I was born in 1953 in a place called Falkirk — often known as 'Falkirk Nil'. Unlike many who are attracted to Celtic and Rangers, I watched Falkirk FC through thin and thin and wanted to play for them.
I played for my local team and school so club scouts spotted me. For two years, I trained with Hearts every Tuesday night, then Willie Ormond got in touch and ask me to come to St Johnstone. I went up to Perth and everyone was great so I signed straight away on schoolboy forms for £3 per week.
I was going to go to St Andrews University to study foreign languages (French and German — I still can't speak English mind…) but my father died so I couldn't afford it. So, instead of studying full time and playing football part-time, I swapped it around. I was on the wonderful sum of £17 per week but it was like a dream being paid to do something I love. I didn't have an apprenticeship but trained with the first team — after scoring a few goals in the reserves, I played for the first team and after that I was fairly regular in it.
We actually finished above Rangers in the league and played in Europe by the time I was 18. We played in front of 100,000 at the Bernabeu in a friendly which was amazing. In the Uefa Cup, we came up against Hamburg, who had Willi Schulz from the German 1966 World Cup team; they beat us 2-1 away then we beat them 3-0 at home — that was the biggest game ever at St Johnstone. Eventually, we came down with a bang against NK Zeljeznicar Sarajevo. Two years ago, we held a 40th anniversary reunion of being in Europe — it was fantastic with the same craic and now we're meeting up every year.
Muirton Park was an old fashioned ground but had the largest playing surface in the league — that's why I was always knackered... maybe that helped us a bit as we had a very good home record.
There was talk of moves for me to Norwich City under Ron Saunders and Bobby Charlton wanted to sign me for Preston. I thought “What's going on here… Bobby Charlton wants me?!” Every time I see him now, we talk about it — he's a lovely man. In the summer of 1974, I got the phone call from the manager to say a club had come in for me. As I sat in his car I asked, “Is it Everton?” to which he said, “Yes — how did you know that?” and I replied, “You've got the road directions for Liverpool on the seat!” I just hoped it was Everton and not the other lot...
Other teams like Villa were interested so I had no intention of signing on the day — I wanted to look at my options; but when I got down there I thought “This'll do me” and signed there and then. I met Billy Bingham and he showed me around; I met the backroom staff and saw Bellefield — the whole place was terrific.
I signed for £90,000 around the same time as Bob Latchford (£350,000) and Marin Dobson (£300,000) — because of that, no-one really noticed me which suited me fine.
I moved into digs in Formby with a lovely landlady and used to go home to visit my Mum every few weeks. It was a few months before I got a first-team call up — I had a couple of fall-outs with Billy Bingham so I didn't play as many games as I might have done.
I would never have been a “superstar” as I was not blessed with enough pace but I had other attributes that helped the team. At St Johnstone I had been the main striker but at Everton I supported Bob and the team — I actually played in midfield a lot in my last two seasons there. I often joke that I used to run about and Latchford used to score! Bob was the “main man” but such a quiet modest fella — I once said to him, “If I'd scored a quarter of the goals you did, I'd be unbearable!”
There were so many great players — Martin Dobson was a lovely fella, Mick Buckley was a funny guy, Mike Pejic was very quiet, and Andy King pretended to be thick but then you realised that he was taking the mickey out of you.
Later on, Dave Thomas was great on the wing. When he told me recently that he is registered blind due to glaucoma, I told him that his vision wasn't that great when he played with me — to which he replied, “I knew I'd get no sympathy from you!”
John Connolly actually played with me at St Johnstone and later again at Newcastle — we're good mates and stay in touch. Mick was Blue to the “n-th” degree. People may question his talent but what he had was better than that — he was a fantastic leader and he just used to lead the way. Mick Lyons lives in Australia but it's great to see him when he comes back over .
We got a good side together — other teams were just that little bit ahead of us — but we gave it a good go and came close a few times. I played in the FA Cup match against Liverpool as Latch was injured. I beat Emlyn Hughes in the corner and crossed for Duncan McKenzie to score; we played really well and then Bryan Hamilton scored. Not even Hughes put his hand up and you saw the expression on Ray Clemence's face. Yet for some reason Clive Thomas disallowed it and intimated it was due to handball, then later on he said it was offside. It sounds like sour grapes but it wasn't; it's nothing to do with money — he did the players and the supporters out of a trip to Wembley and that rankled with me.
