Favourites aren't always the best, Part 2

John McFarlane, Sr 03/12/2017  77 Comments  [Jump to last]

Alex Parker, Footballer of the Year (1958)

Continuing my theme of who I regard as the best Everton players in their respective positions, I started in Part One with the inestimable Gordon West in goal.

My choice at right back is Alex Parker, and in my account of his career, I will be using personal memories I have of Alex, with quotes from other sources. Alexander Hershaw Parker was born on 2 August 1935 in Irvine, Ayrshire and to begin with I would like to use a quote from The Independent, 23 January 2010:

Alex Parker was that comparatively rare football being, a full back and a folk hero, renowned as a poised and a stylish yet formidably combative performer. While excelling in Everton's confident charge to the League Championship in 1963, he was revered no less passionately at his previous Club, Falkirk, with whom he won all but one of his 15 caps for Scotland.

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Accordingly he occupies a berth in the Toffees' "Hall of Fame" and was considered an automatic selection for the 'Bairns' (Falkirk) "Team of he Century" – both honours that were not bestowed lightly. Further afield too, professional regard for this amiable Ayrshireman was virtually boundless, with no less an authority than his exalted countryman, Matt Busby, the founding father of the modern-day Manchester United, declaring that, during Parker's prime, he knew of no peer in his position, anywhere in the world.

When Alex joined Everton in June 1958 with winger Eddie O'Hara, in an £18,000 deal, I was serving with the Army in Cyprus; on 11 June 1958, he played for Scotland against Paraguay in a 3-2 defeat in Norrkoping, Sweden – his last international honour (becoming the first Everton player to feature in a World Cup Finals). Before Alex could settle in at his new Club, he too was posted to Cyprus, with the Royal Scottish Fusiliers, but his stay on the island was short-lived, and he returned to "Blighty" where he made his Everton debut on 8 November 1958 against Aston Villa at Villa Park.

For his first four games, Alex occupied his natural position of right-back, but for the next 13 games ,he played at right-half, the position I first saw him play on Boxing Day when I came home on leave. Everton's opponents that day were Bolton Wanderers, Dave Hickson scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory.

My first view of Alex playing in his rightful position was in the first game of the following season, a 2-2 draw against Luton Town at Goodison Park.

Returning to the Independent article:

"One of the secrets of the stockily built Scot's success, was an extraordinarily well-honed sense of timing. On the field of play he elevated the sliding tackle into something not far short of an art form."

At a "Hall of Fame" evening, I complimented Alex on his excellent use of the slide tackle, and his response was "I was faster on my arse than I was on my feet". Well known for his quick wit, Alex once said of the ex-Liverpool goalkeeper, Bert Slater, regarding the number of goal-line clearances Alex had to make, when they played together at Falkirk, "He was the best goalie I ever played behind."

Apart from the 15 caps Alex won with Scotland, he appeared in 6 Under-23 games and represented the Scottish League 8 times. Alex, along with Eddie O'Hara and Bert Slater, were Scottish Cup winners with Falkirk, beating Kilmarnock 2-1 after a 1-1 draw. Both games took place at Hampden Park, attracting crowds of 81,057 and 79,785; factor in his League winners medal with Everton, not a bad haul.

On leaving Everton, Alex joined Southport, then Ballymena United (as Player-Manager), Drumcondra, Southport (as Trainer/Coach, and later as Manager). The Everton playing record for Alex in all competitions was 219 appearances, 5 goals.

Sadly Alex passed away on 7 January 2010; contrary to the heading of this article, Alex was my favourite and I also rate him one of the best.

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Laurie Hartley
1 Posted 04/12/2017 at 02:37:18
I suspected Alex Parker would be your favourite John (mine too).

My favourite "spec" in the early sixties was always on the wall of the Goodison Rd terraces about 15 yards up from Gwladys Street. I used to get into the ground early to make sure I got my "spec". From their I had a worms eye view of Alex's skills when we were defending the Gwladys Street goal.

Alex was a great slide tackler but he had fantastic positional sense also. He used to "show" the wingers the touchline, corner them, then in would come that thunderous sliding tackle. Happy days they were.

My second favourite is Tommy Wright.

David Ellis
2 Posted 04/12/2017 at 04:02:50
No more caps after moving down to Everton? Was that usual at the time?
Ian Burns
3 Posted 04/12/2017 at 08:59:20
Nice article, John - keep it coming.

Alex Parker had a very unusual trick – he would often trap a bouncing ball by turning and trapping the ball with his backside. Wonderful full back.

Ray Roche
4 Posted 04/12/2017 at 10:03:41
David (#2),

I think that the Scottish FA took a dim view of players who left Scotland to ply their trade over the border in England.

Dimwits.

Peter Mills
5 Posted 04/12/2017 at 10:15:48
Nice article, John. I saw Alex play a couple of times, but have no real memories of him, I suspect my pal Terry White will make a contribution here as I know Alex was one of his favourites.

Taking Terry's lead from your first post, predicting who will come next, I suspect it will be the immaculate Ramon – it was good to see his sons representing him at Goodison on Saturday.

Stan Schofield
6 Posted 04/12/2017 at 10:37:59
John, great read. My dad, who first took me in 1961, would agree with you. Me, however, I have more memories of Tommy Wright, who would be my personal choice.

Ray@4: I wonder if that's why Alex Young didn't get many caps.

