50 years ago next month, January 1960, John Moores began his direct involvement in Everton FC.
I was 8 yrs old and had been going to Goodison since the previous February. We weren’t very good. In the previous 4 seasons we’d finished 15th, 15th, 16th and 16th out of a league of 22 and now at the end of the fifties we were in the bottom 2. Relegation beckoned...
I would look at the league table as I had done the previous couple of seasons and imagine the blues challenging at the top (not dissimilar to what I do now) instead of languishing with the riff-raff. But of course now it was getting serious.
We had one iconic player in Bobby Collins who had arrived from Celtic in September 1958. Alex Parker was a decent full-back and Brian Labone was looking like he might be a quality player but the rest in my estimation were journeymen and unlikely to get us charging up the table. Mind you, I was only 8...
All the stuff in the “Echo” about Moores seemed to me to be a bit shady. He was described at first as the club's benefactor. I didn’t know what this meant. My dad told me he was going to give Everton a sackful of money so we could buy better players and win loads of matches. That was good enough for me.
The first one to arrive was Tommy Ring. I’d never heard of him. Cost £12,500 from Clyde (yes Clyde, not any of the big boys). He was described as a veteran left winger. I’ve looked it up for writing this piece and he was 29. He played his first game against Nottingham Forest on January 23rd. We won 6-1 and he was absolutely brilliant.
Ring continued to be mesmeric for the rest of the season and indeed even now, 50 years on, and I know I was only 8 and time can warp but in my eyes he is still the best Everton winger I’ve ever seen. He broke his leg at Stamford Bridge early on in the next season and never played for us again. I was heartbroken.
Mr Moores’s money continued to talk. We bought Roy Vernon from Blackburn. Now this bloke I did know about: Welsh international, scored goals. I missed his home debut against Wolves but saw his second Goodison match v Preston (a veteran Tom Finney and all) where we won 4-0. He looked the part straight away not withstanding that he looked 7 stone soaking wet!
Mickey Lill, a right winger, arrived from Wolves. He couldn’t get a regular game at Molyneux but then they were at that time the best team in the country. When he played for us he looked pretty good.
This was a great time to be an Evertonian. I couldn’t wait to read the Echo. The resentment that would manifest itself in the national press over the coming years with labels such as “Mersey Millionaires” could at that time be only found in our lovable rival supporters. Whilst I would regale my Liverpudlian mates about how rich we were and look how we’re marching up the table, they were in Division 2 and trying to understand what the fuck their new manager was going on about.
John Moores’s largesse continued. I loved this bloke. At the beginning of March we bought Jimmy Gabriel from Dundee for I think £30,000. He was 19 years old. As I recall, this was when the first murmurings of resentment started in the press and on the telly. Statements such as “Excessive for a 19-year-old” or “Moores is buying success” started to occur. Did we care? Like fuck we did. Gabriel made his debut on the first Saturday in March and slotted straight in. Strong, powerful, didn’t take any prisoners.
We were now winning more games than we were losing and eventually finished 15th on 37 pts (2 for a win). Up to Ring’s first game we had played 26 games and had 18pts . Continue that form to the end of the season and we would have finished bottom on 29pts. (I would point out that these particular stats I’ve had to look up.)
John Moores eventually formalised his arrangement with Everton, becoming a director and then Chairman. He continued to invest in the club. Over the next 2 years, players such as Bingham, Young and West arrived and then, in the 62-63 Championship season, we bought Tony Kay and Alec Scott.
Moores sacked Carey in a taxi (I’ve always wondered if Johnny Carey had to pay the fare...) and replaced him with Harry Catterick. In my opinion, he is the major non-playing figure in post-war Everton history and it’s his legacy that allows people on matchday threads to say things like “it’s only fucking Burnley”; comments incidentally which make me shudder.
There are more glorious eras in our history but that 4 month period in the winter/spring of 1960, 50 years ago, when, with John Moores’s riches we transformed ourselves, is one I fondly remember. And of course as an added bonus he nurtured a nephew who took the biggest buck and left our bastard offspring staring into the abyss. I’m not qualified to argue the pros and cons as to where his family fits into our more recent history but for me he was a top man and I for one thank him.
