When “Legends” Were Thin on the Ground – Part 1

John McFarlane [Senior] 14/05/2018 39comments  |  Jump to last

From the resumption of League football in 1946-47, until relegation in 1950-51, Everton Football Club used a total of 49 players, some less famous than their teammates. When it comes to players of that period, the loss of Tommy Lawton and Joe Mercer reduced the number of 'legends' to two – TG Jones and Ted Sagar.

I would like to take the opportunity to introduce you to all 48 concerned. After some consideration, I have decided to list them in alphabetical order, rather than in number of appearances.

Stanley Joseph Bentham

Born in Leigh on 17 March 1915 – Died May 2007

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Stan Bentham spent the best years of his life at Everton, first as a player, and then as a key member of the back room staff. Born in Leigh he played most of his early football with a church team, Lowton St Mary's, before attracting the attention of Bolton Wanderers with whom he had a series of trials.

In December 1933, he turned professional with Wigan Athletic, and within a matter of months found himself the target of several top clubs. In February 1934, he threw in his lot with Everton, along with Springfield Park teammate Terry Kavanagh.

Bentham made a dream debut in November 1935 when Everton claimed their first away win of the season with a superb 4-0 win against Grimsby Town at Blundell Park, Bentham netting twice He was an honest, hard working inside right and a pioneer of the roving mid-field role which is so popular today.

In 1938-39, when Everton won the Championship, Bentham missed only one match, he left Goodison Park in 1962 to take up a coaching post at Luton Town

His Everton record was, 17 goals in 125 appearances.

Walter Edward Boyes

Born in Kilmarsh Sheffield on 5 January 1913 – Died September 1960

Wally Boyes was a tiny winger who linked up with another diminutive player, Alex Stevenson, to form one of the most impudent flank combinations to grace Goodison Park. Standing only 5'-3" tall he overcame the additional handicap of having one leg shorter than the other, and scored some crucial goals in Everton's 1938-39 Championship season.

As a schoolboy prodigy in Sheffield, he once scored 17 goals in one game, his side won 31-2 and even then Boyes fell foul of the referee, demanding a late penalty, such was his basic enthusiasm for football.

Boyes was the clever type of winger, some felt that he was far too intricate, and would have preferred him to be more direct, but on his day there were few full backs who could master him.

After scoring the first goal for West Bromwich Albion against Sheffield Wednesday in the 1935 FA Cup Final, a game that Wednesday won 4-2, Boyes joined Everton in 1938 where he helped Everton to the League Championship, and he scored 8 goals in 41 league and cup appearances. Boyes played for England on three occasions, twice whilst an Everton player.

Boyes left Everton to join Notts County where he scored 1 goal in 3 games, later joining Scunthorpe United scoring 2 goals in 13 appearances, he was also manager of Retford FC, manager of Hyde United, and trainer at Swansea Town.

His Everton record was, 15 goals in 73 League and Cup appearances.

Herbert Edward Buckle

Born in Southwark London on 28 October 1924 – Died 1990

Ted Buckle was a Londoner who joined Everton from Manchester United in November 1949, a brash bold winger with a lightning turn of speed, he quickly developed into a player of real class and quality. Less than 18 hours after completing his move from Old Trafford he made his Everton debut against United, a 0-0 draw.

His compelling flank play was one of the main reasons for Everton's remarkable FA Cup run in 1953, inspired by his greyhound pace the side reached the semi-final, only to be beaten, rather unfortunately, 4-3 by Bolton Wanderers at Maine Road.

He was transferred to Exeter City in June 1955 and in the 1960s, at the age of 35, he took over as player/manager at Welsh club Prestatyn. he was forced to resign less the 12 months later, due to business commitments.

His Everton record was, 33 goals in 107 league and Cup appearances.

Daniel Patrick Cameron

Born in Dublin on 16 June 1922 – date of death unknown

A well-built defender who came to Goodison Park with a big reputation, Pat Cameron was one of three centre-halves used by Everton in the space of 11 days, early in the 1948-49 season. He struggled in his only League game, a crushing 5-0 home defeat at the hands of Portsmouth in September 1948, and was never called upon again.

