Alan Ball Unseen

In this unpublished but recently rediscovered interview, the Everton great talks about his career high points and life low points.

James Corbett 18/05/2018 49comments  |  Jump to last

If there's such a thing as a modern day treasure trove, it's probably not going to be a trunk in an attic but in a rather more prosaic form: the computer hard drive.

Searching through the depths of my iMac the other day for an old piece of work so that I could corroborate a new piece, I stumbled across an interview I'd carried out with Alan Ball in the summer of 2005 for the Observer Sport Monthly. It was for a regular feature, called Triumph and Despair; where a sporting personality talks about their career high points and life low points. I spoke to Ball on a number of occasions but I couldn't ever remember seeing this in print. A search of the Guardian website confirmed that inkling.

At the time I was in my mid-twenties and trying to forge a career in journalism while also reconciling myself to the reality that I was a nobody in a fiercely competitive industry. To a nervous and slightly disillusioned novice, Alan was of great encouragement. I can't begin to emphasize how nerve-wracking it can be to make (often) unsolicited calls to a very famous person when you're an unknown yourself, but he was always the model of generosity and decorum, pleased to be asked for an opinion or a memory. Nothing was ever too much for him. He even gave me his home number because it had a better line.

I've no idea why this piece never went into the magazine. It may well have been overlooked because, a few days after we spoke, London was awarded the 2012 Olympics and the news focus went to England's next sporting mega event rather than its last one. Nine months later, Ball passed away and the story was forgotten about — until now.

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And so, for the first time, here's Alan in his own words — as told to me in July 2005.

My father, Alan Ball senior, had been a journeyman player in the post-war years. I think the pinnacle of his career was probably playing for Birmingham Reserves. People have told me he was an uncompromising wing-half, but didn't have much pace. He was probably a better coach than he was a player, and had stints in charge at Preston and Halifax. No player was influenced more by my Dad than me. From as far back as I can remember, he drove me towards the talent he had never quite had as a footballer himself. He was my mentor, coach, adviser, critic and caring father.

I was always small and light. I knew I had the ability to make it as a professional footballer but, when I was 15 and other lads were getting apprenticeship deals, I had trials at Wolves and Bolton and was turned down because of my size. Bill Ridding, the Bolton manager, even told me that the only apprenticeship I'd get was as a jockey.

Blackpool took a chance on me though and I became a pro when I was 17. Three months later, I made my full debut against Liverpool at Anfield. There were 57,000 people there; I'd previously only played in front of a few hundred for the reserves! I was playing on the right, in place of Stanley Matthews, who was injured. Jimmy Armfield, who was England captain, was right back. We won 2-1, a great win and the start of Anfield being a special ground for me.

I'd vowed to my Dad that I'd be in the England team by the time I was 20. I wasn't cocky, just ambitious, but I made it with three days to spare, playing the first of 72 internationals against Yugoslavia in Belgrade in May 1965. I did okay but, as Alf Ramsey's team evolved into a 4-3-3 formation, I started to become a regular.

When the World Cup was hosted in England a year later, I was in the starting eleven for the first game, against Uruguay. The whole country had been geared up for a football carnival, but it was a miserable match — a goalless draw — and everyone felt let down. Alf changed things around for the next match against Mexico, bringing in Martin Peters and Terry Paine but leaving me out. We won 2-0; as we did with our last group match against France, but again, I'd been left out.

The whole country had been struck by World Cup fever, but I was miserable, moping around. As there were no substitutes then, I couldn't even picture how I'd get a way back into the team unless someone got an injury. On the eve of the quarter-final against Argentina, Alf asked me why I was so low. I told him I was disappointed at being left out after I felt I'd done reasonably well in the first match. He told me to brighten up as I had a role to play the next day — on the right side of midfield. Suddenly I was happy again.

The match was a real dogfight. I was up against the Argentine left-back, Marzolini, a world-class player, but I loved every second of it. It was the game when Rattin, their captain, got sent off and wouldn't leave the pitch. We won with a Hurst header — the only real bit of football played all game — and were into the semi with Portugal. By then, we were full of confidence and we beat Portugal 2-1 in a wonderful flowing game.

