Favourites aren't always the best, Part 9

John McFarlane 01/02/2018 52comments  |  Jump to last

Continuing the theme of my favourite players, my selection for the centre forward position is Alex Young. It's difficult to write something about Alex Young that hasn't been written before, and finding a away to tell his story is a great challenge.

Alex Young was born on 3 February 1937, in Loanhead, Midlothian in Scotland.

Alex is fondly remembered as one of the most dazzling forwards of his generation, whose range of passing and dribbling skills could penetrate any defence. As a result, Alex represented Scotland eight times, and also the Scottish League, Junior Scotland, and the British Army.


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On leaving school, he followed his father into the coal-mining industry, and Alex became an apprentice engineer at Burglee Colliery, Loanhead. At the same time, he developed his football career with now defunct Broughton Star, where Alex earned representative honours at juvenile level, the lithe and elusive attacker subsequently appeared for Musselburgh United, before being recruited by Hearts manager Tommy Walker, who then farmed him out to the junior club Newton Grange in 1954.

After a couple of promising reserve performances in April 1955, Alex was called up to the first team and quickly made his competitive debut versus Partick Thistle In the League Cup on 27 August 1955, Hearts won by 2-1 at Tynecastle, and it was Alex who scored the winning goal


He was a sensational discovery whose creative talent could be used on the wing, at inside-forward, or centre-forward accordingly, over the next five years. In addition to creating a countless number of goals for his colleagues, Alex was a prolific marksman in his own right, he scored 150 times in 249 games for hearts, 101 goals in 197 competitive games.

With his subtle skills, graceful style and tremendous versatility, Alex was a key man during a hugely successful period for Hearts. He played in the victorious Scottish Cup final team in 1956, when Hearts beat Celtic 3-1 at Hampden Park, and then Alex contributed 24 goals during Hearts record breaking Scottish League Championship in 1957-58. In fact he scored the goal against St Mirren in Paisley, that secured the title, and was an ever-present during that sensational league campaign.

Alex enjoyed a successful career in Scotland, before moving south of the border in November 1960, when he joined Everton, although at one time it looked as though he was destined to be Tom Finney's successor at Preston North End. Alex recounted how he was close to signing for the Deepdale club, but when he learned of Everton's interest and the deal they were offering, he chose the Goodison outfit. If memory serves me right, the signing was announced at the League Cup game against Bury.

Alex made his debut for Everton at inside right in a 3-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, at Goodison Park on 17 December 1960. Alex suffered severe blistering of the feet whenever he played, and it seem that this problem beset him immediately following his debut game, as he missed the next six games. I believe that Everton sought advice from the footwear department of the Dunlop factory on Rice Lane, and requested special boots be made for him to combat the problem, but I accept that this may be an urban myth.

However, whatever the truth, Alex didn't feature in a game until 4 February 1961, another home defeat 2-1 to Bolton Wanderers, but worse was to follow as Everton lost yet again in the next two outings, 4-0 to West Ham United and 2-1 to Shrewsbury Town in a League Cup game, although Alex could take some consolation from the fact that he scored the Everton goal. There appeared to be some fallout in the aftermath of that game, as Brian Harris was alleged to have been assaulted by an irate supporter. There may be an element of truth in this, as Brian was wearing what is commonly referred to as a 'shiner' in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Goodison Park three days later.

These games were played in an era when centre-forwards were built like the proverbial 'outhouse', and the Number 9 seemed out of place on such a slight figure, but what Alex lacked in stature, he certainly made up for in ability. Following the Chelsea game, Everton travelled to Deepdale to face the team Alex had almost joined, but there was to be no joy there, as Preston North End won 1-0. Alex missed the next two games, a 2-1 loss to Aston Villa at Goodison Park, and a 3-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns, an inauspicious start to his Everton career. But all was to change when Alex scored two goals in a 3-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park on Good Friday, Roy Vernon netting the other goal, against his former employers.

This victory set Everton on a seven game unbeaten run to finish the season, there followed a 1-0 home win against Birmingham City, Derek Temple grabbing the goal, I remember this game well, as it was the day I got engaged to my 'young Lady', April fools day. (How apt; she's now my 'Old Lady' almost 57 years later!) Everton finished the season in style, a 2-2 draw on Easter Monday in the return fixture with Blackburn Rovers, Alex scoring one of the two goals. A 4-0 win over Newcastle United at St James Park, a 5-1 win over Cardiff City at Goodison Park, Alex scoring two of the goals, a 2-1 win against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, and rounded off with a 4-1 home win against Arsenal. So Alex finished the season having played 14 league and cup games and scoring 7 goals.

The following season 1961-62 Alex played 40 league and cup games scoring 14 goals. The first game of the season resulted in a 2-0 win over Aston Villa at Goodison, my stand out memory of that game was of Derek Dougan sporting a 'Mohican' style haircut, it was later reported that following some disappointing results , Joe Mercer called Dougan into his office and said, "if you want to be different, score some bloody goals."


n the League Championship winning season 1962-63, Alex scored 22 league goals in 42 appearances, and together with the 24 league goals in 41 appearances from Roy Vernon, this was a sizeable chunk of the 84 goals that helped Everton win the title.

