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Everton Independent Supporters Association

Another fabulous night of stars at Goodison park, 
this time Howard Kendall was the star turn

Ian MacDonald

Last night, I was back at Goodison Park, the venue where more memories were logged of a great season, the best in years.  Former players were gathered courtesy of Bluenose promotions.  The dinner was to raise 3000 to help the charity Wellcare send some of its members on holiday.

Those gathered included: Howard Kendall, Gordon West, Brian Labone, John Bailey, Roger Kenyon, Gary Jones Mark Ward, Ian Snodin, local comedian Mickey Finn and Rooney's mum, Janette.  Hundreds of passionate Blues had gathered The Alex Young suite for this event.  The MC for the night was Elton Welsby, the ex-Granada presenter now working for Century Radio.  Rumour has it he left because of Granada sponsoring Liverpool....

Elton introduced the top table and Brian Snagg who was part of the original organisers of Blueblood with Roger Kenyon.  All who took part gave their services free of charge, a gesture that deserves respect and a pat on the back.

There were auctions to be held later for other items but the first item up for grabs was an autographed picture of the Holy Trinity.  10 given with your name got you a chance to win this great piece of memorabilia. E very penny raised went to the WellCare appeal; over 400 was raised later on.

After the meal, a first-team autographed shirt this was held up by Ian Snodin and fetched a respectable 300.  Then a picture bigger than John Bailey who struggled to keep it up, as always according to Howard, was auctioned.  This picture was again of the first-team shirt, autographed and surrounded by caricatures of the current team; it beat the previous mounted shirt framed by 20.  Then a Tony Hibbert signed caricature a lot smaller than the two previous items but fetched still an admirable 80.  As Elton said, surely Tony will be our next player to become a full England International. 

A small interlude came with the song No Other Team playing in the background.  I don't know if it was the Stella kicking in but this song does find you singing along these days, the lyrics make your chest push out with pride.

Now came the part were Howard Kendall was to give his speech the most successful manager in our 125 year history.  The call of One Howard Kendall went up with the same vigor of the new Moyes manager's song.  Howard appealed for calm; we will never forget this man's part in our Everton lives.

"17 years here a player and manager and still they can't spell my name right looking at the invitation with one letter l.  When Howard first came into the Main Entrance earlier the usher was asked where was the meeting place was? "The Trophy Room do you know where it is, Howard?"  "F*** Off " came the reply!

Howard described the first time he was guest speaker by chance as a late replacement; he said that he played that bingo game were you sit down if your number is shouted out.  Howard lasted less than a minute someone in the audience shouted that was as long as he lasted at Notts County!

Howie told us he went to school with Roxy Music's Brian Ferry who was always combing his hair.  Howie told him he shouldn't do it so much as his hair will fall out... have you seen the two men's locks lately?

Whilst he was a player at Preston in 1967, an offer came in for his services.  Everyone thought Howard was going to join Liverpool but it was the Everton manager Harry Catterick who grabbed him in one of his famous cloak-and-dagger transfer deals.  The Cat said "Welcome to the big time, son."  As Howard looked around the changing room, he instantly knew what The Cat  meant: Names like Gordon Westy, and Brian Labone; World Cup winners Alan Ball and Ray Wilson; Roy Vernon, Alex Young, Derek Temple etc...  He was just 20 at the time and truly awe-inspired.  It's a reverse role now with young Wayne all the seniors are in awe of the lad.

Howard told us The Cat ruled by fear.  Tommy Wright was always moaning about wanting a better deal but wouldn't ask till one day Westy had had enough and grabbed Tommy and placed him in front of the manager's door, knocked and ran away leaving a young cowering Tommy Wright.  When young Tommy came back to the changing room, everyone asked if he got what he wanted?  Tommy said, "No, I just stood there and said sorry for disturbing you."  Ah the good old manager ways.

We were told Bally kept telling fellow players that his ambition was to own his own house by the end of his playing days.  Now, players like Owen own estates and mansions how the times have changed, but are many of these well paid-players fit to lace the boots of such stars like Howard and Co from the sixties?

Howard said it seemed everybody had a nickname, Ball of Fire, the Golden Vision.  Then there was Chopper Harris and it wasn't about his tackling but the other tackle Chopper use to get it out all the time, lifting glasses in night clubs.  Then there was sniffer Clark of Leeds a name many players presently could have.  Even Liverpool's Tony Hately had a nickname: it was Skippy after the Australian Kangaroo series shown on TV at the time.  How did he get that name?  Well rumour has it when Shankly was asked about the aspiring number nine he would mutter "tttt tttt tttt" just like the way Skippy used to reply to questions.

Neil "Disa" Pointon, who was not.  A great bit of business for 35,000 by Howard.  And of course Stuart "Jigsaw" Barlow who went to pieces in the box especially an infamous game at Anfield.  Our great ex-manager spoke of his reluctance to go to Birmingham in the part exchange deal that brought Big Bad Bob Latchford to us, a great traditional Everton centre-forward.