And then, of course was the World Cup Final with West Germany.

After the World Cup, I left Blackpool and joined Everton for £110,000. It was the first six-figure deal between two British clubs, but I fitted right in. They used to call the midfield — myself, Colin Harvey, and Howard Kendall — the ‘holy trinity'. We were a great side, and played the kind of football that befitted the club's nickname — The School of Science.

There were three great mysteries about Everton. The first was that we never won more with that great team. (During Ball's five years at Goodison Park, Everton won the 1970 League Championship, and finished runners-up in the 1968 FA Cup Final.) The second was that Harvey and Kendall never got the international recognition they deserved. (Harvey got one cap; Kendall was regarded as the finest player to ever go uncapped by England.) The third was when Harry Catterick sold me to Arsenal in December 1971.

I never wanted to leave Goodison and was gutted when Catterick sold me. I felt like I'd been used and dumped to make a quick profit, and that Catterick — who was always a cold, ruthless man — had broken up a great side too quickly. I had six good years at Arsenal before joining Southampton. I carried on playing for England until 1975 and also played in the US, which I loved. I hung up my boots in 1983 after 20 years at the top — not a bad record is it?

Alan Ball running out at Goodison Park

When I gave up playing, I knew right away that I wanted to follow my dad's footsteps and go into management. I had a spells in charge at Blackpool, Stoke, Exeter, Southampton, Manchester City and a couple of spells at Portsmouth. Some people say I was a bad manager, because I never had a record like Alex Ferguson, but that annoys me. I always did my best and had some great times. I took Portsmouth up to the old First Division; was brought in as a troubleshooter on a couple occasions and kept teams up; and I discovered players like Neil Webb, Mark Hateley and Lee Dixon.

I was disappointed that Southampton let Man City come in for me in 1996 and, as everyone knows, I didn't have the happiest of times there. By the time I left City, I'd had enough of management, enough of average players thinking they were superstars. I had one last crack with Portsmouth in 1999, just after Milan Mandaric took over, but my heart wasn't really in it. Football had given me a lot, but it had taken a lot out of me as well. I'd had enough.

I'll never forget the dark day in March 2001, when our family's lives changed forever. It was a horrid day, cold and raining, and I had been playing in a charity golf day in Surrey and was driving back home to our village over the Hampshire border. I was finished with football by then — it had been three years since I'd left Manchester City, and I was enjoying retirement, playing golf and spending more time with my wife, Lesley, my three grown-up children — Mandy, Keely and Jimmy — and our precious grandson, Louie. Then the mobile rang. It was Lesley, and I knew straight away that there was a problem. Mandy had been due for a biopsy on a small lump she had found in her breast, and I knew from the minute that the phone rang something was up. ‘Alan, we've got a problem,' said Lesley. ‘They think it's cancer.' I drove like a maniac down the M3 straight to Mandy's place and found a heartbroken young couple with their baby boy, and my wife with a desolate look on her face. This was my daughter, my little girl. How does anyone handle that?

Weirdly, that same day, Lesley had felt a pain in her groin. She'd thought nothing of it, and said nothing. Over the following couple of months, while Mandy was undergoing debilitating and arduous chemotherapy sessions — supported every step of the way by her mam — these pains in Lesley's groin got worse. Unknown to me, she had booked in to see a specialist at the Nuffield Hospital at the start of May 2001. She was told there might be a serious problem and that she should have a hysterectomy. All the while, she played things down, keeping positive and trying not to cause further worry for the family. I didn't know what to think. I did not, at the time suspect anything more serious — life couldn't be that cruel, could it?

But later on that May, the horrible news came out. Lesley had Ovarian cancer, and like Mandy would have to undergo chemo. I could not take it in, I was devastated, absolutely devastated.

