They Were The Best Years of Our Lives

The latest installment of Real Footballers' Wives features Norma Vernon, wife of Everton goalscoring legend Roy.

Real Footballers' Wives — Norma Vernon

Vernon wedding day

There were little benches behind the goals for the kids at Ewood Park in those days and my sister and me would sit over the wall and watch the game. With my Dad being a market trader, we didn't get to go very often, but when we did, we really enjoyed it.

Blackburn was a huge, bustling market town back then and one of the biggest events of the year was the Easter Fair. The fairground was set up right in the town centre on the square; it was so exciting and the whole town would turn out to go on the rides. I was 17 and went with my friend Marion. Roy was with his friend Pete; they spotted us, made their way over and paid for us to go on the speedway. What struck me about Roy was his confidence; he was by far the most confident boy I'd ever met in my life.

I didn't realise it at the time, but Roy had seen me before. I'd left school a year earlier and started work in the offices at the Gas Board where I was trying to learn shorthand typing. He was in the youth team at Rovers but was sent to technical college because he still had to finish his education. His lodgings were in Darwen - a bit further on from where I lived, so we used to catch the same bus home.

He came from a little Welsh mining town called Ffynnongroew and went home to see his family for the close season but we met again in the September at King George's dance hall - everybody went there on a Saturday evening. I think it was the day he made his debut for Blackburn's first team and he came up and asked me to dance. When the dance was over, he just kept hold of my hand. As far as he was concerned, I was his girlfriend and that was that. He never really let go of me again.

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My parents were market traders doing house clearances and selling antiques, and they brought my sister and I up to be very independent and to learn about life as we went along. They worked hard and thought that sending us to a decent school would make up for the time they didn't have to spend with us. I was five and my sister, Liz, was seven when we started at the Catholic convent and we stayed until we were 16. Our parents were very quiet people and were happy with anybody we brought home as long as they were decent and respectable.

Roy had four sisters and he was his mum's pride and joy. She didn't want us to get married because he wasn't 21 until the April and it meant she would have to sign for him. I got on well with her so it wasn't that she disapproved or didn't like me but she'd been the same with her daughters, she just had a thing about signing them away. It was only a matter of two months, so it was a bit strange, but she refused point blank and his father had to give his permission instead.

Roy was Church of England, which didn't help matters, but he was taking instruction so he could change religion. The parish priest was a Rovers supporter so every time he went for his lessons they just ended up talking about the match, and by the time he was supposed to have learned all his religious instruction, he hadn't done anything at all. The priest asked if he really wanted to become a Catholic or if he was just doing it so he could marry me. Roy confessed and the priest just said, “Then be a good man in your own religion”, and that was it.

It was a bitterly cold day when we got married in February 1958. It was a Monday because it was during the season but, as fate would have it, Rovers had drawn in a Cup game on the Saturday so the replay was on the Wednesday night and he had to be back at training the next day.

Liz and two of Roy's sisters were our bridesmaids, my brother was our best man and one of Roy's best friends was an usher. His parents came up from Wales and we had a big white wedding and our reception in the High Lawn Hotel in Darwen, Blackburn. All the press came because Roy was an established player by then. It didn't bother me but my father was very apprehensive because he was so shy and quiet so I felt quite sorry for him. My mum took things in her stride, but Dad didn't like a fuss.

We went to Blackpool for our honeymoon and stayed overnight at the Butlins Metropole hotel. We didn't have a car so we got the train back on the Tuesday morning and Roy went off to the training ground.

Rovers were playing Wolverhampton the day my first boy, Mark, was born in January 1959. Because it wasn't very far away, the team usually travelled on the Saturday morning, but the forecast was for fog and they decided they would have to go the night before and stay over. The baby was overdue so I went to my mum's and, of course, I went into labour. Roy rang at lunchtime and I'd left instructions to tell him I'd gone shopping. I didn't want him to know I'd gone into hospital in case he worried and it distracted him from his game. I needn't have bothered because they got beat 5-0 that day.

He got home from the Midlands at about 11 o clock and went straight to my sister's to pick me up but I'd already had the baby and was in hospital. He was annoyed with me for not telling him because he'd got off the bus early and had to walk home and he didn't even have anybody to share his news with.