Rick Tarleton
7 Posted 04/12/2017 at 10:45:37
Alex Parker was an absolute hero of mine. How he did a fully extended slide tackle and managed to wrap his leg round the ball and get up with the ball was a miracle. I played as a right back and tried very hard to master that trick, but very rarely did I manage it.

I met him a few times when he ran "The Swinging Sporran". He was a nice man as well. I also met him in a pub in Exeter where I was at university, when he was manager of Southport. He bought me a pint when I introduced myself as an exiled Evertonian.

When he first signed for Everton, I got his autograph one Sunday afternoon. I'd have been about twelve at the time.He and his fiancee and Dave Hickson and his wife were in the same restaurant (Hortons) in New Brighton as me and my mum and dad. I went over and they signed a menu for me, which has unfortunately disappeared.

Rick Tarleton
8 Posted 04/12/2017 at 10:55:39
They didn't pick "Anglos" as they called them, even Denis Law was neglected at times and he's as good as I saw in my 60-odd years of watching football.
John McFarlane [Snr]
9 Posted 04/12/2017 at 11:59:09
Hi Laurie [1] David [2], Ray [4], Stan [6], and Rick [8], thank you for your kind remarks, I'll answer your posts in a block reply. I was going to mention the Scottish F.A.s reluctance to pick what they deemed as Anglo Scottish players, Alex Young actually referred to it in the "Independent Newspaper tribute to Alex Parker".

I was burning the midnight oil last night, and I was two thirds of the way through this article when my laptop crashed, and there was so much I intended to write, but having to start over again dimmed my enthusiasm some what.

Laurie and Stan, I had intended to pick seven substitutes as per today's ruling, and Tommy Wright was in that group, I won't disclose the other six, for two reasons, [!] it would take away the element of surprise, and [2] I may have a change of mind.

Once again, thank you for your appreciation, I have undertaken this task as some sort of therapeutic treatment, and as I have said on other posts, now in my 80th year I have more to look back on, than I have to look forward to.

Dave Abrahams
10 Posted 04/12/2017 at 12:45:54
I don't think many fans who saw Alex Parker will disagree with your choice, not me that's for sure – although I loved Tommy Wright, another great right back and a dedicated Evertonian, even long after he retired.

I think Alex Parker had a great temperament and personality to go with his first class football ability, as others have said that sliding tackle, used to perfection, saved Everton on numerous occasions and he was a master at it. Excellent full back, will always be remembered by those of lucky enough to see him.

I think Ramon Wilson will get the same response, John, unless you've got a real surprise up your sleeve.

Stan Schofield
11 Posted 04/12/2017 at 13:57:41
John, I really think this is a great theme. I feel very lucky to have been taken to Goodison in 1961, when Everton were just getting really going, and to have that great decade for Everton when I was 7 to 16, obviously formative and impressionable years. There are two things which stick out in my mind, relating to this:

(1) There were players who made an instant big impression on me, like Alex Young, although of course he was famous anyway, partly by virtue of the Golden Vision TV film. These players, and I include Ray Wilson, seemed to make playing football look easy. I think that makes a big impression on a youngster, and it's also a sign of great expertise in any profession. I think the fact that they made it look easy, made me think (no doubt like many others) that I could one day play for Everton. So I would practice ball skills accordingly, influenced subsequently by the artistry of Colin Harvey. Of course, I eventually found that I didn't have the natural talent to do what they did, but nevertheless watching these great players was so influential.

(2). There were so many great Scottish players, which you don't really see these days. I have never been able to fathom why there has been such an apparent decline here. If you have any thoughts on this, it would be interesting.

John McFarlane [Snr]
12 Posted 04/12/2017 at 14:33:02
Hi Stan [11] in answer to your question regarding the dearth of Scottish players, I'm afraid I have no idea, it's true that in your formative years [the sixties], all the successful teams contained one or two from north of the border.

[Arsenal], David Herd, Ian Ure,

[Tottenham Hotspur] Bill Brown, John White, Dave Mackay

[Everton] Bobby Collins, Alex Young, Jimmy Gabriel

[Liverpool] Ron Yeats, Ian St John

[Manchester United] Paddy Crerand, Dennis Law.

That's off the top of my head Stan, if I were to go to what I call my research department, I would probably unearth plenty of others.

John Keating
13 Posted 04/12/2017 at 14:53:48
John, I agree Parker was also my favourite, just ahead of Tommy Wright. Seemed quiet on the pitch but as hard as nails in the tackle. Not many got past Parker.

Mind you as a pure athlete I think Gary Steven in the 80s team was excellent. He could get up and down the pitch all day, fit as a fiddle.

Rick 7, it's strange you mention how Parker slide tackled. Ray Wilson did exactly the same! Hooked his leading leg around the ball, the winger would go sprawling and up Wilson would get on the attack.

Rick Tarleton
14 Posted 04/12/2017 at 15:05:25
True, John. Wilson was the best full-back I ever saw. He never gave George Best a look-in at Goodison. I'm assuming Bobby Collins is going to be in John's lot as I've never known a player to make such an impact from the beginning of his stay at Goodison till he left.

I also agree with Stan about Colin Harvey, what a player. The only thing he couldn't do was shoot, his tackling passing, dribbling and football nous were all first class.