Howard told us that the difference between club's hit home when Everton did laps of honour it was because we won something, whereas with Birmingham they did a lap of honour because they stayed in the old First Division.  Still, Birmingham set Howard on his way to his managerial career.  Freddy Goodwin, the Brum manager, sent Howard to coaching school at Lilleshall were he met his good friend Jim "Bald Eagle" Smith now currently with high flying Pompey.  Bobby Robson gave them training talks and told of the new techniques he studied in Brazil at the Copa Cabana Beach in Brazil.

Then came Howard's first stint as player-manager of Blackburn.  In a League Cup semi-final against Forest, Blackburn held the team of the moment 1-1 at Ewood Park, but lost 6-1 at the City Ground.  Still, Howard shone that night, Cloughie said that he was looking for a midfield player just like Howard (remember he was the visiting manager), "How old are ya lad?"  "Thirty three" came Howards reply, "Nah, ya too old son." and Cloughie walked away.

Then came Howard's destiny, he came to manage Everton in 1981, taking over from Gordon Lee.  He remembered Lee saying the highlight of his career was taking Newcastle to Dukla Prague, "Why was that" he asked. "Well I've never been to Prague before."  Howard knew he had a chance here at Goodison then. 
As you may well remember, Howard and directors were under pressure at the beginning for results after a poor run.  The leaflets etc clearly hurt Howard (again I'll tell ya it was not me!  I was too young then...), the painting on his Garage door and front door: "Kendall out" Howard thought that the graffiti artist must be a red, surely not a Blue.  He later found out it was his missus!

Howard then told tales of Everton, pre-season trips to Japan and New Zealand where John Bailey, his great mate, was believed to have said in the morning time for breakfast, "Have you got a full breakfast please?"  "No", came the waitress's reply, "we have no bacon left."  "What with all the sheep in this country?" was Bailsie's reply!

The Magnificent Seven whom Howard had signed were mentioned.  Believe it or not, Howard was criticised for most of these signings (except for Neville Southall) and was told by a visiting journalist that managers lived or died by their signings. Howard retorted, "Well I've got two weeks to live then!"  

Speaking of Big Nev, his signing came as a result of a tip-off from a mate in a the pub in Llandudno.  "That's why I frequent pubs a lot I'm looking for players" Howard boomed out.  You could tell Howard was still smug for signing our greatest goalie since Westy, truly a world class player.  Howard said Neville loved playing Croatia because when he came out for the ball he shouted "Mine" and the whole Croatian team fucked off!

Howard truly believes we were the best team in the 1980s but, as always in our history, it seems that outside matter mess us up from achieving lasting greatness.  When he went to Spain, he soon learnt that, unlike in this country, not everything was above board.  When the Cupa del Rey was drawn in Spain, every second division club met a first division club.  When he questioned this, he was told it was a payday for the lower clubs.  But how did they manage that in the draw?  Well, apparently, Howard was told, one set of balls was ice cold and another set was very hot when placed in the bag.  I wonder now about our past draws in the cup.  But that's just me... or did you ever wonder?

Howard went on to tell of the time he managed a team in Greece; he had bad results there once and the crowd shouted out what he thought was "Kendall!"  Howard replied with approving waves.  An interpreter told Howard what they were saying was "Wanker!"

Back at Everton for the third time, he spent 500,000 on Paul Rideout from Rangers who did some sterling work for us including that important goal at Ipswich and another that slips my mind...  The board said they were unhappy about this signing at first; "What do you mean?"  Howie said, "you sanctioned the money for him."  "We meant Howard we want you to get dried out!"

Our greatest manager went on to tell more classic folklore stories.  You have to listen to this great man if you get the chance; he commands instant respect and is a great Ambassador for the club.  

Well how do you follow a great man like Howard?  Put a comedian on and Mickey Finn is a very good Scouse comedian he has you rolling with laughter.  It's especially hard for comedians here on Merseyside as we all think we are comedians.  Mickey opened up with " I've played a bit of football in the past myself!  But I don't go on about it..."  He's a good act!

All the top table spoke about Howard and what it meant to play for Everton themselves.  That word "we" was repeated again and again.  The club does touch those who have had the privilege to play for it.

Of course, the fans interacted with the top table, singing songs that make your heart go whoooar!  An autograph hunter's paradise was right there on that top table.  Another great night at Goodison once again, happy days are here for Evertonians.

I'll close with another classic line from Howard: he told us the best ever scout we had was Harry Cook "Harry spotted Alan Ball for us in a world cup final!"

I hope that WellCare succeeded in their aim to raise the 3,000 required to send some of its members on holiday.  Everton in the Community exceeds the boundaries of the present employees jobs, thanks to the old guard who gave us such pleasure in the past and now giving even more to others less fortunate.

Well in, everybody last night!
Ian Macdonald Independent Blues



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