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A Golden Year

By Mike McLean :  29/01/2010 :  Comments (22) :

August 1969. For readers of a younger vintage, dinosaurs had already disappeared and many of us had recovered from the Summer of Love and started wearing clothes that wouldn't make Aunty blush. If memory serves me right, I favoured Wrangler jeans at the time on the grounds that they gave a little tilt to my arse which potential shagfest partners might find alluring (sadly, few did).

Although there was a real sadness that the Vision had departed, it was the start of something very beautiful. Everton had finished the previous season quite strongly and although Leeds looked the likely winners of the league, hope sprang eternal.

After two surprisingly good results at Highbury and Old Trafford, we met United at Goodison. 3 - 0 in seventeen minutes if I'm not mistaken, and a masterclass in midfield play from the Holy Trinity that showed the likes of Crerand and Co what football was about.

Next up, the mighty Leeds United with Bremner and Giles. Royle terrorised their defence and we ended an unbeaten run which seemed to stretch back to the days of Eden.

And off we went. Win succeeded win. Golden afternoons at Goodison saw Bally NEVER putting a foot wrong (or am I being too nostalgic? Did he ever misplace a pass?) Only one fly in the ointment: the filth beating us 3 - 0 at home with one of theirs being a spectacular own goal from Alexander Brown. The only consolation that day was St. john missing the easiest of chances — and scant consolation it was.

Any road up, we got to West Brom at home in April and thanks to a Harvey spectacular and another from the busy Whittle, the title was ours. As a 16 year old kid on the Street End, deafened by the screeeching from the boys pen, it was the sight of Bally dancing round the pitch and thinking that my personal deity had got what he wanted. A season's efforts rightly and richly rewarded. Football at its purest decorated by the ultimate trophy.

I don't have the words to convey the satisfaction of that evening, We had been treated to midfield play of the very highest calibre (imagine Iniesta and Xabi on speed, with a Jairzinho to help them out.)

But it could get better and did. June saw the World Cup in Mexico. Bobby Moore was arrested in Columbia before anything kicked off but when it did ... oh my God. As awe inspiring as the domestic scene had been, the International game took over, spanked its bottom and shafted it without the benefit of grease.

If anyone of a certain age can say, "we saw it and it wasn't quite that good", then that person is not only blind, but very dumb indeed. Jairzinho, Rivelhino, Tostao and Gerson teased, but PELE was the nuclear bomber. It was Everton in gold shirts but raised to a level I hadn't seen before and certainly haven't seen since.

History speaks with a velvet tongue but, I happen to think, it speaks truly of those ten glorious months when football was redefined and I learned it only takes one hand.

I've skipped so much here ... anyone else with memories of that season?

Reader Comments

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Alan McGuffog
1   Posted 29/01/2010 at 22:23:14

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Mike... it wasn’t bad was it? Ironically the few bits of footage from that season was that game against Liverpool in December 1969 and the Sandy Brown own goal. This may have had something to do with the club’s refusal to host TV cameras for most of the 1960s.

Should be remembered, and someone will, I am sure, take me to task on this, but I think the Holy Trinity only played together a handful of times that season due to injuries, suspensions etc. Take a bow Tommy Jackson who had the Alan Harper role and filled it brilliantly in the run in.

Likewise Sandy Brown had a run for about the last ten games and was a rock... a pal of mine played in the A and B teams in the mid 60s and always said what a lovely bloke Sandy was...

In terms of sheer brilliance, I always think that the previous season, 1968-69 was the greatest I have ever seen.
Happy days

Stewart Oakes
2   Posted 29/01/2010 at 22:24:54

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I had just turned 14 and remember that the next game that season after West Brom was away to Sheff Wednesday and I can still remember the joy I felt when looking up at that big old electric score board they had in the corner (one of the first in the league I think) which read Owls v Champions.
Steve Hogan
3   Posted 29/01/2010 at 22:22:00

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Mike, I was a starry eyed 14-year-old at Goodison the night we beat West Brom 2-0, me and my mates and thousands of others ran on the pitch at the final whistle, and I promptly slipped and went head over arse!

