Roy Vernon was posthumously announced as an Everton Giant at the club's 2017 End of Season Awards (he had previously been inducted into Gwladys Street's Hall of Fame).
The North Walian came to Everton from Blackburn Rovers in 1960. His impact over 5 years at Goodison was immense. He captained the team to title glory, had an impressive goal ratio, and forged an intuitive strike partnership with Alex Young. He moved to Stoke City in 1965 and left professional football in 1970. He died, at the age of 56, from lung cancer, in 1993.
I am researching Roy's career; if you have memories of him at club or international level please drop me an email – rsneston "at" gmail.com
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1 Posted 17/06/2017 at 10:22:12
2 Posted 17/06/2017 at 10:56:07
Happy days... never knew we would have 14 years of Tiger Rod, Bernie, Dai the Drop and the rest of the idiots, 69 to 84 as you all know only too well.
3 Posted 17/06/2017 at 11:34:19
Denis Law and Jimmy Greaves where his peers in that era both great inside forwards who scored goals for fun.
Law was as quick as a flash whereas Greaves was a goal poacher. In my opinion, in his pomp, Royston was better than either of them, possessing pace, guile and shooting ability. Perhaps Law had the edge on him when it came to heading ability.
His party piece was to receive the ball on the half-way line with his back to the oppositions goal. He would turn the centre or wing half inside out and hare off up the pitch towards the opposition's goal. Nine times out of ten, when he was one-on-one with the goalie he would score.
He was deadly from the edge of the box and had a great body swerve.
It is a great pity that such a terrific footballer died from lung cancer, no doubt due to smoking, which is a scourge. I do remember seeing him walking towards the players entrance on Goodison Road in one of those old-fashioned trench coats smoking a cigarette. As a young teenager that was a great shock to me actually. Sadly, in the early 60s the dangers of smoking where only just coming to light.
Roy Vernon was a great captain of a great Everton team. RIP
4 Posted 17/06/2017 at 11:40:46
5 Posted 17/06/2017 at 13:08:21
6 Posted 17/06/2017 at 15:21:52
I always thought he was from Fynnongroew near Mostyn, Flintshire.
7 Posted 17/06/2017 at 15:49:56
8 Posted 17/06/2017 at 16:32:01
I remember his first game against Wolves at Goodison early in 1960. We got beaten 2-0 and he didn't impress. Norman Deeley ran the show for them from memory.
He started scoring soon after that, and I've discussed on here the goal he scored against Blackpool on the Good Friday when he dribbled the ball in from a short corner and left a number of their defenders on their backsides before dribbling round the keeper and blasting in from one yard, one of 2 he scored in a 4-0 win.
His penalties were deadly daisy cutters, none better than the one he scored against Liverpool in the first league derby since 1954, in the championship winning season.
He was very bad tempered and knew how to look after himself, considering he was less than 10 stone and about 5 ft 9 in old money. Did a bit of that in the Battle of Goodison against Leeds.
He could smoke in the showers according to Labone and once led the team out and flicked what looked like a tab end on to the grass. He later said it was a Vick inhaler.
Catterick lectured him about his smoking and Roy agreed with him. As he closed the door after him Catterick could hear another match being struck.
There is a famous photo of him and Tony Kay sharing a match used to light Roy's fag and Tony's big cigar.
My favourite all time Everton player. Captain, genius all over the pitch, clinical goalscorer, scorer of 30-yarders, bad tempered and waspish.
If ever the club need to commemorate him they could have The Roy Vernon Smoking Area!
9 Posted 17/06/2017 at 16:44:34
The stories of his drinking and smoking were legend. What a character. At least he enjoyed his life, even if he went too soon.
10 Posted 17/06/2017 at 16:45:49
Vernon would move in, dummy the spot kick and the 'keeper would dive while Roy stopped. After two goes, the ref booked him.
11 Posted 17/06/2017 at 16:56:51
12 Posted 17/06/2017 at 17:00:33
I seem to remember the Man Utd keeper actually saved the first of his attempts taking the penalty in that Charity Shield match, but it was ruled out for an infringement by the keeper.
