Favourites aren't always the best – Part 12

John McFarlane [Senior] 26/04/2018 21comments  |  Jump to last
To put the finishing touches to the series of my favourite players from 70 years of watching Everton, the eleven players I selected were:

Gordon West,
Alex Parker,
Jock Lindsay,
Peter Farrell,
Brian Labone,
Brian Harris,
Alex Scott,
Bobby Collins,
Alex Young,
Roy Vernon, and
Tommy Eglington.

I will now divulge the names of the players who so nearly made the grade. Using the 3 substitutes from 7 format, my selection is:

(Goalkeeper) Jimmy O'Neill, 213 appearances;
(Right Back) Tommy Wright, 374 appearances & 4 goals;
(Left Back) Ray Wilson, 151 (+ 3 substitute) appearances;
(Right Half) Jimmy Gabriel, 303 (+ 1 substitute) appearances & 36 goals;
(Left Half) Colin Harvey, 382 (+ 5 substitute) appearances & 24 goals;
(Centre Forward) Dave Hickson, 243 appearances & 111 goals;
(Outside Left) Johnny Morrissey, 312 (+ 2 substitute) appearances & 50 goals.

Having watched Everton since 1948, at 10 years of age, I have seen sides selected by the following managers:

Cliff Britton,
Ian Buchan [head coach]
Johnny Carey,
Harry Catterick,
Billy Bingham,
Gordon Lee,
Howard Kendall,
Colin Harvey,
Mike Walker,
Joe Royle,
Walter Smith,
David Moyes,
Roberto Martinez,
Ronald Koeman, and
Sam Allardyce.

(Plus the various caretaker managers.) It didn't take me long to decide who my favourite Everton manager was, and I know that my choice may surprise one or two, but – as the title of the article suggests – "Favourites aren't always the best.

I will now give my reasons for selecting Johnny Carey as my favourite Everton manager. I think that supporters in my age group will agree that, although we were promoted back to the First Division in 1954, we couldn't claim to be one of the leading clubs, struggling each season to finish in a respectable position:

1954-55 11th position;
1955-56 15th position;
1956-57 14th position;
1957-58 16th position;
1958-59 16th position (Johnny Carey's first season).

In the 1959-60 season, despite the signings late-on of Tommy Ring, Roy Vernon, Mickey Lill, and Jimmy Gabriel, Everton finished in 16th position once again. With the addition of Billy Bingham, replacing Mickey Lill on the right wing, the 1960-61 season saw Everton finishing in 5th position, and playing the best football that we of that generation had witnessed.

However, John Moores, for some reason, wasn't satisfied with the progress that the club had made, and the infamous "Taxi episode" took place: Johnny Carey was sacked with three games of the season remaining and Everton in 4th place (they actually finished in 5th position once again). Harry Catterick was duly appointed manager. In the 1961-62 season, Everton finished in 4th position with the players Harry Catterick had inherited.

Johnny Carey had lain the foundations of a highly attractive and effective team and Harry Catterick, with a couple of adjustments, led them to the League title in 1962-63.

We will never know what Johnny Carey would have achieved had John Moores been a little more patient, I can only say that I am eternally grateful for the pleasure his teams gave me and my peers.

As I said, some will be surprised by my choice but, although Howard Kendall was our most successful manager, I can't help but regard Johnny Carey as my favourite – the team he assembled was a joy to watch, and going to Goodison Park was a hugely pleasant experience. I sincerely hope that the new regime can do what John Moores did for us all those years ago, the "Young Blues" of today deserve much more than they're getting now.

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Ian Burns
1 Posted 27/04/2018 at 17:18:18
Hi John, what a great shame this series has come to an end. It was a joy from Part 1 through to Part 12. I would like to pass on my personal thanks for the joy you have given us all and to wish you all the very best in your continuing recovery from recent health issues.

I started watching in 1959 (Charlton in the FA Cup replay was my first game) and I seem to remember many Evertonians were surprised and not a little disappointed Carey was replaced during the infamous taxi ride. You have hit the nail right on the head when you say Johnny Carey was the manager who turned it all around. I'm not sure but I think he might have signed one of my all-time favourites, Bobby Collins.

