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Peter Mills
1 Posted 24/07/2020 at 22:28:39
Paul, that is a fantastic article. Very honest.

It’s good to see Howard Kendall’s name mentioned alongside George Best. George was a sublime player, but often one who was best on highlights. Howard was a magnificent footballer who knew how to control a game, at any time, at any level, and with a calm head, even in a struggling team. Never mind his medals, he kept us up, virtually single-handed.

With all due respect to the Belfast Boy, I know who I would prefer to have in my team.

Derek Thomas
2 Posted 25/07/2020 at 02:41:05
A thought-provoking piece, Paul.

Even at a grand old age, for those few games he did play as Player Manager, Kendall was still the best player by a mile on the pitch – for either side.

But we all know Kendall the Manager and Player: the player that displaced crowd favourite Jimmy Gabriel, the player who – on his debut, mind – missed a certain open goal from 5 yards out in front of the Gwladys Street; that went down well.

As stated, in the early 70s both teams had dipped from recent heights due to poor replacements. Kendall and Best, who by then was playing as a central No 10, were carrying their respective teams more or less on their own.

Kendall stayed the course: Best left and Man Utd surprisingly, but unsurprisingly really, were relegated by the Denis Law back heel... though to be fair, the other 41 poor games helped a lot.

On Best the player: physically – and if he was 10 stone soaking wet I'll eat my hat – he was the best footballer I have ever seen; he could do it all, tough as nails – and then some.

He is, in my eyes, up there with the (medal winning) greats - mentally though is another story.

Best said in one Parkinson interview, slightly tongue-in-cheek(?) that he could've played until he was 50.

"Oh yes?" said Parky in his own unique questioning manner.

"Yes," said Best, "I'd have just kept dropping back and back and ended up playing as a sweeper." Many a true word spoken in jest.

More telling, he gave hints as to why he quit. Busby leaving, poor replacements, etc, etc. But the main reason was his own too-harsh perfectionism.

Players' bodies change as they get older, the electric pace at 22 begins to fade at 26 – not a lot, but it does. Many wingers and others compensate for this, and the ones with good engines and footballing brains and more importantly, the inclination, change and adapt their game, usually coming inside to play somewhere in midfield.

Charlton and Giles were but two. I'm convinced Catterick's failure to see, or take this into consideration, was one of... but maybe not the only reasons he sold Ball – we'll never know. (See also, SAF & Ronaldo!)

Anyway, Best more or less said that if he couldn't be the Best of 1967-68, he didn't want to be Best the footballer at all... simplified, I know, but that was never going to happen and that was a lot of his problem – couldn't live with it and couldn't live without it.

Kendall the pundit? rs TV bias... Kendall the England player... southern / media darling teams bias – nothing changes.

Paul Birmingham
3 Posted 25/07/2020 at 04:55:41
Great article, and brilliant read.

Both provoke the agony and th ecstasy within their career paths, and what if, may have brought.

Products of bygone times and values, pound for pond both superb players.

Tragic that in later days both fought battles with the hooch, but sublime skills and memories.

Howard Kendall, was a true gent, always had time for supporters, and whom was also very generous and bought rounds when we went on preseason tours.

I last met Howard in person in 2010 at an Everton FC 25th anniversary do, at the Echo Arena, and he was in good spirit.

Both great players from a great era for British football.

John Keating
4 Posted 25/07/2020 at 08:25:26
I have to agree with Derek that Best was the most skilful player I saw and bloody hard as nails. The great thing about Best was he was never afraid to get stuck in, always see him defending and took some real kickings and just shrugged it off. Even when he was pissed, he was great!

When Tom Hart signed him for Hibs, he'd go up there Thursday night for a session and might show up Friday afternoon to say hello to the players. Friday night session, play Saturday and back to London Saturday night, Sunday.

He was still the best player on the pitch. Paid his way putting thousands on the attendance.

As for Howard, player and manager, nothing to say except thanks.

Dave Abrahams
5 Posted 25/07/2020 at 09:56:29
I'll go along with Peter (1), I could talk about Howard the footballer all day long. He was the best, in my eyes, of our famous midfield trio. He could control the game and get more out of his teammates without any verbal screaming and shouting, just by example. Here there and everywhere in his calm manner. Even when he came back to the Blues as player-manager in a poor team, he still controlled the game in a more leisurely way, standing out with his pure football ability, just brilliant.

Georgie boy!! what a player, had it all. Dribbling, passing, the will to win, shooting, tackling and supreme confidence in his ability. But just for 7 years in the top flight. He was his own worst enemy with the lifestyle he chose, which stopped his ability to play for 90 minutes and put his football career mostly out of the limelight on the field, but those 7 years... Wow!!!