John Keating
15 Posted 04/12/2017 at 15:09:54
Yes, Wilson was in a class of his own, at the time and since.
Bill Griffiths
16 Posted 04/12/2017 at 15:28:36
I didn't start going to games until 1967 do didn't get to see Alex Parker but from the above he sounds like he was some player.Though I loved Gary Stevens I've got to say I think Tommy Wright is the best right back since I have been watching games and also my favourite.

I will be surprised if John doesn't come up with Ray Wilson for left back.

Terry White
17 Posted 04/12/2017 at 15:47:30
As my mate Peter Mills has set me up (#5) I have to concur that Alex Parker was the "best " #2 and was certainly my favourite. Like many others, Tommy Wright would be next in line.

It has been correctly said that the Scottish FA seemed to prefer selecting players playing in their home country. Alex also suffered in terms of caps since he was a contemporary of Eric Caldow, a fine full back who captained Glasgow Rangers and seemed to get the nod more often than not.

We old timers, John, will certainly have a good idea of your opinion of the "best" #3 to play for us while you have been watching (Warney Cresswell was before your time, I believe?), but will he actually be your "favourite"?

Steve Barr
18 Posted 04/12/2017 at 16:18:21
John, what an excellent theme for a ToffeeWeb article.

As you say, it's therapeutic given the "less than great" players and poor performances we've had to endure over recent times.

Alex Parker was just a bit before my time so I'd go with Tommy Wright for right backs I've actually seen play in the flesh.

I'm guessing quite a few of your choices will come from that early 60's to late late 60's era. One of my all time favourite Everton team photo's is the 1962 one (TyPhoo Tea version - maybe you remember they use to do colour pictures of all the teams back then) and with the following line up there are plenty to choose from. At the risk of boring you all, the squad photograph I'm referring to was...Pickering, Temple, Brown, Hill, West, Gabriel, Rankin, Wright, Scott, Parker, Heslop, Harris, Young, Stevens, Labone, Harvey, Morrissey, Wilson.

Happy Days!

Alasdair Mackay
19 Posted 04/12/2017 at 16:20:58
My Dad used to talk about Alex Parker and Tommy Wright – though I think Wright was his favourite.

The first right-backI saw play for Everton would have been Gary Stevens, and then there were the 90s with "legends" like Hottiger, Cleland and Earl Barrett.

Personally – Seamus Coleman. Outstanding player.

Tony Heron
20 Posted 04/12/2017 at 16:27:04
I'm loving this series of articles with another of my heroes from my introduction to Everton.

My first game was circa 1961 v Arsenal who had Jack Kelsey in goal while the Blues had Bobby Collins, Roy Vernon, Alex Young to name but a few. Alex Parker (we always referred to him as Alec?), was the right-back and of course the thing he was famous for, as others have said, was his fabulous sliding tackle. Great fullback.

As Bob Hope would say John "thanks for the memories "!

John McFarlane [Snr]
21 Posted 04/12/2017 at 16:35:04
Hi Steve [18] If I hadn't had the good fortune to see Alex Parker play, I would certainly have chosen Tommy Wright. Tommy seemed to get injured every week, but no matter how serious it was, he would be out on the field for the next game. [a little man with a big heart]

My mates and I used to joke, that if Everton dropped the "Golden Goal" ticket They could replace it with the "Tommy Wright Injury" ticket. I know it's a bit of a cliche' but they don't make 'em like that anymore.

Tim O'Connell
22 Posted 04/12/2017 at 16:36:33
Great thread. I am slightly too young to remember Alex Parker, so the 3 stand outs are clearly Tommy Wright, Gary Stephens and Seamus Coleman. Gary Stephens slightly edged it for me particularly the combo with Trevor Steven.
Steve Barr
23 Posted 04/12/2017 at 16:56:44
John, I know what you mean about Tommy being injury prone. To be honest we've always had bad luck with injury prone players ever since I started following them in the mid 60s.

I remember there was the joke going around in the 70s about a road sign outside Goodison that read "Beware, Accident Black Spot"!

Alan McGuffog
24 Posted 04/12/2017 at 17:16:04
Anyone recall a game against Chelsea, I think about 1967. Tommy Wright was injured and a kid called David Turner (?) played. And played a blinder. Don't think he ever appeared again. Cruel game.
Tony Abrahams
25 Posted 04/12/2017 at 17:53:57
The old fella’s were lucky because they watched better players, which usually makes for a more knowledgeable spectator?

Keep posting John, it makes me realise why Everton was always such a revered football club, and like Moyes, it even seems that even Koeman, never realised how lucky he was to manage us until it was too late? Or maybe I’m making the last bit up!

Ian Burns
26 Posted 04/12/2017 at 17:54:37
Alan (#24) - David Turner was actually a right wing half as they called them in those days. He came from Derbyshire Schoolboys and was a Rolls Royce of a player but never made the grade.

John Snr – getting well ahead of myself but I hope as Rick (14) says that Bobby Collins is one of your "favourites" – my first Everton hero.

John McFarlane [Snr]
27 Posted 04/12/2017 at 18:09:08
Hi Alan, [24] I've had to go to the research department for this one, the match you refer to was indeed against Chelsea, a 2-1 win for Everton on April 23rd 1968.with goals from John Hurst and Howard Kendall.

I will have been there but I have no recollection of it, it was [as you say],the only game that he played for the blues. I possess a fairly good memory, but there's only so much the mind can retain.