The 1963-64 season saw Alex netting at a reasonable rate, 12 goals from 27 league fixtures, however there was a shadow cast over Alex, as manager Harry Catterick had signed Fred Pickering from Blackburn Rovers, a direct threat to the position of Alex, who incidentally, was again troubled by foot blisters. Pickering, who scored a hat-trick on his debut against Nottingham Forest, played in the last nine fixtures, while Alex played in only two, one at inside left and the other at outside right.

I think that the fans viewed the signing of Pickering, in much the same way, they viewed the signing of Dennis Stevens, which led to the transfer of Bobby Collins. Feeling disillusioned Alex requested a transfer, Everton were to suffer a blow, when Tony Kay was implicated in a betting scandal, which ultimately led to him receiving a gaol sentence and a lifetime ban from football.

The 1964-65 season saw Brian Harris recalled to the side to replace Tony Kay, and Alex Young withdrew his transfer request, after being reinstated to the team, mainly at inside right, to form a three man attacking threat with Fred Pickering, and Roy Vernon, this plan didn't go exactly the way Harry Catterick had hoped, Pickering played his part scoring 27 league goals in 41 games, but Alex could only muster 3 goals in 20 league starts, Vernon 3 goals in 16 games.

Fred Pickering scored 4 FA Cup goals in 4 appearances and 6 Goals in 6 European games, giving him a record of 37 goals in 51 games.

Alex Young scored 3 goals in 3 European games giving him a record of 6 goals in 24 games.

Roy Vernon scored 1 goal in 4 European games, giving him a record of 4 goals in 20 games. Roy Vernon was transferred to Stoke City for £50,000 in March 1966.

The 1965-66 season was to be a memorable one for Alex and Everton, as the club fought its way to Wembley and the FA Cup final without conceding a goal, I missed only one game in that cup run, and that was the game against Bedford Town, the reason I missed it was because an Evertonian living in Bedford, had written to the Liverpool Echo advising anyone who travelled without a ticket that they would be wasting their time, as the town has been struck by 'Cup fever'.

Two of my uncles who went (with tickets) told me on their return, that there were mounted policemen giving tickets away. I won't dwell on the final, other than to say that it was my first Wembley visit, just two months short of my 28th birthday, and one of the best days of my footballing life.

1966-67 was a moderate season for Alex, he managed to score 10 goals in 45 games, in all competitions, Alex was once again asked to play in more than one position, in the past he had worn the numbers 7,8,9,and 10, but this season he wore a new number three times, and that number was 12, this was to be his final season as an Everton player. On leaving Goodison Alex joined Glentoran as player/manager, then Stockport County as player/assistant manager, retiring from football in August 1969 suffering from arthritis of the knee.

Alex's playing record was:

● Hearts: 155 games, 71 goals

● Everton: 253 games, 84 goals

● Glentoran: 6 games, 1 goal

● Stockport County: 23 games, 3 goals

● Scotland: 8 games, 5 goals

● Scottish League: 2 games, 2 goals

Sadly Alex passed away on 27th February 2017; we'll never see his like again.

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Reader Comments (52)

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Terry White
1 Posted 02/02/2018 at 03:46:16
John, I'm sure we all understand your choice. Not many of us old 'uns would disagree with it. Alex's goal in the first game of the 67-68 season that can be seen on YouTube, playing as No. 7 against Manchester United, just gives you the sense of this great player, the balance, control and finishing power leave you wanting to see much, much more.

But I am sure you are grateful that George Kirby, Jimmy Glazzard, Peter Harburn and Alan Shackleton did not make enough appearances to make your decision more difficult!

Derek Thomas
2 Posted 02/02/2018 at 06:55:18
Can't argue with that choice, John; on his day, probably the best pound-for-pound pure footballer we've had at the club. The fact that he prospered in a day were players weren't as protected can only be marveled at.

That we both saw him in his pomp is a thing nobody can take away, plenty who have only ever seen that game versus Man Utd only got a glimpse of the tailend of his career... and he looked pretty decent then.

Peter Mills
3 Posted 02/02/2018 at 08:05:59
John, this and Brian Labone are the only two of your selections I have predicted so far. I doubt there will be many arguments, although strong cases can be made for Graeme Sharp and Big Joe.

It was a privilege to have seen Alex play, his performance at Goodison in the last game of the 66-67 season, a 4-1 win against Sunderland, when he and Alan Ball had a field day, lingers in my memory.

I was pretty young when Alex was playing, my recollection is that despite the adoration he received he could also be on the end of Goodison's ire quite frequently – I would be interested to hear from others whether I am correct on this?

Your forward line is taking shape well, John!

John Keating
4 Posted 02/02/2018 at 08:56:02
Fully agree John best I have ever seen though as a "striker" Roy Vernon always came a very very close second to me.

My dad and uncles, unfortunately never had the same affection I had as they were always Dixie Dean men and could never understand what all the fuss was about!

It always amazed me how it seemed Alex would jump for a ball before it left the players foot! The defender would go up with him, land back down and Alex would still be up there! He just seemed to hover.

