When 'Legends' were thin on the ground — Part 7

John McFarlane [Senior]   07/08/2018 0comments  |  Jump to last

To conclude the list of players who represented Everton from the 1946/47 season, when the Football League resumed after World War Two, until the 1950/51 season when Everton were relegated to Division Two.

Edward Sagar

Born 7 February 1910; Died 16 October 1986

The oldest player ever to appear in a first-class game for Everton, Ted Sagar was 42 years 281 days old when he took his bow, in a Second Division game at Plymouth Argyle in November 1952.

Rather slim-looking and perhaps a shade underweight, Sagar was on the Goodison Park playing staff for 22 years 302 days, a record a at the time for long service by any player with a single club. He actually remained at the club for 24 years and 5 weeks.

An ex-miner, he took over from Bill Coggins in the 'Blues' goal and was a regular every season up to the Second World War, missing only one game when the League title was won in 1931-32, and gaining a second Championship medal in 1938-39, and an FA Cup winners prize in 1933.

After 61 games during the Second World War, when free from Army duties in Denmark, Italy, and Iraq, he regained his place from George Burnett and was first choice for another five seasons.

He amassed 463 League appearances, and was capped 4 times by England in 1935/36, it should have been more, for Sagar was one of the finest goalkeepers of his era.

An Everton legend, he made his debut for the 'Blues' in a 4-0 home win over Derby County in January 1930 and became famous for his headlong dives towards the ball, regardless of how many players were blocking his path. He was a fine shot stopper and had an uncanny ability to pluck high looping balls out of the air with timely precision, completely without nerves.

But for the lack of foresight on the part of the Hull City Board, Sagar may never have found his way to Goodison Park. As a youngster he was playing in the Doncaster Senior League for Thorne Colliery, when an eagle-eyed Tigers scout spotted his talent, he was given a trial but was surprisingly not taken on, allowing Everton to step in and sign him for nothing.

Ted Sagar's Everton career record was 497 appearances.

George E Saunders

Born 1 March 1918; Died 1982

Recommended to Everton by Dixie Dean, George Saunders was a reliable, consistent, hard-working defender, respected on and off the terraces, whose safety-first tactics of clearing the ball first time was his trademark. He was a firm tackler but never dirty, and could get enormous distances with his headers.

He played two seasons with Everton 'A' before signing professioinal forms and owing to the Second World War, he had to wait until September 1946 before making his debut against Arsenal in front of more than 40,000 fans at Goodison Park.

Prior to that, he had appeared in one Regional League game against Liverpool in December 1939; a fine golfer, he was also a cousin of Ron Saunders.

George Saunders's Everton career record was 140 appearances.

Alexander Ernest Stevenson

Born 9 August 1912; Died 1985

'Wee' Alex Stevenson scored 7 goals in 12 games for Rangers before moving to Goodison Park. A wily brainy player, one of the best of his generation, and as nimble as a mountain goat, he could create an opening out of nothing, and often scored a goal in the same way. He was a great supplier, first to Dixie Dean, and then to Tommy Lawton, and a splendid partner to Jackie Coulter before the Second World War.

Stevenson, who helped Rangers win the Scottish crown, made his Everton debut against Arsenal in 1934, and was a League Championship winner with Everton in 1938-39, scoring 10 goals in 36 outings.

On the international front, he won 17 full caps for Northern Ireland and 7 with Eire, his last in 1948-49, and played in one 'Victory' international game against Scotland in 1946.

Alex Stevensons's Everton career was 271 appearances, 90 goals.

Edward Francis Wainwright

Born 22 June 1924; Died 30 September 2005

Eddie Wainwright was one of Southport's major gifts to football. He started with High Park in the resort's Amateur League before being spotted by Everton and signing amateur forms in 1939. In his early days, he was farmed out to Fleetwood to aid his development.

He improved rapidly during the early years of the war, and played a great deal of Army representative football, where he came under the eye of Arthur Rowe, who was later to manage Tottenham Hotspur's famous 'push and run' side.

His goalscoring feats rekindled Everton's interest and in September 1943 they gave him a first team debut in a League North game against Manchester United, the youngster playing alongside pre-war internationals like Tommy Lawton and Joe Mercer.

An intelligent ball player with a fierce shot, Wainwright played a major role in Everton's 1949-50 FA Cup run which was ended in the semi-final by Liverpool. That same year he toured the USA and Canada with an FA party and represented the Football League against the Irish League, a 3-1 win, Jackie Milburn grabbing a hat-trick.

The latter stages of his career were ruined by injuries. In December 1950, a tackle by Derby County's Chick Musson broke his leg, but he fought back and was in the Everton side that won promotion to the First Division in 1954.

Eddie Wainwright's Everton career record was 228 appearances, 76 goals.

Thomas Gordon Watson

Born 1st March 1914; Died 2001

Gordon Watson arrived at Goodison Park in January 1933 and went on to become one of Everton's greatest servants, he had been playing with Blyth Spartans in his native North East and quickly impressed with his close control and fierce tackling.

He made his League debut in 1937 and appeared in 27 pre-war league games, he was twelfth man on so many occasions during the 1938-39 Championship season that his team-mates clubbed together to buy him a special cushion, so that he could have a comfortable seat on the Trainer's bench. He had an impish sense of humour and took it all in good spirit, never once bemoaning the fact that he was not in the team.

After the war, he was appointed first-team trainer, and in 1968 he joined the club's Promotion's Department; by 1985, he celebrated 52 years with Everton.

Gordon Watson's Everton career record was 66 appearances, 1 goal.

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