If memory serves me right, it pissed down all night and during the game, Alan Whittle played a big role in adding that extra zip to the front line during the closing stages of the season and scored some important goals during the run in.

I walked all the way home to Crocky that night and was soaked to the skin when I got in, but there was NO happier kid in the whole wide world believe me.

School the next day was brilliant. For the record, Bally was still the greatest Everton player I ever saw in a blue shirt, he simply oozed class.

He was adored by all Evertonian’s of that generation, and I shed a quiet tear when I heard of his death on the radio a couple of years ago.
Keith Glazzard
4   Posted 29/01/2010 at 22:18:25

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Mike - interesting to mention Alan Whittle. He played a very important part in that run-in. Roger Kenyon too gave us a bit of steel at the back when we needed it towards the end.
Keith Glazzard
5   Posted 29/01/2010 at 22:48:37

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Mr McGuffog - you may recall that Harry Catterick had a mynah bird called Jacko.
Alan McGuffog
6   Posted 29/01/2010 at 22:54:17

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Oh yeah and ripping Chelsea to bits, 5 - 2 around about Easter. Kendall, I think opened the scoring after 8 or 9 seconds.
Thankfully I was in my usual position in the Street End in good time and witnessed it. I didn’t seem to need the three or four pints of anaesthetic prior to a game in them days which oftimes means I miss the kick off nowadays...
Guy Hastings
7   Posted 29/01/2010 at 22:51:33

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First game of the season, late winner from John Hurst at Highbury. Took the North Bank. Discovered skinheads for the first time. That was a treat. Played Palace in October I think, most one-sided 0-0 I’ve ever seen. Kenyon, Whittle, Jackson - not the Holy Trinity but plated significant parts in lifting the title. All three in the all-yime Unsung XI squad, along with Harper, Parkinson and Power.
Ray Roche
8   Posted 29/01/2010 at 23:28:51

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I remember about 14 games undefeated at the end of the season, with 8 straight wins. And starting the season with 1 loss in the first 18. You are right about the Holy Trinity, I seem to remember that they only played as a trinity for half the games, due to injuries. I also remember evryone piling on the pitch after the WBA game when almost 59000 saw us clinch the title.
Nick Entwistle
9   Posted 29/01/2010 at 23:49:39

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Wasn’t born then, but if the victory against Leeds was the one ending their record run of 29 games (?) then I do remember Liverpool’s effort to beat it.

It was live on The Match on ITV and they were up against Everton. For the life of me I can’t remember the striker’s name, he was mostly a sub, but we won 1-0 and defended my home city’s record to boot.

As for Brazil, were we not an Astle sitter away from taking them for a point?

Phil Bellis
10   Posted 30/01/2010 at 00:11:20

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Thanks for the memories, Mike

I’d gone down to Newquay with 3 mates for 2 weeks; I think we won the first 6 games and were due to play at Maine Road on the middle Saturday.

As I hope you remember, even Dirk Kuyt and Peter Beardsley could’ve copped off in Newquay that Summer; ah golden blond hair on the shoulders, love beads, tie-dye teeshirts — and some of the girls weren’t bad!

Anyway, faced with the prospect of another 7 days/nights shagging or getting a lift home with 2 young ladies from Hoylake on the Friday night, I did what any teenage lad would do... Only problem was, I jinxed the team by attending — it was the first point we dropped that season.
I think we had a great side from 66-70, even though we won nowt from the Cup Final to 69-70 — it was a joy watching Everton home and away for those years

Happy days!

Rob Hollis
11   Posted 30/01/2010 at 02:48:33

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My memories are that I was aged nine and my Dad would not have wanted me reading some of the stuff on here.
Mike McLean
12   Posted 30/01/2010 at 03:09:52

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Point taken, Rob. Luckily, few 9 year olds can read these days.

Though most seem seem to be aware of the word "fuck". Odd that dads don’t teach their children about potentially offensive language.

Jackson, Sandy and a couple of others played their parts. It was indeed the end of the Leeds run. We got soft, if I remember correctly, and allowed them a couple of goals but 3-2 did us well enough.