I appreciate people taking the time to read the article, I decided to submit something after Steve Ferns encouraged me to do so. To tell you the truth I was disenchanted with the in-fighting, that was taking place during the Managerial debate

I'm perilously close to the five post "red card" so I may have to resort to a block vote of thanks providing there is a continued response to the article.

Once again thank you for the interest you've shown.

Alan McGuffog
28 Posted 04/12/2017 at 18:21:00
Amazing that David Turner didn't make it as a midfielder . He didn't really have anyone ahead of him did he in the late 60s. I recall a Hardy...maybe a Kegworth. And was there someone called Wall or summat?
Bill Watson
29 Posted 04/12/2017 at 18:37:38
Another great piece, John. Alex Parker was simply the best right back in my time watching Everton, with Tommy Wright a close second.

In those days all the top sides had a sprinkling of Scottish players unlike today when even the national team contains players most of us have never heard of.

Why did the supply dry up? Perhaps it had something to do with the influx of cheap Scandinavian players in the 1980s, blocking the progress, and development, of home grown talent.

Andrew McGuffog
30 Posted 04/12/2017 at 18:40:02
Another feature of Parker's game was his ability going forward. He was far better than Jimmy Armfield who was always held up as the first, British, attacking full-back.
Terry White
31 Posted 04/12/2017 at 19:09:08
Alex was a very good kicker of the ball as well as being lethal with his slide tackle. He and Jimmy Gabriel, another "favourite", formed a strong right hand side for us.

As Andrew (#30) says, he was very good going forward and had a powerful shot when he chose to use it. He scored 2 in 1958-59, both in 6-1 wins against Leicester and Notts. Forest when, coincidentally, Eddie Thomas, Bobby Collins and Alan Shackleton also scored in each game, and then Alex contributed a couple in our 62-63 Championship season.

Martin Nicholls
32 Posted 04/12/2017 at 21:02:25
Great article and theme John. I'm one for sitting on the fence here as I simply can't choose between Alex and Tommy.

Neither my dad nor my elder brothers were great football fans so I was a relatively late starter at 1st team matches at Goodison. Having attended a number of Central League games on my own, I saw my first 1st Division game at the age of 12 with two schoolmates, Les Butler and Slim Watson on 9 March 1963.

The game was against Forest and Alex scored one of his only five Everton goals in the game (Alex Scott got the other). Strange that Terry (#31) should recall that one of the other four was also against Forest!

Steve (#18) – couldn't have been a 1962 picture if Wilson, Scott and Pickering were on it!

Steve Barr
33 Posted 04/12/2017 at 21:09:58
Martin @#32

Yeah agree and good catch. I did a double check and it was actually 1965-66.

Thanks1

Martin Nicholls
34 Posted 04/12/2017 at 21:15:02
Steve – wasn't trying to be smart, it was just seeing Big Fred's name reminded me of a later Forest game in 1964 in which he scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 win on his debut. Loved the man!
Steve Barr
35 Posted 04/12/2017 at 21:22:20
Martin, not a problem. I was glad you noticed as it prompted me to go online and I actually found the photo in amongst a few other teams from that era. Take a look at the attached link:

http://cards.littleoak.com.au/196566_typhoo_premium/196566_typhoo_premium.htm

John Keating
36 Posted 04/12/2017 at 21:24:28
I'll tell you one underrated player from that era – Dennis Stevens. Box to box workhorse.

We all loved Vernon and Young – quite rightly – but we needed Stevens.

Sad day when Bobby Collins left and could never be replaced but it gave Dennis his chance, and he took it.

Tony Heron
37 Posted 04/12/2017 at 22:10:59
Martin @ 34. Remember that debut of Fred Pickering well. I recall him missing a sitter in the opening minutes and all around groaned and thought " what a pudding", then he goes on to knock 3 past Peter Grummett (?) in the Forest goal.
Len Hawkins
38 Posted 04/12/2017 at 22:44:02
I sadly never saw Alec Parker play for Everton but being born & bred in Southport I saw him playing in the promotion team. After the main stand burned down at Haig Ave they had several money raising events one being at the Moulin Rouge in Ainsdale and Alex Young came with Parker and got to meet and shake the hand of them both.

I was talking to Bobby McIlvenny who was a trainer at Southport during Billy Binghams reign and he said as a thank you from the board for winning promotion the team were taken to Spain for I think a Weeks holiday (two weeks would have bankrupted them lol) and he said Alec Parkers back was a really Dark Tan from sitting at the poolside bar he said the rest of him was white as he only left the stool to go to the bog.
Great days and great memories.

John McFarlane [Snr]
39 Posted 04/12/2017 at 22:44:14
Hi everyone, This is my 5 post "Red Card" and I'd like to thank you all for the response to my article, the Gordon West tribute was overshadowed by the Managerial debate, and despite the distraction of the imminent FA Cup derby, the level of interest has been tremendous.

I can see that it has awakened some pleasant memories, and I have gained a great deal of pleasure from the exercise. For some, their memories are not of Alex Parker, but the article has brought a reminder of other full backs that have worn the "Royal Blue Jersey".

I would have liked to have had the opportunity to respond to more of your observations, but I'm afraid that the 5 post rule has put paid to that, and a block thank you isn't really feasible, because there are so many issues to deal with.

Once again, thank you for your appreciation, [that's two down and only nine to go], and as the title indicates they are only personal favourites, and I'm sure that you will have a favourite eleven of your own.