The manager at Rovers was Johnny Carey and he said Blackburn should never part with Roy. When Johnny moved to Everton, he went back and got him. I think Everton had rejected Roy when he was a schoolboy because he was so small and slight, but he grew taller when he was about 15. He was very wiry and muscular, and stood about 5ft-10in but he looked taller because he was so slim and strong. He was like whipcord.

When we moved to Everton we lived in a three-bedroom semi-detached in Ridgeway Drive in Lydiate. Bert Slater, the Liverpool goalkeeper, lived across the road and Ron Yeats, the Liverpool captain, was around the corner so we were surrounded by good friends and had a great support network. It wasn't too bad for me because I was quite close to Blackburn, so if Roy went away for any long spells I would go home to my parents. I never used to ask if I could go, I would just announce that I'd be there the next day and mum took it all in her stride although she had four foster children at the time.

Everton were always good to us. Blackburn was only a small club and Everton was enormous in comparison. The first Christmas, Roy came home with a hamper full of goodies, a turkey, mince pies and a Christmas pudding and inside the hamper was a Stratton powder compact for me. It was a lovely surprise.

 I remember Roy phoning me up when they'd gone to Honolulu on a tour and I was in tears on the phone because I was pregnant and a bit weepy. He said: ‘There's no point in me ringing if you're going to cry.' I used to miss him so much when he was away but I think it was my hormones making me upset.

 He had a sardonic sense of humour; he had a quick tongue and was very temperamental and feisty. If we ever had a row it was quickly over, I always knew he didn't mean it and that it was just his ‘Welsh' way. He would be making me laugh the very next minute.

 My second son, Neil, was born in October 1960. I was due and Roy was playing for Wales in Cardiff. He didn't want me to be on my own so he arranged for me to stay overnight with another player, Micky Lill and his wife Paddy. Jimmy Gabriel was a lodger with them and he was away playing for Scotland at the same time. They travelled back overnight and got home in the early hours. Roy got into bed and a little while later I felt the first twinges. I woke him up and told him the baby was starting, he said, “Could you not just have another couple of hours sleep? I'm shattered.” He didn't panic at all.

 We got up and Jimmy was there, grinning all over his face. He was so excited because he was going to be the godfather. Paddy and Micky Lill were great; they looked after Mark for me while I went in. Mark was only 20 months old at that time. When you've got no relatives nearby it's quite isolated, but football communities all rally round and help each other.

I was so happy when Jimmy met Pat; they were so well suited. She was a Liverpool girl and she met Jimmy on a blind date through another team-mate, Bobby Collins. We went to their wedding and they're still together to this day.

 Nancy Young was my best friend. They were in a hotel when they first arrived so when Alex and Roy went training she would come round and help me look after the boys. She always said I couldn't cook very well and we would survive on tomato soup or egg on toast. I was only married 11 months before I had Mark and I was pregnant with Neil when we moved to Lydiate so it was all very sudden and I had to learn quickly.

 My boys were mischievous, they used to call the eldest one ‘Fingers' because he had a really inquiring mind; he had to know how everything worked. I remember him letting Ron Yeats's tyres down once on a match day. My boys could be a bit of a handful at times.

 I went to most of the games to watch Roy play, especially at Goodison Park. I think Wolverhampton beat Everton 2-0 on his debut but I remember Johnny Carey telling me how pleased he was with Roy's performance. We didn't get any special treatment as wives, but we did get a ticket for the match. We would stand outside in the street like everybody else waiting until we could go in though.

 I was fortunate that I had brilliant neighbours and babysitters. I was so grateful about that. The people next door were absolutely great and we had a good friendship. My babysitter lived round the corner and I would take the boys there on a Saturday lunchtime so I could go to the game and she would bring them back on Sunday morning. Her name was Mrs Johnson but we called her Aunty Ann.

Saturday nights out were our big treat and we'd all go to the Royal Tiger Club or the Pink Parrot, but the Tiger Club was our favourite. It was during The Beatles heyday so it was all ‘Twist and Shout' and the Merseybeat sound. I wasn't used to going to nightclubs and one of the first times we went it was about 11 o clock at night and everybody started panicking and running around. We were downstairs and there was a right old commotion. I thought it was some kind of a raid like in the films, but it was because somebody's wife had turned up and her husband was in there with his girlfriend, so they had to usher this woman out.