It was the biggest battle of our lives. Cancer haunts and stalks. It is with you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and affects every part of your life. For two and a half years, I watched my daughter and wife battle against the disease. Mandy's chemo worked. After months of pain and worry, she got the all clear, and is as fit and healthy as she's ever been. In March 2003 she ran the London marathon with Jimmy for the Bobby Moore Cancer Research Fund.

Lesley didn't get better though. We did everything possible, kept our fingers crossed and lived life to the fullest. We went on long holidays — to Australia and the Caribbean. We took the grandkids to Lapland. Lesley was braver than any footballer I ever saw. But it wasn't enough to beat the cancer. She passed away on Sunday 16 May 2004. No man could have asked for a better wife, no child a better mother. We all miss her very much.

With thanks to Alan's son, Jimmy, for giving the Ball Family's consent for this to be posthumously published.

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Brian Williams
1 Posted 18/05/2018 at 16:26:02
There's a lump in my throat just as there was when I heard of Bally's death at home in his garden.

The big "C" is frightening enough when you have it yourself and don't know how it's going to go, but for you wife and daughter to have it?

Still feel sad at Bally's passing as I do at Howard's.

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
2 Posted 18/05/2018 at 16:43:06
I remember being in at Guangzhou airport in China when my wife texted that Bally had died. It was difficult to not cry and also explain to my Chinese colleague why I was so upset.

Many great memories growing up and the plan to send all his memorabilia to Harry Catterick with the words "Lest we forget". Dark day when he was sold.

Ron Marr
3 Posted 18/05/2018 at 16:51:03
Alan Ball, the best player to have ever kicked a football, viewed thru my blue-tinted glasses.

Chris Jones [Burton]
4 Posted 18/05/2018 at 17:05:03
Splendid interview, thanks to all involved with its sharing. RIP Alan and Lesley, xx.
Paul Thompson
5 Posted 18/05/2018 at 17:09:33
Nice interview — thanks, James. Alan was an honest and insightful guy and, even though it's not news, it still gets to me when I read how Catterick sold Alan against his will. Incidentally, I saw his debut for us at Fulham, after the World Cup. Magical day.
Christy Ring
6 Posted 18/05/2018 at 17:11:20
So sad, a fabulous footballer, and so tragic how his own life ended. His thoughts of Catterick, selling him and breaking up a winning team so quickly, was mystifying.
Dave Brierley
7 Posted 18/05/2018 at 17:14:42
Yesterday reading about Ray Wilson and now this very moving Alan Ball interview. It's enough to make you cry. It did.
Ron Marr
8 Posted 18/05/2018 at 17:14:58
The day Alan Ball was sold was my worst day as an Everton fan.

This season came close with each game Allardyce managed against a top-six team.

Steve Hogan
9 Posted 18/05/2018 at 17:19:35
I was 11 years old when Everton signed Bally, and it's difficult to describe to anyone what a true football icon is/was, but he was one. He just had this aura about him, despite being so small.

In some respects he had the same attitude to the game as Tim Cahill had, he simply hated getting beat, and woe betide any team mate who failed to give 100%, he was right on their case.

At the time, he WAS Mr Everton. Rumours abounded on Merseyside just why he left, unless you spoke to Harry Catterick at the time, I guess we'll never know the real reason.

At the time, nearly all footballer's on Merseyside lived in either Formby or Maghull, and I remember in about 1970, he was parked in a World Cup sponsored white Ford Corsair on Wango Lane in Aintree, probably on his way home from Bellefield.

Time plays it's own tricks on your mind, I'd have never have guessed he played for Arsenal longer than he did for his beloved blues.

Ok, tin hat time now, was he best player I ever saw play for Everton?, no, I think Rooney was a better technical player, certainly as a raw 16 year old.

Was he the most loved and influential player I have ever seen in an Everton shirt, resoundingly YES.

Like Cahill, he seemed to reserve his best performances when we played our lovable neighbors across the park. He was absolutely fearless when he played against them, whether at Goodison or Anfield. I will NEVER forget his winner against them in the FA Cup when the match was screened on large screens at Anfield.

On that night, he achieved legendary status. What a man.

