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An Afternoon with Alex Young at Radio Merseyside

By Ian  Macdonald :  12/09/2008 :  Comments (19) :

Editor's note: You can currently hear the Alex Young interview with Billy Butler via the Listen Again facility on Radio Merseyside. There will also be interviews with Alan Jackson and The Golden Vision on Radio Merseyside this week

Over the years I get lucky and get invited to Everton-related functions and events. Such an event took place this afternoon at Radio Merseyside in Hanover Street. It was another unforgettable time meeting a past icon and hero to so many ? the great Alex Young. As an added bonus, the man who has brought so much to the Everton cause, David France, invited that classy left back Alex Parker.

BBC Merseyside's new home is both friendly and efficient. Alex was a guest on the popular Billy Butler show, a fellow Blue, to talk about in new book ?The Golden Vision? ? what else could it be called? But before the Sixties darling was interviewed, a book signing opportunity was given to the fans within the building.

The two Alex's walked in to huge applause like all-conquering gladiators. Some fans threw petals at their feet, and others knelt down wanting a blessing from this Greek God.

Alex Parker and Alex Young arrive at BBC Radio Merseyside

The lines of young and old went outside the doors. After forty years his adoration to so many had not diminished or wilted. I had to laugh at some of the fans' articles also wanting to be autographed, from old shirts to family photos. I recognised so many of the older Everton extended family, some I?ve not seen or talked to in years.

Looking at Young he could be a late out-of-contract signing for us. Alex Parker still had the looks of Frankie Vaughan and Victor Mature.

Time was edging closer to the opening of Billy?s show. I sprayed some more WD40 on Alex's signing hand to hurry him up.
At the side of the foyer there is room for an audience to gather, the last time I was here was for a celebration of Dixie with Alan Jackson as the host.

David France and Alex Young

An appropriate Nat King Cole song piped into the room, which one? You guessed it ?Unforgettable'! Billy introduced Alex in as royalty, a king amongst men in the Sixties. Alex sat down for his interview with Billy and both he and Alex P were again met with thunderous applause, all the pigeons and seagulls in Liverpool One flew up and the new Liverpool merchandise shop was showered with their fertilizer.

Then that mellow Scottish accent was heard to the waiting audience; a silence like a graveyard came, each fan in almost disbelief that their hero was amongst them again just feet away.

Billy checked to see if Alex had wings on his feet because fans thought he had with his jumping prowess and ability to hang in the air. There was bewilderment on Alex's face again as this worship poured towards him.

Billy asked why the look. ?Well I played well at times and sometimes really well, that's all?

As Billy said, Alex came from an era where fans could identify with them, they were not aloof or in a different world. Alex told us of the five years he spent playing part-time football and working down the mine. Many lads went down the mine rather than join up but the army caught him, unlike so many defenders who could not, and he was sent to Aldershot for his national service.

He won a championship with Hearts, breaking the Old Firm grip, then he had to choose between Everton and Proud Preston. Alex always heard of Everton up North and knew he had to go to the bigger club under the then Everton manager John Carey, who was infamously sacked in the back of a taxi by Sir John Moore's for finishing... fourth! Such were the demands at Everton then.

At the beginning of his Everton career Alex admitted to being not very good, hampered by injury. ?When are you going to be fit Young?? Sir John would say abruptly.

In his later days at Everton, Alex played with Michael Owen's dad, Terry. I think Terry watched Alex intently and passed some of that wisdom to his young son. Just were our Everton are scouts in the Eighties and Nineties? Thankfully, we have turned the corner with our local scouting taking young Jose Baxter off the reds and a host of clubs for Rooney.

Alex Young fields Billy Butler's questions

Billy asked, "How did you learn to jump so high"? Alex responded by saying he leapt from one leg rather than together, he hung in the air due to some magic powder his wife Nancy gave him from the Scottish highlands heather ? the blue type, of course.