I remember talking to Alex shortly after his son Jason made his debut for Hearts. I mentioned that he might go on to play for both Hearts and Everton. Alex said that no family could be that lucky twice.

We went up to Tynecastle for a preseason friendly when Martinez was here. Alex came out to greet the crowd to a standing ovation all around the park. Obviously he acknowledged the 3 sides of the ground where the Hearts supporters were but he made a special effort to acknowledge our end.

Definitely my hero and as you say we will never see his like again.

Rick Tarleton
5 Posted 02/02/2018 at 09:06:41
Not the best player I've ever seen in the blue jersey, but no player for me better sums up what I want to see in an Everton jersey than the Golden Ghost. (The playwright Gordon Honeycombe preferred "Golden Vision" for artistic reasons and that's what he became known as).

Skilful beyond any other player of his era, he wasn't fast, had no height or weight, but somehow he was brilliant . Young drifting in from the left, approaching a defender, a swivel and without real pace Young had left the defender in his slipstream.

There were games when Young disappeared, often derby games, but the games he lit up were frequent and memorable. My all time Everton favourite player, not the best, Collins, Harvey or Vernon can fight for that, but my all-time favourite.

I wondered, John, if you might go for Dave Hickson who was so dynamic and such an icon in the mid-fifties, but I'm glad you picked Young. He was a genius.

Ian Burns
6 Posted 02/02/2018 at 09:09:50
Hi John, another great piece and I doubt anybody who saw Young play will argue with this choice! I was at the Spurs game when we lost 3-1 and if memory serves me correctly, it was foggy and the wonderful but unfortunate John White scored for Spurs.

Many of us will have fond memories of special moments with regards to Alex but if I may indulge. I think the game was against Burnley when out on the left wing he caught a ball on his instep right on the touch line. The linesman flagged the ball had gone out but Alex still held the ball on his instep and lowered onto the touchline to show the linesman the ball in fact was still in play. One supporter said "if I got home tonight and caught Alex Young in bed with my wife – I would tuck him in!"

Stan Schofield
7 Posted 02/02/2018 at 09:10:36
John, again fully agree with your choice of Alex Young. When I first saw him at Goodison when I was 7 (in 1961), I didn't know much about football and couldn't really appreciate his abilities as we analyse them now. But he made a big impact on me, and stood out. When we played footie in the street or in Stanley Park, all the Evertonian kids (me included) were Alex Young.
Dave Abrahams
8 Posted 02/02/2018 at 09:34:10
John, the title of this wonderful series "Favourites are not always the best" – that is why I am going for the one and only Davie Hickson, the only idol I ever had in football.

Peter Mills (3) with regards to your post, if an Everton fan says to me "Alex Young was one of the best players ever, on his day" I never had any problems with that because it was true.

He had too many off days for me, but to watch him "on his day" was a joy and an act of pure beauty, so I wouldn't argue too much about this choice.

Brian Harrison
9 Posted 02/02/2018 at 09:59:11

This is for me the hardest to pick from, we have been lucky to have had so many iconic Centre Forwards. My Dad always said there will never be anyone who gets anywhere near Dixie, I was not old enough to see him play. But even speaking to my friends who are Liverpool supporters say their Dads say exactly the same Dixie was the best.

So picking my personal favourite in this position is impossible because I adored Davie and Alex in equal measure, so I cant choose between them. Both complete opposites Davie a swashbuckling centre forward and Alex the artist. I was lucky to meet both socially and though they were opposites on the pitch off it they were both gentlemen. I find this series fascinating John not sure what our younger supporters make of it all, but I am pretty sure that even though some never seen this generation of player they will have the same thoughts as my generation who never seen Dixie. Extremely proud that these great players are remembered so fondly.

Don Alexander
10 Posted 02/02/2018 at 10:47:48
Like Stan (#7) I was just of an age where the subtleties of the Golden Vision went above my head but my dad, a Scot, eulogised him. He, my dad, was too young to have seen Dixie but he always said our Tommy Lawton was the centre-forward you'd play if your life depended on him scoring.
Dennis Stevens
11 Posted 02/02/2018 at 11:25:06
John, I rather expected the late, great Alex Young to make it into your team of favourites. However, I wasn't sure whether it would be at centre forward due to his versatility & the many other strong candidates for that position. It must have been difficult to omit so many other great centre forwards.
John McFarlane
12 Posted 02/02/2018 at 12:30:49
Hi all, there are so many posts to respond to but I'll do my best.

Hi Terry [1], I understand that there is a hint of humour in your post, regarding the less-gifted centre-forwards Everton have had over the years, but although I did see George Kirby before I went into the army, and Alan Shackleton after I was demobbed, I didn't have the good fortune(?) to see Peter Harburn or Jimmy Glazzard in a blue shirt, I did however see Glazzard, when he played against us For Huddersfield Town, and I believe he was one of a number who scored 4 goals against us in a game.

Hi Derek [2], like Dixie Dean and, to a lesser extent, Tommy Lawton will always generate different opinions, and as the title of these articles suggests it's favourites as opposed to best. Imagine in a few years time if someone else took on a similar task, and the names of Joe Royle, Bob Latchford, Graeme Sharp, etc were debated, there would be just as much diverse opinion as there is now.