Tom Bowers
10 Posted 18/05/2018 at 17:20:05
Yes it is sad when clubs sell players for whatever reasons at an inopportune time.

Bally was the perfect example and maybe Rooney was also. There are arguably others of course but the Seventies league winning side was destined for greater things.

There is always speculation surrounding these things and the players involved are probably reluctant to say why at the time as it could affect their future careers with other clubs etc.

What went wrong with Barklay and what really happened between Koeman and Niasse are some questions we may have. Something or nothing at all ?

In retrospect we all know Alan Ball was a tremendous player and had many years left in him much to Everton's dismay.

Ian Burns
11 Posted 18/05/2018 at 17:22:26
What a terrific but sad article in equal measure.

I loved Bally - the Holy Trinity will live on and on in the hearts of Evertonians.

David Israel
12 Posted 18/05/2018 at 17:38:04
Great and moving piece, James.

For those of us old enough to remember, Alan Ball was plainly and simply Mr Everton. As with Ron #8, the day we sold him ranks as the worst in my life as an Evertonian. Totally irrational and bemusing.

In October 1975 - I was living in London - I went to Highbury to watch Arsenal v Man. City. Do you want to know why? Ball was playing for the Gunners and Joe Royle for City. A trip down Memory Lane. And they both played very well, each of them scoring a goal (it finished 3-2 to City, and Rodney Marsh was probably the best player on the pitch).

Thank you very much for sharing, James.

Len Hawkins
13 Posted 18/05/2018 at 17:48:01
A "Family" member did die within me when Catterick sold Bally, I was devastated.
If you read Alan Ball's book he stated that Everton was his home and when Catterick called him in and told him he was selling him to Arsenal he was in tears. He phoned his Dad and told him and he said to him "they don't want you son you'll have to go" he was absolutely devastated like most of us.
Christine Foster
14 Posted 18/05/2018 at 17:50:09
James, a rare Insight into genius, we sometimes forget our heroes are human, we remember the players, the game, even individual moments of skill but behind it all there is a Dad and a husband struggling with the cruelty of life and the reality of dealing with cancer with two of his dearest loves of his life.

Poignant and painful to read, a fabulous player, I think in his first season I saw every game he played in at home, but fame is no shield to life, I hope his life is an inspiration to both players and supporters, to live a life the best way he can.

Jay Wood

15 Posted 18/05/2018 at 18:01:16
"And who's the Greatest of them...? Little curly Alan Ball."

Quite simply the best footballer to pull on the blue shirt for Everton in my lifetime. Like Ron Marr, the day he was sold was - by a country mile - my saddest ever day as a Blue.

Loved him to bits as a player, a man and - as James reports - a doting family man.

Nice to read and see your focus on the human side, rather than focussing on his football history. Well done James. And thanks to Bally's family for allowing it to enter the public domain.

Gerry Morrison
16 Posted 18/05/2018 at 18:16:08
I am with everyone else here. Alan Ball was my hero as a kid, and in my, I-don't-care-if-it's-biased opinion, the best player I have seen in a blue shirt.
Jay Wood

17 Posted 18/05/2018 at 18:28:02
For some reason, a wee anecdote just popped into my head. Funny how things trigger long-buried memories.

Who recalls the free magazine that would be given away free, stapled inside the match day programme, 'The Football League Review' back in the day?

On the cover of one was a photo to the two Alan Balls, snr. and jnr., playing chess. On the inside was an article on an interview with the two.

The journo opened his piece by explaining the cover photo: "The photographer thought to stage a photo of father and son playing chess, but they argued so much over the positioning of the pieces on the board that they started a proper game...and that is the photo the photograph took."

A wee inkling into where Bally got his combative nature from and the endearing relationship 'twixt father and son.

Peter Murray
18 Posted 18/05/2018 at 18:31:22
Just count myself so LUCKY to have seen his total playing, character full BLUE career, when you think of the current professionals supposedly playing in BLUE - just wonder how our LITTLE BALLY would have handled them & more importantly tolerated them !!

