Continuing the theme of players I have seen since 1948, 71 years of supporting Everton.
Goalkeeper - BertWilliams, Walsall/Wolverhampton Wanderers/England
Bert Williams joined Wolves from Walsall in 1945 for a fee of £3,000, after shining in war-time football, where his goalkeeping agility stood out. Sometimes known as 'The Cat', Bert created a tremendous impression at international level, when succeeding the great Frank Swift.
The holder of Cup and League medals, he also won many sprints away from the football pitch. When superseded in the England side, the still not too old goalie, had opened several sports shops in his native Bilston, paving the way for retirement.
A recall to the National side came in 1955, the selectors once again opting for the spectacular, even at the age of 35. Then he quickly retired, leaving his Wolves jersey to the up-coming Nigel Sims who had been his understudy for eight years.
I saw Bert in the 1951 'Festival of Britain' England friendly, against Portugal at Goodison Park.
Right Back - Pat Rice, Arsenal/Watford/Northern Ireland
Belfast born, Rice came through the Highbury junior ranks, turning professional in March 1966 later developing into an extremely capable right back. He went on to play nearly 400 games for the 'Gunners', and gained 49 caps for his country.
Honours achieved at Arsenal include the double in 1970, plus another FA Cup winners medal in 1979 following the victory over Manchester United.
When signing for Watford in November 1980 for a fee of £20,000, Pat could hardly have expected all the excitement of the club's promotion to the First Division in 1981-82, then the next season finishing as runners-up in the Championship race with Liverpool.
Left Back - Alex Elder, Burnley/Stoke City/Northern Ireland
A terrific full back from Glentoran when only eighteen, Elder signed for Burnley, after making progress in the Irish League.
He gained a Championship medal in his first playing season, [1959-60] followed by a Cup runners-up medal from the game against Tottenham Hotspur in 1962
He was very unfortunate later in his career when breaking an ankle, which hindered his first team prospects with the 'Clarets.' Eventually he moved on to Stoke City in August 1967, playing on an irregular first team basis, but he was a valued member of the squad.
He was picked 40 times for Northern Ireland, for whom he displayed great powers of recovery, allied to first class tackling ability.
Right Half - Danny Blanchflower, Barnsley/ Aston Villa/ Tottenham Hotspur/ Northern Ireland
Barnsley paid Glentoran £6,500 for Blanchflower in April 1949, a fine constructive wing half of classic mould, and Villa enticed 'Danny Boy' to Villa Park in March 1951. With a fantastic ability to run the game, it wasn't until Danny joined Spurs in 1954 that his stage was really set.
He captained Ireland through to the last eight of the 1958 World Cup, following the Player of the year award, which was again won in 1961.
By this time Spurs had found the missing formula, with Blanchflower skippering them through the wonderful 'double' campaign of 1960-61. After many honours Danny retired in 1963-64 to take up a career in journalism.
My lasting memory of Danny Blanchflower,revolves around the TV advert that he took part in, [I believe it was a shredded wheat advert], the incident took place at Goodison in the early 60s, a fan had thrown a packet of shredded wheat on to the pitch, Danny threw it off and just as quickly, it was returned, and I think it was someone from the Everton bench who was the culprit.
Centre Half - Billy Wright, Wolverhampton Wanderers/England
The fair haired star of the immediate post-war football scene, Billy Wright had begun with Wolves straight from school, he was nearly sent home for not being tall enough.
He became an inspiring captain for both club and country, making his international debut against Belgium in 1946, going on to play for a then record 105 appearances, including a run of 46 consecutive matches.
Having tasted League success, he also captained Wolves in winning the 1949 FA Cup against Leicester City.
Although 5'8", he was converted to centre half, this being a great success by his keeping of the ball on the ground, where possible. He was player of the year in 1951-52 adding to his many honours.
My abiding memory of Billy Wright was his visit to hospital in the 1954-55 season, a home Christmas fixture, Everton won 3-2, having won a couple of days earlier by 3-1. The reason for his hospital visit was because he was suffering from concussion, caused by heading clear, incessant centres intended for Dave Hickson.