John Moores... 50 years on. “Thanks for the memories”
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1 Posted 30/12/2009 at 15:44:57
The one thing I knew about John Moores was that he was a real gentleman and EFC was definitely the People's Club then.
I still believe that Vernon and Young are two of the finest players I have ever seen and remember climbing over the Boys Pen (there were railings in those days to keep the kids in) on the last game against Fulham in 1963, where we won 3-1 to win the Championship, and along with thousands of others rushed on to the pitch.
Sadly, I cant see it happening again in the near future.
2 Posted 30/12/2009 at 16:21:04
3 Posted 30/12/2009 at 16:36:45
It seems an age thing when you're between 7-12 that you look fondly back on irrespective of what success the team has. Mine was the 70s with Goodlass, King, Pejic, Darracott... but most of all Big Bob Latchford. When he scored his 30th goal, I ran on the pitch like so many others to shake his hand and I swear I was last off the pitch.They were waiting to kick off but couldn’t because I had hold of Big Bob's hand.
After dodging the stewards to get back to our kid and his mates, I didn’t wash my right hand for weeks (I was only a kid) and yes I did wipe my arse with my left. Great post, keep up the good work.
4 Posted 30/12/2009 at 16:44:51
Tommy Ring, Bobby Collins, Roy Vernon, then Alex Young, and then Ball/ Harvey/Kendall. It’s always seems to me, that Harry Catterick hardly ever got the credit he deserves.
Okay, we were the Mersey Millionaires, but boy we played good entertaining football! Maybe I’m wearing rose-tinted glasses, but it’s still my favourite time as an Evertonian.
5 Posted 30/12/2009 at 17:02:24
I was talking about running on the pitch!!! LOL
6 Posted 30/12/2009 at 17:16:12
The signing of Alex Scott to replace Billy Bingham, a decent winger, but Catterick knew that Scott would help clinch the title in 1963 and, as I recall (10 at the time) he stole him from Bill Nicholson of Spurs and we woke up to his signing.
Tony Kay to replace Brian Harris. This caused quite a lot of upset among supporters at the time. BH had done nothing wrong but Kay was better.
Then later, Howard Kendall to replace Jimmy Gabriel.
I thought the guy who called David Moyes a donkey was quite wrong and disrespectful but if we are going to progress he will need to show something of the Harry Catterick ruthlessness. Osman / Hibbert / Cahill? Good players but maybe can’t take us much higher.
7 Posted 30/12/2009 at 18:18:48
8 Posted 30/12/2009 at 18:08:16
Our greatest achievement is staying in the top flight of the League for all but four seasons since its foundation. Since his appointment David Moyes has removed the anxiety of relegation and at least now, in spite of many frustrations, my main hobby,supporting the Blues, is no longer more stressful than my job.
This post takes us back to an age when our "exotic" players came from Scotland, or Wales. We relied heavily on Moores money and a couple of astute managers but I think since the purchase of Tony Cottee we have not been able to outbid our richest rivals for star players.
One reason why Moyes ranks with our best mangers is that he has been able to operate on a budget far below that of the Sky 4. Indeed, both absolutely and relatively we are now a pauper rather than a "Bank of England" club. In view of our poverty criticisms of DM for not winning trophies are absurd.
9 Posted 30/12/2009 at 20:00:52
Jay, I must have been in the pen with you when my dad didn’t take me — Goodison Rd we went in those days. And I fully agree I reckon Young and Vernon were the finest striking team I’ve seen in tandem or individually. One thing though I seem to remember us clinching the league against Fulham 4-1.
10 Posted 30/12/2009 at 20:07:09
Yes, Vernon scored a hat-trick but can't remember if it was Young or Scott scored as well.
11 Posted 30/12/2009 at 20:08:56
’I am an Evertonian and I began being one in 1967’.
