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Bluenose Promotions

Worry no more: The Holy Trinity returns

Sadly, ladies and gents, they're back for only one night.  For the first time since their sad departures from Everton, Alan Ball, Howard Kendall and Colin Harvey were back home, in the place where they forged a deal with God to present us with arguably the best midfield in modern-day football.  If youre a younger reader, just ask your Dad or your uncle (whether red or Blue) what these three special footballers were like...

If I was Doctor Who, one of the first things Id do would be to go back to 1970 and transport these three fantastic footballers to the present day.  Our problems would be no more.  Just imagine this midfield in the present squad!  The doom and gloom surrounding us at present would be lifted with only Blue Skies above.

Season-ticket price increases would not even be mentioned let alone our pained heart-searching at the current state of our Club.  There would have to be a second tier put on the Park End during close season to cope with the demand of increased season-ticket holders.  The Marquee in the car park would be pulled down and a big screen installed just for the home games...

How much would this lot fetch these days?  Would David Moyes be given the money to build around them with a kid at the front feeding off balls that currently only get served up to him once in a while (England games apart)?  How many goals would Wayne score (never mind Radzinski!) with the service they would provide mouth-watering...

Bluenose Productions assembled these three amigos and I thank them for that deed; it really is a privilege and an honour to be in their company.  We assembled first in the Dixie Dean suite the father of these players.  As I looked upon his sons, I turned to a fellow Blue and said that for one night, I want to live in the past . You see, thats where we hide when times are like the present: you feel safe and smug again in our illustrious history.

But the history of Everton is not all glory: it was ten years ago this week that Barry Horne and Co saved our pride against Wimbledon.  Never again, eh!

I asked Bally if he had any answers to our current problems; he just smiled and replied Just play Rooney 20yds up front by himself hes that good , the family completed.  The grandson of Dixie talked about with affection and pride by the son of Dixie in our extended family of Everton.  Gordon West (I love this guy) listened in to the conversation with Bally and said Ian, Ill throw the ball to Wayne.

Everyone bar the top table was led into another suite named after a famous son of Goodison: the Alex Young suite.  Everyone sat at their tables and waited expectantly like kids at Christmas for their heroes to enter.  Let's face it: we're just a bunch of groupies when old players like these turn up back on our patch!

Elton Welsby another great Evertonian was the compre for the night.  He built up the atmosphere like a drum roll, introducing

  • Billy Butler (another great Blue who bangs the drum everyday on Radio Merseyside)
  • Brian Snagg and Roger Kenyon (Bluenose Productions)
  • Mickey Finn (comedian)
  • Mark Langly (impressionist),
  • Dopey (yes Dopey as played by John Bailey in the Bluenose Pantomime.
  • Graeme Sharp, our post-war record goalscorer, 
  • Brian Labone (one Evertonian is worth twenty reds) the pillar of the great sixties and early seventies side.
  • Last but certainly not least, Gordon West, who is winning his battle with anorexia, 

Then, the moment the crowd had waited for: For the first time together, back at Goodison, Elton boomed BALL, KENDALL and HARVEY the most complete midfield ever; the Holy Trinity.  The false ceiling tiles came off with the reception these three guys got: nostalgia at its best.

As Howard Kendall sat down, he noticed Wayne Rooneys dad in the audience and gave him the thumbs up; class knows class even if it's just his Dad.  Thank you, Wayne Senior and Jeanette, his mum, for producing a kid who fills us with such pride and a bit of hope.  Wayne Senior's presence at a lot of these functions gives me hope that his son will stay a while longer...  Without doubt, the whole family are Evertonians and there can be no better pride felt than seeing your son playing for our team.

The three-course meal followed but I noticed many splashes on freshly ironed shirts as starry eyed Evertonians ate whilst watching their heroes every move, missing their mouths as they scoffed.

The staff, led by Marie (Happy Birthday, mate!) worked hard to quench the thirst of the 300 Evertonians gathered.  Not just getting drunk on ale but on memories of the Glory Days.  When I looked over at Bally, I couldn't help but feel about the day he left Everton when I was a kid; I glanced at Wayne Senior with an ache in my heart.

I know we were drooling at the midfield on show but, such is the current void in our engine room, Id gladly have Speed (although dont tell Howie!), Hutchinson and Stuart back!

