Continuing the theme of visiting players who have impressed me during my 70 years of attending games at Goodison Park.

Outside Right - Stanley Matthews Stoke City/ Blackpool/ Stoke City/ England

The 'Wizard of Dribble' is one of the many superlatives used to describe one of football's greatest legends Stanley Matthews, who received a Knighthood whilst still playing.

Son of a professional boxer, he started with his with his home town club Stoke City as a brilliant schoolboy prodigy, and swept all full-backs off their feet as the most tantalising of outside - rights, he was sensationally transferred to Blackpool in 1947 for £11,500, and after getting two FA Cup runner's up medals, he achieved a lifetime ambition by helping Blackpool beat Bolton Wanderers in the 1953 FA Cup Final, known as the 'Matthews Final'

He returned to Stoke City assisting them in winning promotion into the First Division, and remarkably in the top Division past the age of 50, the game's most mentioned personality he will always be remembered for his ball control and body swerve, and also as one of the goal providers in the history of football.

I can only recall two occasions when I saw Matthews play at Goodison, the first was in 1951 when Jock Lindsay made his home debut, and faced the unenviable task of shackling Matthews, unfortunately he wasn't up to the task and Blackpool ran out 2-0 winners. The second occasion was when Matthews returned to Stoke City, and as I remember it Sandy Brown gave him an uncomfortable afternoon,

Inside-Right - Jimmy Greaves Chelsea/ A C Milan/ Tottenham Hotspur/ West Ham United/ England

Recognised as the greatest goalscorer of modern times , Greaves netted more First Division goals than any other marksman. He made a sensational debut for Chelsea scoring against Spurs, and going on to top the First Division goal scoring charts six times.

At the age of 21 he left the 'Blues' for A C Milan, not staying very long before being snapped up by Tottenham the season after the fabulous 'Double'. He helped them to win the FA Cup in his first season.

Under Alf Ramsey, Greaves' England prospects began to falter, although he still managed to play 57 times for his country. A European Cup Winners Cup medal in 1963, and a further FA Cup winners medal against 'old mates' Chelsea were added to an illustrious record.

The cockney genius of an inside- forward found the modern game unpalatable, finishing down the road with the 'Hammer's'.

My stand out memory of Jimmy Greaves was when he was bearing down on the Park End goal, and Jimmy Gabriel rugby tackled him, both players rising to their feet laughing, [a certain red card in today's game.]

Centre-Forward - Derek Dougan Portsmouth/ Blackburn Rovers/ Aston Villa/ Peterborough United/ Leicester City/ Wolverhampton Wanderers/ Northern Ireland

A marvellous extrovert centre-forward, Dougan had great skill on the ground and was quite capable of winning any aerial battle.

One of the games great characters he played for many clubs, only really settling down when joining Wolverhampton Wanderers from Leicester City in March 1967. Previous to that, he had dropped into the Third Division with Peterborough United, where for two years it was quite apparent that he was too good to be languishing in the lower region.

He was a great favourite with most fans always giving entertainment, and well worth the 43 caps he gained with Northern Ireland.

My standout memory of Derek Dougan, is on the opening day of the 1961/62 season he appeared at Goodison sporting what we termed a 'Mohican' haircut, which caused much amusement for the crowd. It was later reported that Joe Mercer pulled him aside during a training session and said "If you want to be different score a bloody goal".

Inside-Left - Johnny Haynes. Fulham/ Durban City /England

The outstanding English post-war inside forward, immaculate in appearance, brilliant in ability, famous for his long through ball passing, he was a schoolboy prodigy signing for Fulham after being coveted by all the the big clubs following England Schoolboy displays.

He made his debut at 17 years of age in 1953/54, before leaving for Durban City in 1970 after playing 594 games. He played 56 times for England, following international appearances at every level [other than amateur]

Superlative skill coupled with strategy and leadership were qualities he regularly brought to bear in his long career. He was famous for being the first £100 per week English footballer, a move that ensured that the foreign clubs kept their hands off.

