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An Everton Team We Hated to Love

By Derek Wadeson :  13/07/2009 :  Comments (27) :
While browsing through the ToffeeWeb pages and noticing some knee-jerk reactions to signings we are trying to tie-up this close season — and also to the ones some fans think we should be making and seem to be dragging our feet on — I thought I would trawl my memory bank and pick a team of past Everton greats that got the “you’re shite” treatment on anything from their first game to their first season as a blue.

In goal would be Neville Southall; a back four of Ian Snodin, Dave Watson, Kevin Ratcliffe and Keith Newton; in the midfield, Phil Neville, Barry Horne, Howard Kendall and Kevin Sheedy; up-front, Graeme Sharp and Mick Lyons. Subs: Lee Carsley, Peter Reid, Joe Royle, Kevin Richardson, Mark Pembridge and more...

The team would of course be managed by Howard Kendall who gets to do the double as both a player and a manager

For some reason, we preferred Jim Arnold to Neville Southall at the time, mainly I suppose because we conceded less with Jim in nets and he was more experienced the then young big Nev.

Ian Snodin was signed as a midfield player from Leeds and struggled at first in a blue shirt; he ended up at right back because of injuries and never looked back. Big Dave Watson had to follow crowd favourite Derek Mountfield and we didn’t like him mainly because of that. Kevin Ratcliffe was hounded during his early games even though he was playing out of position at left back. Keith Newton had the mis-fortune to replace Ray Wilson and for years all our left backs suffered the same fate.

In midfield I don’t think I have to dwell on Phil Neville, he came from Man Utd, was Gary Neville’s brother and the fact we thought he was crap will do for starters. Barry Horne had done the rounds before he signed for us and was an Evertonian by birth — that usually is enough for us to be hard on someone.

Howard Kendall, I remember his Everton debut at Goodison Park, he was signed and replaced Jimmy Gabriel and missed a sitter at the Street End against Southampton... I can still hear the groans around Goodison to this day. He won us over with his winning goal against Liverpool at the same end. Kevin Sheedy, we still moaned and called him throughout his Everton career, mainly because he had come from Liverpool and we thought he was lazy, it never occurred to many people that when he didn’t run back and tackle it was because the ‘dome’ wanted him as our relieve the pressure, let-out ball and to stay out wide near the half-way line.

I remember Sharpies debut against Ipswich Town in the Cup and a snow filled Goodison, that game and many more after it had fans demanding to know what the fuss was about. I have placed Mick Lyons up front and I suppose I could of fitted him anywhere if I needed to. He was an all-rounder, blue through and through, and would run through a brick wall for the cause. We loved Andy Gray for it but took it out on Mick because he was local and supported us as a kid.

The subs bench, the list could be endless. I suppose Joe Royle should be up front instead of Micky Lyons as he was a true centre-forward and not a makeshift one. Joe’s crime in the early days was simply because he was local and replaced Alex Young in the team. Feel free to add your favourite to this list of subs.

Our manager Howard Kendall was slightly different in that we didn’t dislike him at first, we simply questioned if he was up to the job with no experience at the then First Division level. It quickly went downhill for him with the famous Kendall Out graffiti around the ground and also daubed onto his garage at home. He, like all the above players, turned it around and we should be forever grateful for the fact none of them were quitters — and must have been partially deaf as well.

I am not brave enough to list a chairman, but then again you are not supposed to like them anyway. And finally, the moral of all of this: when you sign for Everton, try not to be local, support Everton as a kid, have played for Liverpool, or replace a legend.

Reader Comments

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Rich Roberts
1   Posted 14/07/2009 at 08:45:37

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Bang on Derek!
Ian Snodin will always be one of my heroes because, if memory serves me correctly, the RS tried to hijack the deal but Ian insisted in coming to Goodison because he thought he would win more things with us ..
Those were the days
Howard Don
2   Posted 14/07/2009 at 09:06:44

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Anyone remember Geoff McNulty? The crowd never took to him (that’s putting it mildly!) but the players and Manager (well it was Gordon Lee who hated "star players") rated him a vital cog in the team, the ultimate players' player I guess. Then just when he started to look decent he had, I think, a bad injury and never came back properly after that.
Damian Kelly
3   Posted 14/07/2009 at 09:47:24

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I remember reading in Ratcliffe’s autobiography how hurt Watson was by his treatment by the crowd and how he didn't want to acknowledge the fans after he scored goals. Sure they’re professionals, but how much harder do we make it for some players to perform to their best when they know that the slightest mistake or misplaced pass and the abuse will start.

Ratcliffe said that Watson was able to survive because he was mentally one of the strongest players he had ever met. How many others who were a bit less tough could have made it with different treatment?

Michael Evans
4   Posted 14/07/2009 at 10:22:50

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Derek - Excellent post.