Questions were then asked from the floor, one fan asking how did he have such a telepathic relationship between him and Roy Vernon? Alex says they practiced in the training ground with one-twos and flicking the ball over defenders, we knew where to run for each other. Talking about Vernon, Alex told us he could hit the ball like a cannon shot, hardly ever missing a penalty. Unsy was the closet I think with an unblemished penalty-taking record for Everton, although I believe he did miss one the other week for his new club Huddersfield. Vernon was a terrible smoker even lighting up in the showers after the game and hiding the cigarette in his mouth.

Matty Lyons, as in Mick the fan, asked about Bobby Collins, the little general, and should he have been sold after demolishing Cardiff 8-3. No, and all the players agreed at the time. He was a hard man, an angry man at times. Telling the tale that he went mad because he could not reach his coat as he was so small,jumping up and down. But what a winner.

Another fan asked did Alex float home to Mount Olympus as he was a Greek God! Alex had golden hair which seemed never out of place.

?How do you spend your time now, Alex?

Alex: ?I babysit a lot, it's wonderful. Oh, and my gardening. I will do my garden then the other children's."

?So you don't have trouble with blisters on your feet now?? Billy threw in. Alex suffered terribly with them and fans would write in with all kinds of remedies.

During the break an old favourite "Amore," a Dean Martin song fluted through, but Frank Sinatra was his all time favourite singer. Alex starts singing along, he felt at home again amongst his people.

"What was life like in the sixties for a professional footballer at Everton?"

"Well I was left alone when I went to the shops, etc. I had a nice car with a record player in it, and very chic at the time it was. We would go for a meal at the Lord Nelson with Nancy, then to the Royal Tiger, a haunt for both sets of players on Merseyside.

Happy days!

Catterick and Young... Alex gave the impression that has been echoed to me by so many that he was not the most likable man. He would knock your confidence, why I don't know. He was not a tracksuit manager and distanced himself from the team on many occasions. He was a strict disciplinarian. Right from he word go they never got on, one fellow teammate telling Alex that the Cat was out to get him. It was Carey who signed Alex, so maybe that came into it; he wanted his team. Remember the anger when a young Joe Royle replaced Alex at Blackpool away?

Alex thought that Catterick never liked Scotsmen. One report by the manager stated that Alex did a parcel of tricks with no effect on the team. Alex got on better with Shankly, seeing his fellow Scot at Bellfield where Shanks lived. The Liverpool manager would shout, "Hows it going, Sandy??

George Orr gave a glowing tribute to Alex, telling us of the time the police would grab them off the field by their hair when running to their hero. George took a piece of the turf home to show his Dad where Alex had trod. His dad said, well that's two stupid sods in front of me now! If Alex was playing now Flymo would sponsor him.

Alan Ball was the best player he played with, he was awesome. He took all the kicks that Liverpool could muster but still scored every time he played against them. He turned Everton in the late Sixties into winners again. Alex would spend a lot of time with Bally at the races and socializing in general.

Talking of Labby, he was frustrated by the big man as he would help opponents up when his teammates wanted him to kick them as they did to Alex and co. He was not a skilful player but a great defender and tackler.

Matty6 asked about his old Hearts teammate, Don McKay, and in comparison to Tony Kay. Alex said that they were both hard men but Tony should have been the next England captain but for a mad judge, a terrible decision to ban him at such an age. But would that not have affected the Holy Trinity if Kay had been around? "No," said Alex, "We would have had to have played four in midfield!"

Alex revealed he was into the Mersey beat at the time knowing the Searchers, the Undertakers and the Swinging Blue Jeans to name just a few. Alex started to become deaf at 23 and had trouble hearing his fellow team mates' shouts, I suppose that's why he seemed a one-man team at times.

Such was the bond between Alex and the Evertonians many went to see Alex's debut at Stockport when he left Everton. He retired at the age of 31 but will never be retired in the masses of the older generations of Evertonians.

Time flew like Alex and Billy ended this afternoon delight with the words, ?Alex will always remain a Golden Vision.?

After the show the two Alex's and David France did an interview with Alan Jackson. Its' a busy life being an icon at times, always in demand when you come back to your football home. Evertonians have a home for Alex and co always in their hearts.

I did an interview for Tabacula and told them I never saw Alex play I was too young but I saw him play in my Dad's eyes and hundreds of other Evertonians when they told the tales of the Golden Vision.