Anyone remember the Hare Krishna song?
Derek Thomas
13   Posted 30/01/2010 at 03:14:41

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Short version: As Max Boyce said ’... and I know, coz I was there’

1969-70 from my seat:

Did it ever get any better than this??

Yes, I know, wife and kids and now Grand kids and all that notwithstanding. What made it seemingly better was it was all new and shiney, it was all infront of me, there was so much POTENTIAL, so many firsts.

Starts off in Butch Cassidy flickering in B&W then fades into colour.

Just turned 19, more money than I could spend (honest, you could get an awful lot of mileage out of 8 quid even giving the old girl £2.50) A girl friend AND a 150 Lambretta and no I’d already been passed all the mirrors stage, old hat, for show offs and imature tossers, purely transport, just tuned and geared for speed and acceleration, Goodison to Aigburth Vale in 14 mins (more of that later)

So there I was, with Peter Stokes at our usual spec to the right of the Gwladys St goal and about 10 yds up. The pre-season friendly vs which ever of the Dundee sides that play in orange, we went a goal down, but it didn’t seem to matter, we were all laughing and joking at the absurdity of it all, coz we knew... KNEW, that we wouild come good and we did 4-1 I think.

We beat every one, 9 games in and no losses. Then came the Derby County game and that tackle on Husband by Dave MacKay. Husband was never the same player again. Without a word of a lie, he was our Ronaldo, he was that good, hence the tackle. We lost a little bit of fluency then but we were still good enough to to see off most.

The TV were starting to intrude every where and an in-depth for then, analysis pointed to our seeming only weak link Sandy Brown. This and the own goal finished off Sandy confidence wise. So that was two enforced changes. This also led directly to the signing of Keith Newton.

But give the devil his due, Shankly came up with a game plan that had us at 6s and 7s for that Derby game. Playing the tricky winger Peter "I’ll beat the man 3 times, then cross it" Thompson at centre forward and Bobby Graham in the hole, or whatever. It confused and confounded us to the tune of 0-3

40 years down the line and sad to say all the games and occasions run into each other, but some stick out.

Playing Sheff Und in the snow at the 3 sided cricket pitch Brammall Lane. Putting 7 past a teenaged Gordon Banks replacement Peter Shilton. I shall have to go into my store of old programs to find out who actually replaced Husband and to what effect.

I seem to remember that Whittle was tried as an out and out winger but couldn’t beat a man to save his life. But a Catterick master stroke or was that like Moyes he just lucked into it and allowed him to come more into the middle THEN he started scoring.

The Holy Trinity, just how many times did they actually play together, Tommy Jackson seemed to play an awful lot of matches??

By now coming to the business end of the season. Long time Blues who used to go were getting back into the ground. The girlfriend and her Mother and Father to name but 3.

I would meet them at the Spellow, park the bike and off into the ground we would go, them to the more refined stands.

After the game, straight out, weave in and out of the traffic, County Rd, Everton Brow, through Denny down Lodge Lane, Pricesses Park round Sefton Park and home; 14 mins and over an hour to wait before the oldies came in with the fish and chips, while the cats away, a good time was had up stairs by all.

Golden Years indeed... Off to check the programs for the actual facts.

Oh and if anybody reads this who shouldn’t then not a word of the above is true, honest
Art Jones
14   Posted 30/01/2010 at 08:49:37

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My first ever game at Goodison was the Blues v Arsenal in Feb 1970, it was a 2 - 2 draw, Alan Whittle scored both.

A couple of years ago when I met Alan in the marquee I asked him if he remembered the game... He told me chapter and verse about it including how he hardly ever scored from outside the box and Bob Wilson was rarely beaten by the same... but in that game, he did....

It actually brought a lump to my throat listening to him talk with such enthusiasm about a game nearly 40 years earlier. Happy Days

Dick Fearon
15   Posted 30/01/2010 at 09:49:56

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We had played the RS at Maine Road and after the game, me and my three school-age mates cadged a lift home on St Malachy's YMCA chara.