I remember the shock that went around when it was 'saved' what, Roy can't actually have missed a penalty??!! It was almost unknown.
13 Posted 17/06/2017 at 17:12:05
14 Posted 17/06/2017 at 17:33:40
15 Posted 17/06/2017 at 19:46:06
They were all great players, Young for me but only a hairs breath before Vernon. What an all round player he was; tough and arrogant with it. What would he cost today???
16 Posted 17/06/2017 at 19:49:17
In 1962, Roy came to a local pub to push the stack of old pennies on the bar counter for charity. My mother was a barmaid there and pulled a pint for him. I was outside with a lot of kids who asked me to get his autograph.
Being sixteen, I went in the pub, asking her approval. The men inside and my mother said to Roy, "He is a good Evertonian" and he said "I know him, he gets my table on the train from a far away game, for our card school." In those ancient trains, the tables were folded and strapped up.
In 1963, me and a mate went to Upton Park for the West Ham game. We had played them a few weeks previous in the FA Cup. This was an important game as we were going for the league title.
On the Saturday morning, about 11:00 am, we went to the Hotel that the Blues stayed at, Baileys Hote in Gloucester Road. The players came out going their different ways.
Roy and Alex came out (they were great friends). Roy said "We're going shopping (clothes), come with us." We were chuffed.
Roy had a column in the Daily Post, I think it was, on a Friday. Liverpool were playing Leicester in the semi-final of the FA Cup. Roy had said in his column "I want to see Liverpool to win after I get out of the bath at West Ham." I said to Roy, "What is that all about?" He said to me "I want the Bastards to lose" and lose they did. All ToffeeWebers know that we won the league that lovely year.
In 1964, I was working on the building in Maghull, now being 18. One Thursday, I got my wage packet; me and another apprentice went to the Hare and Hounds pub in Maghull, having a few pints... who walks in? Royston himself. He said "What are you doing in Maghull? Eyeing up the birds?" He knew where I lived in that penny-pushing back in 1962. We had a few pints with him and a lot of laughs.
The next week, I was going to the betting shop and Roy was behind me. He was with Fred Pickering who he introduced to me. Fred had only signed a few months.
Roy Vernon a truly lovely man, down to earth. A giant in our 62-63 League Champions side.
17 Posted 17/06/2017 at 19:50:15
I may be one of the few people who saw Roy miss a penalty. It was a reserve game at Goodison, perhaps in 1964, against Burnley. Young was also playing and Gordon West in goal, going through one of his bad spells and replaced by Andy Rankin. We lost 5-3 and the team was jeered off with Gordon reacting badly to it so that we wondered if he would ever be back in the first team again.
But Roy was a great striker of the ball as well as finding the right place to be to turn the ball into the goal. His partnership with Young was a delight to watch and they jointly deserve all the praise they received for their performances in the title-winning season.
As mentioned, he was a niggly character on the pitch, got sent home early from the club tour to New York, but what a wonderful player and captain he was. I wish there were video of some of his long range goals which flew into the top corner, one against Wolves at home I recall, and one at Blackpool both early in the season.
18 Posted 17/06/2017 at 20:08:45
I think that reserve match might have been after a couple of players were coming back from injury. There was a pretty big crowd that night if it is the same game.
There was a night League match under the lights at Goodison, which we won. Roy got the ball in midfield, advanced a bit and let fly about 35 yards out. Me and my mate were directly behind the goal at the Street end and we followed the flight of the ball as it flew into the top right hand corner. The ball lodged behind the stanchion in the net and had to be dislodged by the keeper.
Couldn't tell you who we were playing but I remember that goal.
19 Posted 17/06/2017 at 20:13:42
I recall Royston in one game when they used to have shots in before, with a ciggie in his hand which he flicked away just before kick off. A real character.