After 35 years of supporting our great club, I’ve always wondered why such great fans seem to take great delight in having a "whipping boy" who can do no right.

I remember being at a game when Peter Reid in the twilight of his Everton career was receiving stick from the crowd. I just felt really sorry for him and it seemed such a cruel way to treat someone who had contributed so much to the club.
Dave Wilson
5   Posted 14/07/2009 at 10:45:27

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Grant, Wright, Jones.
Terry Maddock
6   Posted 14/07/2009 at 10:43:03

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Its always amazed me that somefans think that its acceptable to "abuse" members of their own team...
I have never got it... if the team have played badly and lost, have a boo at the end of the game...

But does anybody really think shouting out "Fuck off Neville, you Manc" or "You're shite, Hibbert" will do anything for the good of the team? Our players get enough stick off opposing fans... why join in??

I no longer have a season ticket due to work commitments... but last time I did, I moved the seat I'd had for 5 years, due to the idiot sat behind me shouting the same abuse at the same player — no matter how he played.

I suppose if you pay your money and you are that way inclined (and can't afford the therapy) then fair enough. But it does spoil it for others.
And as your list above shows, most of the time they are wrong. I just wonder if any of the above players would have performed better, earlier on, if the more impatient members of the fanbase had actually given them support?
Greg Murphy
7   Posted 14/07/2009 at 11:50:05

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I don’t remember a Geoff McNulty, Howard, but I do recall a Geoff Nulty!

You’re right, though: his Everton curve was very similar to John Ebbrell, Barry Horne, Joe Parkinson and Lee Carsley’s.

All were either roundly pilloried to begin with — or seriously undervalued. Then, through sheer determination, they each won the fans over.

Nulty was just at that very point when Jimmy Case did what Jimmy Case did worst.

On the same day as Dixie died, I seem to recall? March 1980?
Howard Don
8   Posted 14/07/2009 at 12:25:22

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You’r right Greg, of course it was Geoff Nulty. I’d remembered it was a bad tackle that did for him, but had forgotten the culprit. No surprises it was Mr Case though.
Dave Long
9   Posted 14/07/2009 at 12:33:33

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I remember Bob Latchford getting "lazy bastard" shouted at him then he slotted a goal soon after.
Michael Brien
10   Posted 14/07/2009 at 13:41:02

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My Dad had a season ticket in the Upper Bullens Road stand from 1975-76 season until 2001-02 when he passed away. He used to love telling me a story about Bob Latchford. There was a bloke who used to sit next to him, who never really liked big Bob. He used to slag him off most of the time - in fact I can remember him from when times that my dad was able to get me a seat near him.

Anyway - in 1977-78 season in October I think, Bob scored 4 away at QPR in a 5-1 win. It turned out that my dad’s "neighbour" in the Upper Bullens had been to Loftus Road. My dad asked the guy about the game, "Latchford did well didn’t he with 4 goals?" — the reply came back, "He should have scored 10 never mind 4!!!" My old man — bless him — couldn’t resist replying with, "Well if he misses 6 chances but scores 4 every match we’ll do ok this season!!"

As a postscript - as you all know, that was the 30-goal season for big Bob. Well I was in the Upper Bullens for the last match v Chelsea — and yes the bloke was slagging Latchford off!!"

Ray Roche
11   Posted 14/07/2009 at 15:33:28

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It’s what some "fans" do best.
Michael Carney
12   Posted 14/07/2009 at 16:33:24

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Two names come to mind who, were to be fair, not much: Jim Pearson who was on his arse more than anything, falling and slipping at the crucial moments; and the prolific goal machine Peter Eastoe.

What a pair!

Ray Roche
13   Posted 14/07/2009 at 18:25:03

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Mike Ferguson, David Lawson, Eamon O'Keefe, Joe Harper and the daddy of them all, Rod Belfitt. Or was it Rod Bellend?
Michael Brien
14   Posted 15/07/2009 at 07:46:09

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On my way home from work last night, I remembered something about a player mentioned previously that shows some fans’ rather unfair attitudes towards certain players.

It was in the 1970-71 season — when we were the reigning Champions. Me and my Dad had a season ticket in the Gwladys Street stand (what would now be called the upper tier). On some Saturdays when the 1st team were away, me and my dad would go and watch the Reserves.

One particular Reserve match we were at was in October (the 17th to be precise — yes I know... an Evertonian anorak; guilty as charged!!). The reason I know the date is because the 1st team were away at Arsenal. New signing Henry Newton, a midfielder/defender was making his debut. To accommodate him, Catterick dropped John Hurst and moved Howard Kendall to the back four with the new bloke wearing No 10 and playing in midfield.