Left Half - Norman Hunter, Leeds United/Bristol City/Barnsley/England
A tall stylish, left footed player, Hunter developed with Lee United into a fierce competitor in the Wilf Copping mould. Nicknamed 'Bite yer legs' by the Elland Road fans because of his tackling ability.
Norman came to the fore in the early 1960s under Don Revie, while United were malingering in the Second Division, and he became an integral part of the great success, which culminated in the winning of First and Second Division medals to go with FA Cup, League Cup, and Faurs Cup medals.
He appeared 28 times for England before transferring to Bristol City in October 1978, and then playing the occasional match as player/manager of Barnsley.
Reader Comments (30)
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1 Posted 07/07/2019 at 12:26:30
Alex Elder was vastly underrated and I am intrigued that you singled him out. As a kid I remember walking to the top of our street and Alex and Sammy Todd, the other NI full back were sitting on a wall. Apparently Sammy was a pal of a local lad, Snowy Gilmore.
I think it is only with hindsight that I appreciate how good both were.
I never saw Danny Blanchflower play but I am told he was a magnificent player. He was a highly intelligent man and I think he wrote a non ghosted column for the Sunday Express. He spoke with the same posh Northern accent as Billy Bingham.
I never saw the magnificent Wright play. I saw Hunter play once. He was, in my view, much more than a hard man. He epitomizes, for me, some of what has gone for good and which is perhaps only lamented by those of a certain age.
Good stuff, John.
2 Posted 07/07/2019 at 13:13:32
Regarding Danny Blanchflower, he was indeed a great player, and an accomplished journalist. He once referred to the training regime of Barnsley chairman Joe Richards, who Danny claimed, told the training staff, "Train without the ball, they'll be hungry for it on Saturday." a policy that Danny, and many others couldn't accept. Best wishes John.
3 Posted 07/07/2019 at 18:48:29
Your mentioning the Wolves' games over Christmas 1954 reminds us oldies that the Christmas fixtures were often played on consecutive days before large crowds. I was at the Wolves home game which, as you say, we won 3-2 having won 3-1 at Molineux. the following Christmas we lost 6-2 away to Birmingham on Boxing Day and then won the return game the following day 5-1 at Goodison!
This turnaround was common. The only games that I can recall that bettered these scorelines was played over Christmas in the '60s when West Ham lost 8-2 at home to Blackburn and then won 3-1 away to the same team a couple of days later.
4 Posted 07/07/2019 at 19:45:08
5 Posted 07/07/2019 at 21:10:53
A similar turn around which left me distraught, were the Everton v Huddersfield Town fixtures over the Easter holiday of 1953, Everton 2 Huddersfield 1, on Easter Monday. The following day the result was Huddersfield 8 Everton 2. Jimmy Glazzard scoring 4 goals, all headers I believe.
I think that was the day that I realised that anything can happen in a game of football, and with the exception of games against our neighbours, I go to matches with an open mind.
Hi Kevin , you may have noticed from my response to Andy, that the intention of my articles is to remind older 'Webbers of the 'old days' and to give younger readers an insight into 'our world', it would appear that I have succeed in your case.
6 Posted 08/07/2019 at 00:41:10
Elder was a member of the excellent Burnley side of the late 1950s early 1960s and it saddens me that, today, a small town club is extremely unlikely to emulate their achievements.
If I remember correctly Burnley used to sell one top player every season to enable them to compete with the big city clubs. These days their players would be picked off, one by one, by the so called 'big' clubs.
7 Posted 08/07/2019 at 09:22:05
Pat Rice an excellent full back who gave great service to Arsenal on the pitch and off it as first team coach and trainer over many, many years.
Alex Elder a tough strong also skillfull Irishman who never gave an inch in defence and was good going forward as well, he played in that Burnley team with a great, really great inside forward Jimmy McIllroy, a great favourite of mine along with another Northern Irish player Johnny Crossan of Manchester City.