Harry Catterick

Born in Darlington on 26 November 1919 – Died at Goodison Park, 9 March 1985

Harry Catterick, one of the great football managers of the post Second World War era, reached the pinnacle of his success with Everton during the 1960s and 70s.

As a player at Goodison Park, he understudied Tommy Lawton and 'Jock' Dodds. When peacetime soccer returned, he broke his arm twice in a short space of time, but despite some tempting offers, he remained loyal to Everton, until becoming player/manager of Crewe Alexandra.

He made his first-team debut for the Blues against Manchester City in a Western Regional League game in March 1940, and had to wait until 1946 before his first League match, against Brentford, although he did play in two FA Cup matches against Preston North End seven months earlier.

Catterick learned the managerial trade the hard way, in the lower Divisions. He helped Sheffield Wednesday gain promotion from Division Two in 1959, and reach the FA Cup semi-final a year later, and then finish runners-up to Tottenham Hotspur in the Football League in 1961.

Frustrated by a lack of money to spend on new players, he left Hillsborough for Goodison, where he earned a reputation as being the 'Silent Gentleman of football'.

The Everton Directors allowed him to buy and sell players as he wished, and in 1963 his efforts were rewarded when the 'Blues' won the League title. He followed up with victory in the 1966 FA Cup Final against Sheffield Wednesday, but suffered defeat in the same competition two years later, when West Bromwich Albion won 1-0 in extra time. A second League title was secured in 1970.

Among the quality players he brought to Everton, were Gordon West, Tony Kay, Ray Wilson, Fred Pickering, Alan Ball (for a record fee) and Howard Kendall, and he developed many more, including Colin Harvey, Jimmy Husband, Joe Royle, John Hurst, and Tommy Wright.

After a couple of disappointing seasons, Catterick suffered with illness, including a mild heart attack, this reduced his ability to carry on looking after the team and subsequently he became Everton's General Manager in 1973, but two years later he returned to team management with Preston North End.

He died at Goodison Park shortly after watching Everton play Ipswich Town in an FA Cup tie.

His Everton record was, 24 goals in 71 appearances.

Thomas Joseph Clinton

Born in Dublin on 13 April 1926 – Died 9 August 2009

Tommy Clinton was the man who signed for Everton under perhaps the most unusual circumstances in the clubs history. The young Irishman had been recommended by a local scout, and Theo Kelly travelled to Ireland to discuss terms. As they chatted on the platform at Dundalk station, Clinton's train began to move out and he actually put pen to paper while hanging out of a lowered window'

He was a rugged type of full-back when he eventually landed at Goodison Park, and Central League wingers soon found out that they bred them tough In Eire.

He made his league debut against Burnley on February 26th 1949, staying for a further seven years, he had the misfortune to miss a penalty in the FA Cup semi-final against Bolton Wanderers in 1953 (a 4-3 defeat). Tommy, like Sandy Brown in later years, will be unfairly remembered for one mistake, and both of them gave sterling performances for Everton.

Tommy was capped three times by Eire (1951-53) he later signed for Blackburn Rovers (April 1955) and played for Tranmere Rovers [1956-57]

Tommy Clinton's Everton record was, 5 goals in 80 appearances


Six down 43 to go, including George Burnett.

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Reader Comments (39)

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John McFarlane Snr
1 Posted 15/05/2018 at 06:44:00
Hi everyone, apologies to relatives and friends of George Burnett, I had George's profile prepared, but somehow overlooked it. I will rectify my mistake and give George pride of place in part two

I will have to check thoroughly before I submit my next offering, at the moment Everton's use of players in the 5-year period has risen to 49.

I realised my mistake almost immediately, and it's caused me a restless night. I'm blaming the seven-week vacation in Southport Hospital.

Ian Burns
2 Posted 15/05/2018 at 08:04:57
Hi John, absolutely delighted you are again gracing this site with your incredible knowledge of EFC former players - your insight is quite remarkable. I so much enjoyed your Favourites series and I am really looking forward to this new series as you have made a fascinating start. Players I have never heard of yet have contributed to EFC, so I will read with great interest.

Thanks for the time you spend John, very much appreciated by us all.