Great series, extremely well written which brought back many memories of days when football supporters used banter instead of batter! Thanks once again, John, and all the very best.


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John McFarlane Snr
2 Posted 27/04/2018 at 18:14:49
Hi Ian [1], my timing as usual is impeccable, I always submit a post when bigger issues are being debated, but never mind, folk may tire long before the eternal Sam Allardyce fiasco has been settled.

I was in Cyprus serving with the army while you were enjoying your first Goodison experience, you were one of 74,782 who saw Everton triumph 4-1 after extra time, [1-1 at 90 minutes] I believe it was rather a foggy evening, but as I say I was 2 or 3 thousand miles away oblivious to what was going on.

I'm afraid that Johnny Carey didn't sign Bobby Collins and, although Ian Buchan was head coach at the time, Bobby was signed by two directors one of whom was I believe Holland Hughes, but I'm not certain.

Thank you for your kind words regarding the articles, and your good wishes for my recovery from my recent surgery, I've only been out of hospital for three weeks but already I feel so much better.

I think that my one finger tinkering on the keyboard is helping me immensely, so I have already started on another project and when I submit it, I hope that the powers that be consider it fit for publication.

Once again thank you for your kind words.


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Christy Ring
3 Posted 27/04/2018 at 19:40:44
Hi John, thank you for your superb insight of your favourite players, and history, from 70 years of watching Everton. It was very enjoyable and fascinating. I'm not surprised Johnny Carey was your choice of manager, and the reason I became a huge Evertonian, is because he signed my cousin Tommy.
Delighted to see that you have made a full recovery from your recent health problems.

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Terry White
4 Posted 27/04/2018 at 19:47:21
Not surprisingly, John, I heartily concur with your choice. A quiet, thinking man was Carey who chose his words carefully and then spoke with a soft voice.

Post war was a desperate period to be an Evertonian and the mid-'50s did see some depressing times. As you say, the appointment of Carey, together with John Moores's money, turned everything around and from 1959 onward we played some great football. Indeed I would suggest that in many ways we were a more attractive side to watch from 1960 to 1962 than the Championship side of '63. Sadly we really struggled to win games away from home but at Goodison we were unstoppable and frequently would score 4, 5, 6 and even an 8 against Cardiff.

When Carey came to Everton his son, Gerry, attended my school and we became good friends until his father's sacking. After Carey's appointment at Leyton Orient (yes, they were a Division 1 side at the time and, I am sure, Johnny took great pleasure in their beating us at their ground in '62), I was invited to go down to their house to stay and attend the '63 cup final, Man. U. 3 Leicester 1. Johnny was not there while I stayed.

There is no doubt that Catterick added steel to the team by adding Stevens and Kay which took us to the top but it should not also be in question that it was the side that Carey put together that was the foundation for Catterick's success. Johnny Carey is my favourite Everton manager also and it is mostly players from that team that would make up my "favourite" XI also.


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Andy Crooks
5 Posted 27/04/2018 at 19:56:50
Fair play to you, John for what has been a very fine series. I admire your singlemindedness. Some controversial stuff, but you do not give an opinion without backing it up with some top reasoning. I think your final choice is odd, but then mine mind seem more odd.
I think that Walter Smith, yes the much maligned Walter, saved our club. I thnk he was shafted by the board but in our darkest days he kept us afloat.

Also, throughout his reign he was praised by pundits, yes I know, they are often wrong, but in our darkest hour I believe he did good. John, I think Ray Wilson should be a given but, as you said, it is about favourites.
Anyway,how about naming an eleven from Scottish, Irish and Welsh players? Hope you are on the mend, John, keep this fine stuff coming.



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Peter Mills
6 Posted 27/04/2018 at 20:07:48
Ray Wilson as a sub? No place for Alan Ball, Neville Southall or Howard Kendall anywhere? Hmmm!

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Dave Abrahams
7 Posted 27/04/2018 at 20:33:44
Well John if Johnny Carey was your favourite manager, fair enough, it is about favourites who don't have to be the best.