20 Posted 17/06/2017 at 20:31:10
I seem to recall the Burnley reserve game being a day game but I can certainly be proved wrong. I wonder if anybody keeps reserve game details? Tony at #19 may recall.
Vernon and Young were not especially favourites of Catterick who, of course, suffered them because they were great players, but I think he did look for opportunities not to play them.
21 Posted 17/06/2017 at 20:46:31
Alex's wife was pretty explicit about Catterick and his treatment of her husband in Becky Tallentire's interview featured on here. Also how she and Alex felt about Roy's transfer to Stoke, when they lost two friends, Roy and his wife Norma.
There is a great photo of Roy in a Stoke shirt surrounded by The Trinity, not having a chance.
I seem to remember when he was badly injured in a match at Goodison, I can't remember who against. He was carried off on a stretcher and I recall my heart sinking. He was out a while and never the same player again.
22 Posted 17/06/2017 at 20:53:42
All 3 disliked by Catterick. I think Alex and Bally may have roomed together. It must be available to see somewhere.
23 Posted 17/06/2017 at 22:17:47
A maverick but brilliant player, tragic him going at such an early age, but the memories he left will always stay with us fans lucky enough to see him.
24 Posted 17/06/2017 at 22:21:03
I thought it was 1-0 at halftime, with Gabby (Jimmy Gabriel) scoring? Dennis Stevens got the 2nd, then Royston with a thrice taken pen (I told you all comments would vary, right or wrong). Dave Gaskell was the keeper (dunno why I remembered him for); I think he moved early, or the ref was shocked that Roy didn't score from the spot, no idea why the ref ordered the 2nd pen to be retaken, but in my mind, Roy stepped up for the 3rd time, to send Gaskell the wrong way for our 3rd goal? Temple got the 4th I think!
We played Man Utd away 2 weeks later at Old Trafford in a league game, for some reason the Evertonians had taken over the Stretford End & we were in fine voice, especially with a rendition of the new Beatles song 'She Loves You' with a stunned Old Trafford crowd smiling & clapping, at other scousers singing! Only 2 mins or so into the game & Royston put us ahead via a deflection, cue scenes of unbridled joy & thoughts of another 4-0 victory perhaps, sadly, that was about the best we were to do that day, as Man Utd ran out comfortable winners 5-1, could have been more too!
When we played Man Utd at home around the '63 Xmas period for the league game, it was an amazing 4-0 victory again, with virtually the same scorers, Temple, Vernon, Stevens & Brian Harris (maybe?) The 4 goals all came in the 2nd half in a 20-minute spell, or close to it & could have been more!
Vernon was an amazing player, with a goal in every 1.75 games or something like that, top goal scorer every season too I believe & although I was only 9 or 10 when I first saw him at EFC, he was skinny, extremely fast, a deadly goal scorer & he wouldn't take crap from anyone!
In different games I remember him being Alex Young's minder, if someone picked on Alex, or tried to harm him, Royston was there in a split second, probably cussing in Welsh at the offending player, who had the temerity to hurt the Golden Vision!
Not sure why we sold Vernon to Stoke in 1965 â€“ he was our top goal scorer by far, but I don't think him & The Catt got on too well, or their opinions clashed. Either way, the manager got rid of him too early, I thought!
25 Posted 17/06/2017 at 23:03:44
He did it all the time. He never tackled them just flicked the ball off them. If memory serves, it was later banned by the FA.
26 Posted 17/06/2017 at 23:17:23
In the sixties, a great many more people used ciggies. It was like HMS Ajax laying smoke!!!
27 Posted 18/06/2017 at 08:27:00
28 Posted 18/06/2017 at 09:05:21
Incidentally I was at the game but the second half was on TV live, something they did quite a lot in those days.
29 Posted 18/06/2017 at 10:00:46
The tales about Roy were legendary. I was at White Hart Lane when he missed his only penalty, his foot stubbed the ground and the ball rolled tamely to Bill Brown in goal.