Gordon Lee replaced Billy Bingham — he got stick up here in the Northeast for selling “Super Mac” but he was proved right. I love him as a genuine football man and a manager — one of the best actually after Willie Ormond who was the best anyone could ever have.
Bill Shankly used to come down to Bellefield two or three times a week and watch the five-a-sides; it was never a hassle and he never got over-involved — he enjoyed just being in the football environment. He was a great fella, irrespective of who he had managed — perhaps Liverpool treated him a bit poorly after he left... although I understand they didn't want him hanging about the place. My mother actually used to work with his brother Bob in Falkirk.
One day I was injured (again!) so the physio and I went for a little jog to see how my leg was. Bill said, “Can I join ye?” so I said “Of course you can!” I was in awe, to be honest to be jogging round with Bill Shankly. It was a lovely morning and Bill said, “Aye It's great to be alive… you know when I die, I'm gonnae die fit. When I'm lying in that coffin and people are walking round, I'd want to hear them say ‘Bill Shankly is looking well today'.” He meant it — he was actually being serious yet he was so funny.
After the 1977-78 season, I moved to Newcastle in order to play more regularly; Gordon Lee wanted me to stay and we talked it through but, in the end, it was the right time to move. I probably underachieved at Goodison but I did my best for the team and had a great time there. It was a fantastic club and I still go to every home game even though I live in Newcastle.
As it turned out, I got injured the next season — so it turned out Gordon sold me at the right time! I'd had medial ligament knee problems all my life and it just got worse; nowadays you would have a minor operation to fix it. It got to the point where I went to see the specialist and, when I got there, the Newcastle manager Bill McGarry was there... so I thought "Oh-oh..." I was finished by the age of 27.
It's not like nowadays so I had to go out and get a job. I played a bit of semi-pro — it was great: I stayed up front and let the others do the running around for me. It was the opposite of playing with Latch!
It was partly luck that someone at Gateshead thought I'd be good for a new role coming up at Nike — back then nobody had heard of Nike in Britain. I went to meet Brendan Foster, Nike's Head in the UK; and he gave me a blank sheet of paper and said “There you are, son — off you go”. I started from scratch and was there for 14 years — just getting Nike on the map which worked quite well — and they're obviously missing them now aren't they?! To be honest, I had a plan in my mind but never dreamt it would grow as quickly as it did.
I used to get players to wear boots for nothing and get them to make appearances — there was no money in it at all initially but gradually I started to get a budget. The first four players I signed up were Ian Rush, Maurice Johnstone, Charlie Nicholas and Glen Hoddle and every one of them was fantastic. Later on, there was Ian Wright who was brilliant.
There were Evertonians wearing Nike boots like Neville Southall, Derek Mountfield, Andy Gray and Sharpy — I like Sharpy; he's another one who has that will to win.
In the 1990s, I met David Dein at Arsenal — we had worked out a deal for kit supply (for peanuts by today's standards). I remember talking to David when we were close to finalising the deal and we went for lunch. He asked me, “Why Arsenal” and I said “Nike likes to think of itself as a top-end company and likes to be involved with top end teams… but they're all gone so we came to see you.” He looked at me for a moment and said “Jim, we're going to get on splendidly.”
I left Nike in 1997; when I joined it was just a few lads in American and even fewer over here — but it just got bigger and bigger and younger lads were coming in, then the opportunity to go abroad came up. It's great to see Everton with Nike now, albeit indirectly, as I love the company and the products.
It sounds like name dropping but Ian Botham was a big mate of mine and he asked me if I fancied going to Brunei. They wanted someone to look after the football — it was just the prince and his mates, so I went in and did training sessions once a day and played once per week. It was great for our kids and gave them a different aspect on life. Mick Lyons was coaching the national team which is one of the biggest coincidences you can get! I didn't see him that much and then he moved to Australia. Mick had them fit and running alright — I said to him, “They can run with a ball you know!”