I take Bob’s post to mean that we can’t despise Chelsea and Man City for their ability to buy success. That’s what the Littlewoods money did for us in the 60s. An entirely different world then of course - go to North Wales via Blackburn for a superstar? Vernon obviously too slight to be a professional footballer player (and smoked 60 a day).
Vision will still beat money. We’ve had just about enough of it for 7 or 8 years now to do passably well. And when and if the money does arrive, who will we buy? Arteta?
12 Posted 30/12/2009 at 20:09:01
In those days, the smog was so bad in Liverpool it was difficult to see the far touchline at GP. In the absence of television/radio, people relied to a large extent on newspaper reports of players performances. To actually see the likes of Young & Vernon, if only through a haze of freezing fog, was a delight.
Thanks for the memories Bob.
13 Posted 30/12/2009 at 20:57:52
Nothing like your journey to see the lads, but as a young man I had passed my driving test. Nobody taught me how to get into the Mersey Tunnel with six lanes converging to one toll booth. This skill, learned on those Saturday matchdays, has taken me all over Europe, even around the infamous Etoile in Paris. Bloody beginners!
14 Posted 30/12/2009 at 21:49:41
15 Posted 30/12/2009 at 21:46:35
I always thought that Moores didn’t give Everton money but acted as a guarantor for the loans that we took out to buy players. Whatever, we enjoyed success and played the game in the right way.
"Only Burnley" were watched by 74,800 people in 1960 at GP and finished 1st, 5th, 2nd and 3rd in consecutive seasons. Not a bad record, eh?
Games against Spurs, City, Burnley, Utd and eventually Liverpool were all-ticket affairs and my Dad would get my Mam, bless her, to go to the Stadium to queue for tickets for the two of us, sometimes for hours on end.
I remember us signing Gordon West who, at 19, became the most expensive keeper in the League. (I think! It’s an age thing...) And were you lucky enough to get World Cup tickets to see Brazil, Portugal etc because you had a season ticket?
16 Posted 31/12/2009 at 01:40:11
I was 13 years old in 1962 when my dad, a Liverpool supporter, said he would start taking me to the games cause Liverpool had just got into the First Division. But Everton played the first game of the season at home and my mate took me to Goodison for my first taste of live soccer... oops, football.
Waiting at the bustop with a bunch of blue-scarved supporters, then the trek up to the Old Lady. Getting squashed by police horses before pushing through the squeaky turnstile into the stunning arena with everyone in high spirits. Soon we were packed tight, undulating like waves on the Formby shore.
The team came out to a roar that expanded my heart and I became one with 60,000 people. I was imprinted at that moment as those blue and white demi-gods took their applause with cool confidence.
The game got underway to a mountain of sound and I was swept away in an avalanche of cheers. And then I saw the diminutive figure of someone they called ’Alex’. His supreme ability with the ball, his poise, his imagination, his magic, his genius were apparent to all and we all revelled in it. We were one with him as he stunned the ball, and defenders, skipped around them and nonchalantly played the ball perfectly into the the path of a team mate.
His willing accomplices were happily engaged in carving up the opposition to the delight of the crowd. The game ended with a win for the Blue Boys 3-1, but I didn’t want it to ever end. I didn’t want to be anywhere else on the planet but here on the Goodison terrace, shoulder to shoulder with my new family of Evertonians.
That was great, but asking my dad if I could be an Everton supporter was serious business. He gave in when he saw how excited I was.
Now I live 6,000 miles from Liverpool, but I don’t miss a match on my laptop. My heart was given to Everton nearly 50 years ago and I have been more faithful to my footie club than I have to my 3 wives... Isn’t it great?
17 Posted 31/12/2009 at 03:59:53
Jimmy Gabriels’s sister Sheila used to work for me and she said Gabriel absolutely hated Catterick, mainly because, even if they were injured, he told the players to get out there and play as if their lives depended on it otherwise he would replace them.
I don't think that style would work today but he was a great manager at the time.
18 Posted 31/12/2009 at 06:42:12
Amazingly he actually took time out to speak to me, and I told him about an encounter my father told me about when he was a boy.