Hi Peter [3], you'll appreciate that none of us can recall every game we have attended over the years, and though I would without doubt have been at that game, I have had to go to what I call my research department to glean a little information. It turns out that Johnny Morrissey scored a hat-trick (including a penalty), the other goal coming from Colin Harvey.

Hi John [4], Alex was revered as much by Hearts fans as he was by Evertonians; there was a glowing tribute from their press officer, but it was quite lengthy, although I was tempted to include it in my article... maybe another time.

Hi Rick [5], I believe Danny Blanchflower gave the name to Alex in his weekly newspaper. Gordon Honeycombe may well have tweaked it a bit as you say, for artistic effect. I must confess that until, the play was televised, I never heard anyone refer to Alex as the 'Golden Vision,' likewise non of my mates or people around us in the Park end, called Dave Hickson the 'Cannonball Kid'. Dave did come under careful consideration, but in the end I put style before passion.

Hi Ian [6], I'm not sure which Burnley game you may be referring to, but I have a memory of Alex scoring 2 goals against his cousin Harry Thomson, the Burnley keeper.

Hi Stan [7], although you were quite young when you first saw Alex, you were in your formative years, and I'm sure you have one or two memories of him.

Hi Dave [8], I'm not surprised that Dave Hickson is your favourite, and I can tell you that I thought longer and harder over this one, than any of the others. I suppose because you and I are a little older than most of our fellow 'Webbers,' we've seen a few more players, which I suppose makes selection a wee bit harder. We'll have to get together for another cup of tea soon.

Hi Brian [9], you will have read the reply I gave to Derek [2] regarding Dixie Dean and Tommy Lawton; different generations will have their own hero's and their opinions will no doubt be just as diverse.

Hi Don [10], I suppose that the comments I have expressed to Derek [2] and Brian [9] are applicable to yourself, my uncles, who would be well over 100 years old now, were having the same discussions over Dean and Lawton all those years ago.

Graham Reed
13 Posted 02/02/2018 at 13:26:59
Thank you John for another great article. 1967-68 was his last season and I know Alex was in and out of the team that season but I have often wondered if there was any discontent from fans or the press that he was not picked for the 1968 Cup Final even as sub.

Does anyone remember if his omission was controversial or not?

Peter Mills
14 Posted 02/02/2018 at 13:48:40
John and Ian, those two goals against Burnley were in the 3rd round FA Cup replay in the 66-67 season, one of them was a superb glancing header into the Gwladys Street goal.
Peter Mills
15 Posted 02/02/2018 at 14:12:25
Graham (#13), No, I don't recall any controversy over that decision. Joe Royle was a fully integrated member of the team by then, and scored in the first 3 rounds including his ‘coming of age' goal when he ran the full length of the pitch with the ball at his feet on the Carlisle mudbath.

Roger Kenyon was favoured as sub in the final, mainly as cover for John Hurst who was only recently recovered from illness.

John Boon
16 Posted 02/02/2018 at 14:38:52
Not even the slightest doubt in agreeing with your choice of Alex Young. Dave Hickson was a great Evertonian and always will be but NO player who has put on the Blue shirt gave me more pleasure to watch than "The Golden Vision".He was superb.

Going back I have a number of personal connections with Alex. When he was at his peak the team I was playing for won won the CYMS league in 1961. Young and Gabriel came along to give out the medals. That really put a top hat on everything. They mixed in with the players and seemed to recognise just how much it meant to the ordinary Sunday league player

My wife is from Edinburgh and her cousin was a golfing buddy of Alex after he returned to Edinburgh where he owned a small bar. I then had the opportunity to meet up with my idol once again. Always humble long after his career had ended.

Today in my house I have a large framed picture of Young holding up the FA cup with Trebilcock in 1966. It is a signed by Alex and hangs proudly in my hallway. I have other photos of Young wishing me the best of luck.

I also have a photo of Alex when he was about 11 years old in the Lonehead junior team. In the same team they had four other young lads who went on to play professional football including Bert Slater who later played for Liverpool.

We live in Canada where we have raised two sons, John Everton and Andrew Goodison. My wife would not let me call our daughter Gwladys. We are all staunch Evertonians who watch every game.

With our new deadly right-wing partnership of Walcott and Coleman giving us cause for optimism, it could only be better if an Alex Young clone could play in front of them. I talk to my sons about Alex just like my dad did about Dixie Dean. Who would play centre-forward in Heaven's best ever team?

We will be back in Liverpool on April 7, hopefully to see the Toffees beat the RS. I just wish a young "Alex Young" could be up front. Then there would be no doubt. Your series gives all Evertonians great memories. But for Number 9, for me, there could only be one winner... Alex Young!.

John McFarlane
17 Posted 02/02/2018 at 14:51:07
Hi Graham [13], Alex hadn't featured much toward the end of that season, but he was substitute against Leeds United in the semi-final at old Trafford, and he was sent on to presumably, keep hold of the ball, and he nearly lost possession with his first touch.