Because Roy was the Everton captain I was once asked to open a table at a casino. Roy told them it was a bad idea because I've got no coordination — I'm left handed so when I threw the dice, one of them went up in the air and the other one went somewhere else. I think they're still looking for it now.

Roy wasn't superstitious at all, he was super-confident. He had his own way of doing things and his own mind. One of his sayings was, ‘You eat to live; you don't live to eat'. He didn't have a big appetite and he smoked like a trooper so I don't suppose that helped but what he ate was good food. He'd have steak and egg or boiled ham and tomato and some nice bread. He was a meat eater but he only ate dainty little portions. If you put a huge plateful of food in front of him it would overwhelm him and put him off. He was naturally slim and slightly built but he was a hard worker; he trained really hard and he was as tough as old boots.

 He was the only man who could smoke in the shower. He would sit in the bath washing his hair and have a cigarette in his mouth and it never got wet — I don't know how he did it. I think his smoking was a nervous thing really; he didn't even seem to inhale he just puffed away. He would even have a cigarette in his hand as he ran down the tunnel and stub it out just before he got on the pitch.

 I've got a lot of photographs of him and he always seemed to be holding a cigarette. Even when we won the League in 1963 and he was getting presented with his medal he had one, so I imagine he had it secreted on his person, unless one of the fans had given it to him on the way up to the balcony.

 That was the best day ever and the best night too. The last match to clinch the title was against Fulham and Roy scored a hat-trick. It was the proudest moment of my life. For Roy to get three and to captain the team was just beyond belief. It was the absolute pinnacle of his career.

 As a special treat the Club took us all away for a fortnight in Torremolinos. It was almost unheard of to go to Spain back then and we felt so sophisticated. The hotel had just been built so there wasn't much to do beside lounge by the pool in the sun and eat nice food. There was a lot of building going on around us; the tourist industry was in its very early stages then. Alec Parker's wife, Jean, fell into an empty fountain and broke her leg so she was in plaster the whole time and that was right at the start of the holiday. And my suitcase got lost somewhere for the first two days — all the girls were in their swimsuits and I was wearing a dress! It was a beautiful hotel and we felt so privileged; we had the time of our lives.

Roy and Norma in Torremolinos, 1963

Roy and Norma in Torremolinos, 1963

 Roy was mad about horse racing. He would go to the races with Alex Young and when the Grand National was on we used to end up with all kinds of stable lads coming to stay with us. I didn't appreciate it very much at the time but that's the kind of man Roy was. I laugh about it now when I think back.

 We were very naïve us wives — we were so young and innocent, they would often be at the races when we thought they were training. Roy and Alex were ‘men's men'; they liked that kind of companionship of the match and the horses. I've got a photograph of them both judging the Miss New Brighton beauty pageant. The girls are like beauty queens used to be, so glamorous in their one-piece swimsuits and Roy is so dark and broody while Alex is so fair — they were like chalk and cheese. They got on really well on and off the pitch and were great friends.

 The players were often taken away on ‘special-training weekends', which I think were just authorised drinking and bonding sessions. It didn't bother me too much because it was part of the job and if I did mind, I just had to get over it. I don't think any wives like to think of their men going away especially of you've got kids, but the perks of the job made up for that.

 I always had lovely clothes although I'm only 5ft tall so I could never buy anything off the peg. I would always have to have it altered. Roy would take me shopping in Blackpool and he liked me to dress nicely. I always had to have my hair done at the hairdressers. I remember doing it myself once and I came downstairs feeling quite proud of my creation. I asked Roy what he thought and he said, “Nice try, love, now go and book an appointment.” He liked me to look nice, I think all the lads took pride in their wives appearance.

 We'd moved to Stoke when my youngest son came along. It was July 1969 and Roy was away in America with the club. Maurice Setters's wife Kathy came and sat with me every single day so I wasn't alone and she was dying for the baby to be born. I was so overdue that she had to go on holiday and of course I went into labour almost immediately. Young Roy was born in the old North Staffordshire Hospital. One of the staff said if I'd have waited another month I could have gone to the new hospital instead.

Roy didn't make it to an FA Cup final. He left Blackburn and they made it to Wembley, he left Everton and they won the Cup and then he went to Stoke and after he left, they won the League Cup final. He played in the early rounds but it was never his destiny. All he won was his Everton Championship medal in 1962-3 and 32 Wales caps.