My father (as a 13-year-old, soon to finish school and go work on the docks) was having a kick about in Kirkdale, and Sir John’s Rolls or Bentley rolls by. All of the kids knew who it was, and all waved (bear in mind this would’ve been about 10 years before his direct involvement Bob refers to).
Everton were about to play Liverpool at Goodison, and even back then with crowds of 70k+ it was a guaranteed full house, plus my Dad wouldn’t have been able to go on his own as his Dad was away at sea.
The car stops, the rear passenger window wound down, and he passed a few tickets to my old man.
A true gent, and it was an honour to meet him.
19 Posted 31/12/2009 at 10:21:46
Tony Doran, you’re spot on when you say it's the 7-12 age that always seems the most magical. My first proper Evertonian seasons were 87-88 and 88-89 and even though looking back they were depressing seasons of decline, I remember them with great excitement.
After Liverpool took our title away and destroyed everyone in 1988 I remember Colin Harvey panicked a bit, effectively replacing Heath, Steven, Reid and Stevens with Cottee, Nevin, McCall and McDonald. Naively, I was beside myself with excitement at the new signings, so when Cottee scored a hat-trick on his debut, I was convinced the title was ours!
Of course, looking back, Harvey’s newbies were not a patch on their predecessors and within 18 months we had gone from Champions to mid-table mediocrity. That summer of 1988 was the last summer that we were genuine ’big spenders’. If Harvey had got the signings right, we could have remained at the top and gone into the Sky era as leading lights. Who knows how things would have panned out then?
Anyway, I vote that ToffeeWeb should have an ’old timers’ section as these stories of the 50s and 60s are like gold dust for younger ones like me!
20 Posted 31/12/2009 at 11:00:16
Carey was assembling a very good ball-playing squad and there was an optimistic air about the club. In game after game we were treated to the kind of on-the-ground joined-up footie we can only dream about.
Harry came in and immediately set about replacing ball players for hard workers. There is no doubt that Harry’s hard working ethic brought huge success to the club and all praise to him for that. But I can’t help dreaming of what sublime football there might have been had Carey been given a little more time.
21 Posted 31/12/2009 at 11:37:04
I also think he got lucky with the cup run in 1966. He’d left Young out for Royle at Blackpool in January (the infamous 'assault' incident) but we got a decent cup draw and, before you knew it, we were the semis.
22 Posted 31/12/2009 at 21:11:48
After just watching a hopeless Everton surrender without a fight to Blackpool I was among was a small group of fans outside Bloomfield Rd players entrance. After such an absolutely horrible display it was natural that we were not a happy bunch specially as Alex Young had been dropped for that game.
It was a bitterly cold wet grey and windy day. The players hurried to the warmth of the team bus. We voiced our frustration at Harry and some jeered when he slipped on the wet pavement. A few blokes helped him regain his feet and that was the sum total of it all yet the myth was born and lingers to today...
I responded with the above facts to the Daily Express’s beat-up but it did not give print it nor give me the courtesy of a reply.
23 Posted 01/01/2010 at 11:28:07
It had been a miserable performance by the Blues but it’s a shame that the only thing people go on about was "the incident" involving Catterick.
Happy New Year to Blues everywhere.
24 Posted 01/01/2010 at 12:40:32
25 Posted 01/01/2010 at 14:40:30
26 Posted 01/01/2010 at 14:33:40
I started watching EFC in 1948 and saw them relegated with Sagar, Farrell and Eglington in the team. We bounced back and my favourite times for watching the Blues was indeed the John Carey/Catterick era when we played REAL football. I believe Carey’s first signing was Vernon and I agree that Tommy Ring was a delight to watch and would certainly be in my best ever side.
Tony Kay was nicknamed Cassius and was a real midfield player with both class and strong tackling ability... it was a real waste when he was banned for so long.
I enjoyed the best of EFC and Young was the nearest to that great Brazilian, Tostao, whilst Vernon had all the scoring instincts of Rush and never missed a penalty. My best ever attacking five would include Ball, Collins, Young, Vernon and Ring and their footballing ability was magic!!
