saying that I would include another player whose best time was in the sixties, Howard Kendall, areal favourite of mine as a player, he was even man of the match as a player manager versus Stoke City.
Martin Dobson as suggested by a few was a stylish player with a goal,or two in him, I'm glad David Smallman has been mentioned, what goal scorer and poacher he would have been only for injury after injury, very unlucky.
Not a great era fo the Blues but still many happy memories to talk about, look forward to your future eras Graham.
24 Posted 21/01/2017 at 19:35:14
25 Posted 21/01/2017 at 21:06:52
In fact, he was lucky to get into that Everton team, he was signed by Billy Bingham,.Gordon Lee would never have signed him in a million years, but that's just my opinion and I know you idolised him Colin.
By the way he was a great entertainer so I would always have played him in testimonials and friendly games. !!!!!!
26 Posted 21/01/2017 at 21:22:08
27 Posted 21/01/2017 at 21:25:42
In the end we agreed on anyone who played at any time in the decade. I do understand however that Ball and Labone were predominantly 60s players. However using the criteria established I couldn't leave two Everton legends out.
However if I'd of left them out I would of chosen Dobson and Howard
28 Posted 21/01/2017 at 21:32:54
29 Posted 21/01/2017 at 21:33:15
Should have won the league in 75 when I think we blew it on the run in and let Derby in. We won a league in 70 and finished 3rd and 4th in 78 and 79. I think in 78 we went 23 games unbeaten or something similar. We had some great players as mentioned and the best centre forward around in Latchford.
It was of course a decade of sob stories and near misses , but it was nowhere near as bad as some like to make out.
30 Posted 21/01/2017 at 21:37:30
That memory of Magic Duncan back heeling the ball over Smiths head is one that I will cherish for ever . .If only we had got what we deserved that day.
I bet a lot of you remember him taking a Stoke defender right across the pitch, he almost stopped twice and dummied a back heel . .Fucking outrageous skill. The faithful were in raptures.
If you are logged on, see if you can find a link for those who weren't there
31 Posted 21/01/2017 at 21:40:29
Potential new thread - Great Rucks of the Seventies, or How I Learned to Love the Footie Special.
32 Posted 21/01/2017 at 21:40:39
33 Posted 21/01/2017 at 21:46:19
34 Posted 21/01/2017 at 21:58:07
35 Posted 21/01/2017 at 21:59:25
That made me proud I am ashamed to say. I hope I haven't got the decade wrong but if I have keep it to yourself.Even if it didn't happen it is a cherished memory of an insane time.
36 Posted 21/01/2017 at 22:11:48
37 Posted 21/01/2017 at 22:34:10
Anyway, I'm starting to watch MotD so goodnight.
38 Posted 21/01/2017 at 22:36:06
39 Posted 21/01/2017 at 23:18:59
40 Posted 21/01/2017 at 23:24:49
I remember Duncan came out of the tunnel wearing an Everton bobble hat in that Stoke game, which endeared him to me and my mates even more.
41 Posted 21/01/2017 at 23:36:50
42 Posted 21/01/2017 at 23:40:49
43 Posted 21/01/2017 at 23:50:11
You like like Duncan because he brought some fun to the game, fair enough,.
44 Posted 21/01/2017 at 23:51:17
45 Posted 21/01/2017 at 23:56:20
46 Posted 22/01/2017 at 09:52:15
We'll never be as good as that midfield four of Steven, Bracewell, Reid and Sheedy, with Richardson and Harper in reserve.
47 Posted 22/01/2017 at 10:07:04
The type of player not liked by the likes of Gordon Lee. Or Tommy Smith!
48 Posted 22/01/2017 at 11:20:08
Forty years on and I've realised I still feel the same burning sense of injustice. What a gobshite that attention seeking little fucker Thomas was.
Hatred is not something that belongs in football, but I defy any blue to watch that and not feel putting his fist through the screen.
49 Posted 22/01/2017 at 11:56:46
It's part of a long pattern against them, of course, but the wheel of fortune never stops turning
50 Posted 22/01/2017 at 12:09:47
Yes, but console yourself with the fact that they've won the Premier League as many times as we have ..!