Still with the Irish, Danny Blanchflower an intellectual man and a great skillful wing half playing along side one of the greatest wing halfs I have ever seen Dave Mackay,Danny was not Blanchflowers real name, Robert was the correct one, Danny was a nickname given to him by someone who thought he looked like the American comedian and actor Danny Kaye, never saw the resemblance myself.
Billy Wright was another great wing half later converted to centre back by StanCullis the Woves manager, from Ellesmore Port,I think, as Terry White says married to Joy Beverley one of the famous Beverley sisters who delighted tv fans in the fifties and sixties, or got on your nerves according to your taste, thats Billy Wright married to Joy Beverly not Stan Cullis!!!! All of Billy Wrights English caps were full games, no substitutions like Beckham and others getting caps for twenty minutes or so.
Norman Hunter, as Andy Crooks, another famous Irish fella I like, says, there was more to Hunter than just a tackler who mixed it, he was a very good footballer like most Leeds players were, when they decided to play football. One of the best recollections of Norman was when he smacked Francis Lee, playing forMan.City, Lee after a melee was also sent off, Lee who was the innocent party decided he wasnt getting sent off for nothing and ran after Hunter,caught before he got to the touch line and gave him a belter, right on the jaw, cop for that you swine ( thats instead of swearing John), and thought, if Im getting sent off at least I got something out of it.
8 Posted 08/07/2019 at 10:14:32
9 Posted 08/07/2019 at 14:56:39
Although you and I began watching Everton in 1948, your memory is sharper than mine, and my only memory of Bert Williams a fleeting one at that, was his appearance in the 'Festival of Britain' England versus Portugal friendly, it was some years later that I discovered that Bert was in goal that day.
My abiding memory of that game was a Tom Finney goal, and from my vantage point in the Boy's Pen, it seemed as though it was struck from the half-way line, when in reality it was probably hit from the edge of the penalty area.
Another thing I learned at a later date, was that Bill Nicholson scored after 30 seconds in his first and only international, although I can't truthfully claim to remember it I can say that I saw it. Incidentally for those who are not aware Bill Nicholson's first game in charge of Tottenham Hotspur was the 10-4 game at White Hart Lane in October 1958.
Dave, I believe the incident between Norman Hunter and Franny Lee,took place at the Baseball Ground when Franny played for Derby County.
Hi Kevin  Dave Macka was indeed a terrific wing half, but I think he blotted his copybook as far as Evertonians were concerned, when he injured Jimmy Husband at Goodison in October 1968.
Jimmy, in my opinion never fully recovered from that setback.
10 Posted 08/07/2019 at 16:44:43
You are most probably right that Francis Lee was sent off at the Baseball ground playing for Derby County.
Dave Mackay did indeed give Jimmy Husband a hard tackle in that night game at Goodison but Dave wasnt a dirty player, hard, firm but fair, never sent off in his career, reading about him from Hearts and Spurs supporters point of view, they not only worshipped him as a playerbut also as a very humble man, Our own Alex Young was also a massive admirer of Mackay. One Hearts fan, who had never seem him play for Hearts went over to him at a football “ do” and asked him to sign his match programme from that day, telling him I never saw you but my dad told me how great you were, Dave said “ Ill sign your programme but only if you sign mine” The fan was delighted to sign and even more delighted later on when Dave waved the programme at him on his way out. A real down to earth footballer with no airs and graces.
11 Posted 08/07/2019 at 23:00:50
As for Dave McKay, my lasting memory of him was when he almost cut our up-and-coming star Jimmy Husband in half with a blatant and disgusting waist high tackle. After months of recuperation young Jimmy never reached his potential.
Billy Wright, speaking to Walter Winterbottom, Englands manager prior to England's game vs Puskas and his magical Magyars, "Hey, the lads are confused about Walter how we should cope against this lot and our usual style should be good enough to win." We all know how that worked out.