I decided we should come back to the UK and took a call from Dave Whelan to set up his indoor football centres based in Manchester and Derby — so we lived in Newcastle and I drove over for a year. After that, we built our own “Soccarena” in Durham; I managed it for three years and still have a small financial interest in it.
Until recently, I spent 5 years working with disadvantaged kids — it was the best work I have ever done as I'm the same mental age as them! There are some sad cases but they've all got something and I like to think that, once they trust you, they open up to you. I've dealt with 20-odd of them and I just hope that something has stuck with them and they are getting on better than they would have done before.
I now host in the People's Club and Captain's Table lounges on Goodison Park matchdays — it's great because we just have a laugh; I always say that if you enjoy something you do it better. I also do a bit of chauffeuring at Newcastle Airport. Through going to the games, I see Martin Dobson and Duncan McKenzie and it's great to have a laugh and a joke with them — Joe Royle is also a great lad.
I'm the proof the Everton is a very special place; I left in 1978 yet I'm still there now. You just walk in the place and the feelings are there. “Good Old Goodison”, as you might say, has got a bit about it. I don't know enough about where the future will be — whether at Goodison or elsewhere — but there'll still be an Everton, I can assure you.
Jim Pearson Career Stats:
St Johnstone: 1967-1973 — 105 matches, 40 goals
Everton: 1974-1978 — 95 matches, 14 goals
Newcastle: 1978-1980 — 11 matches, 5 goals
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487 Posted 24/03/2013 at 14:36:58
489 Posted 24/03/2013 at 14:45:20
490 Posted 24/03/2013 at 14:43:07
Its good that yet another ex player has the spirit of Everton in his blood.
Strangely enough I bought a car recently at a dealership and the salesman was Wayne Lambert who had some time at Man City.
His father Ray played fullback for Liverpool in the 50's alongside Sidlow and Eddie Spicer.
Its great to read stories that include so many players from past era's.
492 Posted 24/03/2013 at 14:59:52
495 Posted 24/03/2013 at 15:00:15
Being at Everton during that rather uneventful time between Catterick and Kendall was to say the least undaunting for many players and fans alike. Still, there where many highlights and one was the great wing play of Davie Thomas who provided many opportunities for Latchford and Co.
496 Posted 24/03/2013 at 15:08:49
497 Posted 24/03/2013 at 15:01:11
Mick Lyons stuck up for him in the echo because groans and a few boos could be heard when the team was read out.
Problem was he needed feeding up I've never seen a footballer so frail I remember a few lads pretending to punch each other in the street end saying if Jim Pearson was fighting he'd stab people with his scrawny arms!
Think it was him who scored the single goal against Spurs in the first Goodison game I took the missus to. We beat them 1-0 and as 40 thousand erupted at the goal my missus was frozen in her seat in the Bullens road so shocked she couldn't draw breath - hilarious.
One of my in laws bought Jim's Mk 3 cortina - nice car till he twatted it into a wall.
499 Posted 24/03/2013 at 15:12:28
504 Posted 24/03/2013 at 15:33:41
The player who took his place was Jim Pearson, which was not a good idea, when basically he was awful. Pearson for McKenzie? The fans could not understand it then and I still don't understand it now, 35 years later.
Jim Pearson was just one of a whole host of dross that was bought by the club in the seventies. There are people on this website who have been criticising the Stracq recently. They should have seen Jim Pearson.
506 Posted 24/03/2013 at 15:54:11
I will give the fans a name to think about: Oscar Hold.
He played (and was awful, as was Catterick by the way)... anyone else remember him??
Also Ted Buckle who made Jim Pearson look obese!
513 Posted 24/03/2013 at 16:13:56
Just made the back end of Cattericks management reign.
Interested by your comments about Catterick being awful.
Did he not build two different championship winning teams eight years apart.
521 Posted 24/03/2013 at 17:02:56
523 Posted 24/03/2013 at 17:16:38
524 Posted 24/03/2013 at 17:18:58
I would rate our four Post war League winners as follows
It is always hard to compare and we all have our own memories and experiences wrapped up in them but for me the thing that makes the 1985 team the best was European success and coming within a whisker of doing the double.