Hi Peter [15] I can recall saying to my mate at the 1968 final, "They should bring Roger Kenyon on and push John Hurst up front."

I have two books, and for some reason they only indicate there being a number 12, if a substitution has been made. It would make it difficult to establish the identity of a Number 12, if no substitution takes place.

At first glance I thought I had imagined that Roger Kenyon had been on the bench, but in his career profile it confirmed that he was indeed sub that day.

Dave Abrahams
18 Posted 02/02/2018 at 15:59:30
John, talking about 1966 and the Bedford game, I remember Gordon West and Brian Labone before the game outside the ground looking for Everton fans, they were selling tickets (for the correct price) but they would only sell them to Blue fans.

In the final, Everton's team were all English-born players. I doubt if we will ever see that again... and I think that game was the first time a substitute was used in an FA Cup Final, Clarke of WBA.

Terry White
19 Posted 02/02/2018 at 16:06:59
John (#12), I'm relieved to see that you did spot some element of tongue-in-cheek in my initial post. Like others, I can quite understand that it would have been difficult for you to make the choice between Alex and Davie.

As I have noted before, our favourites are usually decided upon very early in our supporting years and are then difficult to dislodge. Hence Hickson would be your first idol, and the same to many others, so it says a lot for Young that he has replaced Dave in your final selection.

Reading Ian's story (#6) – and John White was a wonderful player, wasn't he, taken much too soon, reminds me of the old question, "What would you do if Jesus came back to earth?". Answer: "Move Young to inside right".

Rick Tarleton
20 Posted 02/02/2018 at 16:07:24
"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven"

When season 62-63 started, I was 16 and I was 16 when it finished. I'd followed Everton since 53-54 and had heroes before starting with Dave Hickson and then Bobby Collins and Alex Parker. But 62-63 was MY time and MY team.

If I could go back to the past, it would be Goodison in that season, me standing with various family members, most of them reds, on the Paddock and watching Young and Vernon in their heyday. They were mesmeric.

Vernon cold and calculating, receiving the ball pointing to the left and accelerating away to the right. Young climbing above a centre-half who was at least 6 inches taller than him and nodding the ball on for Vernon.

There's an age in these things that makes certain times special. Before 14, you're possibly not taking it all in; after the early twenties, a degree of critical scepticism enters the soul. So, although I can eulogise about the 69-70 team and the team of the mid eighties, when I lie in bed as an old man now and I think of Goodison Park, it's always 62-63 and Young and Vernon are leading the forward line.

West is swinging on the crossbar as a centre passes over and Parker is showing us all how to execute the perfect slide tackle. Labone is steady and Gabriel with his blond quiff is a non-stop bundle of power and skill. That is the time and that is my team.

The symbol and centre of that team is Alex Young. I am grateful to have been 16 at that time and I am grateful to Young and the rest for providing me with that bliss.

Steve Barr
21 Posted 02/02/2018 at 16:09:25

Unfortunately I didn't see him play live but based on everything I've ever read, and on the limited footage I've seen, no arguments from me.

Based on No 9s I've seen in the flesh then I have to go with Bob Latchford. Not the most skillful but a fantastic professional and what a goalscorer.

Dave Abrahams
22 Posted 02/02/2018 at 16:29:14
In my post (18), the last paragraph, I was talking about the 1968 FA Cup Final. Sorry.
Stan Schofield
23 Posted 02/02/2018 at 17:20:47

The most vivid memory I have of Young is that game against Man Utd at the start of the 67-68 season, and the elegant goal he scored. At the time, I considered George Best to be the best player I'd seen outside of Everton, and I recall both him and Young tracking back to help their defences, and tussling with each other for the ball.

Two truly great players having a right old battle. The thought of that game, with Young and Ball, Best and Charlton, and the other great players on that pitch, makes me feel privileged.

Jay Harris
24 Posted 02/02/2018 at 17:46:28

I think most Evertonians would endorse the "Golden Vision" choice but my Dad always maintained that Tommy Lawton was the best Number 9 we had even better than Dixie.

For me, though, against Sheffield Wednesday at Goodison Park, where he got the ball just over the halfway line, near the players tunnel, and shimmied sending a number of Wednesday players the wrong way and hit a blistering shot which Springett (I think) couldn't keep out. I think the final score was 4-1 but that goal could have been the goal of the century.

Darren Hind
25 Posted 02/02/2018 at 18:43:09
As ever John, You draw out the ToffeeWeb big guns to recant their tales and educate. This has been a cracking series.

As a kid learning the game, I loved Alex young. I always wanted to be him when we were having a kick-about, trouble was, so did everyone else.

I loved Big Joe and "The Latch" although neither were "artists" like Young. My favourite would be Sharpie – again, nowhere near as graceful as Young (who was) but he was powerful, brave and scored goals.

His biggest attribute (for me at least) was his intelligence. Everyone who ever partnered him seemed to have the best spell of their career. We expected to win trophies when Sharpie was our Number 9.

John McFarlane
26 Posted 02/02/2018 at 19:07:13
Hi John [16] I don't doubt that you cherish the photos you have of Alex, it must be difficult for younger Everton supporters to appreciate the regard we have for our former players, with so little TV or action film of them.

