When 'Legends' were thin on the ground — Part 6

Continuing the theme of listing every player who represented Everton from 1946-47 when League Football resumed after the Second World War, until 1950-51 when Everton were relegated to Division Two.

Continuing the theme of listing every player who represented Everton from 1946-47 when League Football resumed after the Second World War, until 1950-51 when Everton were relegated to Division Two.

Joseph Mercer, OBE

Born 9 August 1914; Died August 1990

Genial Joe Mercer retired twice as a player, in May 1953 and June 1954, the second time after suffering a double fracture of his leg in a League game against Liverpool atBandy-leggedp>

Bandy-legged, he was an outstanding wing-half with a biting tackle, and a never-say-die attitude. From April 1933 to April 1954, he appeared in 450 games for Everton and Arsenal, and won 6 full caps and 27 wartime caps for England, also representing the Football League. He was part of a tremendous half-back line comprising of Cliff Britton and the redoubtable Stan Cullis.

Mercer gained three League Championship medals, the first with Everton in 1938-39, and two with the Gunners in 1947-48 and 1952-53. He also skippered the Londoners in the 1950 FA Cup Final victory over Liverpool in 1950, and collected a runners-up medal two years later. He was also voted Footballer of Year in 1950.

Eventually retiring in 1954, shortly before his 40th birthday, Mercer spent a year or so out of the game, running a grocery shop in Wirral. He moved back into football as Manager of Sheffield United before taking over as the Aston Villa Manager. He introduced several youngsters at Villa Park, calling them 'Mercer's Minnows'. He took Villa to the Second Division title in 1960 and League Cup victory in 1961, and saw them finish as runners-up in the latter competition in 1963. Mercer then stayed out of the game for a short while (his wife and friends thought the pressure would kill him) before reappearing as Manager of Manchester City.

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With Malcolm Allison as his assistant, he revitalised the Maine Road club, guiding them to First Division Glory and a Charity Shield victory in 1968, an FA Cup triumph in 1969, League Cup Final success in 1970, followed by victory in the 1971 European Cup Winners Cup Final.

He managed England for a handful of games in 1974, between the respective reigns of Sir Alf Ramsey and Don Revie. He brought a smile back to the players and fans alike with some positive results.

He lived in Birkenhead and watched Tranmere Rovers regularly, until his death at the age of 76, a Wonderful Man.

Joe Mercer's Everton career record was 184 appearances 2 goals.

Eric Moore

Born 16 July 1926; Died August 2003

A product of Haydock, Eric Moore had his fair share of ups and downs during his eight years at Goodison Park. After a solid start in the Central League side, in which he figured at both centre-forward and right-half, he was switched to right-back. From that point he was a regular for the best part of eighteen months, but a troublesome knee injury sidelined him for long spells during the following two seasons.

When he was fully fit again, he missed only one game in two seasons, but in December 1956, unhappy at his lack of game time, he asked for a transfer. He moved to Chesterfield in a deal worth £10,000 in January 1957, after nearly 200 outings for Everton. In July 1957 he was signed by Tranmere Rovers, later becoming a publican in Atherton.

Eric Moore's Everton career record was 184 appearances.

James Anthony O'Neill

Born 13 October 1931; Died 15 December 2007

Goalkeeper Jimmy O'Neill was spotted by an Everton scout while playing Junior football in Dublin, and invited to Goodison Park for a trial period; he was taken on at the end of 1948-49, and offered full professional terms.

He made his Central League debut in August 1949 and, 364 days later, his first-team debut – a defeat to Middlesbrough.

He enjoyed a successful career, becoming one of Britain's outstanding goalkeepers, forcing his way into the Ireland side where he won 17 caps. He was exceptionally safe when handling crosses, and he utilised his speed well. Indeed, he was often seen halting opposition forwards in their tracks on the edge of the penalty area.

He eventually lost his place to Albert Dunlop, and was transferred to Stoke City for £5,000 in July 1960 before joining Darlington in March 1965, later playing for Port Vale.

Jimmy O'Neill's Everton career record was 213 appearances.

John William Parker

Born 5 July 1925; Died 1988

John Willie Parker spent more than four years in the shadows, before establishing himself in the Everton side in the early '50s. He was a tall stylish inside forward with two good feet and the ability to create goal-scoring chances as well a being a regular scorer himself.