That being said the 1986 side was probably the most dominant and exciting of all the teams I have watched, but the injuries to some key players at some key times cost them dearly.
527 Posted 24/03/2013 at 17:35:54
After twenty minutes the game was stopped when an "innocent" drunk managed to get on to the penalty spot at the Park End.
As he was led away, the laughing in the crowd subsided only for a booming voice from the Gladys Street, "Get Pearson off and leave the drunk on!"
We were sure Jim Pearson heard it as he seemed to shrink into his shirt as the Blues, pre-match odds on favourites went 0-6 down before getting back to 2-6 in the last five minutes!
529 Posted 24/03/2013 at 17:49:24
I believe Gordon Lee is a very nice man but I never forgave him for selling Dunc.
530 Posted 24/03/2013 at 17:55:51
534 Posted 24/03/2013 at 18:03:21
537 Posted 24/03/2013 at 18:11:08
541 Posted 24/03/2013 at 18:19:47
544 Posted 24/03/2013 at 18:35:04
Seems like a nice man but buying players like him was one of the reasons the cushions used to fly on the pitch when Lee was manager
545 Posted 24/03/2013 at 18:08:08
Thanks for post, it is nice to see how former players are doing.
547 Posted 24/03/2013 at 18:37:01
563 Posted 24/03/2013 at 19:15:25
570 Posted 24/03/2013 at 19:03:35
I remember a couple of goals he scored – one was a diving header against Derby at Goodison in the FA Cup Quarter-final of 1977 and the other was the late winner Barry Rathbone mentioned against Spurs in February 1975 that kept us top of the League.
Seems like an intelligent fella who has done better since he left playing.
Tom Bowers says he was at the club during an uneventful period, but that's not true. We should have won the League in 1975, but finished 3 points short in 4th, came 3rd in 1977-78 scoring goals galore (6-0, 6-0, 5-1, 5-1, 4-4, 3-3, 3-3, 4-1, 2-6 just some of the scores that season) got to the League Cup Final in 1977 as well as the Clive Thomas FA Cup semi-final... We may not have won anything, but only 1975-76 was uneventful and even then we were in the Uefa Cup and lost to a dodgy penalty in the San Siro against AC Milan.
573 Posted 24/03/2013 at 19:27:29
There's kids in Calcutta that may disagree with that one.
581 Posted 24/03/2013 at 19:23:49
It's great he feels so good about the Blues, even after getting loads of stick.
Re Bally getting transferred, the saying was, "Bally's gone to Arsenal and the kids can't sleep!"
586 Posted 24/03/2013 at 20:02:47
594 Posted 24/03/2013 at 20:27:19
Sorry mate couldn't resist.
598 Posted 24/03/2013 at 20:20:55
I'm not sure if it was Lee or Bingham who told him to get stuck into the steaks but I actually thought he wasn't a bad player. He just lacked half-a-yard of pace, and obviously he was no Latch. But, hey, who was? He still he sounds like a good lad. And I loved that line: "I hope it's not the other lot" when travelling up to Liverpool.
Like the saying famously goes: "Once Everton have touched you... etc."
602 Posted 24/03/2013 at 20:36:17
Catterick was an awful CF and that team was the worst EFC team I ever saw. Johnny Carey was a great player and won the Player of the Year at least once and he was a fullback... He also played for the Fifa side against the Rest of the World. He 'built' the best ever EFC team and was sacked for finishing 4th.. .Catterick inherited his team and added Tony Kay to complete the Championship win in 1963.
I first saw Everton in 1948 and played with and against many of the later stars... but broke my leg (and heart) which ended my career...
I am a huge fan but have always wanted both Liverpool teams to do well and finish above the Mancs.... Everton title winners and Liverpool runners up would shut the biased media up once and for all.
604 Posted 24/03/2013 at 20:41:38
© Gwladys Street End
634 Posted 24/03/2013 at 23:06:13
640 Posted 24/03/2013 at 23:58:43
644 Posted 25/03/2013 at 00:50:19
Pearson? Nice man, wanted him to do well but it did not quite work for him.