The only thing I would say to them is, imagine a Messi type player, and Alex falls into that category] I'm not suggesting that Alex is better or even as good as Messi, I'm only trying to give them some idea of what he was like.

Hi Dave [18], I knew exactly what you meant regarding the substitute, I think his name was Dennis Clarke, some people used to confuse him with Clive Clark.

You are right to say he was the first substitute to be used in an FA Cup Final, but the first subs (unused) were Cliff Jones and Joe Kirkup in the 1967 final Tottenham Hotspur vs West Ham United.

Hi Terry [19], you will have heard the expression 'you cant kid a kidder' I know that sometimes words can be misconstrued, when you can't see the twinkle in the eye. I wish I had a pound for every time I've been accused of being sarcastic, when sarcasm wasn't intended.

The first time I saw the Jesus poster, was many years ago outside a MIssion Hall in Village Street Everton, and it read "What would you do if Jesus came to Everton?" and someone had written, "move Dave Hickson to inside left" I don't know where it originated, but I bet every club's fans will have used it.

Hi Rick [20], I was nearly 25 years old when we won the league in 1963, and what made it special was that it was the first championship, that anyone from our generation had enjoyed.

Yes you're right in stating that early experiences leave a lasting impression, but the love of a football club can be likened to a happy marriage, you may lose the passion but the love remains.

Hi Steve [21], Bob Latchford was a fine centre forward, and the understanding he had with Dave Thomas was similar to the one joe Royle had with Johnny Morrissey. There is a skill in putting the ball in the net, all the dribbling etc, is of no use if it doesn't result in a goal.

Hi Stan [23], anyone who watched football in the 1960s were indeed privileged, we had Ball Harvey, Kendall etc, Manchester United, Law, Best, and Charlton, Liverpool, Thompson, Hunt, and St John.

Most teams had a number of star players, and I believe it was a good time for music, but I had little interest in that, I predicted that after 18 months no-one would know who the Beatles were. [Best sticking to football eh?]

Steve Barr
27 Posted 02/02/2018 at 19:48:44
Rick @20, What a great post!

Made me well up a bit and wish that I was there for that season!

Andy Crooks
28 Posted 02/02/2018 at 20:11:59
John, this is the best in what has been a magnificent series. Sadly, I only saw the great man play for Glentoran and in some ways I wish I hadn't as he was a shadow of the Golden Vision.

My choice for Number 9 will, I expect, cause you and many others apoplexy. It is Gary Lineker. Only one splendid season but it was the end of an era. In my view, the last big club signing we made.

Whatever one thinks of him as a pundit, he was a world class, proper goalscorer. Things around that era could have been so different.

John McFarlane
29 Posted 02/02/2018 at 20:45:17
Hi Andy [28] I suppose that by today's interpretation, you are technically right in classing Gary Lineker as a number 9, the position rather than the number.

However he played in the number 8 shirt for the entirety of his season with us. It's what we 'old timers' call inside right, in his 52 games in all competitions he 42 goals.

I trust that you understand why I didn't consider him, and even if I had, I'm afraid I couldn't have selected him ahead of Bobby Collins.

Peter Mills
30 Posted 02/02/2018 at 20:53:16
I have smiled at the talk of the early days of substitutes in the mid 1960s. Initially they were only allowed when a player was injured - this was respected for all of 3 weeks, after which the trainer/coach/someone in a tracksuit would point to a player, who would eventually fall to the ground clutching his leg, then limp off the pitch in a manner that suggested we would not see him again for 6 months!

Andy #28. I don’t think Gary Lineker would get into my team as a “favourite”, but he was a superb striker who deserves greater respect. Mention of his name is always followed by “but we won nothing that season”. Very true, but it wasn’t his fault.

John Keating
31 Posted 02/02/2018 at 21:02:56
Rick 20 Great post wish I could have written that but I was over in Goodison Road with my dad and families - fortunately all blues, looking at you in the Paddock !
Fully agree with every word, my team too. I know as we get older we see things maybe through rose tinted specs but that season I'm not so sure. I think everything we remember really did happen !
Laurie Hartley
32 Posted 02/02/2018 at 21:34:18
Yes Rick (20) we were privileged indeed to have experienced Goodison Park in the 62/63 season. A place of wonder.

When I think back my enduring memory of Alex Young was his headed goal against Spurs at Goodison that season. I was directly behind him on the lower paddock. He hung in the air, time stood still for a moment, then when the ball hit the back of the net - pandemonium broke out. Oh the unbridled joy of it all.

I was 13 then and had two great mates who I used to travel to the game with from the Wirral. John Laing used to get the bus from the Woodchurch estate to meet me and my other mate Tony Loy in Ilchester Square. I lived on Beaufort Rd.

From there we used to get the train from Birkenhead North to James Street then queue up for the bus to Goodison Park. I think the entrance fee was a 3/-.

A special mention for John Laing. Apart from the fact that his dad was a Red that trip from Woodchurch to the North End was an epic for a boy of his age then. What an Evertonian he was.

I lost touch with them since I emigrated but they were great pals and even at that tender age great Evertonians.

Thanks for bringing back those memories John.