Easily the best and most cherished BLUE - any real supporter was fortunate to see.


Andrew Merrick
19 Posted 18/05/2018 at 19:29:55
I grew up supporting the holy trinity... God, they were special.

The passion for the game was exemplified by Bally... committed and courageous.

Yes, there was a bit of that in Cahill... but my schoolboy memories are of our Ginger Terrier... My love of the game and Everton FC comes from those times and those players.

God bless you, Alan Ball.

Colin Glassar
20 Posted 18/05/2018 at 19:32:08
Bally leaving us was one of those moments you always remember where exactly you were when you found out like the JFK assassination. I was in our dining room when me dad walked in with the Echo and said, “Alan Ball has been sold to Arsenal”. I think I stopped breathing for a second as all the air was sucked out of me. I can remember it like it was yesterday.

I often think back to that day, and I thought it at the time tbh, as being the day that we, as a club, began to accept being second best, mediocre, also-rans. Bally was our leader, our best player, our inspiration (we all had the number 8 shirt) and his leaving ripped the heart and soul out of the club never to replaced.

Gerry Morrison
21 Posted 18/05/2018 at 19:54:39
My son played football for a few years on kids teams. He always wore Number 8. At the first parent meeting, when they were handing out the kits, I, of course, grabbed Bally's number; the same number I always had when I was a kid.

My son knew why he was wearing Number 8 all those years, but he could never appreciate the pleasure it gave me watching him get stuck in with that number on the back of his blue shirt.

Don Alexander
22 Posted 18/05/2018 at 20:00:04
Bally and those of his generation knew they were well off by the standards of the working man, but that's all. Yes, there was a win bonus but only in the region of being able to take the missus out to dinner, and that's all. To be a proper player in those days meant you had to give everything you had whenever you were selected. Alan Ball exemplified this. For him, the result was everything, regardless. MotM in the World Cup final he never varied, never relented in giving his all.

In 1970 just before the World Cup England beat Belgium 1-3 at their place, Bally scoring twice. The Belgian manager said at the end, "It's hard enough trying to beat England, but to have to beat England AND Alan Ball is like playing two teams. It is impossible!" Said it all really.

Roger Helm
23 Posted 18/05/2018 at 20:15:55
Notwithstanding Hurst’s hat-trick, applying modern stats to that final has shown that Ball was the most influential player that afternoon.

True legend of the English game, sadly missed.

Peter Mills
24 Posted 18/05/2018 at 21:18:36
Jim, you will be aware of something I posted on FB about Ramon Wilson running around Goodison with Roger Hunt with the Jules Rimet trophy before the Charity Shield game in 1966. The rs battered us that day. 0-1, but battered us.

Then we signed Alan Ball. He scored the only goal on his debut at Fulham. Then he tore the rs to bits at Goodison. Scored twice. 3-1. Just imagine that.

Dave Abrahams
25 Posted 18/05/2018 at 21:58:52
Football goes into the background when you read about Bally fighting and struggling with the battle his daughter fought and won and his wife Lesley sadly lost the same fight.

I remember Goodison Road the Saturday after Alan was sold, nobody talking about the match starting later but about the player we had lost.

Peter Mills gets it so right about the two Liverpool games within a few weeks of each other, They humiliated us in the charity shield game, miles better, then in the league game we did the same to them3-1 thanks to Bally. R I P Alan.

Derek Thomas
26 Posted 18/05/2018 at 23:22:42
James; a cracking piece, check all your hard drives agiain will you.

I saw both those Derby games and Ball made us, on his own it seemed, a better team, I think the bones were there and he just led by example.

I thought Rooney would do the same, but no. Ball for me, he did what Rooney had the potential for. It was a privilege to see him and that team play...I doubt we'll see the like again.

Eugene Ruane
27 Posted 18/05/2018 at 23:51:52
My all time number one Everton hero.

And that will never change.

I simply couldn't take my eyes off him.

Even that pic of him running on makes my heart beat a little faster.

He was..the greatest.