A serious car injury in 1962 put paid to the international side of his playing career, coincidentally Johnny met his death in a car accident in Edinburgh on October 18th 2005, a day after his 71st birthday.

Outside-Left - George Armstrong. Arsenal/ Leicester City/ Stockport County

A little left winger from the North East who Arsenal snapped up in August 1961, Armstrong went on to give the 'Gunners' sterling service, covering nearly 500 games , before joining Leicester City in 1977.

A specialist taker of corner kicks he was perpetual motion in action, battling here, there, and everywhere, a constant thorn to any defence. He gained England under 23 honours, but surprisingly did not follow up with full caps.

He is memorably associated with the Arsenal 'double' side of 1970/71, after winning a European Fairs Cup medal the previous year. His final season of League football was in 1978/79 with Stockport County.

Reader Comments (6)

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Martin Nicholls
1 Posted 07/08/2019 at 09:28:20
Another good article John.
An outside right who always impressed me was the hugely under-rated Alan Woodward of Sheffield United.
Terry White
2 Posted 07/08/2019 at 17:19:53
Thank you for bringing back the memories of days of yore, John, in your series of reminiscences. Not all great players but household names at the time when we were not seeing every game on TV or over the Internet. Stanley Matthews, Jimmy Greaves and Johnny Haynes, however, were great players and would be so in any era..
John McFarlane Snr
3 Posted 07/08/2019 at 20:57:59
Hi Martin [1], I agree with you regarding Alan Woodward, immensely under rated, I'll dig up some information on him and will include him in the near future, Editor/Moderator allowing.

Hi Terry [2], We tend to look back through rose-tinted glasses, but I'm on your side regarding Stanley Matthews, Jimmy Greaves, and Johnny Haynes. In the future, today's fans will be extolling the virtues of Lionel Messi, Christiano Ronaldo, etc, while their successors will have hero's of their own to worship. I have tried to include lesser-known personalities, players who by their ability, commitment, or sportsmanship impressed me.

Dave Abrahams
4 Posted 07/08/2019 at 22:10:32
Interesting selections John, Stanley Mathews a great player over many years who I admired but thought Tom Finney was better and played on both wings for Preston as well as centre forward.

Jimmy Greaves, no argument whatsoever with this little goal scoring genius, best British goal scorer I ever saw, with no hysterics when he scored, just a simple wave of his hand then trotting back to the centre circle, ready to score his next goal.

Johnny Haynes a very good constructive inside forward who scored his share of goals. One of the Brylcream Boys who was used to advertise a hair cream.

Derek Dougan another character who entertained and gave good value to every team he played for, later leader of the Players Union.

George Armstrong a tenacious little left winger with plenty of goals and assists on his record, amazingly underrated by most fans, but not by the fans of the clubs he played for, especially fans of the Gunners.

Andy Crooks
5 Posted 09/08/2019 at 23:50:23
John, fantastic piece. Fair play for including "The Doug". Do you have among your books "The Sash I Never Wore"? Hope to see you next week, John and Dave.
John McFarlane Snr
6 Posted 11/08/2019 at 20:17:15
Hi Dave [4], I share your assessment of Stanley Matthews and Tom Finney, I split my football watching into two parts, and considered Tom Finney the finest winger of part one, and George Best the finest of part two. I read somewhere that Denis Law regarded Jimmy Greaves as the greatest goalscorer of his generation, and Law himself was no slouch.

The player who has given me the most pleasure recently has been Eden Hazard, and I suppose my dislike of televised football has been tempered by the opportunity it has given me to enjoy his contribution.

I hope to see you in the Excelsior on Saturday.

Hi Andy [5], I'm pleased that you enjoyed my latest article, I always regarded Derek Dougan has one of the great characters of the game, I used to say that he was almost impossible to mark, because he appeared to lean one way and run in the opposite direction. I hope to see you in the Excelsior on Saturday evening.

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