Rick Tarleton
3 Posted 15/05/2018 at 09:49:23
This was the generation just before me. I knew the names and had read and heard of their prowess or in some cases lack of prowess. I did meet George Burnett as my dad knew him.Looking forward to this series.
John McFarlane Snr
4 Posted 15/05/2018 at 13:49:35
Hi Ian [2] I'm not as knowledgeable as you think, most of my information I gather from reference books, of which I have one or two. I have never claimed to be the author of any material that I've used.

I have seen the vast majority of the players I'm writing about, and coupled with 70 years of watching Everton, and possessing a passion for the club, I have picked up a bit of knowledge along the way.

I must confess that the passion has waned a little during the tenure of the last three managers. Roberto Martinez in his last season as manager started the rot, Ronald Koeman in his time at the helm proved to be a cold fish, and when he discussed Everton, he never once said "We" it was as if he was on the outside looking in.

As for Sam Allardyce, he appears to live on a different planet, I'm fully aware that football is a results driven sport, but if you're going to lose, then at least try to win.

Hi Rick [3] I posted on the 'Egerton and other nostalgia' thread last week, that I would like to meet some of the "ToffeeWebbers" who recently wished me well following my 'Medical episode, I did suggest that the bestl time would be on Sunday July 15th, my 80th birthday. an afternoon diet coke would be ideal.

I have felt a connection with so many people on this site that I would like meet as many of them as possible, putting a face to the name so to speak, perhaps we may get some feedback on the subject.

Terry White
5 Posted 15/05/2018 at 15:26:52
John, my Dad spoke very highly of Stan Bentham, the Dennis Stevens of his day, who received little plaudits for his work in midfield and creating goals for Tommy Lawton. My Nana was very fond of "little" Wally Boyes!
Bill Griffiths
6 Posted 15/05/2018 at 15:31:53
Hi John, I was born in 1951;in North Wales & have been a Blue since birth and ha be Ben going to games ever since the 1967/68 season when I started work and had the money to go.
I loved your favourites articles and love this one better think. It's great reading about lesser players who I haven't heard of.
As a matter of interest who would you like to replace Big Sam?
John McFarlane Snr
7 Posted 15/05/2018 at 17:51:18
Hi Bill [6] I'm glad you enjoy the articles, they keep me out of mischief, regarding the next Everton manager, I approach this subject with an open mind.

Some years ago, in 1965, Stanley Mathews, who was at one time the most famous footballer in the world, was appointed manager of Port Vale, but couldn't handle the job.

Bobby Charlton (a World Cup winner) was appointed manager of Preston North End in 1973 another failure.

'Nobby Stiles', another world Cup winner, was also appointed manager of Preston North End in 1977, one more failure.

Arsene Wenger a relatively unknown, was appointed manager of Arsenal in 1996, and won countless trophies. I think enough said.

Peter Mills
8 Posted 15/05/2018 at 19:12:34
John Mc. I have sent you a private email which Lyndon kindly forwarded to your email address for me. When you have a minute would you check your email inbox please, or possibly your junk folder please?

If you have received it please reply privately, if you haven’t please let me know on this thread.

Best wishes, Peter

John McFarlane Snr
9 Posted 15/05/2018 at 19:59:31
Hi Peter, [8] I've checked both my in box and junk box, my in box is empty and the only thing the junk box, is an e-mail from Thomas Cook trying to tempt me with some football offers.

You've got me intrigued, it seems to be something of importance, under normal circumstances I would give you my phone number, but there are some weird people, even among Evertonian's. I'll have another look as soon as I despatch this response.
John McFarlane Snr
10 Posted 15/05/2018 at 20:16:54
Hi again Peter [8] Absolutely nothing this end, I really am curious now, there seems to be a touch of 'cloak and dagger' about it. You obviously have your reasons for keeping it on a one to one basis, how would you rate it on a 1-10 chart.
Peter Mills
11 Posted 15/05/2018 at 20:26:50
It’s nothing major John, just something I preferred to keep private rather than public. I was offering you a ticket for a match next season! Hopefully not too weird!

If you are interested, would you be kind enough to send me a one line email to peter@acsurveyors.co.uk ? No worries if not.