Ray Atherton (#16) and I attended a lot of games together then, but he forgot to mention during the card games on the train we would all be crowded in the corridors watching them play and everybody would be rooting for Roy to win. One of the players we all hated was Albert Dunlop, when he lost money he would jump up and slam the door shut so we couldn't watch them play!
Back to the football side of Roy, in my opinion he lies 2nd behind Alan Ball as our greatest post-war player. He had pace, could dribble and had a fantastic shot. He could sometimes leave his boot in also!
My abiding memory of Roy was when he was leaving the Bailey's Hotel to get in the team coach, he was singing a song that was high in the hit parade at the time: "Let's think about loving" by Bob Luman.
I could go on and on about the stories of Roy, but what goes on in Benidorm stays in Benidorm!!
30 Posted 18/06/2017 at 10:03:39
A lovely arrogance.
I don't recall anybody doing this in such a way before or since, although maybe Greaves did it. Best did it but at pace.
31 Posted 18/06/2017 at 11:59:19
In an away game, Blackburn had played poorly in the first half and at half-time the manager berated them saying how terrible their passing was, ending with "and don't you realise we have Roy, an international player here and you've hardly found him with a pass".
Then turning to Vernon, "And you could help Roy by moving around more, you've been stood still most of the half." To which Vernon replied "Come off it, boss, if they can't find me when I'm stood still, they'll never find me when I'm moving around!"
32 Posted 18/06/2017 at 12:22:40
Imagine what a combination Vernon and Young would be these days when you can't touch a player? What would they be worth?
33 Posted 18/06/2017 at 12:42:23
I think it was at Great Harwood.
Ray you're right about them playing with today's protection. In those days defenders took man first and the ball if possible, and every team had a couple of right evil bastards whose attitude was forget about the ball and get on with the game.
Arguably Roy and Alex were past their best at 26 or 27, just when they should have been going into their peak years. This was as a result of getting hammered week-in and week-out, injuries and playing through them, and the poor medical treatment then available. In Alex's case, aggravated by his deafness.
34 Posted 18/06/2017 at 12:52:33
"Better than Alan Ball?" I craftily countered.
"Yeah," he said. "He was that good."
35 Posted 18/06/2017 at 13:04:16
Vernon had a great body swerve something very few players have had since and Young was amazing in the air despite his size.
Admittedly in those days, teams played in a more cavalier fashion, unlike the boring possession stuff of today, so the game was more exciting in an attacking sense.
36 Posted 18/06/2017 at 13:22:05
I think Roy threatened to quit football because of his sense of injustice . He didn't thank God, but it shows an unusual mindset at a time when sendings off were very much an unusual event, not routine like now.
37 Posted 18/06/2017 at 13:33:16
38 Posted 18/06/2017 at 13:35:25
You're probably correct. It was ages ago when I heard it and remember the comment mostly.
39 Posted 18/06/2017 at 13:39:07
I never cared for Storey-Moore after that and then he went and scored a hat-trick to knock us out of the Cup.
40 Posted 18/06/2017 at 13:41:29
At team meals Labone said he just seemed to move his food around on his plate while the others wolfed it down and he would leave the table with most of the food still on his plate. May explain why he was so thin.
41 Posted 18/06/2017 at 16:48:51
In one newspaper, can"t remember who, said if you put a beret on Roy.s head about 20 yards away, he would look like a knitting needle.
42 Posted 18/06/2017 at 22:49:20
I think he got most of his sustenance from beer and whisky.
43 Posted 20/06/2017 at 02:09:01
Carey on the back of rave reports, iirc, moved heaven and earth to sign him as a youngster and really rated him, so of course tried to make him one of his first signings for Blackburn. Carey of course later left for Everton.
But Blackburn knew a good player when they saw one and when Carey came back in to sign him for Everton they weren't too pleased. They didn't want to be seen selling one of their best players to the team that just poached their Manager.
Throw in these things and the fact that the new Manager, who was maybe under orders to put him in his place, put Roy's back up and started agitating for a move to Everton which didn't help his situation at Blackburn.