There was nothing I disliked about being a footballer's wife. We didn't get pestered that often and the people who did come and see us were usually very nice. I didn't like it when I was sitting in the stand watching the game and I would hear the fans shouting bad things at the lads... “Ooh, he's a dirty devil”, or “He's always like that.” I don't think they knew who we were, but it used to irritate me because I always thought Roy was a
fantastic player and I wanted to leap to his defence. 

None of my boys play football; they say they inherited my genes when it comes to co-ordination. Mark likes motorbikes, Neil plays golf and Roy likes to watch Rovers when he can, but he's in the retail trade so he's at work most Saturdays. They all blame me for their lack of sporting ability — but maybe it will skip a generation or two.

The Vernons and their boys

The Vernons and their boys

 I lost Roy in December 1993. His smoking finally caught up with him and he died of lung cancer. They'd found a tumour a couple of years earlier, so he had one lung removed and really believed he was getting better. I knew he wasn't because the doctors had told me, but I didn't want Roy to know. He asked if there was something I wasn't telling him and I said ‘no'. He told me that football had given him the best life he could ever have hoped for. He was from a mining village and by tradition he would have worked down the pit like his friends and his family. Instead he'd travelled, been to some of the most amazing cities in the world, made a good living and met some of the finest people. We had one last holiday together in Spain. Neither of us said a word but we both knew. He was 56 when I lost him. Jimmy Gabriel was the caretaker manager of Everton then and he came to the funeral with Colin Harvey, Nancy and Alex Young. Alec Parker and Fred Pickering were there too. It was a good turnout, he'd have been so proud.

 I've got six grandchildren and one great grandchild: they range from 27 to 1 but there's only one boy. When my little granddaughter was at primary school she had to do an essay about what made her proud. She wrote how her granddad had been a footballer. Jimmy Gabriel sent her the most marvellous letter praising Roy and saying how he was the best footballer he'd ever played with. She was only about 10 at the time and I was so happy.

Roy's memorabilia is in the Legends Bar at Goodison Park and I was invited over to the opening and another time one New Year. I took my son and his wife and we met Joe Royle, had something to eat there and went on a tour around the stadium. We had a lovely day.

I live back in Blackburn now and after Roy died I started going to Ewood Park again to watch Blackburn with my daughter-in-law for something to do and to give me an interest, but then my grandchildren started getting interested in ponies so they're down at the farm every weekend now. My son has a business and they have a few season tickets for the clients, so I still go occasionally if they're not being used.

I always look out for Everton's results and when they were struggling the other year and fighting relegation I was as anxious as anybody. When you've been there five years, there's a great bond. We both loved every minute of being at Everton; I suppose they were the best years of our lives. The people were brilliant, we had fantastic neighbours and made great friends. If Roy was here now he would say exactly the same.

Taken from Real Footballers' Wives — the First Ladies of Everton, still available for purchase in book or Kindle form
© Becky Tallentire 2004

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Reader Comments (41)

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Gerry Morrison
1 Posted 05/09/2017 at 05:53:13
A great read, and a lovely reminder of one of my childhood heroes.
Rob Sawyer
2 Posted 05/09/2017 at 08:08:57
A lovely article from Becky's excellent book.

With the kind co-operation of the Vernon family, I am researching Roy's life and times for a biographical project. If you have memories to share of Roy on the pitch (for Everton, Blackburn, Stoke, Great Harwood and Wales) or in person, please drop a line to royvernonproject "at"

Steve Hogan
3 Posted 05/09/2017 at 08:16:43
What a wonderful heartwarming story. I'm not really one for nostalgia, but life was much simpler then for all people, not just footballers.

Loved the tale about the guy in the nightclub being sneaked out the back door when his wife made an unexpected entrance. Interesting how most footballer's of the day housing expectation's were met by a 'semi-detached in Lydiate'.

I wasn't old enough to frequent night clubs in the 60s but the Pink Parrot sounded like a fun place to be on a Saturday night. Anyone with a long memory care to remind us where it was in town and how easy it was to get in?


Ian Burns
4 Posted 05/09/2017 at 08:19:51
Great read, Becky. Thanks. I loved Vernon, Young, Collins, Parker and young Labby of course.