12 Posted 09/07/2019 at 00:06:04
13 Posted 09/07/2019 at 00:33:20
14 Posted 09/07/2019 at 20:01:11
15 Posted 09/07/2019 at 21:21:58
Hi Don  regarding Billy Bremner, I feel that Bremner despite his attitude, could have played for any of the top club's. My first sighting of Billy, was when he played against Liverpool in their promotion season from the Second Division, and although Liverpool won 5-0, Billy Bremner, playing on the right wing, in what I believe was his Leeds United debut at the age of 17, turned in a man of the match display.
16 Posted 09/07/2019 at 21:33:53
17 Posted 10/07/2019 at 20:00:30
Mills was no softy but he said that the physical and verbal abuse that day was unprecedented in his career.
Does anyone remember the game?
18 Posted 10/07/2019 at 20:10:17
A FA CUP quarter final at Goodison, and Everton fought for every ball, this got the crowd going, and I just knew we were going to win that day.
Too much fight probably cost us the semi-final though, because we were cruising against West Ham, until Brian Kidd, foolishly got himself sent off, (for the second time in the fa cup that season) and it was all downhill from there.
19 Posted 10/07/2019 at 23:52:32
Tony,I know how much you admire Peter Reid.What was the first time you saw him?
20 Posted 11/07/2019 at 09:29:32
21 Posted 11/07/2019 at 09:59:23
It's still a special competition to me, mate, and I can still remember Peter Reid settling us down after Watford flew out the tracks at Wembley, and the utter joy that winning that famous competition brings.
My first memory of Reid in an Everton shirt was a home game against Forest, Andy. We won 3-1; it was a bank holiday game I think, and the thing that stood out for me that day was Everton were aggressive, crowded Forest out, and played football that got the crowd right behind them – typical Peter Reid football mate!
22 Posted 11/07/2019 at 10:31:12
Watch it yourself mate, bobbly pitch, loads of tackles, a packed Goodison getting right behind our team, and “Franz Tyson” what a class footballer he was?
Maybe Ipswich lacked a bit of “Aristotle” because I always remember them throwing the league away to Villa, when they lost away to Boro? On the final day of the following season, I think?
23 Posted 14/07/2019 at 13:56:58
Something at the back of my mind tells me it is on the 15th.
But I could be wrong.
May your glass always be half full.
And may our (your) beloved Everton have a great season.
And win a trophy soon. Very soon.
Keep it tight for the second half John.
Ps Love your articles.
And didn't Pat Rice once score a loopy long range goal for Watford against us in a crazy 4-4 draw. I think. But again, I could be wrong.
24 Posted 15/07/2019 at 15:29:08
25 Posted 15/07/2019 at 17:03:45
Youre mention of Reid in that post reminded me of when I first saw him.
He was playing for Bolton against us at Goodison ( Quarter Final FA Cup I think it was) we won that day but I remember thinking at the time how good he was, always driving them forward and getting stuck in ( one of the best on the pitch that day)
26 Posted 15/07/2019 at 19:13:09
I have just waved goodbye to my son and daughter and my five grandchildren. I'm going through a sticky spell at the moment, I've been told that my blood-sugar level has increased from an acceptable 55 to an unacceptable 127. However I still expect to be present at the Excelsior on the 17th of August – no ale though.
27 Posted 15/07/2019 at 21:06:17
28 Posted 15/07/2019 at 21:12:44
29 Posted 16/07/2019 at 00:15:27
30 Posted 16/07/2019 at 11:26:19
Hi Tony , I'm an 'octogenarian, Modern Man', and I've discovered what PIN numbers are all about, and how to operate a washing machine. I'm now in the process studying sugar levels in foodstuffs, but I haven't got around to Guinness and other vital essentials.
Hi Dave, , I'll heed your advice and take things easy, I'm afraid that as for looking after myself, that is the job of my young lady, Laura, and I must admit that she does it admirably. I feel sure that she'll send me out on the 17th respectably dressed, with orders to take my tablets.
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