He arrived as an amateur in 1947 from St Lawrence CYMC and quickly graduated through the junior sides, signing professional forms in December 1948. Within 18 months he was a regular in the Central League side, but he did not make his first-team debut until 24 March 1951, when he occupied the outside-left berth against Blackpool at Goodison Park. He was a deceptive player who was often criticised for being too casual in his approach to the game; he had his faults but was widely regarded as one of the more cultured performers of the day.

John Willie Parker's Everton career record was 176 appearances 89 goals.

Clifford Brian Pinchbeck

Born 29 January 1925; Died 2 November 1996

The tall figure of Cliff Pinchbeck covered for Harry Catterick and Jock Dodds at Everton, making his debut in the First Division against Derby County in January 1948. He was transferred to Brighton and Hove Albion in 1949.

Cliff Pinchbeck's Everton career was 3 appearances.

Harold J Potts

Born 22 October 1922; Died 16 January 1996

Harry Potts was Everton's first £20,000 signing, an effective inside-forward he scored 50 goals in 181 appearances for Burnley, gaining an FA Cup Winner's medal in 1947.

The Turf Moor Board turned down a £25,000 bid from Blackpool before selling him to the Blues. He made his Everton debut at Charlton Athletic in October 1950, partnering left-winger Tommy Eglington.

His best season, was his first season at Goodison Park when he scored 5 goals in 29 games; he played only once when promotion was gained from the Second Division in 1954.

Harry Potts's Everton career record was 63 appearances 16 goals.

Aubrey Powell

Born 19 April 1918; Died 27 January 2009

Aubrey Powell was Everton's first-five figure signing after the Second World War. He joined the Blues from Leeds United, in readiness for the 1948-49 season, and made his debut in a 3-3 home draw with Newcastle United, and helped Everton escape relegation from the top flight.

A dapper yet somewhat fragile looking footballer, he was a wonderful dribbler and possessed a strong right-foot shot. he twice fought back after doctors had written him off with serious injuries.

During the Second World War he had served in Belgium before returning to win eight full caps, two with Everton, and star in four victorious international games for Wales. He made 112 League appearances for Leeds United scoring 25 goals.

Aubrey Powell's Everton Career record was 35 appearances 5 goals.

George Rankin

Born 29 January 1930; Died 1989

Owing to the form of Jack Hedley and Gordon Dugdale, and then George Saunders and Eric Moore, well-built George Rankin had to wait until December 1950 before making his League debut for Everton against Derby County at Goodison Park.

He retained his place in the side for the remainder of that season, before losing out to the former Rangers defender, Jock Lindsay. He later did well with Southport, making 144 appearances in four seasons.

George Rankin's Everton career record was 39 appearances.

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Reader Comments (24)

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Derek Knox
1 Posted 22/07/2018 at 16:30:38
A very interesting read, as all of your articles are, John. Kudos to you for the amount of research, you obviously devote to produce them.

Thanks for your efforts, and being a Gentleman Evertonian.

Dave Abrahams
2 Posted 22/07/2018 at 18:57:59
Joe Mercer played in the first senior game I saw at Goodison: for the opposition Arsenal in March 1948, he was on the winning side, he had a great career and like a lot of players after the war he wanted to look after himself financially, after the war robbed him six years playing time, although Joe certainly eked a good few years out of his career. Eric Moore was a good steady full back who played at Oldham the night we got promoted.

Jimmy O'Neill also played at Oldham that night and played in the semi final in 1953 versus Bolton, I used to see Jimmy in the old main stand after he finished his playing career, always easy to talk to and loved Everton.

John Willie was a very underrated football, was good with his head and set up many a goal with his flicks around the penalty area, leading goal scorer in our promotion year and in a few seasons before and after that, came from a footballing family from Birkenhead.

Pinchbeck, remember the name when I first started going to the match, don't think I saw any of his three games.