One of my early matches, I watched Everton beat Wolves, 3-1 I think the score was, and Vernon scored, turning the England captain Billy Wright inside-out.

I loved the fact his son let down Ron Yeats's tyres on matchday, that brought a chuckle!

Mike Allen
5 Posted 05/09/2017 at 09:38:01

Those where the days every club had a hero – no, not a superstar... a genuine hero.

Eugene Ruane
6 Posted 05/09/2017 at 09:48:22
Terrific as ever.

Interesting from an Everton perspective and fascinating from a general historical/social perspective.

I sometimes gloss over sections that include none glamorous football stuff, but then I remember, back then, these none glamorous events (babies, travel, moving house etc) without cars, mobiles, computers etc were massively time consuming and loads more complicated/difficult

Also funny how wives back then tended to be a lot less... um... 'knowing' about things.

I'm not for a moment suggesting anything untoward ever took place, but when the boys were 'judging Miss New Brighton' – must have been nice for them knowing they weren't being filmed and photographed every minute.

Young Wayne might have out-earned them a gazillion trillion times over but (as we've just seen) he can't have a shite without a team of Sun 'reporters' getting pics, interviews and producing a 12-page pullout on it.

"Everton star in filthy degrading arse act..." etc blah

Chris Williams
7 Posted 05/09/2017 at 10:08:17
Another lovely piece in a series of marvellous articles. Roy was my favourite Everton player ever and I was seriously pissed-off when he left, just as I was when Hickson and Collins had gone previously, and Alan Ball was destined to do.

I was about 17 when he left and about 12 when he joined and I learned pretty quickly that nothing is forever, particularly in football – a message repeated continually over the years, even as far as Lukaku and Barkley.

No such thing as loyalty in football on both sides. Never was, never will be, and to expect it is fanciful unfortunately.

Eugene is right about all the attendant stuff these days. I guess not all change is progress.

Tony Kelly
8 Posted 05/09/2017 at 12:23:54
Great article, Becky. The career of the late, great Royston has been well documented. I was over the moon when he was inducted as an Everton Giant recently. I had campaigned for a number of years to make this happen.

When it eventually happened, I was overjoyed. In my humble opinion, Roy Vernon was the second best player post war to wear the Royal Blue jersey; the best was Alan Ball.

Alan J Thompson
9 Posted 05/09/2017 at 16:30:47
A timely reminder of a time when footballers were "normal" people.
Myles Foley
10 Posted 05/09/2017 at 17:27:50
Steve, The Pink Parrot was on Duke Street, on the left going down. It was quite posh so you could not get in if you didn't look right.

Roy Vernon was the best penalty taker I have ever seen to this day.

Tony Sullivan
11 Posted 05/09/2017 at 17:45:16
Great story. Iam right in thinking Roy Vernon never missed penalty for us?

As for the clubs, I could never get in the Royal Tiger, it was either the Mardi Gras, Blue Angel or occasionally the Cavern. Happy days.

Terry White
12 Posted 05/09/2017 at 17:50:14
I was at the Wolves game, Ian (#4), September 1960, Roy (2) and Jimmy Harris were the scorers. I recall Roy putting one into the top corner at the Gwladys Street end. Of course Roy did that on many an occasion.

A truly great player along with the other names that you mention. It's reassuring to know that the old-timers do not forget those players who made going to Goodison a special occasion.

Peter Mills
13 Posted 05/09/2017 at 17:51:30
I was privileged to see Roy lift the Charity Sheild at Goodison at the start of the 63-64 season. That moment is the reason I would always choose for Everton to win the League Cup than finish 2nd and qualify for the Champions League.
Alan McGuffog
14 Posted 05/09/2017 at 18:07:13
Tony, Peter. I too was at that Charity Shield game: 4-0 against Man Utd. I think Royston missed his penalty and then re took it and scored. Am I remembering correctly? A few bottles have gone down in the intervening years!
Paul McGinty
15 Posted 05/09/2017 at 18:18:47
Alan, I was at the game...

I remember him missing. In the retake, he feinted to kick the ball, keeper dived. which in those days was a foul (ie, the keeper moving before the kick) and Vernon pointed at the ref and said basically look he's moving, that's why he saved the first pen. Noel Cantwell, the Man Utd captain, went crazy at what he considered showing up the keeper. I may be wrong but I thought Cantwell got sent off. Vernon re-took and scored.