Johnny Carey was a gentleman so I won't say a bad word about him, but I think he was too nice and possibly nowhere hard enough with his players. John Moores thought that and said so at the end of one season "If the manager had pushed the players a bit harder in training we might have done better,

According to one version of the Carey sacking I've read it was Mr. Carey who pushed to be told where he stood at the end of one game, his last, in London, when told Mr. Moores wanted to see him in the hotel after the game, so John MoorEs invited Johnny into the taxi where he was told he wouldn't be wanted once the season was finished. So Johnny could have waited and been told in the comfort of the hotel.

I'm not sure but I think like the gentleman he wa, Johnny offered to stay on and manage the team until the season's.

For me Harry Catterick was a much better manager than Johnny and proved it with the honours he won, he changed the team with a soft centre to one with a winning mentality, adding West, Kay, Morrissey, Stevens and Scott to the team along with Labone and Meagan who were there before Carey came. This is an old argument on ToffeeWeb so maybe Johnny's supporters can give their side of the debate.


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Bill Watson
8 Posted 27/04/2018 at 21:03:25
John; many thanks for a fascinating and memory jerking series.

The early '60s was a great time to be a young supporter and watching the great players brought in by Carey and, later, Catterick.

Unfortunately, as Terry # 4 mentioned, although we played great football, at Goodison, we were weak away. I think the 10:4 'Spurs match was under Buchan but I can recall an 8:2 reverse at Newcastle in the early '60s, too.

I well remember the FA Cup replay v Charlton, which was played in the fog, as it was my one and only time in the Boy's Pen. They started locking the Gwladys Street ground gates so my mate, and I, legged it to the Boy's Pen gate. Despite the title there were, actually, some girls in there, too. lol

If my memory serves me right the first match at The Valley ended 2-2 with the Charlton goalie, Willy Duff (?), being sent off for punching Dave Hickson, at a corner.

Many years later I was chatting to Dave and he remembered the match well. He said he'd been giving Duff 'a hard time'!!
Those of us who remember Dave will know exactly what he meant.

I lived between Bellfield and Melwood, as a child, and went to Harold's barber shop which was just off Eaton Road. Harold was a big Blue (probably my first football influence) and had a signed and framed photo of Dave on the wall. He was my first footy hero.
Aged about 10, while I was waiting my turn, the door opened and the great man, and his quiff, walked in .and sat down next to me!

Thanks again, John, for all the work you've put in for this series and for the great memories you've evoked.


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Ian Burns
9 Posted 27/04/2018 at 22:06:24
Bill - 8 - I was also in the Boy's Pen for the Charlton game (my first as I said above) and both you and John are right - it was foggy, so much so that the Daily Express the next day described it as The Best Game Never Seen"!


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John McFarlane Snr
10 Posted 27/04/2018 at 22:15:42
Hi Christy [3] we have corresponded before and I'm sure that I must have said that despite playing only 27 games for Everton, Tommy was the finest left winger I have seen play at Goodison.

I envy the supporters of Clyde because they saw so much more of him than we did, and presumably he would have been even better when he was a bit younger. It would appear that we gained two Rings when Johnny Carey signed Tommy.

Thank you for your kind words, but although I am on the mend, I'm afraid it may be a while before I'm fully recovered.

Hi Terry [4], we seem to have much in common, I too feel that the football we played in the two seasons leading up to the title-winning season, was the finest that we of a certain age had witnessed, the team with one or two changes for injury, was Albert Dunlop, Alex Parker, Tommy Jones, Jimmy Gabriel, Brian Labone, Brian Harris, Mickey Lill, Bobby Collins, Jimmy Harris, Roy Vernon, Tommy Ring. what would we give for such quality now?

The game you refer to was a 3-0 win for Leyton Orient, this followed a 3-0 win for us at Goodison the previous week. I think I inferred that the team that won the League title owed a lot to the foundations laid by Johnny Carey, but as you rightly say the inclusion of Gordon West, Dennis Stevens, Alex Scott, and Tony Kay did strengthen the side.

