Everton is a club famed for its tradition of centre-forwards. It is nearly as famous for its goalkeepers, but there have been fewer of them. In fact, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that only two men have ever kept goal for the club, but that is unfair on the likes of Dai Davies, David Lawson and particularly Gordon West, who was a very good goalkeeper and actually played in nearly as many games as Ted Sagar – 399 in total. He is not usually remembered with the same reverence as Sagar, though.
Sagar only ever played for the one club – from the moment he signed from the junior leagues as a 19-year-old in March 1929, until he made his last appearance at Plymouth Argyle in November 1952 – a mammoth 463 League games later. That total was an Everton record which outlived him, surviving until eight years after his death when it was surpassed by Neville Southall in 1994.
It was during the 1931-32 season that Sagar established himself in the side, and he spent the next 11 seasons as the first-choice goalkeeper at Goodison – although that period spanned 17 years, six of which saw football suspended while the Second World War was fought. Immediately he settled into the team, Everton won the League Title. Sagar missed only one game that season, and didn't miss any the following year as Everton were again successful, this time in the FA Cup. The season before war broke out, Everton were Champions once more and many observers agreed that the side of 1938-39 was the finest they had ever seen.
After the war, in 1950-51, the 40-year-old Sagar – still first-choice – became the last Everton goalkeeper to play in a relegated side. Not an honour to be especially proud of, but it was something else Neville Southall came close to taking from him in 1994. His last appearance was made in Division Two, in November 1952.
Sagar died in October 1986, aged 76. On his passing, Everton lost a dedicated servant, the like of whom may never be seen again.
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