Up the Blues.

John McFarlane
33 Posted 02/02/2018 at 21:58:40
Hi Peter [30] you're right, it didn't take long for the system to be abused, I know that struggling with ten men, or carrying a passenger as nuisance value, didn't do much for the injured player, but there was an element of honesty, and endeavour about it.

Regarding the comments of Everton not winning anything the season Gary Lineker played for us, I've heard the so-called pundits, ex-professional footballers saying of Lionel Messi, "He can't be classed as a great player unless he wins the World Cup with Argentina." What kind of nonsense is that?

Dave Abrahams
34 Posted 02/02/2018 at 22:18:12
Peter (30) talking about the beginning of the use of substitutes, Shankley was a very good manager but at the start wouldn't use substitutes unless through injury, I remember one game against ( I think ) Athletico Madrid the game went to extra time on mud ridden pitch, he never used a sub, Liverpool, glad to say, got knocked out of the competition. If I'm not mistaken Jimmy Hagen was the manager of the team Liverpool played that night, Jimmy was an old fashioned inside right who played for Sheffield Unt, an excellent schemer, great footballer and every team seemed to have a player like that in the fifties and sixties.
Ron Marr
35 Posted 02/02/2018 at 22:29:56
My first league games at Goodison were in 1963. Me and my mate were 9 years old and took the bus from Old Swan to Goodison to the Bolton and Fulham games. Hard to imagine two 9 year old boys doing that today. Alex Young was brilliant and viewed thru my blue tinted glasses he was awesome when he played in midfield in 67. Young and Alan Ball in midfield were magic.
I also have a fondness for Fred Pickering. He lived by Town Green station and the RS fans welcomed him to the area by painting slogans all over his house. I had relatives who lived nearby and when visiting, me and a mate went to his house and he signed my white football. He scored a lot of goals for Everton but seemed he was never the same after the cartilage injury.
Derek Thomas
36 Posted 03/02/2018 at 00:55:02
Rick @ 20; Spot on, I fit right into that 'Magnificent 7 years' time gap of yours and like some other things, it was never as good before, nor since.

From 'that' Spurs game were I was on the wall right behind the Gwladys Street goal where Alex popped in his 'soar like an eagle' header - to beating W Brom to win the League in 1970...with a few odd exceptions both personal and footballing, that was as good as it got.

The highs were never as high and the lows were never as devastating. As has been said before, fast forward 1 year to Panathaniakos Away and the rs Semi. Four days that ruined the club.

A brief resurgence in the mid 80s not with standing, those 4 days are pretty much why we are where we are now...and why Johns thread is such a magnet.

Ken Kneale
37 Posted 03/02/2018 at 10:05:47
Derek 36 you are spot on also. That week then the manager's ill health with failure to rebuilt inextricably linked to his illness (I believe if we had secured Archie Gemmill quicker as he did in former times we might have stabilised). We then crawled from near disaster in 83 to the high of 85 only to be banned from our rightful position. Add in some woeful directorial and ownership decisions in subsequent times and we end up with Everton 2018
Tony Hill
38 Posted 04/02/2018 at 15:34:21
John (#4) and Rick (#5) sum it up for me, though, of course, he could never really be summed up. As Rick says, Alex Young's body had Everton's soul poured into it. I also agree with John about Royston.

I find it almost unbearable to think of Young (and so many of his 60s fellows) given the disgrace we have become.

John Scott
39 Posted 06/02/2018 at 12:34:51
His son Jason was highly rated up here but got a bad injury against East Germany in an under 16 game. Did alright with Livingston when they were rising up through the leagues.
Brian Harrison
40 Posted 06/02/2018 at 12:51:59

I was wondering do you remember Ken Rea, he wasn't a regular but he had red hair and had a tremendous shot. Although having said that I cant remember him scoring a goal. I think but I maybe wrong wasn't he a local lad.

John McFarlane
41 Posted 06/02/2018 at 14:33:44
Hi Brian [40] I think you may be getting Ken Rea mixed up with Ken Birch. I remember both very well, Ken Rea broke into the first team In September 1956 when I was serving in the army and made 51 league and cup appearances. Ken Birch made his debut in April 1956 and made 45 appearances scoring one goal. I remember them from their reserve team days.
Dave Abrahams
42 Posted 06/02/2018 at 16:07:22
Brian (40) it was definitely Ken Birch you are remembering, much stockier than Kenny Rea, both played wing half, Rea much the better footballer, Birch had a terrific shot as you say, unfortunately spectators behind the goal were in more danger than the net of being hit.

He did play, later, for Bangor City in their three games against Napoli in a European Cup tie, T G Jones was the manager of Bangor for these games.

Ray Atherton
43 Posted 06/02/2018 at 16:47:36

Seeing all the centre forwards from Davey Hickson.
My favourite is Alex Young as all the posters on John"s
brilliant thread. Bayern Munich was the best atmosphere,
but the Wednesday night match against Sheffield Wednesday
when Alex scored an Hat trick was a runner up.

I hope you don't mind John, if I mention the Munich air
tragedy being sixty years gone. Great team,I saw them
play the Blues a few months before the crash.