John McFarlane Snr
12 Posted 15/05/2018 at 21:19:33
Him again Peter [8] I'm overwhelmed knowing that someone, would go out of their way to help a complete stranger. The situation has changed a bit with regards to my initially saying, that I had seen my last match, because of my health concerns.

You may know that my Grandson attends the games with me, and has done since he was six years of age. I instructed my daughter to upgrade my season ticket for the last five games of the season, that way he would always have an adult with him so that he wouldn't miss a game.

As we live in Skelmersdale and travel in by train from Ormskirk, I wasn't too keen on him travelling in alone. Everton kindly allowed my daughter to take over my season ticket for the coming season. [I paid for it and that gives me licence to use it if I feel up to going], and to tell you the truth I don't think I'll miss a game.

I had to relinquish my over 65 concession but I thought that was a small price to pay, because it guarantees that Josh will also see every game, and he can keep an eye on me, that seems fair to me because I've looked after him for the last eight years.

Once again thank you for your kind offer, I really do appreciate the fact that you were prepared to do that for a stranger.

You may have read on a couple of threads, that I would like to arrange some kind of a "ToffeeWeb" get together on my 80th birthday [15th of July] to give me the opportunity to put faces to names, and to thank people for the good wishes that were extended to me during the worst seven weeks of my life.

I'm so relieved that there was nothing sinister in your approach to me, and I can go to sleep with the window open, Best wishes John.

Peter Mills
13 Posted 15/05/2018 at 21:40:19
Hi John, I was simply trying to avoid a public dialogue! Apologies for having caused you any consternation, you now have my email address, feel free to contact me via that if you wish.

A pint on your birthday sounds a good plan, count me in if the plan develops into a reality.

Andy Crooks
14 Posted 16/05/2018 at 23:22:58
John, I enjoyed your last series very much. This is a cracking start to the new one. I would very much appreciate your views on the following:

How do you think the greats of the past would do today? Say, they were allowed the same training, diet etc? Do you think that pure talent would cross generations?

I think it would. I think that Ray Wilson would be great in any era. However, I know, through work, younger Evertonians who think that Everton began with the Premier league. I have referred them to this site and your articles. Keep them coming, they are important, well done.

Laurie Hartley
15 Posted 17/05/2018 at 05:02:39
John, I get the sense that you are regaining your strength - as someone once said - long may it continue.

My dad (God rest his soul) used to mention Wally Fielding a lot when I was just starting out as an Evertonian in the early 60's. Will he get a mention in your coming posts?

On the managerial question - do you think Huddersfield is a good place to find managers?

Ron Marr
16 Posted 17/05/2018 at 06:01:25
John, talking about Skelmersdale, I remember those Skem Utd teams in the late 60s. I think they made the amateur cup final a couple of times. They had Steve Heighway who Everton were supposedly interested in, but they dithered and he joined Liverpool.
John McFarlane Snr
17 Posted 17/05/2018 at 10:43:55
Hi Laurie [15] yes I'm coming along nicely, I've regained nearly a stone in weight since my discharge from hospital, six weeks tomorrow.

I've written an article on Wally Fielding, you'll find it on archived fans articles, "The day Wally signed for me". I have just checked and it's still available.

Regarding Huddersfield and football managers, Herbert Chapman was in charge of Huddersfield Town when they won the league title three seasons in a row, although I believe he left to join Arsenal, shortly before they clinched the third title.

I also believe that when Arsenal equalled the feat of three championships in 1932, 33, and 34, Chapman had died in the January of 1934.Then of course there was Bill Shankly. Best wishes John.

Hi Ron [16] yes Skelmersdale United were a force in the Amateur Cup in the late sixties, losing a Final replay at Maine Road, and eventually lifting the trophy a couple of years later, at Wembley.

We moved to Skelmersdale in April 1967, 51 years ago and I have never seen Skelmersdale United play.

Laurie Hartley
18 Posted 17/05/2018 at 11:38:23
Good to hear your doing well John. I have just finished your Wally Fielding article - it was a good read.