683 Posted 25/03/2013 at 13:34:24
689 Posted 25/03/2013 at 14:15:59
I remember the day the papers announced we'd signed Jim from St Johnstone - and singing his name out loud as I walked to the bus in my best bib 'n brace overalls (with an Everton badge on the front), that morning to get to Huddersfield station and bunk a train to Lime Street!
Sadly, nice fella and good Evertonian that he is, Jim had the impossible task of replacing one of the few players who became - and still is - a genuine Everton legend, Duncan McKenzie. And that most despised, dour, absolute non-Evertonian of a manager, Gordon Lee, didn't handle things at all well.
Had Duncan stayed, with Latchford and Dave Thomas alongside him, the likes of the immaculate Martin Dobson (when we could attract players like that with ease), Andy King and Bruce Rioch in the middle and Jones, Pejic, McNaught and Lyons in defence, we could, maybe, just have won something.
718 Posted 25/03/2013 at 17:52:48
Lee then replaced McKenzie with Mickey Walsh from Blackpool based on the fact he had scored the BBC Goal of the season on MotD. Walsh then went on to score two goals in about 30 games.
I will never forgive Gordon Lee for making may school days an absolute misery whilst the RS were winning everything.
722 Posted 25/03/2013 at 18:19:56
I remember two FA Cup games in 1977, the first in the 3rd round against Stoke where he gave a virtuoso display which ranks right up there with some of the greatest individual displays I have ever seen at Goodison. The second was the semi- final ( the injustice still hurts even now) where he had a great game when we dominated one of the best Liverpool sides ever and Duncan put Tommy Smith on his arse with a delicious drag back.
To add to that I have met him on a number of occasions in the last few years and other than being a bit of a narky get when his golf game is not going well he is a top bloke.
726 Posted 25/03/2013 at 19:15:32
Graham Mockford, was that the game when he kept the ball for about two minutes, waltzed all over the field and, despite tackles flying in, no one could touch him? We loved Duncan back in the day. A true legend.
727 Posted 25/03/2013 at 19:30:00
I think that was the Stoke FA Cup game I referred to. Even Gerald Sindstadt was getting carried away!
735 Posted 25/03/2013 at 20:06:48
If my memory serves me right, that was the Stoke FA Cup game, and furthermore on Sunday's "Big Match" on ITV (highlights of Saturday's footy) Tommy "do you want to see my medals" Smith was the pundit. He didn't give Duncan Mckenzie MotM, labelling him a Fancy Dan who does nothing in the box.
764 Posted 25/03/2013 at 20:05:50
783 Posted 26/03/2013 at 03:11:43
820 Posted 26/03/2013 at 10:12:17
I have to say though that, of that list of Mick's (#764), I thought only Bernie Wright was garbage (and what an odd shape — he looked like a cornflake box); the others had their moments.
881 Posted 26/03/2013 at 14:06:09
Regarding the comments about Nike – I suspect that in the mid-80s a lot of their clothing and boots were manufactured in the USA and the UK. I have found memories of a kid in the late 70s buying "seconds" shirts from a sports shop opposite the Umbro factory in Wilmslow (£1!).
Like all the major manufacturers (Adidas, Reebok, Puma, Umbro, Le Coq Sportif) manufacture has ended up in "cheaper" locations. Personally I would happily pay a couple of extra pounds for a shirt made in the UK (or at least to a "Fairtrade" standard elsewhere) but I wonder if many people would?
963 Posted 26/03/2013 at 20:22:18
"I left Nike in 1997; when I joined it was just a few lads in American and even fewer over here — but it just got bigger and bigger and younger lads were coming in, then the opportunity to go abroad came up. It's great to see Everton with Nike now, albeit indirectly, as I love the company and the products."
let the wriggling begin...
044 Posted 27/03/2013 at 11:22:20
The 70s was when I became an Evertonian, and reading Jim's piece brought back lots of wonderful memories of that period. We might not have scaled the heights, but we had some pretty decent players. And the memory of being robbed by Clive Woods still hurts.........
I enjoyed reading Jim's reminiscences so much that it prompted me to register as a ToffeeWeb user and to post this, my first ever comment.
132 Posted 27/03/2013 at 17:41:50
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