Hi Andy [5] I have merely expressed my preference for some players that I have seen represent Everton over the years, I have never sought to be controversial but as they say "One man's meat, etc,

Regarding Walter Smith I'm not sure that he kept us afloat, but I do think that Peter Johnson almost sank us. I believe that he was responsible for the financial mess that we found ourselves in, spending money that we didn't have.

I have always avoided the politics of football, and concentrated on what was happening on the field of play.


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Christy Ring
11 Posted 27/04/2018 at 22:29:11
Thank you for your kind words John, and I agree that Walter Smith didn't keep us afloat. Thank God for Moyes, who got rid of Walter's dad's army, and was our saviour at the time.

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Bill Watson
12 Posted 27/04/2018 at 22:52:59
Christy #3

Tommy Ring was one of the best wingers I've seen playing for Everton. I'm sure that if he hadn't suffered his leg break, and played more games, he'd have been considered an Everton great alongside Vernon, Young et al.


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John McFarlane Snr
13 Posted 27/04/2018 at 23:56:01
Hi Peter [6] I won't labour the point, but my selection was based on my favourite players, if it was for best players then Ray Wilson, Alan Ball, Neville Southall, and Howard Kendall would probably have featured prominently.

Hi Dave [7] yes it is about favourites, and we all have our reasons for preferring one person as opposed to another, I think I have made my reason quite clear, it being that the team that Johnny Carey assembled, showed me a style of football that I hadn't seen at Goodison.

I obviously can't claim that Johnny Carey was a better manager than Harry Catterick, nor would I want to, as you rightly say Harry Catterick proved his quality by the trophies that his teams won.

The following account is taken from "Everton a complete record 1878-1985"

At the end of the season Carey joined Moores, by now club chairman, at a Football League meeting in London. Rumours of Carey's impending dismissal were rife and the two men were besieged by journalists when they emerged from the meeting.

In the back of a taxi, Moores told Carey that he felt a change of manager was necessary and offered him a golden handshake. It was typical of Carey that, although stunned and saddened, he made no fuss accepting the decision with great dignity. Carey later took Leyton Orient to the First Division and spent five successful years as manager of Nottingham Forest"

Another version from "Everton the official complete record" states that "Gradually Moores realised that despite the huge improvement under Carey, Everton needed an out and out winner as manager. By March speculation was rife that Carey's days were numbered. This intensified when Everton old boy Harry Catterick resigned as manager of second-placed Sheffield Wednesday.

In mid April, Carey and Moores travelled to London together for an FA meeting. In a taxi ride to the Grosvenor House Hotel Carey demanded that Moores clarify his position. Clarify it he did, Carey was out and Catterick was to replace him. Carey had one more match in charge a farewell 5-1 demolition of Cardiff City at Goodison. The last two matches of a season that saw Everton finish in fifth place, the highest since the war, were overseen by the new manager Harry Catterick and a golden era was about to begin." So there we have it, one event two versions.

Hi Bill [8], the date of October 11th 1958 has burnt a hole in my mind for close on 60 years, I was serving in the army in Cyprus at that time, and when the scores were read out on sports report, the announcer said Tottenham Hotspur 10 Everton 4, I will repeat that Tottenham Hotspur 10 Everton 4. ian Buchan had left Everton by then so it would have been Johnny Carey who was in charge, incidentally it was Bill Nicholson's first game as manager of Spurs.

The 8-2 defeat to Newcastle United, was on the day that Dave Hickson scored both goals for Liverpool on his debut, a 2-1 win against Aston Villa, at Anfield.

You have some good memories of Dave Hickson, treasure them because they are precious and money can't buy them.


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Rick Tarleton
14 Posted 28/04/2018 at 06:26:46
Just a great big thanks, John, for these articles. They've allowed me and many other old timers to reminisce, debate and argue in the best sense.
It's been a marvellous series and I've enjoyed every one of them. Thank-you.