Regarding the Huddersfield manager thing, I have to confess I was being a bit mischievous there. It was a sort of cryptic question. I was putting the feelers out for your thoughts on their current manager - feel free not to comment though ;)

Anyway I am sure the current off field activity will have restored your hope for our footballing future. Who knows you might end up back in the Park End at the start of next season.

Up the Blues.

John McFarlane Snr
19 Posted 17/05/2018 at 12:09:03
Hi again Laurie [18] I suspected that you may have been referring to Wagner, but it gave me chance to do a bit of swanking, [ and some people complain of Sam Allardyce having an ego]

Nicki, my daughter had my season ticket upgraded for the last five games of the season, and when I said that I wouldn't be attending any more games, Everton kindly allowed her to transfer the card to her name, which enables my grandson Josh to continue watching the "Blues.

Naturally I paid for it, losing the discount afforded us old'uns, so having invested so much in josh's football education, it is my intention to be fit for the coming season. He's been my constant companion at Goodison since he was six and he'll be fourteen in September.

I'm a little disappointed in the response to my current article, but as there has been so much upheaval, I suppose it's understandable. I have double-checked and I'm satisfied that Everton used 50 players in the period 1946-47 to1950-51, and as I have covered only six of them I suppose there's time to catch up.

Bill Griffiths
20 Posted 17/05/2018 at 21:04:42
I'm surprised too, John, that there hasn't been more response to this great article. As you say though so much had gone on the last couple of days.

Keep us updated on your birthday celebrations, I'd love to pop as long for a drink and a chat if possible.

Dave Abrahams
21 Posted 18/05/2018 at 18:03:37
John I had to read your description of Ted Buckle twice, he is not the Ted Buckle I remember, " bold and brash with a lightening turn of speed" the Buckle I remember always looked like he had just got out of bed.

However he was a good footballer with two good feet and a powerful shot with either of them. I saw him one Saturday playing for Man.Unt. reserves at Goodison band then the next Saturday playing for Everton in the First Division against Man. Unt, both games ended 0-0, Ted could play on both wings gave good service to the Blues.

John McFarlane Snr
22 Posted 18/05/2018 at 19:08:32
Hi Dave, [21] like you, I don't recall the Ted Buckle depicted in the article, but as you know I have never made a secret of the fact that I get a lot of my information and opinions from reference books.

For such a slight man he [like Roy Vernon], possessed a mean shot.

I'm glad you've posted, because as you may have seen I'm trying to arrange a get together with some of the people who, through the ToffeeWeb site, wished me well following my vacation in Southport Hospital. Three have already expressed a desire to attend.

Following our previous encounters where we swapped football yarns, over a cup of tea, I thought it would be little more pleasant if we could do it in a pub this time.

As my birthday is on a Sunday [July 15th] I thought a Sunday lunchtime get together would be ideal, depending on where people come from, I would like to pick a venue that suits all.

Having enjoyed our previous chats I would be delighted if you could attend. Best wishes John.

Dave Abrahams
23 Posted 18/05/2018 at 20:53:14
John (22), John I will do my best to be wherever you decide to have a drink or two to celebrate your birthday, glad you are putting weight back on and starting to enjoy life again, keep it up.
John McFarlane Snr
24 Posted 19/05/2018 at 10:38:45
Good morning Dave [23] regarding the distinct possibility of a get together, my first thought was that one of the two pubs opposite Central station would be ideal, I'm not 100% sure but I think they may be called the Central and the Midland.

It may be considered a bit selfish of me, but because I will travel by train from Ormskirk tp Liverpool Central' it will only be short walk for me, and I'm assuming that the people who have expressed an interest in attending will be from the Liverpool area.

Hopefully I will be feeling a little stronger nearer the date, so if that venue is not suitable, I will fall in with whatever decision is taken.

Apart from you and I, Peter Mills, Bill Griffiths, and Steve Ferns have put their names forward, and because it's my birthday, I'm declaring that 'Five constitutes a quorum.'

You'll know that I'm a stickler for accuracy Dave, so what do you make of this snippet from Dave Prentice in todays Echo. "In 1950/51, Ian Buchan's Blues conceded three or more goals in a single half of football 12 times. Unsurprisingly they were relegated at the seasons end" There may be a 'pint or two' lost this afternoon.