Again, that's my memory. I was in the old Main Stand at the Park End side. I think the penalty was at the Park End.

Tony Abrahams
16 Posted 05/09/2017 at 18:35:52
It just shows you how clever Rooney has just been, Eugene.
Terry White
17 Posted 05/09/2017 at 19:02:14
Tony (#11), Roy missed a penalty in a reserve game against Burnley. We lost 5-3; he, Young and West were all playing for the reserves.
Terry White
18 Posted 05/09/2017 at 19:06:31
Alan (#14), David Gaskell saved Roy's first attempt but the kick was retaken and Roy then scored from it.

As Peter (#13) is saying, we all would like to see us win something – the joy we get in seeing our captain lifting a trophy certainly beats 2nd place and a back-door entry to a competition.

Peter Warren
19 Posted 05/09/2017 at 19:10:33
Every one of these Wives' reads have been fantastic.
Terry White
20 Posted 05/09/2017 at 19:29:56
You are correct, Peter (#19) and it would be nice if people would actually buy Becky's book and perhaps give her some belated royalties rather than just read the story on TW.
John McFarlane [Snr]
21 Posted 05/09/2017 at 20:33:37
Tony Kelly (#8) while appreciating that we all have favourite players, for one reason or another, I myself have difficulty in choosing Alan Ball, or Roy Vernon over Bobby Collins.

When Everton signed Bobby in September 1958 (I was serving in the forces in Cyprus), and their record was played 6, lost 6, scored 4 conceded 20. He made his debut against Manchester City at Maine Road and scored in a 3-1 victory, his next goal was in the 10-4 defeat at Spurs.

My first glimpse of Bobby in a royal shirt was on boxing day 1958, in a 1-0 win over Leicester City (whilst home on leave) it was only after I returned to civvy street in August 1959 that I saw the influence he had on his team mates.

The name 'pocket battleship' has been bestowed on many players, but none can have worn it with greater distinction than Bobby Collins. I feel sure that supporters of my age (79 years) and older, will have fond memories of Bobby, likewise supporters of Leeds United, for whom he gave excellent service.

I feel privileged to have witnessed such a determined and talented player, this is not to belittle any other players, as I started by saying, we all have our opinions and favourites, that's what makes the game what it is. I would be interested to learn what others think.

Phil Greenough
22 Posted 05/09/2017 at 20:40:33
I would do, Terry, but have you seen the price?

Eddie Dunn
23 Posted 05/09/2017 at 21:08:43
This is absolutely fantastic and so interesting from a historical perspective. How times have changed! Life seemed more simple, but more importantly, our heroes were living lives only slightly different to our own.
John Keating
24 Posted 05/09/2017 at 22:18:54
Whenever I read posts regarding players leaving or threatening to leave (Lukaku, Mirallas, Barkley etc), I always post "Goodbye and good luck".

I have seen far better players come and go.Roy Vernon, Bobby Collins, Alan Ball, Alex Young are my reasons why.

Ian Burns
25 Posted 05/09/2017 at 22:34:35
John McFarlane Snr – I think we could reminisce all week on the players of that era, such was their influence in the days of non-social media and overpaid players of today.

Of course I recognise the brilliance of such as Messi and Hazard etc but it seems time lends us a moment of reverie and you are absolutely right in naming Bobby Collins as he most certainly fits the bill of memories.

My own recollection was a 5-0 beating of Newcastle on a rainy day at Goodison where Bobby was simply outstanding.

Going to bed now to dream of far off days of yore!

Becky Tallentire
26 Posted 05/09/2017 at 22:46:58
I've just read through all these comments and it warms my heart.

The book has been out of print for ages now, which is why I offer them on here because I love these stories and feel it's a crying shame the book is unavailable now and was never sold by the club (as it was considered 'disrespectful' by the powers that be).

But all is not lost. Amazon now have a facility where I can publish the books on a 'print on demand' basis so I'm going to take up that option.

Sadly, so many of the wives/husbands have passed away and more grandchildren have been born since I wrote it in 2004, so I'm busy updating the master copy and will let you all know when it's available for sale. I'm not sure how much it will cost because they charge for the production, postage and of course Amazon take their cut. But I will certainly sell it for the lowest price I can and am doing as much work from this end as I can to keep the price down

In the meantime, I'm loving that you're enjoying reading these beautiful stories which would certainly have been lost forever if I hadn't had the opportunity to write them when I did.