Of course, many people at the Reserves had radios with them to get updates from Radio Merseyside on how the 1st team were doing. The news was not good — goals were going in Andy Rankin’s net — four to be precise as we lost 0-4. As the news came through I can remeber one woman sat a couple of rows infront saying to those around her, "What do you expect if you sign another Newton!!" — New signing condemned without being seen!!

I seem to recall Henry Newton playing quite well at left back and scoring some goals from free kicks. I don’t think he really fulfilled his potential for us as his best position was midfield. In the same way, I think his namesake suffered from being played at left back for most of his Everton career and not his favoured right back position. As my dad said at the time, "We sign an international right back and play him at left back — where’s the logic in that?"

I have never been an adovocate of slagging players off at the match — at the pub before or after the game, yes, I think that’s ok... but at the match, however bad they are, they get my full backing.

My own "contender " for worst ever Everton player has to be Bernie Wright. Yes, he tried his best, I will give him that, but there is no way he was ever good enough for the top division. Can anyone remember his home debut in March 1972 v Man City — when he smacked Summerbee in the face and everyone saw it execept the Ref and Linesman? Personally I thought Bernie looked more like a Rugby League player than a footballer!!

Derek Thomas
15   Posted 15/07/2009 at 08:52:04

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I think you will find that H Newton came in after K Newton and suffered in comparison, he was a midfielder who, it turned out, had a) glass knees and couldn’t do the box-to-box... b) didn’t have Terry Hennessey with him to do his leg work and enforcing ending up at fullback by default.

K Newton replaced crowd favourite the Immortal Sandy Brown who’s confidence was undermined by a damning with faint praise on a nationwide TV (Sportsnight with Coleman??) who then went right to pieces after the own goal incident.

Sandy Brown was in and out of the team after The Great Wilson. But, as you say, when compared retrospectively, all fell short of the previous occupant at LB. Fast forward to Pat van den Hauwe and much the same. Big boots to fill always a problem.
Ray Roche
16   Posted 15/07/2009 at 11:33:09

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Derek Thomas, After Wilson went, Brown made 49 appearances in 68-69, hardly in and out of the team. He also made 35 the following season,69-70, too. This was after 37 in his first season before Wilson arrived. He was a great servant for Everton and played in just about every position for us, not just full back. It’s unfortunate that he’s remembered for that goal and that his career coincided with that of the finest left back I’ve seen.
Michael Brien
17   Posted 15/07/2009 at 13:01:01

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Hi Derek - sorry if I didn’t make it clear earlier - I recall Henry Newton arrived at Goodison in October 1970 for about £150,000 a big signing in those days. I think Keith arrived from Blackburn in December 1969 for about £90,000. As I said my Dad couldn’t understand why we had signed an international right back and played him at left back.

Keith Newton seemed to have been signed to replace Sandy Brown. I always felt he suffered after "that own goal" — it’s hardly ever mentioned that he scored the third goal for the Blues in a 3-1 win in the Derby match of August 1966 after Alan Ball had scored the first 2 goals.

I think Sandy came back into the team for the last few games of the Championship season in 1969 -70 when Keith Newton was injured.

Maybe the crowd indifference/hostility to both Newtons was mainly due to our dramatic drop in form. Both had their moments — but overall they both never really fulfilled their potential at Goodison.

Although you may think the comparison a bit tentative, I see some parallels between Tony Hibbert and Sandy Brown. It would seem that DM is looking for a full back, presumably to replace Hibbo or provide some competition/give the squad some depth for that position.

I wouldn’t class myself as a great fan of Hibbo but, fair play to the lad, you can never fault his commitment and his form has recently been quite good. Unfortunately, the exception seems to have been the Cup Final - although in his defence, I thought the yellow card was undeserved, especially when compared with some of the challenges that followed from Chelsea. I think that clearly affected Hibbert and you could tell that he was nervous of making further challenges and he became increasingly hesistant. Chelsea clearly played on that weakness.

If we do strengthen the squad with another right back, I hope that Tony Hibbert stays. I think that he is a better player than many of us realise. Hopefully the crowd will be supportive rather than condemning. I know these guys get paid very well but I doubt whether the likes of Tony Hibbert deliberately set out to play badly. Personally I don’t think "barracking" a player ever helps the bloke to improve.