Returning to the possible ToffeeWeb get together, I'm hoping for a better response as there are so many people I would like to thank personally, and it would be nice to put faces to names. Best wishes John.

Dave Abrahams
25 Posted 19/05/2018 at 15:21:14
John (24), I think Dave Prentice must have been in a rush writing that article and his mind was elsewhere.

Cliff Britton was manager when Everton were relegated and he was also in charge when we came back up. Cliff left Everton around 1955-56 and then Ian Buchan came on the scene. He was appointed as coach, which was unusual in those days, as were his methods of training and coaching.

H e didn't last long before Johnny Carey became manager.

Regarding your birthday, it is early days yet, John; see what transpires.

Andy Crooks
26 Posted 20/05/2018 at 15:56:54
John, your series has been, for me as an Irish Evertonian, an education. This is the sort of stuff I Iike. Approaching 80 I guess you have seen it all. I would love to hear about your life as an Evertonian. The ups and the lows. I hope you get together with some ToffeeWebbers for your birthday and have the best day ever. Your work demonstrates why this is a great site. I know I get outraged from time to time on here but I look to your stuff and try to get a bit of perspective.

They have a term in parliament, which I just can't bring to mind, but it refers to the most venerable member. You are ours.

Andy Crooks
27 Posted 20/05/2018 at 16:01:01
It came back to me, well no, I googled it. Father of the House.
John McFarlane Snr
28 Posted 20/05/2018 at 20:04:34
Hi Andy [27] I feel, guilty sometimes, because it seems that some people think I'm a font of knowledge. I have made it quite clear on a few occasions that I have 'one or two' books which I use for reference.

But it's fair to say that I've seen the majority of players featured in the current theme. I'm pleased to hear that you enjoy the articles, I use them as a sort of therapy to escape all the doom and gloom surrounding the appointment of a new Manager.

Thank you for your kind words.

Steve Ferns
29 Posted 20/05/2018 at 20:13:20
Hi John, did you sort out the details for the birthday? I never saw anything posted but the other threads were very busy.

Edit: Sorry John, I should have read above!

Dave Abrahams
30 Posted 20/05/2018 at 20:46:00
John (28), I think you will get a bigger response to this series of players as you come further into the future of Everton players being discussed.

I have seen all the six players named in the first lot but three of them only in the reserve team: Wally Boyes, Stan Bentham and Daniel Cameron and I didn't remember Cameron's first name, only that he played for the reserves and I think he played in a No 4 shirt.

Wally Boyes I saw a few times but again in the reserves, Stan Bentham the same although I remember him well as the first team trainer.

When you get to George Burnett, you might come up with a remarkable fact about George; if you don't, I will tell it — and it wasn't the one about his best game for Everton being the night he played in goal for Oldham, the night we won promotion.

John McFarlane Snr
31 Posted 20/05/2018 at 22:44:17
Hi Steve [29], I hope you stumbled on to the arrangements I would like to be adopted regarding my birthday drink, as I posted, one of the pubs near Central Station would be ideal for me, but I wouldn't wish to inconvenience anyone. If it comes down to just five of us reminiscing over our Everton experiences, I would be quite happy with that.

Hi Dave [30], like yourself my stronger memories of the older players is mainly in their Central League games, for example the players you mention, Stan Bentham, and Wally Boyes, but I have no recollection of Pat Cameron.

You may recall that I told you that I don't remember seeing TG Jones play, it would be so easy for me to say I do, but you can't tell lies to yourself can you?

I have no doubt that I will have seen him, how can I remember Peter Corr and not TG? but you may also recall me saying that I can't remember my first game, that's absolutely true.

Andy Crooks
32 Posted 22/05/2018 at 21:39:10
John, I know you can't spend all your time dealing with questions on here but I would genuinely value your comments on my post@14. Does raw talent pass the decades. I say yes!
Steve Ferns
33 Posted 22/05/2018 at 22:05:37
Andy, forgive for interjecting, but can I raise a point on this theme, specific to the great man?