Thanks again for your feedback – it's made my day.


Paul Thompson
27 Posted 05/09/2017 at 23:17:53
Becky – I'll certainly look out for the remastered book on Amazon. You have provided a a female window into the pre-Premier League / Sky era and it is as revealing in its own way.

Roy and Norma's honeymoon – one night in the Butlin's Metropole in Blackpool! I grew up watching Roy and I can still see him waltzing around the Fulham keeper in the title clincher in 1963. Happy days. Here's to more of them.

Dick Fearon
28 Posted 05/09/2017 at 23:18:03
John McFarland (Snr) @21,

I was at Maine Road when over the tannoy, wee Bobby Collins was introduced to English football.

Before current mass media coverage, little was known about the game outside England's borders. Few people had previously seen Booby. As both teams entered the pitch I remember thinking our mascot is a stocky chap. That was of course Bobby, a legend north of the border as he was at Everton and later at Leeds.

A curious fact about that game was how Bobby and Knobby Fielding ripped Man City apart in our 3-1 win yet I do not remember them ever again playing together.

In those far-off simple days, I would often see Reds and Blues players in and around Maghull. With one exception, they were a cheerful friendly mob. Always with good humour Alex and Roy would take the mickey out of each other. The exception occurred a few days before a derby game. A bit of gentle banter escalated into fisticuffs between Fred Pickering and Ron Yeats. It needed a dozen of their team mates to calm down these two huge blokes.

Rick Tarleton
29 Posted 06/09/2017 at 11:25:14
A great, great player. In modern terms, if Lukaku is worth £75 million, he was worth £200 million, just look at the way the two men took penalties. I never doubted Vernon would score, I'd take evens anytime Lukaku took one.

He and Young are my all time Everton favourites. I wrote an article years ago about them for this site, "My Young and My Vernon long ago".

1962-63, I was sixteen, had a season ticket for the old Paddock and that is the team I dream about. Vernon was captain and simply the best finisher I've seen at Goodison. Latchford, Lineker, Cottee, Rooney, Lukaku et alia, were nothing compared to Vernon at his best.

Terry Underwood
30 Posted 06/09/2017 at 11:49:41
John Keating (#24),

Totally right, Lukaku, Barkley, Mirallas. Not worth comparing to the likes of Sharp, Ball and King. All players that left too soon.

Alan J Thompson
31 Posted 06/09/2017 at 16:14:17
Dick (#28); I read somewhere that Bobby Collins was an Everton junior at 15 but being homesick he went back to Scotland and Celtic.

Can anyone confirm?

John McFarlane [Snr]
32 Posted 06/09/2017 at 18:26:18
Alan (#31), it's correct that Bobby Collins did join Everton as a youngster, when Theo Kelly was secretary/manager (prior to Cliff Britton's appointment), and did go home to Scotland where he signed for Celtic, returning to the Blues in September 1958.

His record for Everton was played 147 games 47 goals, and for Leeds United (where he won Player of the year in 1965) played 149 games 24 goals. He played a major part in pulling two clubs up by the boot laces, and will go down in my opinion, as the most inspirational player I've seen in 69 years of following Everton, and by the way still attending (with my Grandson) as season ticket holders in the Park End.

Dave Williams
33 Posted 06/09/2017 at 19:04:30
I have the book and it is a very good read and unusual in seeing the life of a footballer through the eyes of his wife.

Becky writes great books – try to get "Talking Blue" and "Still Talking Blue" – in depth interviews with players from the sixties onwards. Very insightful and if you read this, Becky, it's high time you did another one!

Tom Bowers
34 Posted 06/09/2017 at 21:37:33
This is a wonderful piece about one of my schoolboy faves. He and Alex Young were dynamic together and proved that you didn't need brawn to be a great striker. He had a body swerve better than anyone and frequently scored by faking the keeper and taking it round him.

That title-winning side of 1962-63 was just tremendous and only equalled of course by the 1985 winning team. Wouldn't it be nice to have a team like that again?

John Boon
35 Posted 07/09/2017 at 18:50:55
Great to read all those comments about the past.