Brent Stephens
40 Posted 04/12/2017 at 23:05:54
John, re your "5th post". That's interesting. I like your posts so this isn't a comment against you, believe me. But I counted more than 6 posts (wasn't it originally 5 as a limit?) on the "Solid Win for Big Sam..." thread for some, including yourself. This isn't a comment against you but a question as to what the policy on number of posts actually is? I'm confused or innumerate!
Mike Doyle
41 Posted 04/12/2017 at 23:06:16
Great article & posts. Though too young to see any of them, my late father and other relatives of his generation seemed to be of the view that Tony Kay was the best Everton player if the post-war era – and a man capable of playing most positions. Bobby Collins ranked second with Ray Wilson 3rd... plus a mention in despatches for Dave Hickson. Interestingly they rated this group ahead of Alan Ball - the best Everton player I have actually seen.

I'd be interested in the thoughts of older ToffeeWebbers on these thoughts. Incidentally, many years ago Ron Yeats (a great bloke I should add) told me that none of the Reds defenders – including the Anfield Iron – ever relished facing Johnny Morrissey. Shame he's not available for Saturday. (...he's not is he?)

Brian Hennessy
42 Posted 04/12/2017 at 23:31:30
A really great piece that I really enjoyed reading. All I can add is thank you John for taking the time to write it, very much appreciated.
Christine Foster
43 Posted 04/12/2017 at 23:48:29
Have early memories of Alex, he had a funny run, arms out and a lttle bow-legged – forgive me but I was only a nipper in 1961... I may be wrong but I am sure it was him, or Brian Harris.
Don Alexander
44 Posted 05/12/2017 at 01:34:29
John McFarlane, you've exemplified what being an Evertonian should be all about; adherence to the club and respect for fellow Evertonians, and for that, thank you, sir.
Derek Thomas
45 Posted 05/12/2017 at 02:26:20
I reckon the left-back will be Norman Greenhalgh, always had Stanley Matthews in his pocket. Unsung, virtually unknown now, but as the title says...
Martin Nicholls
46 Posted 05/12/2017 at 08:20:58
Maybe Lyndon and/or Michael could clarify this "5 posts rule" as more than one recent thread has descended into little more than a slanging match between individuals each of who seems to have posted more than 5 times.
John McFarlane [Snr]
47 Posted 05/12/2017 at 09:45:44
Hi Brent, [40] your numeracy skills are spot on, I did indeed exceed the 5 post allowance on the "Solid win for Big Sam" thread. I actually posted 9 times, this thread was spread over almost three days from 2/12 to 4/12 [inclusive].

On 2/12 I posted twice, on the 3/12 I posted five times, and on the 4/12 I again posted twice. This suggests to me that it is 5 posts per thread per day.

I know that you did not imply any wrong doing, but being someone who likes to play by the rules, I had to determine whether or not I had transgressed.

Having used one of my posts now, I'll have to be careful not to overstep the mark.

Chris Gould
48 Posted 05/12/2017 at 10:34:53
We don't need a 5-post rule. We simply need 'Gentleman John' to step in when things get a little hostile. The effect of your previous post on the matchday thread has been huge. I think it's made us all question ourselves.

John, your Grandson is incredibly lucky to have you accompanying him to matches. Such an incredible wealth of knowledge and great role model.

Brent Stephens
49 Posted 05/12/2017 at 11:05:14
Well said, Chris #48.

Good man, John #47.

Stan Schofield
50 Posted 05/12/2017 at 11:23:09
John@47:

I imagine that you can submit as many posts as you like within a particular thread. I can't imagine there would be any rules against that, and that the '5-post rule' is something for the editors to use depending on their discretion.

In this sense, and looking at the bigger picture, if you posted, say, 10 very sensible, balanced and thought-provoking posts, the editors might decide to permit all 10, given that an original motivation for the '5-post rule' appears to be a reduction in the number of 'unreasonable' posts (as assessed by the editors) appearing.

Paul Ward
51 Posted 05/12/2017 at 11:30:36
John, I am so pleased to see you acknowledge Alex Parker as your #2. I remember Alex and O'Hara signing in 1958 and him being unable to play until November.

When I first seen Alex play I was mesmerised by his fantastic tackling and timing. Being only 16, I was still a bit impressionable about any new exciting style of playing football. Instead of playing as a winger in my street team, I suddenly tried to copy Alex Parker's sliding tackles.

I had never seen a full back like him before or since, his ability to position himself like a wing half and entice the opposing winger to go to down the touchline then like a bullet slide in and get the ball.

His tackling was so clean and fast he very rarely took the player out. As Andrew McGuffog @30 posted "Another feature of Parker's game was his ability going forward. He was far better than Jimmy Armfield who was always held up as the first, British, attacking full-back".

Overall, despite being replaced by the popular Evertonian Tommy Wright and being on the opposite flank to the great Ray Wilson my vote as Evertons's greatest fullback in my lifetime is Alex Parker.


Brian Williams
52 Posted 05/12/2017 at 11:33:56
Stan. I believe it's now six, but six and out, sensible or not.
Stan Schofield
53 Posted 05/12/2017 at 11:57:54
Brian, I suppose if you can't say what you want to say in no more than 6 posts, it's probably not worth saying.
Brent Stephens
54 Posted 05/12/2017 at 12:12:25
Stan "I suppose if you can't say what you want to say in no more than 6 posts, it's probably not worth saying".