51 Posted 22/01/2017 at 12:19:31
52 Posted 22/01/2017 at 12:24:20
53 Posted 22/01/2017 at 12:51:58
Happy days of innocent youth when going the match was a joy to all and simple times and aka the '80s we have never got close since. Here's to hoping! :)
54 Posted 22/01/2017 at 14:54:42
Did that Welsh person referee the replay, because although Liverpool finished up 3-0 winners there was an important foul given to Everton when it was 0-0, Ray Clemence came out with his feet well up in the air and caught an Everton forward around his chest area, this was in the penalty area. We were awarded an indirect free kick when it was an obvious penalty, who knows what would have happened if the penalty was awarded and converted.
The decisions those Red Bastards have had against us is unbelievable and the referees performances have never, ever been called to book over them, yet Moyes was cautioned for questioning Clattenberg's ability against us.
55 Posted 22/01/2017 at 15:06:16
< Then Dobson was given offside so preventing an equaliser, probably correct but a very tight decision.
56 Posted 22/01/2017 at 15:09:02
As for Thomas, he relished being the centre of attention and all the publicity, good or bad, only helped shift copies of his book which appeared straight after he retired. An absolute shit of a man.
57 Posted 22/01/2017 at 15:17:27
By the way is he still going.
58 Posted 22/01/2017 at 15:19:29
I believe Moyes approached Clattenberg in the tunnel after the game and made some very outspoken allegations against him, and had the chairman of the LMA as a witness.
He was then very critical of him in public without the details he outlined privately. It was certainly sufficient for him to have been fined or punished as others like Ferguson had been for far less.
As you said he didn't appear at Goodison for years afterwards, and I'm not sure he reffed any Everton game at all.
59 Posted 22/01/2017 at 15:27:53
60 Posted 22/01/2017 at 18:54:45
61 Posted 22/01/2017 at 19:29:57
Bruce Rioch (got rid of him because he hated the violent nature of Rioch's play apparently) and of course the vile Welsh cheat who shall not be named.
Read pages 93 and 94 with care, in a safe place, away from sharp objects or breakable items.
62 Posted 22/01/2017 at 20:35:41
63 Posted 22/01/2017 at 21:01:53
1. Duncan McKenzie. My mum liked the way he stuck his arse out every game a la Beyoncé. My all time favourite Everton player.
2. Colin Todd. Class
3. Martin Dobson. Elegance on a stick.
4. Mick Lyons - my dad megged him at Malpas training. Typified players in them days. Him & Sammy Lee later on, both had kids' footy teams. Top bloke.
5. Mick Pejic. Classy left foot.
64 Posted 22/01/2017 at 21:21:38
65 Posted 22/01/2017 at 23:19:01
66 Posted 23/01/2017 at 18:45:23
1. Ted Sagar
2. Joe Mercer
3. Alan Ball
4. Tommy Lawton
5. Neville Southall
6. Cyril Lello
7. Bob Latchford
8. Ray Wilson
9. Dave Hickson
10. Alex Young
67 Posted 23/01/2017 at 18:52:30
So I have always been puzzled by the adoration of Duncan McKenzie. I liked the guy a whole lot what Evertonian wouldn't ? He spent a season or two here. Scored a few goals. Gave us some magical moments . A few laughs.
Would many of my fellow class of 61 Blues have him in their all time Everton XI ?
Like I said I am about to go into protective custody now. Be gentle with me !
68 Posted 23/01/2017 at 19:27:13
Franny Lee was a big star, successful striker and England international, yet had a cocky's hut on him like Big Nev.
And look at the state of Mick Bernard here - Link He looks like one of those 'thirsty' fellers pubs used to 'employ' in the 1970s to empty ashtrays and collect 'pots' (the deal seemed to be 'there's no money but you can drink all you can mine-sweep).
As for Joe Harper, rearrange the following words to make a well known phrase or sentence - Meff. Hopeless. Sweaty. Scottish. Fat. You.