Harry Potts, £20,000 was a very large fee in those days, he might have been passed his best when we signed, maybe Kenwright was involved in that deal !!!!!, I remember seeing Harry in a friendly game v Notts County when he was involved in one of those old fashioned penalties, he took the penalty, just tapped it a few feet and another player ran forward and scored, not sure who, could have been Eddie Wainwright,

Aubrey Powell, was he a Welsh international?, he played in the record crowd versus Liverpool, the 3-3 game v Newcastle, if I'm not mistaken was one of eight draws in the first division that day and to my shame I wasn't at the game, don't know why but I was at Anfield watching Liverpool reserves beating Barnsley reserves 5-2, I told you last week John, I had a capacity for storing useless information in my hea

George Rankin was a decent left back who never really made a name for himself at the Blues but got a decent career out of football.

Martin Baggott
3 Posted 22/07/2018 at 20:16:05
Hi John. Thank you for a wonderful series of posts.

Regarding Joe Mercer, he was one of two England captains to have been born in Ellesmere Port – the other being Stan Cullis, of course. Ellesmere Port was, until the 1960s & 1970's I think, the only place in England outside of London to have provided the country with two captains and the town provided many professional footballers – Kevin Lewis, Ian Bowyer, Niel Whatmore, and many others too.

John McFarlane Snr
4 Posted 22/07/2018 at 20:49:01
Hi Derek [1], thanks for the compliment, but to tell you the truth it takes me longer to type the article than it does to gain the data. That's the problem with one-finger typing.

Hi Dave [2], I bumped into Jimmy O'Neill in Ormskirk a few years before he died, and I thanked him for the years of enjoyment he gave me. During the chat I had with him, I mentioned that I had an Everton book that had been signed by Joe Mercer, Ted Sagar and Tommy Lawton, he immediately said "Bring it along to the next home game, and I will add my signature," which he did outside of the Winslow, a true gentleman.

With regard to John Willie Parker, some used to say that your hero, Dave Hickson, did all the work and that John Willie was lazy, but they were an outstanding strike force.

Cliff Pinchbeck is a memory locked in the recesses of your mind, because he played in the Arsenal game that you referred to, a 2-0 home defeat in March 1948, the three games he played in all resulted in defeats, 3-1 Derby County (home) and 3-0 to Preston North End (away).

Everton played two friendlies against Notts County in January and February 1951, there's a good chance I would have seen them but I can't recall them. In the first game, Everton won 3-2, Harry Potts (2), Jimmy McIntosh scoring, and in the second game Tommy Eglington (2) and Oscar Hold scored in a 3-0 win.

The friendlies would have been arranged because Everton had lost 2-0 to Hull City in the FA Cup. I do however remember the friendly a fortnight after the second Notts County game, it was against Middlesbrough a 1-1 draw, the goal scorer Jimmy McIntosh, my stand out memory being the golden-haired Wilf Mannion.

Yes, Dave, Aubrey Powell was a Welsh International, and he actually scored in the 3-3 Newcastle game;like you I have a head stuffed with useless information, although I suspect that a leakage has occurred because I know there are games I have attended that I can't recall, but then, between us we have seen one or two, I'd be lost without my books.

Rick Tarleton
5 Posted 22/07/2018 at 20:51:56
In my first Everton game (Plymouth 1953-54), John Willie Parker scored four, though it was Dave Hickson who captured my young imagination. Jimmy O'Neill was a good keeper and again I rather liked him.

Thanks for the memories, I also saw Moore play but have no vivid memory of him.

Thanks, again, John.

Andy Crooks
6 Posted 22/07/2018 at 21:54:35
Another top post, John. I love the description of Joe Mercer as a wing- half. How much more appropriate is that than the descriptions we have today.
John McFarlane Snr
7 Posted 22/07/2018 at 23:08:02
Hi Martin [3], I've done a bit of digging and it appears that Joe Mercer didn't captain England, although Stan Cullis certainly did; it also appears that Stanley Harris (Old Westminsters) did so on 4 occasions between 25 February 1905 and 7 April 1906, and his fellow Bristolian, Eddie Hapgood, did so on 21 occasions between 14 April 1934 and 18 May 1939. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Hi Rick [5], that's one game I do remember, the other goals coming from Dave Hickson (2), Cyril Lello, and a Jock Lindsay penalty; we really must get together, Rick, when the circumstances are favourable.

Hi Andy [6], I really can't be doing with a player wearing 18 on his back being referred to as the 'Number 10' – and what's this 'false Number 9' all about? I even heard Brendan Rodgers saying that one of the Liverpool players was a 9½ — I thought he was talking about his shoe size!!