I think there's a lot of merit in that. Having said that (and I will say this only once!), threads usually throw up new points as they develop, and I often feel the need to respond to new points, either to accept them and tweak my original views, or to rebut new points.

And then threads also evolve into something other than the original topic (usually after the first 5 posts in the thread!) and I often feel I then want to be involved in, and respond to, the new directions the thread has taken.

Stan Schofield
55 Posted 05/12/2017 at 13:14:17
Brent, you're right. I was just being a bit tongue-in-cheek, issuing a kind of 'cynical platitude'. One of the pleasures of ToffeeWeb is the way that discussions develop in unexpected ways, which obviously might prompt multiple posts from individuals.

Perhaps there's a case for the editors allowing the authors of threads, like John on this thread, to have more than 6 posts, because of the interesting points arising.

Rick Tarleton
56 Posted 05/12/2017 at 13:39:21
I was 16 going on 17 when Everton won the League in 1962-63 . I had a Paddock season ticket and I saw every game.

Two years later, I was at university 200+ miles away, so I saw Everton 10 times a season instead of 20+. On top of that, there's a romanticism about what you see in your teens that is never again replicated. So when I say that Bobby Collins, Colin Harvey and Roy Vernon were the three who are/were my favourite players, it has to be judged in the light of those circumstances.

My earliest Everton hero was Dave Hickson, his blond hair, his never-say-die attitude and sheer brio, made him an easy man to admire. Had I been born 20 years later, I'm sure that Trevor Steven, Kevin Ratcliffe and Kevin Sheedy would have been my heroes.

Could any of those players have scored the goal Rooney scored last week? Probably not. But the pitches, the ball, the boots were all different, so it's not a pertinent question.

Incidentally, can I say that Brian Labone told me and some mates – when we were all playing cricket in Walton Hall Park or when he was bowling with us at The Hermitage – that Dennis Stevens was, from his point of view, the most valuable man in the Everton team, which reinforces John Keating's point.

Using John's criteria of favourites, when you ask me who was my favourite Everton player, it is Alex Young – who else? But he wasn't the best; the three I named earlier were more effective performers, but Young had magic and I've never seen another player at Goodison who had his charisma and who was so adored by the Goodison faithful.

John McFarlane [Snr]
57 Posted 05/12/2017 at 14:34:58
Hi fellow posters, to begin with I would like to thank you all for your kind words, and I can assure you that your response has been heartening. What I have undertaken as a labour love, leaves me with a feeling of satisfaction, I would be telling lies if I said that didn't feel a little bit proud of my achievement, because I'm not a professional writer, just an old man sharing memories, with like minded people.

My main reason for coming on this thread today, is to bring to your attention, a copy of a post I wrote to Michael Kenrick on the "Big Sam enjoys a win" thread, which is as follows:

Hi Michael (315), Firstly, thank you for your kind words, and regarding the 5-posts rule could it not be possible to isolate threads that are not experiencing the kind of behaviour that merits such a limit.

You are no doubt that I'm in my 80th year, and have been dragged into the 21st century kicking and screaming, technology is just a word to me.

I appreciate that it may not be possible to do what I have suggested, but so much interest has been shown in my "Favourites aren't always the best" article, and I find it hard not to be able to discuss it with fellow Blues.

I am not seeking sole immunity, it's just that the very thing that inspired me to write the article "The vicious and vitriolic, managers debate" is now preventing me, and other posters, from expressing their views, on a variety of subjects in a civilised manner.

I would urge you and your colleague to give serious thought to the problem, and as I have said, I'm not seeking special treatment, I just feel that it's unfair that the many should be punished for the behaviour of the few.

I can find no reference to the limit of posts being raised to six, so I may have to express my thoughts in longer posts, not an ideal solution.

Brent Stephens
58 Posted 05/12/2017 at 15:05:45
Stan (#55), "Perhaps there's a case for the editors allowing the authors of threads, like John on this thread, to have more than 6 posts, because of the interesting points arising". Stan, excellent suggestion.

John (#57) "Regarding the 5-posts rule, could it not be possible to isolate threads that are not experiencing the kind of behaviour that merits such a limit?" And also excellent suggestion!

Mr Moderators, are these two suggestions a way through this? Perhaps more work for the moderators but I'm aware there are also Moderators' Little Helpers!(?)

Jay Wood
59 Posted 05/12/2017 at 15:16:25
Apologies to John McFarlen for hijacking his thread a tad (a series, like others, I am enjoying), but ironically like many threads he himself and others have raised a secondary theme to his primary one. Namely, the alleged 5 post limit.

I see no mention of this in TW's Conditions of Use page – Link – so the editors might think to update those details. It is not a rule I have fallen foul of and I don't know why or when it was implemented.

I do wonder if it is flawed policy.

Whilst not a serial poster myself (I go days – even weeks – without posting at times), I post a mix a short pithy posts and far more detailed posts. The latter in response to issues that particularly interest me.

As someone who enjoys more serious and deeper debate and as someone who challenges what I consider false premises and presumptions sometimes made on here, the very nature of my counter opinions expressed by others naturally draws responses.

I am well aware I am resented by some on these pages. Usually, because they don't like their own opinions being challenged and because they struggle to effectively counter my own point of view. I exasperate them.