Our chara and dozens of others stopped at a huge pub in Salford.. The place was packed with supporters of both sides the ale was flowing and the mood was becoming feisty. A huge bloke wearing an overcoat climbed onto the stage and in a loud voice said, "Look lads, there is no need for all this bother, let's have a sing-song instead."

To cries of "Order please, Singer On His Feet!" the place gradually hushed. In a very good and melodious voice the big bloke sang:

"If you ever go across the seas to Ireland,
be it at the closing of the day,
be sure to take with you,
Bill Shankly, and drown the bastard in Galway Bay.

And that's when the riot started.

David S Shaw
16   Posted 30/01/2010 at 10:26:15

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Guy Hastings — that’s the day about 2,000 skins went down to Highbury and a number of those took the North Bank, and sung their hearts out non-stop!

Wasn’t there a song around that time Everton sung... I saw a mouse? Can’t recall much more of it though...
Tim Rydings
17   Posted 30/01/2010 at 11:43:35

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Fantastic to read the memories of that ’West Brom’ night.
I was a 14 year old kid as well eagerly perched on top of my ’grow box’ in The Paddock. I knew it was going to be our night when I got a sweet off the Toffee Lady as she walked round the pitch.

I was there on my own and shouted myself hoarse watching the Bally (my hero and the greatest Evertonian) rule that match.

Cue absolute delerium at the final whistle and I somehow got over that wall and joined thousands of others on the hallowed turf. I remember soaking in the atmosphere and gazing open mouthed around the ’Old Lady’ thinking one day .........

I grabbed a chunk of turf, put it in my pocket and planted it in a jam jar when I got home and gave it prime spot on my window sill.

I went away on holiday and my Dad didn’t water it..... it died, still not over it.

C’mon lads, we’re Evertonians, you didn’t expect a happy ending, did you?
Guy Hastings
18   Posted 30/01/2010 at 19:44:30

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David S, I should have qualified that — Arsenal skinheads, a small number of whom gave me a Doc Marten rib tattoo on the way back to the station.
Guy Hastings
19   Posted 30/01/2010 at 19:54:16

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Nick - it was Wayne Clarke (another who should be elevated to the Unsung Squad). As brother of the notorious Sniffer there was a double-thick sweetness for him as it preserved Leeds Utd’s then record. He also scored a great winner at Highbury that season.
Nick Entwistle
20   Posted 30/01/2010 at 23:13:27

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Nice one Guy, Wayne Clarke... now I can sleep sound!
Bob McEvoy
21   Posted 31/01/2010 at 12:35:11

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Nice read, Mike. I remember so well a glorious August night against Man U when we completely outclassed them.

Fast forward to Chelsea on Easter Saturday. 5 goals in the first half against a bloody good team; still think that’s the best 45mins of Everton I’ve ever seen.

We should have dominated English football for 5 years... Take out Labone, Brown and Morrissey and the average age of the team was well under 25 with 18-year-old Dave Johnson coming through.

WTF went wrong??? I know Ball and Labone were knackered after Mexico; Harvey had some mysterious eye injury; and (perhaps most serious of all) Catterick got sick and began to lose the plot... but, even after all that, with the team we had, the fall and collapse from grace was astounding. Anyone got any thoughts?

Martin Mason
22   Posted 31/01/2010 at 12:37:52

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From '66 to '70, Everton served up the best football seen at the top level, culminating in the 1970 Championship win, which for much of the season was as close as you can get to perfection. Having seen that, it is difficult to do anything but criticise the shite that they’ve served up most years since then.

They had a bad spell in that season but they came back at the end and unearthed Whittle and Johnson and we should have soared ever upward after that. I’m not sure why we didn’t.

For a few years, Colin Harvey was the most polished footballer I have possibly ever seen in Blue... and what can you say about Alan Ball’s performances in blue until he also eventually lost his form> He was a virtuoso.

The night against West Brom when Harvey danced around the defence, went back and did it again and then beautifully curved it into the net. I don’t remember it raining but I wouldn’t have noticed anyway. What days to be a blue supporter.

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