In the end as per usual, money talked and off he went, sadly before too long so did Carey. With the result that Roy 'I know my own mind' Vernon, was able to lock horns with - 'So do I and I'm the Boss' Harry Catterick.
But despite that, or was it because of that, History was made.
There is video footage of Roy (vs Wolves?) winning the ball about the halfway line, then losing the player(s) with a Cruyff turn about 12 years before it was 'invented'; threading a ball through on to Young's foot for him to slot in on the run with barely a break in stride.
Worth watching if somebody can dig it out and link it.
44 Posted 20/06/2017 at 04:07:06
That video snip of the Wolves game is available on YouTube.
45 Posted 20/06/2017 at 05:08:56
47 Posted 20/06/2017 at 13:46:17
Vernon was my Dad's hero. We lost him 18 months ago, so it's brought a tear to my eye reading some of these.
48 Posted 21/06/2017 at 14:56:52
After having a go at the midfielders for not hitting the forwards with balls, he says to Roy, "I don't know why I bought you you have not made any runs."
Roy's reply was, "If they cannot hit me with balls standing still, what chance do they have if I'm running around?"
That was from his bio.
49 Posted 21/06/2017 at 19:54:31
I think it was when he was at Great Harwood, that the story came out.
50 Posted 23/06/2017 at 06:49:10
Aah! "proper" football. Pitch like a ploughed field, real tackling without theatricals, no need for 400 passes before knocking it forward, goalies without nancy boy gloves and the players actually seem to enjoy playing. Those were the days when I could actually watch a game without falling asleep!!
51 Posted 24/06/2017 at 10:21:54
There with Bryan Douglas and Ronnie Clayton apparently. Not a bad team.
52 Posted 26/06/2017 at 15:20:00
I still recall his hat-trick against Fulham that clinched the First Division Championship in 1963, I watched the game from the Bullens Road terracing on the wall in front of a crush barrier that gave a 13-year-old a perfect view across a sun-drenched Goodison Park.
Roy was also the man for the big occasion, notably scoring in derby games, and against the top sides of that era.
I also recall the shocking refereeing decision that ruled out his goal midway through the second half against Inter Milan in the European Cup in September 1963. Alex Parker, a great full back, crossed a ball from the right and from 18 yards Roy hit the ball, first time, straight into the corner of the net at the Gwladys Street end.
Standing with my late Dad under the clock on the Goodison Road terrace, we had a direct view of the goal. It was ruled out for offside despite 2 Milan players being in front of Roy when he bulleted the shot into the net. It ended 0-0, and we lost the second leg 1-0 to a team that went on to win the European Cup for the next 2 years.
A decade later in the UEFA Cup, Billy Bingham's side were denied a clear penalty (Gary Jones) against AC Milan at Goodison who also went on to win the tie by a single goal in the second leg in Italy.
Southern press bias prevented Roy and other greats like Alex Young from receiving the rightful recognition for their immense talents and success. It is often forgotten that the great 1962-63 team came within a whisker of retaining their title in 1963-64. Two poor performances against West Brom over the Easter period cost them a second title.
My overriding memory of Roy Vernon was that, when he came on the pitch with Alex Young, we were in the ascendancy. Everton feared nobody.
After his premature death in 1991. Author, Ivan Ponting wrote a fitting tribute in the Independent that proved he was a better all round player than Jimmy Greaves and the over-rated Denis Law, who when facing John Hurst in 67-68 and 69-70, rarely troubled Everton.
As the crowd used to sing:
Bless 'em all, Bless 'em all!
The long and the short and the tall,
Bless wee Alex and Royston too,
Bless all the boys who are wearing Royal Blue.
Roy Vernon a true Everton legend.
53 Posted 26/06/2017 at 20:19:43
Following a game against, I think, Shamrock Rovers, Roy appeared the following morning, at the hotel pool, in sunglasses, shorts and cigarette in mouth.
He either fell or was pushed in the pool. He surfaced seconds later, shades in place, cigarette in mouth... Andy Capp-like.
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