Applause for the Golden Vision

Reader Comments

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Trevor Lynes
1   Posted 13/09/2008 at 04:58:22

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I watched EFC since 1950 and played against Temple, Morrisey and Alan A?Court... My best ever EFC side would be Southall, Wright, Wilson, Kendall, Labone, Kay, Ball, Collins, Young, Vernon and Sheedy. That's not just nostalgia, that is fact... Kay was a tragedy and could well have ended up better than Ball and Sheedy could not get a game for Liverpool so joined us. Vernon was just about my favourite but Young was the nearest player to Tostao the great Brazilian I ever saw... Vernon always played well in the big games against Liverpool and Man Utd. Carey was a great manager who always wanted good football. We were not as good away from home but the team were entertainers and personally that's what I think football should be about. That's why I admire Arsenal today.....
Allan Hough
2   Posted 13/09/2008 at 06:33:41

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Just to correct a couple of things. Alex Parker was a RIGHT back and an expert on the sliding tackle. He even played a few games at right-half early in hids career with Everton.

Alex Young?s Hearts teammate was DAVE Mackay

Patrick Whitty
3   Posted 13/09/2008 at 07:37:52

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What a brilliant article Ian. Very informative and well written. It fills some gaps in my memory. I love these articles as you get some really good nuggets of information. I started watching the blues regurlarly in 1962 and remmember Alex Young and co so vividly. One thing that stood out for me was the way he would see the goalie off his line and then chip the ball into the net from outside and sometimes inside the box. Roy Vernon had the power but Alex had the Skill. What a combination! Anyone else have any memories of these times?
Bilbo Baggins
4   Posted 13/09/2008 at 08:45:28

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Ian you really do know how to make a grown man cry. Your fabulous account of the visit of two of our finest really hits home how much love there was for players of years gone bye. You're right in what you say about not seeing these two greats in action, I didn't see them but you knew how good they were by the way your dad's expression changed when talking about certain players. Another great piece which is even better with the images, sorry I couldn't make it.
Jeff Spiers
5   Posted 13/09/2008 at 09:53:26

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To Alex Young.... Thank You. Nil Satis Nisi Optimum
Ian Macdonald
6   Posted 13/09/2008 at 09:56:23

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Hi Allan,
Burning the midnight oil at times gives the err to mistakes mate. I was only a toddler at the time of these two past greats... sadly my Dad is not here for a quick reference. Anyway, I try my best. One of the older fans in the queue to get his book signed told me Willie Morgan thought Young was at times better than Best. The book is really good with past comments in it like above, worthy of a Xmas present for any one young or old...

Aye Dave McKay went on to play for Derby. I remember going to the Baseball Ground waiting for the Hippos to get out of the mud.

Art Greeth
7   Posted 13/09/2008 at 11:32:44

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Excellent article, stirring very fond memories.

I wonder who from the current crop will be so revered and welcomed back with such adulation as this 40 years from now...?

Not likely to be a long list, is it...?

Alex Young ... The Golden Vision ... a very, VERY special player.
John Ramage
8   Posted 13/09/2008 at 11:52:03

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Nobody has mentioned the hat-trick against Sheff Wed or the manificent double against Man Utd in 1963. What an incredible player. If Ball and Alex had been of similar ages, Everton would have won a lot more titles and cups.
Thom Mo
9   Posted 13/09/2008 at 14:23:32

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I remember Alex Young setting up both Joe Royle in one of his first few games and Howard Kendall on debut with sitters that they both missed and Alex casting a dubious stare and shake of his head at both. They talk about lazy players but in most games Alex appeared to play only 20 minutes a game and it was either 0-0 in which case Everton would lose or Everton would be 2-0 or 4-0 up and it was game over. Anyone remeber the lobbed goal against, I think, Aston Villa which bounced 3 or 4 times before crossing the line, and many, many more....
Paul Thompson
10   Posted 13/09/2008 at 15:55:40

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Great article - brought back many memories. I started going to Goodison with my Dad in the 1959-60 season. Alex Young was certainly my idol and for a couple of years he and Roy Vernon were an irresistible combination up front.

