Treasured Memories of a Bygone Age – Part 1

John McFarlane [Senior]   03/04/2019 0comments  |  Jump to last

I was recently asked how many matches I have attended in my 70 years of following Everton Football Club, and allowing for a period as a teenager playing for Anfield Boys' Club and a spell of Army service in Cyprus, and factoring in away games, I would estimate a figure approaching 1,600 games.

This question together with the recent death of Gordon Banks, prompted me to think of all the players I must have seen and the impression they made on me.

While I appreciate that is a site for Everton issues, I also believe that there is room for Evertonians' to share their experiences with fellow Evertonians',

and on this basis I have selected 11 players from visiting clubs who I saw play from my teenage days through to my early twenties.

Goalkeeper: Jack Kelsey

[Arsenal & Wales]

Jack Kelsey was the village blacksmith at Llansalet, when Arsenal signed him from the local side Winch Wen to understudy the ageing George Swindon in the 'Gunners' goal

This was later seen as a very shrewd move by Tom Whittaker, the then Arsenal manager, when the young goalkeeper, after making his debut versus Charlton Athletic early in 1951, went on to become a goalie at club and international levels, displaying marvelous agility on his goal line.

Jack had quickly gained a League Championship medal by 1953 and won the first of his many Welsh caps in 1954.

The climax of his career was in 1958 when 'Little Wales' fought their way to the World Cup quater finals, eventually losing 1-0 to the future Champions-Brazil.

Right Back: Jimmy Armfield

[Blackpool & England.]

A stylish defender, Armfield came to the fore with his local club, after assisting a nearby church team.

Following a brilliant display in the 1962 World Cup Finals in Chile, Jimmy was voted the finest right back in the world.

The overlap was his speciality and he could rightly claim to be the originator of the modern technique, although others would doubtless argue the point.

.He had become by now, an England regular, setting up at one stage a sequence of 37 consecutive games.

Highly composed, efficient to the last and above all constructive, he played 568 League games for Blackpool before retiring, and going on to football management with Bolton Wanderers, and Leeds United.

Left Back: Alf McMichael

[Newcastle United & Northern Ireland]

A red-haired dynamic left full back, Alf McMichael along with George Hannah, was transferred from Linfield to Newcastle United for a combined fee of £20,000 in September 1949.

This move followed sterling performances back home in the Irish League, but it wasn't until arriving at St James'Park that the youngster was capped for his country, going on to become captain and collecting 40 full caps.

He won an FA Cup winners medal from the game against Arsenal in 1952. Not terribly tall for a defender, he was tenacious in the tackle, very constructive when in possession, and a highly regarded member of the Newcastle United rearguard, making 403 League appearances during his stay with them.

Right Half: Ronnie Clayton

[Blackburn Rovers & England]

Classy, totally constructive in approach, Clayton made his debut at the age of 16 in the 1950-51 season.He showed real signs of developing into one of the great wing halves of the day, and could have had more than the 35 appearances, some as captain that he made in England colours.

He captained the Rovers back into the First Division as runners up in 1957-58, and gained an FA Cup runners-up medal against Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1960. He played 577 League games for Blackburn Rovers before leaving to become player/manager of Morecambe in 1969.

Those who saw him play will always remember Ronnie Clayton for grand sportsmanship, allied to great ability.

Centre-Half: John Charles

[Leeds United, Cardiff City & Wales]

The famous Major Buckley enticed the young John Charles away from his native Swansea in January 1949 to sign for Leeds United.

Capped by Wales just after his 18th birthday, John could play at both centre-half and centre-forward with equal efficiency. Because of his temperament, he became known as the 'Gentle Giant'.

In 1953-54, he scored 42 League goals and, a season later, a further 30 goals helped the Elland Road side back into the top flight. In 1956-57, after helping himself to 38 League goals, he was taken to Italy by Juventus for a record £65,000.

He became an idol in that country before briefly returning to Leeds United in 1962. After a few months, he moved back to Italy, joining Roma for £70,000 before finishing his playing career with Cardiff City.

Left-Half: Bobby Moore

[West Ham United, Fulham & England]

A brilliant youthful prodigy in the central defender's position, Moore was capped at youth level after joining West Ham.

He developed into one of the finest wing halves in England, captaining club and country through almost every level of soccer, culminating in 108 full caps.

He collected an FA Cup winners medal against Preston North End in 1964, but when playing for Fulham in the twilight of his career he was on the losing side at Wembley in 1975 against his old team-mates of West Ham.

He was Footballer of the year in 1964, and on retiring he had achieved 667 League appearances with West Ham and Fulham, and a worldwide reputation as a master of his craft but, without doubt, the pinnacle of his career was holding the Jules Rimet trophy aloft for England at Wembley in 1966.

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