I know I can be brusque at times, but that is usually only when someone starts getting personally abusive. Even then, I do not resort to the gratuitous insults a very small number of posters apply in almost all of their posts straight off the bat.

I am guessing that the 5-post rule, if it genuinely does exist, was introduced for a couple of reasons:

1) to stop a particular poster (or various...) dominating and posting multiple posts on a thread, possibly discouraging others from contributing due to the sheer tedium of too many posts from one poster.

In recent weeks, a particular poster given to deep tactical analysis has been guilty of this. Now some of his posts have merit, but it reached a point (certainly for me) that, if and when I saw the name, I simply skipped over his contribution.

2) to stop the more incendiary posts when 'debate' degenerates into petty and deeply abusive personal insults, driven by infantile gainsay and an inability to accept perfectly legitimate alternative views to their own.

Long-term TWers have all seen this. But as I said at the outset, I do wonder if it the 5-post limit is a flawed policy.

Only an exceedingly small number of the TW community indulge in the practices I mention, and even then, not constantly. It strikes me the majority are potentially being punished for the few.

As mentioned, I enjoy getting into serious debate on here. I also enjoy the pithy one-liners that help 'lubricate' many a thread on TW.

I believe a person should be entitled to respond to challenges made to their posts.

I believe a person shouldn't have to pause and think twice between posting – be it a pithy one liner or a more in-depth contribution v for fear of 'wasting' or 'breaching' their post limit on a thread.

It is a rule that could potentially undermine a great deal of the spontaneity in which people post on TW.

Perhaps Lyndon and/or Michael might care to enlighten us as to if and why such a policy is now in effect.

John Keating
60 Posted 05/12/2017 at 15:24:15
It's a great article that will bring back many memories, however, thinking of our great players caused me to think of two players, years apart who in their way were a great loss to the Club.

I am sure had these two players gone on and not had their difficulties they would have been included in any great Everton teams.

Tony Kay, an established player who was a fantastic wonderful footballer, falling foul to something that today seems fairly accepted.

Billy Kenny, a young lad, true Blue, who I am almost certain would have gone on to be a Captain of both Everton and England. A kid who ran a derby match. A young lad at the wrong time suffered an injury and took a wrong path.

Whilst we celebrate our heroes I just sadly think of a couple of lads who just missed out.

Jay Harris
61 Posted 05/12/2017 at 15:25:36
John,

Many thanks for bringing to life some of the most nostalgic moments in our lives.

One name that hasn't been mentioned so far is Alex (Chico) Scott) who was one of the main beneficiaries of Alec Parker's tackling and cultured right foot.

I feel privileged to have seen a lot of the Everton greats and these sort of articles enable us auld fellas to at least share some great memories with the success-starved younger generations of Blues.

Keep 'em coming.

Ray Robinson
62 Posted 05/12/2017 at 15:36:09
Just like those mini-roundabouts painted on the road at tight traffic junctions, which some people desperately try to steer round without driving over, virtually doing 3-point turns in some cases, I think the 5-post rule is more a "symbolic" thing to prevent some more verbose contributors monopolising threads. I doubt whether anyone is really counting and if the thread is civilised and progressing naturally, there won't be an issue, surely?

Anyway, back to John's original article, I suspect that he will virtually name the 1962-63 title winning side as his favourites! I am of an age where anyone who played for Everton during my early formative supporting years and teen years (the sixties) is more likely to be one of my favourites. After all we don't really do hero worship as we get older do we? Also, players are more mercenary and less loyal these days and therefore less worthy of our adulation / admiration - although there are some notable exceptions still!

Westy and Parker are excellent starts though.

Dave Abrahams
63 Posted 05/12/2017 at 15:50:40
Rick (#56), Davie Hickson was not only my favourite but at that time was the idol of thousands of Evertonians, he remains my favourite Everton player of all, and I know/knew he wasn't the best but I doubt any Everton player loved Everton more than Davie.

Regarding Alex Young, I've said many times on here, he had a God given talent and might have used it more often, on his day there wasn't many better to watch than Alex, when it came to away games it never bothered me if Young wasn't playing as long as Vernon, Stevens and Johnny Morrissey were in the side.

Keep the rest of the series coming, John, you've found a gold mine!!!

Brian Williams
64 Posted 05/12/2017 at 15:52:44
Jay (#59).

Some good points well made there. I can confirm that there is indeed a limit, though I think it's been increased to six.

The editors are stuck between the rock and the hard place really as they had to do something about threads becoming a back-and-forth argument between two or three.

As you point out too, the in-depth tactical "lessons" aren't IMHO what this place is about. I sympathize with the eds as they don't want to "ban" people but maybe curtail them somewhat. As in a lot of things in life though the majority suffer for the actions of a few.

I myself have read a post and rushed to reply or comment only to find I've reached my limit. Annoying, but unfortunately it's a necessary evil as things were getting out of hand.

Have to say I feel there's been a definite downward trend on here over more than a few months with things getting petty and bitchy with a tendency for some to want to belittle a poster for no other reason than to show how clever and erudite they themselves are... or to show how politically correct they are.

We can all get drawn in to things at some point or other but I try to remember we're all here with the most important thing in common and that's the love of Everton.

I think there should actually be a ToffeeWeb get-together where local and/or match-going posters could meet up and exchange views face to face...... and then kick the shit out of each other – haha!