I also remember with fondness players such as Vernon, Young, Collins. Vernon was a dynamic player, but Alex Young was something extra special.

I was playing for Holy Rosary in the CYMS league. When we won the league in 1960, Young and Jimmy Gabriel came out to present the medals. This was the highlight of my year it was even for the Reds on our team.

Memories stay with you for your whole life. I still think we have great footballers today but money has put a damper on the game. I enjoyed watching Everton even when they were in the Second Division with the likes of Peter Farrell and Tommy Egglinton. 1954 was by far the best when we were promoted and the Red Shite were relegated for eight years. We still had crowds of 60,000+.

However, back to the Roy Vernon article. He really was a great player because as well as his football skills, he also had a certain edge that really added to his game. He would be outstanding in any era.

Tony Kelly
36 Posted 07/09/2017 at 19:20:03
Roy missed one penalty against Spurs in the early sixties at White Hart Lane, if my memory serves me right; he stubbed his toe as he hit the ball,and the ball rolled harmlessly back to Bill Brown.

Regarding the penalty in the Charity Shield against Man Utd, Roy ran up to take the pen,feigned to hit the ball one way and Gaskell dived the way Roy indicated; he never actually hit the ball,he and the crowd burst out laughing.

After the laughter subsided, Royston took the pen and, true to form, sent Gaskell the wrong way and netted.

Graham Weigh
37 Posted 07/09/2017 at 21:04:49
I remember watching Roy in the early 60s. I used to play for my school in the morning then get Harry Cruse's bus with his son Henry (we played in the same team).

We used to get to the ground early as the adults needed to visit the Winslow so we got into the front row of the old Park End Stand right behind the goal. I remember Roy hitting amazing volleys into the net at that end and think he scored every penalty. Such great memories.

Dave Abrahams
38 Posted 08/09/2017 at 20:14:23
John McFarlane (snr), quite a lot of fans would have Bobby Collins as their favourite Everton player, every Everton fan who saw him would know and appreciate how very, very good he was.

As you say he came into a poor Everton team and club at that time and dragged them up from the bottom of the league to become one of the best in the country but never enjoyed the silver we won, being transferred in one of the few mistakes Harry Catterick made.

I remember a story I read about Bobby's dad being hit with a bottle or glass at Ibrox Park during a derby game between Rangers and Celtic, Bobby had joined the wrong club according to the fan, I suppose that is Glasgow and their take on religion.

I was made up when Bobby came to Goodison and made his debut alongside my only ever football idol Davie Hickson. Davie wasn't the best player to play for the Blues and he knew that, but no player ever loved playing for the Blues more than Davie.

Bobby Collins was class along with many others including Thomas Royston Vernon, Tommy Ring and many other Everton players it was an absolute privilege to see.

As someone above has mentioned money is taking the fun and love of the game away from us fans and the game of football is a lot poorer for this.

Geoff Williams
39 Posted 12/09/2017 at 19:45:35
Graham, how are you? You also travelled on Tommy Hollis's buses.

I wonder what happened to Henry. He preferred to be called Stephen on leaving school. He got credit for a goal I scored. He really only scored 59 goals for HGS Junior XI in '65! I was only credited with one other goal that season.

I caught a toffee off the Toffee Lady at the Fulham game when we clinched the title in 63, Vernon scored a hat-trick. To my disgust, my brother ate the toffee a couple of years later.

Becky Tallentire
40 Posted 21/09/2017 at 22:52:03
I'm probably too late to add this comment but I've updated the book and it's now available on Amazon on a 'print on demand' basis.

I couldn't format the photos because it was all too complicated but am happy for somebody to show me how to do it and add them in the next draft.

Ken Farrington
41 Posted 28/09/2017 at 09:59:06
What an absolutely brilliant story and a great idea to re-create these icons of the 60s through their wives. I will certainly buy the book.

It was so interesting to read about Roy Vernon as he was such a pivotal player of the 62-63 title winning team. I was always fascinated by pictures of him smoking.

As a lifelong non smoker myself it certainly didn't encourage me to start but I'm sure some impressionable kids did so but that's how it was in those days though I did wonder in my innocent youth whether he would have been an even better player if he had have not smoked. He would certainly have lived longer and been able to enjoy his grand children, etc.

Thank you for posting this, a great read.

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