It was a night match United were 3-1 up at half time,
Derek Temple scored two, ended 3-3. About 74,000
crowd to see a thrilling spectacle.

John McFarlane
44 Posted 06/02/2018 at 17:32:51
Hi Ray, [43] I remember the Alex Young hat-trick game very well, it was Tuesday August 31st 1965, my Dad had been killed in a road traffic accident the evening before. The government had moved the August Bank Holiday, from the first Monday of the month to the last, as an experiment, which turned into a permanent arrangement.

That was the only hat-trick that Alex scored for Everton, and sadly we've had such luminaries as Maurice Johnston and Paul Wilkinson, scoring against Liverpool, something Alex couldn't do.

Incidentally Fred Pickering scored the other two goals against Sheffield Wednesday, in front of 39,640.

John McFarlane
45 Posted 06/02/2018 at 17:47:31
Hi again Ray [43] I've just checked the 3-3 game against Manchester United, Derek Temple [2] the other goal coming from Jimmy Harris, the attendance was 71,868. Wednesday September 4th 1957, I was serving with the army in Cyprus at the time.

Regarding the Munich disaster, I was walking between the tent lines in our camp when the news broke, and the first report indicated that there were no survivors. If the morons who in later years had seen those players in action (and had any decency), they wouldn't have sung their evil songs.

Dave Abrahams
46 Posted 06/02/2018 at 20:10:11
Ray (43) and John (45), I saw that 3-3 draw versus Man. Unt when Derek Temple scored two, I think the late, great Duncan Edwards scored two in that game, the same two players scored two each in an FA youth cup match on a Wednesday afternoon which finished in a 2-2 draw, unfortunately United swamped Everton5-1 or 5-2 in the replay with Temple again on the scoresheet.

Ray that United team that crashed in the Munich air disaster was a fabulous side to watch and were just beginning their march to fame and fortune, what a very sad day for football fans all over the world.

Me and a couple of mates saw them on Boxing Day in around 1955/6 versus Charlton Ath at Okd Traffold, it's too long a story of how we got there to watch this game, but it was well worth the effort to see them outplay Charlton in a 5-1 victory with "snake hips " Eddie Coleman stealing the show with a mesmerising display, what a team and how many titles and honours they would have won in style you could only guess at but would have been into double figures. What a loss.

Brian Harrison
47 Posted 06/02/2018 at 20:58:11
Dave and John

Yes your right I was thinking of Ken Birch not Ken Rea, another senior moment I think. Thanks for reminding me.

Martin Nicholls
48 Posted 07/02/2018 at 11:14:58
Good to see belated mentions from Ron Marr and John Mc for Fred Pickering. As Ron says, Fred was never the same after his cartilage injury but what a goalscorer – 56 in 97 games says it all about Fred.

Shame that what these days is a relatively minor injury had such an effect on him – my recollection is that he just turned and collapsed in the centre circle during (I think) a derby game. Anyone remember that?

As John Mc has reminded us on many occasions, this series is about favourites and Fred was certainly one, if not the only one, of mine.

John McFarlane
49 Posted 07/02/2018 at 14:57:04
Hi, Martin [48], I think Fred has slipped under the radar for a lot of supporters, I know to begin with there was a bit of resentment, because he was replacing Alex Young. As you will well know, he couldn't have asked for better debut, grabbing a hat-trick against Nottingham Forest.

Regarding his injury it may have been in the derby game which Everton won 3-1, Alan Ball (2) and Sandy Brown scoring. Sandy actually coming on in place of Fred.

If you can remember, that victory came two weeks after Liverpool beat us 1-0 at Goodison in the Charity Shield. My standout memory of that game was a newspaper report that read "Liverpool resort to Scotland Road thuggery."

Alternatively, it could have been in the dramatic 5-4 win over West Bromwich Albion, John Hurst replacing him in that game. That fixture took place on 17 September 1966, and he was absent until 4 March 1967, a 2-2 draw with Leicester City at Filbert Street.

Fred and Sandy were desperately unlucky to miss out on a Wembley place in 1966, but for the rest of us it was, "All's well that ends well".

John McFarlane
50 Posted 07/02/2018 at 15:05:16
Hi again Martin [48] the newspaper headline was referring to the 3-1 game, sorry if there was any confusion.
Martin Nicholls
51 Posted 07/02/2018 at 18:13:19
Hi John - injury was prior to 1966 Cup Final so I'm sure was not in the 3-1 Alan Ball game. Was it in the goalless derby at Goodison in March of 1966?
John McFarlane
53 Posted 07/02/2018 at 18:55:01
Hi Martin [52] I can't recall details of the 0-0 draw at Goodison in March 1966, although I was at the game, I saw every derby game home and away, from 1962 to the Anfield game in January 1995.[another 0-0 draw] I've seen a few games at Anfield since then, but I don't go to there any more.

Fred could have sustained his injury in the game you've mentioned, because he only played in 6 of the last 11 league games, I recall him complaining that he couldn't prove his fitness, because the rest of the team weren't really trying, in the run up to the final.

This thread has been dormant for a day or two, but maybe someone will come on and help you out.

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