Ian Burns
8 Posted 23/07/2018 at 09:46:14
Hi John, another fascinating part of your latest series. Many thanks for the work you put in to make your series of articles an interesting read and a great way to spend time with a cup of tea.

I recall Mercer as a manager more than a player but I was fascinated to read your response (post 4) with regards to John Willie Parker. I recall my late father telling me that JWP was "a goal hanger". You have alluded to it in your post and it is the first time I have ever read or heard mention of it other than my father's "moans". I think he was influenced by Dave Hickson, who he loved until he moved over the park and against whom I once played cricket.

Once again, John, many thanks.

Steve Barr
9 Posted 23/07/2018 at 16:04:53
Hi John,

Interested to see George Rankin is mentioned in this one.

I believe he was one of four of the Rankin family to play for Everton. I only saw Andy Rankin play "in the flesh" and in addition to him and George, the other two Rankins to play for Everton were Bruce and Billy.

What an amazing football/Everton family!

John McFarlane Snr
11 Posted 23/07/2018 at 18:45:30
Hi Ian [8], I think it was a bit unfair if people to label John Willie Parker as a goal hanger, he had the knack of being in the right place at the right time.

In the 1951-52 season, he scored 16 League and FA Cup goals in 38 appearances, Dave Hickson netted 14 goals in 33 appearances.

In the 1952-53 season, John Willie scored 17 goals in 36 League and Cup games, while Davie weighed in with 16 goals in 32 games.

In 1953-54, Everton's promotion season, John Willie scored 33 times in 41 League and FA Cup games, Davie scored 28 goals in 43 League and FA Cup games

The 1954-55 season saw John Willie score 19 times in 34 League and FA Cup matches, Davie notched 13 goals in 41 League and FA Cup starts.

The partnership was broken up in September 1955 when Dave Hickson was transferred to Aston Villa, John Willie Parker struggled that season without his mate, scoring only 4 goals in 20 League appearances and he was transferred to Bury in May 1956.

So Ian, you will see from the figures that their partnership was a fruitful one, 122 goals between them in three seasons.

Hi Steve [9], you are right when you say that George Rankin was from a sporting family, but I'm afraid that Billy Rankin never made it to the first team. I believe that George was the nephew of George 'Stonewall' Jackson who played at right-back for Everton in the 1940s, I'll try to get some more information on Billy Rankin.

Lenny Kingman
12 Posted 23/07/2018 at 18:50:08
Andy had a mare at Forest in the FA Cup Quarterfinal in 1967 but redeemed himself in the epic, first-ever penalty shootout against the Germans in the European Cup tie in 1971.
Peter Mills
13 Posted 23/07/2018 at 19:32:10
In the time I’ve been watching football since the early 60s, Joe Mercer has got to be up there with Bobby Robson as the most likeable character.
Len Hawkins
14 Posted 23/07/2018 at 19:40:37
Peter I agree Joe Mercer was like everyone's favourite Granddad, he tickled me when he was commenting on foreign players – his pronounciation was hysterical. Pele to him was Pee-Lee.
John McFarlane Snr
15 Posted 23/07/2018 at 20:44:18
Hi again Steve [9] I've managed to come up with the following, "Billy Rankin, Bruce's son was on Everton's books at one time, and played for Marine in the 1932 FA Amateur Cup Final.

He represented England at baseball, and later became a baseball referee. He was a back stop at baseball and was known as the man with the 'Iron Hands' as he didn't wear protective gloves.

If George Jackson was related in any way to the Rankin family, which I believe was, then he and Billy would have played together in that Amateur Cup Final.

Hi Lenny [12] I should have gone to the Forest v Everton FA Cup match, but we moved to Skelmersdale that weekend. I was told that Everton were in control until Joe Baker was injured and Ian Storey-Moore moved to centre-forward, grabbing a hat-trick in the process.

Hi Peter [13] and Len [14], I think you have hit the nail on the head, Joe Mercer and Bobby Robson, were not only gentlemen, they were also 'Gentle Men' not a trace of arrogance. My daughter when she was a little girl, received Joe's autograph, he wrote "To Vicky", a pity really because her name is Nicki.