Roger Trenwith
18   Posted 15/07/2009 at 13:45:06

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Anybody remember a truly awful midfielder (I think - it was a long time ago!) called John McLaughlin, who as I recall had a Bobby Charlton style comb-over, and seemed to spend most of the game on his arse after being skinned by opposing players? He was, with some justification, given an awful lot of stick! It was around 73-74.
Michael Brien
19   Posted 15/07/2009 at 14:16:00

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Roger — he was a right back signed for about £50,000 from Falkirk in Oct 1971. He was only 23 but looked about 25 years older!!! He started off okay but, if I recall rightly, he had a tendency to try and play his way out of trouble like he was Franz Beckenbauer. Whilst the great Franz could do that, unfortunately "Tiger" as the fans called him didn’t have enough skill to do it. He was guaranteed to have the fans biting their fingernails as he never seemed to go for the easy option of getting rid quickly!!!
Roger Trenwith
20   Posted 15/07/2009 at 14:40:07

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Michael - Thanks - I can remember my dad constantly moaning about McLaughlin, and as a 14-year-old, I was only too happy to join in. To make matters worse for my old man, he was a red, but wouldn’t let me go on my own, so he had to put up with that rubbish Billy Bingham team when he could have been watching his beloved shite ritually stuffing other teams as they did at the time.
Greg Murphy
21   Posted 15/07/2009 at 15:23:35

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Further on the Tiger McLaughlin theme: I recall walking to a night game in 73-74 with lots of Blues arguing amongst themselves at the top of Priory by the cemetery gates. I was only seven and recall asking my dad what the hell was happening because it really was on the verge of kicking-off. Seems that day McLaughlin had given an interview to the local press and Radio Merseyside basically saying that he was terrified of being selected for that night’s game for fear of the sheer abuse he was having to endure. Apparently the interview was highly emotive stuff.

It seemed that all of the Blues squabbling as they headed across towards Diana Street were united in one thing: McLaughlin was a poor, poor player. No-one disputed that. But the disagreements stemmed from two opposing schools of thought: The "Yeah But Let’s Lay Off Him Tonight, Coz He’s Got The Blue Shirt On After All" brigade versus the "If He Doesn’t Wanna Be Picked Then He Shouldn’t Collect His Wages On Friday" crew.

It was very, very meaty stuff. And eye-popping for a seven-year-old!
Peter Fearon
22   Posted 15/07/2009 at 15:56:12

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I would like to add Fred Pickering to the squad. This was an absolutely brilliant opportunist goalscorer, a viper in the penalty area, a great header of the ball and with a cannonball volley. He came with a huge price tag — I’m talking £80,000 here — and because of that and his implicit challenge to Alex Young, he was never appreciated.

He was at his best just at the time when traditional centre-forwards who worked with pacy wingers were said to be becoming obsolete. Some may recall he missed the 1966 FA Cup Final because of a knee injury. Incidentally, I don’t recall much hostility to Howard Kendall, except that when he arrived he had a bright red car. He was soon persuaded to change it with some "practical guidance."

Albert Dock
23   Posted 15/07/2009 at 17:46:48

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I well remember Keith Newton’s Goodison debut. I was in the upper Park End and watched him come racing down the Bullens Rd touchline towards me in total control of the ball. He hit an absolute screamer from I swear some forty yards with the keeper stranded. Sad to say it skimmed the crossbar and went over the line.

I always have wondered what would his Everton career been like if that ball were just four inches lower. Reputations are won and lost on such things.
Al Reddish
24   Posted 15/07/2009 at 19:51:39

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And don’t forget little Inchy Heath. The shit he got in his last year or so was madness.
Michael Brien
25   Posted 16/07/2009 at 07:15:36

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As Derek says in his article, we should be very grateful that some of our players who have been given stick by the Goodison crowd have been able to get through it and win the fans over.

Two examples of this are Dave Watson, who came through and proved himself to be not just a great Everton centre-half/central defender but also a great captain — a leader in every sense of the word.

And Barry Horne, I well remember "that game" against Wimbledon at Goodison in ’94. It looked as though the match was slipping away from us and relegation was heading our way. What a shot — what a goal to equalise, it had Goodison rocking — the belief was back.... and Stuart our favourite "Diamond Geezer" did the biz!! I was surely not the only one sad to see Barry Horne leave Goodison — it was far too soon.
Hopefully Evertonians will see the folly of giving our players stick and will get behind them.

Mark Bradford
26   Posted 20/07/2009 at 14:49:39

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On the subject of Adrian Heath, my dad always tells me a funny story about him. It was in his early days at Everton and he hadn’t as yet started to perform to the "expected" level of the Goodison faithful.

Anyway, this one particular game he was having a shocker. He goes to collect the ball for a throw in, in front of the Enclosure — of course it was a standing area then — and some fella in the front row apparently screams "Book yer ideas up, you fucking 700 hundred grand cabbage-patch doll!" — which was met with rapturous laughter and a looked of genuine terror on the face of Adrian Heath!
Tom Fearon
27   Posted 26/07/2009 at 19:48:45

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I remember Fred Pickering’s debut. He has been bought to repace Alex Young and many supporters were outraged. There was an anti-Pickering demonstration, including a minor pitch incursion by a banner waviing Golden Vision loyalist before the kick off. However, Fred scored a hat-trick and missed several chances easier than the ones he took. Roy Vernon was booed during his debut but won the fans over shortly afterwards

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