Ray Robinson
65 Posted 05/12/2017 at 15:58:00
No more than 6 kicks though, Brian!
Brian Williams
66 Posted 05/12/2017 at 16:00:17
Damn, Ray, I don't know whether to use up one of my replies to that....... oh shit, shit, shit!!!
Dave Abrahams
67 Posted 05/12/2017 at 16:03:04
Brian (#64) – re your last paragraph, a great idea, can us over-seventies use coshes (please)!!!
Brian Williams
68 Posted 05/12/2017 at 16:07:35
Dave (#67).

Cheers for that. A cosh? Old school eh? I think it might be good.

If anything, I think seeing the faces behind the posts will not only be really surprising (maybe shocking) but getting to know fellow Evertonians can only be a good thing can't it?

And you can always swerve the ones you don't like on the site (and in person) as well. :-)

Ian Burns
69 Posted 05/12/2017 at 16:41:12
I'm onto my number 3 post – most unusual for me – but I just want to add to Jay (#59) and Brian (#64) – although off-topic, these are two excellent posts with which I agree wholeheartedly. Some on here just like the sound of their own voice, metaphorically speaking, of course.

I would also like again to thank John for provoking such an excellent thread which I am thoroughly enjoying and to think there are 9 more to come. Can't argue with 1 and 2 John, number 3 nobody will be arguing about but it's the rest I am looking forward to! Thanks John, keep it coming!

Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
70 Posted 05/12/2017 at 16:53:12
Jay Wood (#59),

I've had concerns since I first learnt of the 5-post limit Lyndon imposed, and had been pondering the salient points of an alternative opinion I would put to him to challenge this arbitrary constraint.

I don't need to think about it any more... you did it for me!

Alasdair Mackay
71 Posted 05/12/2017 at 17:16:45
Can't wait to see who the favourite left-back is – when can we expect the next one?

I am thinking it will be Ray Wilson.

John McFarlane [Snr]
72 Posted 05/12/2017 at 19:39:17
Hi everyone, I'm chancing my arm on this post, because I really don't know how I stand regarding the posting limit, I'm overwhelmed by the popularity of my article [71 posts, including 7 of my own] and not one adverse comment.

I know that there will be contentious issues on other threads, but this is much more my cup of tea, and as I say no swearing, no name calling, more like the Everton Family. , Once again thank you for your complimentary comments.

I'm off downstairs to watch the Manchester United game. Best Wishes to all. John.

Steve Ferns
73 Posted 05/12/2017 at 19:41:08
Can’t wait for the rest of the series John. Keep em coming.
Laurie Hartley
74 Posted 05/12/2017 at 20:54:13
Alistair (#71) – I expect a surprise choice. Remember the ground rules; favourites are not always the best – though I suppose they could be?
David Ellis
75 Posted 15/12/2017 at 02:01:03
Tiger McLaughlin, Terry Darracott, Steve Sergeant – these are the right backs I grew up with. David Jones was a great improvement on them! Then came briefly the excellent (going forward) John Gidman who was a big signing. And then the 80s legend Gary Stevens, who was the best right back I have so far seen at Everton.

Some mention Seamus Coleman, who is excellent but he's not anywhere near Garry Stevens ,either going forward or in defence, but Seamus is the best we've had in 30 years.

Derek Knox
76 Posted 15/12/2017 at 14:54:02
John, 'and if you know your history' well you certainly do there, and congratulations on this exemplary piece about the Everton Greats.

You must have spent hours not only researching, but compiling all the data, and I for one salute you for that. Full respect and appreciation from me, and I am confident that I speak for many others too.

There are many keyboard warriors, on here as you will no doubt have experienced, but I don't think there are any malicious intentions; principally they mean well, but attack the keyboard before engaging their brains, as a means of venting frustrations. There have been many frustrations recently too.

The reason I have posted on this, apart from acknowledging yourself and your contribution, is that I used to see Alex Parker quite regularly. He used to be the Manager of a pub in the Shopping City, Runcorn, aptly called the 'Swinging Sporran'. I lived in Runcorn 1975-76 and worked at Fiddler's Ferry Power Station.

I don't even know if the Shopping City complex, is still in existence, let alone the pub, but if it is, has probably changed not only it's name, but it's character, probably a nail salon or a poodle parlour. Be interesting if anyone knows for sure.

As I was on shifts, I would often venture into his hostelry, and being a fellow Scot too, we always had much to talk about, between Everton and our homeland.

As you allude in your article, sadly no longer with us, but nevertheless, not in any means forgotten.

John McFarlane
77 Posted 15/12/2017 at 23:00:10
Hi David [75], I'm just putting the finishing touches to 'Part 4', and I was checking to see if there were any posts that I might respond to in Parts 2 and 3, when I came across your own post.

As the title of each article states, it really is 'favourites as opposed to best'. I've no doubt that there are many admirers of full backs, that have not received a mention.

Derek [#76], Thank you for your kind words, I was aware of Alex having the Swinging Sporran, and I believe he had a pub in Gretna.

You may have noticed on some of my previous posts that I undertook this theme to escape from the unpleasantness that surrounded the 'Managerial debate'.

I am in my 80th year now, and have always had a passion for football in general and Everton in particular, as I've said to David [75] I'm just about to finish part 4, and as I'm a one finger operator it's quite a struggle at times, but one that's worth while if it gives others pleasure.

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