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John McFarlane Snr
15 Posted 28/04/2018 at 08:27:03
Hi Rick [14] thank you for your kind words regarding the "Favourites" articles, it was a labour of love, the unfortunate thing is that every time I've submitted an episode there's been a controversial issue on another thread. However, I believe that quite a few, like yourself have made my efforts worthwhile.

I trust that some readers of a younger generation have also enjoyed the articles, although you really had to live through those good times to fully appreciate what we witnessed.

I'm working on another theme that may appeal to our generation, and evoke memories of times gone by, if the powers that be consider it suitable for publication.

Once again thank you for your kind words during the past few months.


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Steve Ferns
16 Posted 29/04/2018 at 10:03:27
Interesting selection John. I didn't know Carey was held in such high esteem. I just know he was the fella sacked in the taxi and that he came before Catterick.

Excellent stuff. I hope you can come up with something else to educate us younger blues on the forgotten heroes of yesteryear. Clearly we all enjoy reading about them.


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John McFarlane Snr
17 Posted 29/04/2018 at 14:10:27
Hi Steve[16] Johnny Carey was held in 'high esteem' both as a player and a manager, as witnessed by this tribute.

Starting his career in Ireland, Carey was signed by Manchester United from St James Gate in 1938 as an inside forward. He became known as "Gentleman John" because of his impeccable manners.

He was also one of the most versatile players the game has known. Johnny appeared in every position for United except in goal, but settled down mainly at right back.

He captained the great United side in the 1947-48 Cup Final, rallying the team, who were twice behind to Stanley Matthews' Blackpool, to eventually win 4-2.

He won League championship medals, becoming player of the year in 1948, and captaining the rest of Europe against Great Britain in 1947, before retiring at the end of the 1952-53 season.

He made his mark as manager with Blackburn Rovers and Everton.

I must add that in another article, he was reported as joining United in 1936, and played in every position except outside left, having put in a stint in goal, due to an injury to the goalkeeper.


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Rick Tarleton
18 Posted 29/04/2018 at 18:54:38
After Carey left Everton, he guided unfashionable Leyton Orient into the old First Division in 1962-63.

He was a bit of a purist in the Busby (Wenger?) mould. I think his Everton were brilliant to watch. He signed so many of Catterick's 62-63 team and paved the way for Catterick.


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Ken Kneale
19 Posted 30/04/2018 at 18:07:03
Hello John

Firstly I am pleased to hear you feel on the up and up. If only Everton FC ere on the same trajectory!!.

You have certainly set the cat (Catt) amongst the pigeons as it were but as you say this was your list so I respect your views being of such longstanding devotion to the cause we all love. I suspect we would all like to see many even of your substitute players and managers in Royal blue currently and certainly I would welcome John Moores back at the helm.

I joined the cause later than you having watch the 1966 FA cup on TV - the following 4 years were also like you say in the 59-62 era - glorious football and a joy to be a young Evertonian. Sadly I feel downhearted all the time now.


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John McFarlane Snr
20 Posted 30/04/2018 at 19:47:54
Hi Rick [18] I hope you'll forgive me for what may be termed as nit-picking, Leyton Orient were actually promoted with Liverpool in the 1961-62 season, the reason I point it out is because I've seen many a pint lost on incorrect information. Unfortunately, Leyton Orient were relegated in 1962-63, along with Manchester City, [Orient with 21 points and City with 31 points.]

I think that you and I share the same thoughts when it comes to the merits of Johnny Carey, and yes he was instrumental in laying the foundations for Catterick's 1962-63 success.

It has been enjoyable sharing our memories of past glories, and I respect your views, and hope to continue to do so in the future.

Hi Ken [19] yes, I'm on the mend but I think it's going to take a while, I hope that Everton's recovery doesn't take quite as long.

What would we give to see players of the calibre of those that didn't make it into my "Favourites" team? Many of those who didn't meet my demanding standards, were players of the highest calibre, it's just that I could only have one favourite in each position, and as I've pointed out repeatedly, I appreciate that other Evertonian's will have favourites of their own. [one man's meat etc]


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Rick Tarleton
21 Posted 30/04/2018 at 22:53:41
Thanks, John, not nit-picking, but accuracy.

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