Of course, Big Nev was the best keeper and the backs would be a choice from Parker, Wilson or Wright. The half-back line would definitely be Kendall, Labone and Kay... that was a real footballing side who would compete with Arsenal at their best.
I can well remember EFC being the bogey team of Man Utd and unfortunately it seems that history only seems to have started with the Premier League, according to the ’so called’ experts. The two great Merseyside teams have won more Championships and trophies than any other city teams (including Manchester) in England.
I truly enjoyed football when the League Championship was more open and was not won by just one of two or three teams who have money to burn. I have been luckier than most of our younger fans in being privileged to watch Everton at their very best when we played the best football in the league and I have been at Goodison with over 70,000 several times.
I queued for tickets at the old Bixteth St stadium to watch the famous cup tie against Liverpool in 1967 when Ball scored to beat a very strong Liverpool team... both grounds were filled to capacity as the game was relayed to Anfield on the big screen and thousands stood in Goodison Road listening to the roars.
I think that Moyes is doing a great job with very limited money and a decimated squad but I must say that I yearn for the standard of play that was considered a norm for every Everton team... Let's raise a glass and toast the New Year and hope that our fortunes revive with a NEW Moores to provide the means to make us great again!!
27 Posted 01/01/2010 at 15:23:20
You mention the FA Cup game from 1967 which was beamed to Anfield. A funny story from the time involved Jimmy Tarbuck, that irritating Red "comedian" who is always banging on about "Shanks". Tarbuck was coming out of Anfield after we’d beaten Liverpool and he’d been watching on the big screen. He was clearly upset and a Bluenose said "Don’t get upset,Jimmy. It was only a film."
28 Posted 02/01/2010 at 06:53:00
About Roy Vernon. There were three GREAT goalscoring inside forwards playing in England at that time. The other two were Dennis Law and Jimmy Greaves. Vernon was slight but he was like greased lightening, could turn a man on the half-way line, take off for the edge of the box where he would usually put it in the onion bag.
Penalties — I only ever saw him miss one. It was like shelling peas for him. Happy days were they.
29 Posted 02/01/2010 at 10:39:55
Agreeing with many, that around 8 appears to be the age when many started their love affair with Everton, that takes me back to 1932.
My Dad had taken my brother aged 10, to Goodison and he came home raving about the team. They had beaten Sheffield Wednesday, 9-3. Our big centre forward had scored 5! Yes, it was Dixie in those halycon days.
I pleaded with my Dad to take me, so the following Saturday he took me to Anfield. Liverpool were playing Derby County and they forced a 0 - 0 draw. I have never been near that ground since!
The next time Dad took me was some weeks later when he took me to Goodison. The opposition was Aston Villa, another of the famous ’old’ clubs. We won 4-2 and Dixie scored 2.
Since those days, we have had several great teams, the 1938-39 Championship team boasting Lawton, Mercer, T G Jones (the best centre-half I have ever seen), and Ted Sagar were fantastic but, like many at the time, we mourned the departure of Dixie.
Like all those who have penned their memories above, my recollections of the great teams of the 20th Century will always be with me but obviously Dixie will always command pride of place as ’The Greatest’ (with thanks to Mohammed Ali!).
30 Posted 02/01/2010 at 15:16:55
31 Posted 04/01/2010 at 05:52:44
He told a story that one time he was one of a raggardy bunch of street urchins waiting outside Goodison after a game to see if he could get any autographs. Out steps Dixie Dean and is immediately surrounded by a large crowd of tall people and he signs for some time then he gets into his taxi.
The urchins are at the far window waving their bits of paper and shouting at the top of their voices. Dixie opens the door and invites the kids in to sit down and join him on his trip downtown. They were all inside in a flash. Dixie gives out his autograph to all the kids and rolls up his trouser leg to show them a bloody bandage wrapped round his leg.
"Look what they’ve done to me, lads," he said grinning, "but it was worth it when I scored."
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