Even better, Young lived in a semi-detached in my street - Bullbridge Lane in Aintree. This was a pretty ordinary street. We lived in a house owned by English Electric, then one of the biggest firms in Liverpool. Me and my other blue mates would innocently wander past trying to get a glimpse of our hero, but neither we or anyone else ever bothered him. Bit differrent from the millionaire mansions and celebrity status of today’s ’stars’.
Peter Rigby
11   Posted 13/09/2008 at 17:22:03

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Last night I died and went to heaven! I was so very fortunate to be given a VIP Pass into the Adelphi "Green Room" prior to the ICON Night. Yes Alex, Alex Parker, Tony Kay, Ray Wilson, Tommy Wright, Roger Kenyon, Gordon West right there, next to me!

Tuesday 9th Sept was my 59th birthday and this was my treat from my family, guys on all your behalf I thanked each and everyone of those ICONS for the pleasure they gave us, and in particular to me. Every one of the boys listened to me and every one of them thanked me and Evertonians in general for the love and support we give them. It was truly a magical night, I wish everyone could have shared it.

Henning Lambrechts
12   Posted 15/09/2008 at 11:44:52

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Very good and positive article. I was born deaf, and on the age on 14 been a candidate for a cochlear implant. But still I am proud of whom and what I am.

Good luck.
Ian Macdonald
13   Posted 15/09/2008 at 21:59:13

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Henning both my daughter and grandaughter were born deaf too. Can you give your email address to Michael or Lyndon the toffeeweb editors I?d like to exchange some emails with you please. Thanks to all who have replied too my two recent articles on a gentleman and Everton ?Great?, Alex Young.
Anthony Connell
14   Posted 17/09/2008 at 00:21:08

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In tears here looking at all of these comments, most of which refer to Dad telling them about Alex. I saw him a few times and remember him thrashing a goal into the Park End against United in August I think. But can John Rammage confirm that the hat-trick against Sheff Wed was a night match and we won 5-3-ish? I have this abiding memory of my Dad, who died a few months ago, leaving a programme on my bed (as he used to do, we had to go to bed early as kids in our house) with the score writen on it .. " 5-3, the other lot a bunch of puddings".....he always said that. What a great phrase!
Graham Reed
15   Posted 17/09/2008 at 14:06:28

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Anthony C:- Yes it was a Tuesday evening, August 31 1965. 5-1 against Sheff W (Young 3, Pickering 2). In those days in the early season teams played midweek games one week away and then home the next week against the same team. Sheff W had beaten the Blues the previous week 3-1 at Hillsborough.

It was interesting to see the picture of Alex Parker with Ray Wilson at last weeks event. Harry Catterick must have thought he had got the best full-back pairing in the League when he signed Wilson in the summer of 1964. How many first-team games did the pair play together ? One and a half ! Wilson was injured in his second game for the Blues and by the time he had recovered to play in the first team again in December, Parker had suffered an injury and he never played for Everton again. Unlucky for Parker, but not for Tommy Wright who took over the right-back position and formed a great 3-W partnership for several years (West, Wright, Wilson). All 3 played for England in the mid to late sixties but never together. I don’t remember how good Parker was, but if he was as good as Tommy Wright at No.2 then he was a very good full-back.
Peter Rigbypal
16   Posted 18/09/2008 at 14:57:57

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Wonderful stories, will never get tired of hearing about Alex Young. Would like to swap some anecdotes with Peter Rigby if he can remember his pal with whom he was nearly left behind in a coach park at a Blackburn away game in the sixties. Try
Peter Connolly
17   Posted 18/09/2008 at 15:20:24

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Where can I purchase the Golden Vision book?
Helen Roberts
18   Posted 15/01/2009 at 20:14:53

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Has Alex Young died. There is a tribute night on 30/01/09 in Old Swan Conservative club. I have heard no news of his death, please advise. I loved him to bits.
Michael Kenrick
19   Posted 16/01/2009 at 06:52:37

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Helen, all the more reason for you to read ToffeeWeb every day. I’m sure we’ll carry the news if and when Alex the Great passes on. Meantime, look for numerous tributes to him, choreographed by Dr Everton, David France (see other more current stories than this).

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