The day that Everton beat Luton Town, I was at the ground early and Bobby Robson drove into Goodison Avenue looking for the car park. I directed him to the Bullens Road car park entrance and then took it upon myself to escort him and his wife to main entrance, He presented the League Championship Trophy Everton that day, happy memories.

Lenny Kingman
16 Posted 24/07/2018 at 07:22:05
Hi John, you were better off in Skem than Nottingham that day my blue friend. Helluva cup tie though but our chance of retaining the trophy we gallantly won the year before was over.

I believe that if Westy had been in nets that day we would have prevailed. History repeated itself in my little blue book when another goalkeeping change in the FA Cup brought us down. That would be many years later when Mimms came in for Big Nev and well, you know the rest.

Peter Mills
17 Posted 24/07/2018 at 08:48:00
Len#14, and he would refer to Cruyff as “Cruft”.
John McFarlane Snr
18 Posted 24/07/2018 at 12:32:35
Hi Len [14] and Peter [17],

Can you remember the first game of the 1961-62 season when we beat Aston Villa 2-0, and Derek Dougan sported a 'Mohican style' haircut? It was reported that a couple of weeks later, Joe Mercer called Dougan into his office and said, "If you want to be different, score a few bloody goals".

Ray Atherton
19 Posted 24/07/2018 at 15:04:17
John (18)

The first game of the 1961/62 season,when Derek
Dougan had that mohican hairstyle.

Whenever DD touched the ball, 40,000 Evertonians
started whooping like red Indians. Derek Dougan
was a colourful character all the teams that he
played for.

He was a good centre forward especially playing
for Northern Ireland, who had a decent team then.

The Blues won against the Villa 2-0, a good start.

Some of the teams he played for, Aston Villa,
Blackburn, Porthsmouth,Wolves.

Did he have something to do with a takeover at
Wolves with other investors.?

John McFarlane Snr
20 Posted 24/07/2018 at 15:34:34
Hi Ray [19] Derek Dougan was part of a Consortium that saved Wolves from liquidation, later serving as Chairman of the club. He was a colourful character indeed, and was at one time, 'Chairman of the Players Union'. There are countless stories involving Derek, but they'll have to wait for another day, unless someone comes online with one or two.
Terry White
21 Posted 24/07/2018 at 18:13:39
I do remember Eric as a steady right back. Jimmy O'Neill was one of the autographs I got at GP on my only visit there for that purpose. It palled in comparison to getting the signature of a new signing, Jimmy Gabriel. I wished I still had it. Of course new signings were ten a penny at that time.
Jeff Wallace
22 Posted 27/11/2018 at 10:20:11
Hi John,

Some of your comments regarding the Rankins are correct, but there was 8 in total to represent the club at all different levels.

Bruce Rankin and his brother George Rankin –1900s; Billy Rankin (George Rankin's Dad) Also played for Marine.

George Rankin – 1950's (George's dad wouldn't allow him to go full time, hence in and out of the team, also serving in the army. Billy Rankin (George Rankin's Brother) also played for Marine and Southport with George.

George Rankin (Andy Rankin's Dad)

Andy Rankin –1960s

Billy Wallace (George and Andy's Cousin, grandson of Bruce Rankin) also played for Bolton.

Plus others who played for other clubs, Wigan Athletic, Tranmere, Huddersfield.

Jeff, Bruce Rankin's Great Grandson.

Alan McGuffog
23 Posted 27/11/2018 at 10:26:33
Did Dougan not get charged with burglary or some such in his later years?
Jeff Wallace
24 Posted 28/11/2018 at 11:36:30
Bruce Rankin's Wife was Mary Jackson, her family lived opposite Walton parish church, so there's a good possibility they are related. Bobby Rankin told us they was and it was George Jackson who played for Everton.

If it's correct, that then can make 9, must be a record, over 4 generations, the club really in my opinion should give us some recognition for this.

John McFarlane Snr
25 Posted 28/11/2018 at 14:12:04
Hi Alan [23], I can recall that it was reported, in the build-up to the 1960 FA Cup Final (Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Blackburn Rovers), that Derek Dougan had a big fall-out with his girlfriend, and she threw all the presents he had bought her onto her front garden. This may well be the incident you refer to.

Hi Alan [23] George Rankin was indeed the nephew of George "Stonewall" Jackson.

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