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Celebrity Interview

Jon Gard does a superb job of interviewing Colin Harvey...

The White Pele
"I've lived the dream being here"  

6 August 2003

It was a bright and sunny morning in Liverpool when GOMH*, mainstay of the People's Forum, rang me to tell me he was indisposed so would I like to go and interview Everton legend Colin Harvey, or if you will, The White Pele.  Would I?

Couple of hours later and I was at the back of the queue, sat behind the grizzled hacks of Streets Old Hall and Paradise in the Directors Box, overlooking a frankly beautiful playing surface, waiting my turn.  Little did Colin know what was in store from a ToffeeWeb viewpoint

The first thing that struck me about him were his eyes.  I've never noticed before that he (hereafter known as TWP) has ball-bearings for eyes.  If he stared at you on a pitch, you got the message. The second was how humble the man is.  For all his achievements, which are legion, he refused to take credit, always intimating he was 'lucky'.

I asked TWP 'Why Everton?':  "Me dad was a 'mad-hot' Evertonian and I just fell in  Then, of course, the dream is to play for Everton and I was a lucky one, I got that".  I can't really explain the glint in his eye as he said those words.

"I used to stand over there, right there, in the corner of the Boys Pen.  You wouldn't think it now, the amount of us they used to squeeze in.  My dad would drop me there, go into the Gwladys Street, then pick me up at six.  I'm not sure of my first match, but my first real memory is of there being 75,000 mad Evertonians in here against Charlton."  Again there's a glint in his eye, a wistful smile; I'm sure he can still see them.

I ask Colin what his first game was like...  "Well, it was funny, because I remember when we won the league in '63.  I'd been playing at Bellefield, got up to the ground, got in to see the trophy being presented and you know, two months later, I was playing for that team in the European Cup."  Which brings us round to Sunday and TWP's testimonial, against Bologna.  Colin pointed out the irony that his first and last games with Everton will be against Italian opposition 

" although it's a little bit different having a pre-season friendly with making your debut in the European Cup against Inter Milan!  It was funny that though, Harry Catterick only pulled me aside that day and told me I was playing, didn't really have time to get too nervous.  I think I did reasonably well, but we as a team did really well, so it went on from there."

We got onto why TWP is finally leaving Goodison Park, almost 43 years after he first came in:  "After the operation, although everything's been great, it stops my movement a bit, I can't coach the way I like, the way I want to coach.  The Youth Academy has been totally different to everything else.  I've really enjoyed it, but I just missed seeing the thousands of fans every week."

Obviously, talk of the Academy brings us around to the topic of young players or rather, one particular young player  "Wayne has great potential, but until he's won something, a trophy or a few more caps, then you just don't know.  It doesn't matter what you do as coaches to good players, the main thing is that they have to want it, but that lad really has the character.  Until he's played 300 games like Bally though, we don't know how he'll pan out!"

Aah, Alan Ball.  The player many considered to be TWP's only rival as our best midfielder ever.  So what were Colin's thoughts on him?:

"I was a decent player myself, but was always surrounded by great players.  The best though was Alan.  He's my favourite.  Great players win things.  List the things Alan did, it's everything, trophies, caps 72, I think the mark of a great player."

I point out that many people consider Colin to have been 'ok' as well, but got far less caps than he should have  "It's nice people say that, but I'd have got nothing like Alan nowhere near.  Maybe more than I did though!  But look at Johnny Morrisey.  He was one of the most under-rated players I've ever known.  My best memories are all as a player, though; all I wanted to do was play and win for Everton and I did that.  I've loved it all and hopefully people think I've done a good job.  I think so, as they keep on asking me back!"

Speaking briefly on management, Colin was adamant that it wasn't a low-point for him, as he was at the club he loved; but, despite decent league finishes and good cup runs, he just couldn't win a trophy for Evertonians.  That was what he wanted more than anything, to reward the people who came every week.  He kept coming back to the loyalty of the fans.  This man *understands*.

This obviously leads us to our current manager, a man Colin has great respect for "Davie is a fantastic manager, doing a fantastic job.  You can't just get success, but you can work toward it.  He's got the dedication, and the know-how, and sets things up right, and that's all you can do."

"The game hasn't changed really.  People say it has that its quicker, faster but all I see is that it's the same thousands of Blues wanting to see you do the right things, to see you win.  I don't envy the players today really, not the money, not the fame.  I tell you what I envy; I envy that they get to play."

'What does Everton mean to you?'  "I mean, thinking on it, you have to think your family first, your parents, your wife, your kids.  But, after that, I mean, [whistles] it's got to be hasn't it?"and grins.

And more importantly, for readers of The People's Forum, the ultimate question LION OR TIGER?

Colin ponders.  Looks through me.  Fixes ball-bearing eyes on me TIGER.  Ok, but why?  There's a minute of silence, whilst TWP concentrates more than a man ever should, but finally breaks his peace:

"It's got to be tiger, hasn't it?  I mean, tigers are just hard, aren't they?  I don't know, it just always sticks in my head, when you say someone is 'like a tiger'.  So tiger, definitely."

So there you have it.  The ultimate question answered by THE ultimate Everton man.  I never knew much about Colin before today, but I am in awe of him now.  A true blue, a real legend.


Jon Gard

2003 ToffeeWeb


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