Andy Crooks
28 Posted 19/05/2018 at 00:18:10
I came home from school at lunchtime and my brother, an Arsenal fan, gleefully gave me the news. To this day I have not the words to describe how distraught I was.

Eugene, by the way, don't think that making a cameo appearance and fucking off is okay. I don't think I am alone in wondering what your views are on the last six months.

Harvey Miller
29 Posted 19/05/2018 at 00:34:09
I only saw him on TV but always wondered that the little guy was kind of twice as fast as the rest. He was everywhere and could do whatever he wanted. And he could be mean when needed.
Pity that there is nobody like him around at Everton now.
He was also very popular around the world because of the WC.
Kenn Crawford
30 Posted 19/05/2018 at 01:36:51
An absolute legend and a gentleman who gave me some great memories.

I remember my dad and I went to a charity match at the old tower ground in New Brighton: All Stars 11 vs Football 11, I think that was it but my memory is cloudy and if anyone else can remember it, please feel free to correct it.

Anyway, during half-time, my dad and I were standing waiting to get a cuppa when the man standing next to me said, "Hello youngster, you enjoying the game?" in his squeaky type voice. He spoke to me for about 5 minutes; when we walked away, my dad asked me if I knew who I was talking to? I said "No."

Needless to say, it was Mr Alan Ball! Today I still get goose bumps thinking about it. A great man.

ps: My favourite Everton player: Alex Young.

Seb Niemand
31 Posted 19/05/2018 at 03:52:50
It's clear from this interview that Ball showed as much courage and character in his life after football as he did during it. How many of today's coddled man-child footballers will we be able to say that for?
Rob B Williams
32 Posted 19/05/2018 at 09:24:41
Eugene - lovely to hear your dulcet tones one more - long time m8.
There were two for me AB & the Golden Vision.
Dave Abrahams
33 Posted 19/05/2018 at 09:25:21
Jay (17), A mate of mine, Liverpudlian, met Alan's dad on holiday, said he was a character, they met nearly every night after the initial meeting and Bally's dad always finished the night with "I'll take you home again Kathleen" my mate really enjoyed his company, Bally had the same style when in company, I've told this story before, I was in a club in Liverpool after being to the Liverpool Stadium, Bally came in with a very quiet Howard Kendall, Bally was having banter with everyone, a red nose said to Alan "Smithy will have you in his pocket on Saturday in the Derby game" quick as a flash Bally pointed to his arse and said " that's all Smithy will see of me on Saturday". Even the Reds laughed.
John Davies
34 Posted 19/05/2018 at 10:22:14
The best player I ever saw pull on the famous blue jersey. No-one has come close since his days at Goodison Park and if we ever see a player as good again we will all be blessed.
Andrew Clare
35 Posted 19/05/2018 at 11:42:29
Type or paste your comment here. PLEASE capitalise initial letters of proper names and use proper grammar. No txt-speak; all-lowercase posts are likely to be deleted
Jeff Spiers
36 Posted 19/05/2018 at 16:13:15
Broke my heart when he went. But a Red Shite neighbour told me he had bad debts so he went to Arsenal for better wages etc???
Geoff Trenner
37 Posted 19/05/2018 at 21:15:40
Did anyone else have the white Alan Ball boots?

John Davies
38 Posted 19/05/2018 at 22:31:57
Yes, Geoff. They were my pride and joy!!!
Jack Convery
39 Posted 20/05/2018 at 09:51:16
Colin at 20 – it was the day we accepted being 2nd best.
Geoff at 37 – yes, I did and loved wearing them and wearing them out.

What a very poignant article. So sad how life can treat people. He and his wife deserved so much better.

John Gall
40 Posted 21/05/2018 at 10:42:23
I grew up in Walton and started going to Goodison when I was 10 in 1975, and the Blues had lost their way (though we still should have won the league that year, but that's another story!).

On City Road, where it goes over the railway (we used to call it 'the Brew'), was painted on the wall in thick white paint the name 'ALAN BALL'. It stood there for years, long after he'd left us.