69 Posted 23/01/2017 at 19:54:37
WE were supposed to be the dominant team of the 70s but with Catterick's ensuing illness and the Devils spawn signing their pact with him that when the other mob came to prominence.
I struggle to think of any favourites from that time period except for the carry overs from the 60s Labone, Kendall, Harvey and Royle. Maybe Latchford, Andy King and Dobson but none were particular favourites. Maybe because we were promised so much and delivered so little.(Sound familiar)
McKenzie was entertaining but not contributory. Colin Todd was very classy but not well built enough.
70 Posted 24/01/2017 at 13:53:43
I saw all those players, Mercer and Lawton with different clubs. Loved Dave Hickson, the only player I have ever idolised. I was young then, but Davie was Idolised by thousands of Everton fans at that time.
You will have raised a few eyebrows with your inclusion of Cyril Lello, a player signed from Shrewsbury, but you have picked a very good player, Cyril Lello was a left half going great guns after we came out of the Second Division, then he was injured and took a long time to recover. He wouldn't be on my list but understand your admiration for him.
Bob Latchford scored goals and I liked him but was way down the list of my favourite players. All of your other players are well worth listing.
71 Posted 24/01/2017 at 19:48:14
The best book that details supporting EFC at that time is George Orr's books Everton FC Home & Away in the 1960s & 1970s. Available on eBay
72 Posted 25/01/2017 at 13:05:17
Another worthy of mention is Roger Kenyon who while not in Labone's class was a decent centre back for several seasons until injuries caught up with him. It was a pity we sold Ken McNaught so soon after he emerged because he looked an outstanding prospect as was proved when he won the league and European Cup with Villa.
We had many other players who had decent careers with the club but were not quite good enough, e.g. Mick Lyons, Mick Buckley, Jim Pearson, John Connolly, Gary Jones, and several towards the end of the decade who were past their best e.g. Brian Kidd, Colin Todd. Our best goalkeeper was George Wood in that 77-79 period but the fact we never had a truly top class keeper such as Shilton or Clemence was always a handicap when it came to chasing trophies.
73 Posted 26/01/2017 at 23:36:38
74 Posted 26/01/2017 at 00:19:21
The book 'Looking for the Toffees' says it all but I still look back on that era and can't figure out how a team that could play the best football I ever saw, never do it consistently enough to win something! Stunning wins, but a few shocks at times, and the lacklustre League Cup Final v Villa (after queuing up for 8 hours around Goodison for a ticket I expected better on the day).
Top 5 from that time? Obviously Latchford and Thomas (the perfect double act) and the wonderful Mackenzie (such a shame his moments of genius were not always caught on camera). However, I agree with those who mentioned Todd and Pejic. Great battlers as well as solid as a block.
Special mentions for Andy King who didn't always reach his high standards every match but when he did... Wow! That smile and blond hair after scoring a goal true bromance for us on the terraces!; and Mick Lyons a true blue blood in the Labone mode. As the guy who won that penalty for Bob's 30th against Chelsea, he's got a place in my heart always even if I almost died when the paddock crowd swayed and surged uncontrollably and I moved 20 yards down the steps after the goal!
We all know the wonderful 84-85 team, but that 70's team was wonderful. If our current team can play with such verve and passion, Koeman will be on the right track... but times have changed and most of the team frustrate me rather than excite me. Rose-tinted glasses? Sure! But as a life-long Evertonian staring into the Sun 'Mama, that's where the fun is!'
75 Posted 27/01/2017 at 00:55:57
The Seventies were a pivotal decade for us, and not in a good way. Up till then we were every bit as big as Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool. Thereafter we've been playing catch up (mid eighties notwithstanding) and now it looks as though the ship has sailed forever.
It's funny how perspective changes things. 1970-85 without a trophy seemed like forever. God knows what 1995-? must seem like to our younger fans.
Great link for Mike Bernard, by the way Eugene. Your task, should you choose to accept it, is now to find a pic of Tommy Jackson in his (ahem) prime.
Add Your Comments
In order to post a comment, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.
Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and Talking Points submissions across the site.