After the food was served (Do we really want a meal when we have enough food for thought on nights like these? Anyway it takes more room up when ale and wine are flowing), Elton popped back up to introduce a kid we signed from Dumbarton who helped shake the football world with his teammates in the eighties a fully paid-up member of the Centre-Forward Club of Everton, and now Fans' Liaison officer: Graeme Sharp.

Graeme spoke in glowing terms of Howard, the man he played for so admirably in the royal blue shirt.  He spoke of the adoration of the fans towards Bally and Colin and knew they must be special as such reverence is not easily earned.  Sharpy raised his glass to three genuine football legends; enough said!

Brian Snagg thanked everyone gathered for coming and their loyalty for such events.  He said "You never know; this might be the last time they are all together."  Everyone looked at Howard!

Then came the turn of the acts.  First on the chair (because hes so small) was Mickey Finn, a Scousers' comedian, never really blue but a Blue at heart always.  After him, it was the turn of the new kid on block, Mark Langly an impressionist and comedian I had not seen before.

Little curly Alan Ball was then asked to stand up by Elton and asked of his time at Everton.  After the clapping and singing subsided, he squeaked out that, after he signed for Everton, he asked his Dad, his mentor, "When I get there, what shall I do?"  His Dad told him to be an honest pro, fight for everything, give plenty of sweat and blood for the cause, do it for the supporters and they will take you into their hearts.  He did.  And we did.

Alan told us he was a Bolton fan as a boy but was knocked back as a prospective player for them for being too small; I think Wolves did the same to him.  Alan told us that, at 21, he won the World Cup while still at Blackpool.  Although he was with great players in the England set-up, he was with them part time.  But, when he signed for Everton, he looked around the dressing room and felt humbled.  There was Young, Scott, Labone, Wilson, West, Gabriel, Morrissey to name but a few.  He thought: "How am I going to get a game?" but he did the following week at Fulham away, where he scored on his debut in a 1-0 win. 

"You know, lads, we were together then; we felt privileged to put the shirt on.  We had a hard manager who led by fear, and a miserable sod to boot, but he instilled in us nothing but the best, like the clubs motto.

"I know I was in a world cup winning team but I came to play for the best club in the world. I went to Arsenal broken hearted, they treated me like a king there, but there derby games were nothing like ours.

"At Southampton, I played with six England captains (Can you name them?) in front of just 14,000 fans.  I had happy times there as well but nothing like Everton.

"Where I live now on the south coast, near the Isle of Wight, there is a pub called the Jolly Farmers.  In that pub, a set of Evertonians gather and we talk of our one love you see, there are Evertonians everywhere.

"If the reds had had to endure what we have these last 16 years their crowds would be down to 19,000.

"When I was a kid, Westy would give me many a belt at Blackpool to keep me in check hes just given me one now on the way in!

"We were never really coached by Catterick; we did that together.  If we made mistakes on Saturday, wed sort them out on the Monday; Wilf Dixon, our trainer at the time, just left us to it.

"If a team wanted to play football against us, we would beat them at it; if they wanted to fight us wed fight them as long as Morrissey was in the side!

"We still feel very privileged to be here tonight with you.  Thanks for your feelings towards us.

Queue Whose the greatest of them all?, little curly Alan Ball!  A little man with big words.

Next up at the altar was Howard Kendall.  In a reply to Brian Snagg's view of this possibly being the last time together here:

Nice to be here for the last time...  Is Peter Johnson making a comeback?

He was asked a question: "Could you three not have been the England midfield?"  Howard replied, "Ramsey was loyal to his players, like Styles and Mullery and why not?  They were winning games.  I really thought I would get that elusive England cap in fact, I was told I would come on as sub when England played Yugoslavia and Joe Royle scored to make it 1-1, but sadly I never got on."  Sir Alf, you should be ashamed of yourself.  God rest his soul.

As a manager, Howard says he showed the same loyalty as Ramsey to performing players.  Nowadays, England caps are given away like Kelloggs box tops, Howard said despairingly.

Howard told of the time Everton played Leeds away when he fell to the floor after a corner and Giles stamped on his chest.  Howard thought, "Ill get him next game."  Next season at Goodison, two minutes into the game, right through Giles the ball nowhere.  Giles got up and shouted Jack, Billy, and Norman and pointed to Howard... Bang!  Norman  "Bite yer legs' Hunter got him back.