I never saw him play for the Blues but he was my Dad's idol, so much so that me and my brother used to think that his full name was 'Alan Ball Brilliant'.

Nick Armitage
41 Posted 21/05/2018 at 13:19:18
I remember being on a plane sat next to Stan Boardman not long after Bally died. Stan was reading his biography and had a tear in his eye talking about some of the times they had together. He was genuinely gutted that he'd lost his mate.

Bally was before my time but even the way the redshite eulogised about him showed he must have been some player. We could do with another one of him now.

Jeff Spiers
42 Posted 21/05/2018 at 16:04:16
I was about 12 years of age, at Butlins Pwllheli on holiday when I got the score Everton 3 Liverpool 1. Bally scored 2.

There and then it sunk in: Alan Ball. He gave us life. I will always remember that feeling. Bally, lad — many many thanks.

Terry Farrell
43 Posted 21/05/2018 at 18:40:54
Although taken to matches as a kid, I can't remember Bally playing for us but he is my hero as my dad and granddad loved him.

Years later, I was playing non-league for John Roberts who played with him at Arsenal so, any chance I got, I'd ask him about Bally. He said he was the best one-touch passer of the ball he'd ever played with and a few moves ahead of others and a real character... sometimes nuts! Also, a good goal scorer from midfield. Look up his goals versus appearances for Everton – a striker would be pleased with them.

Then, years later, I was working in the leisure industry and, if I went to a club or hotel who had guest speakers on, I'd ask them if they'd had Alan Ball on. To a man they said one of the most passionate and inspirational. You could hear a pin drop when he spoke. Real shame there is very little footage of him playing for the Blues.

Tony Heron
44 Posted 22/05/2018 at 12:47:04
Reading the comments, I have recalled some great memories. I was staying in a caravan with some mates after we had all just left school.

One morning, I went up to buy my newspaper as normal but unusually I started to read it from the front rather than from the back page as I strolled back to the caravan. When I eventually turned the paper over I saw the headlines: "Everton sign Ball"!!

Well I couldn't help myself I shouted "yes"! and ran back to the caravan to tell my Evertonian mates.

I've never forgotten the joy I felt that day or the despair when he was sold. It sickens me though that the club of greats like Ball, Young, Wilson, Labby, Kendall and Harvey is tainted by the name of Allardyce. How did it come to this?

Matthew Williams
45 Posted 22/05/2018 at 15:45:38
The great man. Was before my time sadly, but me Dad (a red) always rated him as a class act.

There's a framed picture of the great man on the wall of the Raven pub in Waterloo, wearing his famous white boots but I also noticed the socks... a kinda pale Amber colour?

Blue shirts, white shorts, amber socks... I likes that!

Jeff Spiers
46 Posted 22/05/2018 at 18:26:44
Matthew. The amber socks were away change, ie, at Leeds, Spurs etc.
Stale Haverstadlokken
48 Posted 28/05/2018 at 21:52:06
I got into Everton after the Ball era, but reading about the moments he created for you guys are heartwarming.
Gerry Quinn
49 Posted 29/05/2018 at 18:27:32
And sitting on the ball... only the greatest player can get away with winding up the opposition like that.
Philip Yensen
50 Posted 09/06/2018 at 09:23:33
We all have our views on football and payers through the years, fortunately at 66 I've seen quite a lot. Today kids watch there superstars on £30.000 a week and upwards. Their flashy boots, hair styles, socks bought over their knees like ladies stocking constantly cheating.

One of the ultimate professionals was Alan Ball. My best player at Everton, ever. He wore our Royal Blue jersey with such pride. He covered every blade of grass. He was good for loads of goals too. Never seen him dive or roll around after being clogged by some thug.

Older generation always say "in our day" alas it is true. Honesty was still in the game. No swarming around referees, no sliding on your knees or bellies. Alan Ball never pulled out of a tackle and bollocked anyone who did, squeakily.

Who's the greatest of them all, little curly Alan Ball. love that man. Should have been Harry Catterick leaving Everton – not Bally.

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