Often in the pub we debated William Dean and what he'd be like now. If you simply went back in time collected him, and then shoved him into a modern match, then it wouldn't go well. But as you said, what if you allowed him to study the current game, train properly, have a modern diet, etc how would he do then. The consensus usually was that he wouldn't stand out. For Dean to be Dean, he would need to be half a foot taller. He was 5'10" at a time when 5'10" was often the tallest player on the pitch. So to have his main strength he'd need to be 6'5" as well.

The only thing is, I recall Tommy Lawton talking about Dean in a BBC documentary. Tommy died in '96 and he was comparing Dean with Ferguson which means the documentary was made sometime around 1995. Lawton said Dean was better in the air. Duncan doesn't leap properly, because he doesn't need to, was the verdict from Lawton. God knows what he'd make of Crouch's or any of the other beanpole striker's heading technique.

So maybe, Lawton is right and even without making Dean half a foot taller to give him modern big man status, his physical attributes would still be such that he'd be very dangerous in the air.

Bill Shankly was prone to exaggeration, and described him in superlatives comparing him to Beethoven, Shakespeare and Rembrandt. Matt Busby though assessed his skills and said this: “To play against Dixie Dean was at once a delight and a nightmare. He was a perfect specimen of an athlete, beautifully proportioned, with immense strength, adept on the ground but with extraordinary skill in the air.”

I think ultimately, Dean is a footballer from an era where football is more or less a different sport to what it is now. That this era and that era cannot be compared. Put Messi in Dean's boots, on the pitches Dean played on, with the balls Dean used, and the rules and referees Dean had, and I think he wouldn't get a touch and would be hobbling off after a few minutes.

Andy Crooks
34 Posted 22/05/2018 at 22:12:31
Excellent post, Steve, I think you may have started a debate. In my view, George Best could have been a star in any era, playing with a half ton ball with laces or the modern toy ball.
Steve Ferns
35 Posted 22/05/2018 at 22:20:47
Yes Andy, Best definitely would. But the modern dieticians and nutritionists would be ripping their hair out! I'd also say that Maradona and Pele could have excelled in any era. Maradona wouldn't be quite so small in the 1920s, and if anyone could dribble with that ball on those pitches, it's him. He also grew up on the mean streets of Argentina where much bigger boys tried to kick him off the pitch and there was no ref, so he'd able to cope with the physicality.

Pele for me was the greatest player of all time, and he'd be a master of any era, in any position. The young Pele dribbling round Benfica in '62 surpasses Messi for me, whilst the old maestro of 1970, a player almost completely different from the boy of '58, with the pace kicked out of him, but yet the ability to become this magical playmaker, for me that's why he was the best. He lost his main attributes and simply transformed into something else. Therefore, any era, any pitch, any rules, just give him a ball and watch him dominate.

Andy Crooks
36 Posted 22/05/2018 at 23:39:47
I agree, Steve, also, I think there were great players who were of their era but no more. Not a criticism but recognition that there were and are better.
I would put Jimmy Greaves, Eusebio, and yes, slim Jim Baxter in that group. Alex Young, Asparukov, Muller, Neeskens. Actually, I seem to be naming some of my favourite players, and comparing them unfavourably to Best, Pele, Cruyff, Dean, Beckenbauer, Ball, yes, Ball.Blue tinted specs off, now.
Don Alexander
37 Posted 23/05/2018 at 00:38:32
Even when I was a "young" (in every sense of that word Alex - full respect) Toffee I was spell-bound by the innate skill of George Best. Unlike every other player of the time that bloke had the ability to run at random with the ball still under his perfect control with barely a touch. How? He was mesmeric. If he'd had the licence rightly now afforded the likes of Messi God knows what more he could have done. He would be the first name on the team sheet to play Mars as far as I'm concerned, with Bally in midfield, Labby at the back and big Nev in goal (and sorry Westy, it was a very close call!)
Terry White
38 Posted 23/05/2018 at 01:24:47
As I am sure John Mc, Sr. will agree, Stanley Mathews and Tom Finney would be a success in any era.
Ron Marr
39 Posted 23/05/2018 at 01:38:31
I'll be interested to read about Harry Potts assuming he played in 1950. As a manager he won the league with Burnley, and made it to the Quarter Final of the European Cup (Champions League). I often wondered if he was ever linked with the Everton manager position.

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