Someone asked, "Did Big Jack Charlton really have a little black book of a hit list for opposing players?"  Howard answered, If he did then Morrissey was top of his list!.  I wonder why Johnny never comes to these functions; he only lives down the road in Crosby.

Then the quiet man was ushered up.  What a servant Colin has been to this Club over the years, even as manager.  It has been said that, when Colin had to have his hip operations, they found blue and white strips running through the worn bones.  Colin just stands there with a big grin on his face and respect channels to him.  Colin was asked who the best inside forwards were that he played against.  With that Cheshire cat grin, he answered, "Howard at Preston and Bally at Blackpool.  It was no coincidence that an early autobiography written about Bally was called Ball of Fire, because he was just that," said Colin, "he just would not rest or lie down after a tackle."

Colin was asked another weird and wonderful question: "Who was the top womaniser of the three?"  Colins eyes just looked at Howard...

Colin then went on to describe the camaraderie of the team all those years ago.  He told us of the time Tommy Wright came to Bellefield one morning worse for wear for drink.  In training that morning, a running routine in pairs was the norm where one player would do a lap of Bellefield then the next would do another after a hand-tag.  Now Tommy managed just one lap then hid behind a big tree, so Colin took it upon himself to do Tommys laps as well.  Wilf Dixon noticed Colins times were getting slow and would have to be reported to Catterick.  So theres Tommy back home sleeping it off while Colins kept behind in Bellefield getting told off for him.  Tommys son goes on our away coaches now, God help him.

Bally was asked again about those white boots.  Alan told us there was a boot manufacturer at the time called Hummel and they were looking for someone mad enough to wear them, and get a fee of 2,000.  Alan told his Dad of their approach; he said I hope your bloody good, son.

"To be honest, lads, they were crap: like cardboard, so I got the young apprentices John McLaughlin was one to paint my Addidas boots white.  It was great till one day it rained and the black came through.  A not too happy watching Hummel rep saw what Id done, so it was goodbye to the two grand."

Alan was asked why Hurst never passed to him in the 1966 World Cup Final.  he replied He was a greedy bastard.

Bally asked us to spare a thought for Sandy Brown who is in ill health, God he was mad, Alan said affectionately.

Howard was then asked about his favourites in his teams;  "There werent any really..." then he looked at Dopey I mean John Bailey...  Howard said that he had inherited John: hes signed him and sacked him; then signed him; then sacked him again; signed him once again, then couldnt find him.  But what a character to have in the dressing room ,just brilliant.

One derby game the buzzer went to go out to the field of play, Bails said to his team mates "Dont worry, lads; I saw them last night and they're as nervous as fuck'.  John ran out with his top inside out.

During another game, Ian Rush ran through Ratcliffe and Bailey to score.  Ratters said to Bails Where did he come from?  Bails replied, I think it was Chester!

Howard, when asked about David Moyes, said He just needs help.

Oh we

During all this nostalgia, two other stalwarts of the Holy Trinity period where looking on, Evertons answer to Hinge and Bracket: Westy and Labby.  Howard was mentioning the Spanish write ups Los Tres Manifique, to which Labby stood up and threw a few balls back at them.

Yes it was lovely to watch.  You know what, lads, this must have been the only three-man team to win the league in the history of football!

In that season I only headed two balls out and Westy saved one.

To which Westy got up to back him up, sweating like Ron Atkinson in the Notting Hill carnival. Yes, ladies and gents, there were other players in that fabulous football team.

Gordon West was now asked while he was up, "Who was the best between you and Big Nev?"  Westy replied diplomatically, "Well in the sixties and seventies, I was better than Nev; in the eighties and nineties Nev was better than me.  Now, we're two fat bastards."  (When Gordon said this at the recent Adelphi do, Nev glared at him with a scowl on his face...)

As the evening progressed, a few signed pictures where auctioned for charity and raffle prizes. Everybody was in the party mood.  A fan stood up on the top table and sang the old Ode to Shankly from the 1960's era you must look this up in the Everton archives its a cracking song.

It was a cracking night.  Let me leave you with a message from the heart of little Alan Ball to sum up how the club touches certain players.  Alans wife is in ill health; she has cancer.  She is currently in hospital with her family around her.  Alan was asked to come up for a couple of days for this night and the last home match of the season.  He was in turmoil of what to do and asked his wife's advice.  She said, You go and be amongst your people, Ill be ok.  Nothing more for me to add, is there?

Ian Macdonald
Independent Blues
1 May 2004



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