Martin Mason
6 Posted 25/07/2020 at 09:59:20
Very good article.
Len Hawkins
7 Posted 25/07/2020 at 15:40:35
Yes two great players from a fantastic era who would still be great in today's game – no diving and cheating from either, their skill sorted things out. If they went to ground, it was either a great or a brutal tackle.

The name Peter Storey makes my hackles rise. He was a yard dog who played for Arsenal and he kept getting picked over Howard for England. That is the most tragic thing at the time the Holy Trinity never played together for England.

Two greats who I am glad to say I saw many times and I often wonder if the ball had an elastic band round Best's ankle.

Steve Ferns
8 Posted 25/07/2020 at 15:44:35
Excellent article. Thanks for taking the time.
Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
9 Posted 25/07/2020 at 17:43:10
Wow!! I was there when Howard last played for us!

It was an FA Cup match and we lost 2-1 and I think Ross scored a pen late on but we could not steal the draw. I still have the memory of Howard with the ball and Gary Stevens (how old was he?) starting to go on the overlap and stopping and Howard with the ball at his feet turning to him and telling him to go on the overlap before threading the ball through to him.

I had gone with my West Ham mate and stood in their end of the ground.

And sad to say that, like Paul #3, the last time I saw Howard was at the 2010 dinner and yes he was in good spirits, sadly.

He is sadly missed.

Dave Abrahams
10 Posted 25/07/2020 at 19:59:46
Phil (9), I think that game was the next round of the cup after we had just beat Liverpool in the previous round, the Varadi and Coke match!
Tom Bowers
11 Posted 25/07/2020 at 20:31:22
Funny you mention Varadi. I was a fan of his but he was around during an Everton transitional phase (always seems to be one every other season).

Without doubt, Kendall not getting an England cap was the crime of the century. Shame on all the England managers for preferring lesser players especially when he was at his peak. Of course if he had been playing for a London club, Man Utd or Liverpool, he would have had a bagful of caps.

For many of us older fans we have been privileged to have witnessed many great players over the years and once or twice great Everton teams. Kendall was part of the ''Holy Trinity" as they were referred to and then later created another one in the Eighties with Reid, Sheedy and Bracewell.

Unfortunately we are witnessing probably the demise of another great threesome of world-class entertainers who have been cracking in memorable goals and performances for the last 15 years or more, namely Rooney, Messi and Ronaldo.
I was watching today some terrific goals that Rooney scored for Man Utd but he was also a master craftsman in other areas.

Messi and Ronaldo are still around in the top echelon but for how long. Age catches up to all of us but thank God for TV that allows us to relive all the amazing goals they have scored.

Patrick McFarlane
12 Posted 25/07/2020 at 20:52:05
In the 1981 FA Cup run, Everton played Arsenal, Liverpool and Southampton before losing to Man City in a 6th Round replay.

Everton lost to West Ham in the 3rd Round in 1982. I went to Upton Park in 1982; my memory box thought that Eastoe scored the consolation goal but I am probably wrong.

Tom Bowers
13 Posted 25/07/2020 at 22:45:06
Eastoe, another of those regular goalscorers who, once they signed for Everton, just didn't deliver the goods consistently.
Don Alexander
14 Posted 25/07/2020 at 00:37:19
Best was the best player I've ever seen in the flesh, by miles. Messi, his nearest rival in my opinion, would not have flourished like Georgie did given the crudity of tackle/foul that refs permitted in his time. George had lumps kicked out of him week-in-week-out but managed it all to become the genius he was, on the pitch. It was a crying shame his football career and life ended as they did.

Howie, as a player, to me, was third behind Bally and Colin as an absolutely brilliant midfielder. To give younger readers an idea of how great Howie was though I'd compare him to Andy Holmes, the Gold-medal winning rower who partnered Steve Redgrave before Sir Matthew Pinsent took his place.

Holmes won a gold medal, but from the three of them he was basically a brilliant third.

Howie the manager mercifully never had the conspiracy that has been the Premier League this century to contend with. Like all pre Premiership managers he rightly had devout faith in a so-called pro footballers striving to better themselves and, as a by-product, the club that was paying their wages.

How naive! That's visibly long diminished from Goodison and that's why Moshiri needs to mega-back signings, plural, that Ancelotti wants, this summer!

Andy Crooks
15 Posted 26/07/2020 at 01:01:03
What a brilliant article. It certainly has me torn. I was going to write more but better leave it till tomorrow.
Danny Broderick
16 Posted 26/07/2020 at 01:47:48
Great article.
Kieran Kinsella
17 Posted 26/07/2020 at 04:15:22

Fantastic article. It was before my time so I’ll resist passing judgement. I had no idea about the Kendall/Bryan Ferry connection. Also alarming to see how the young Georgie Best was treated. Lovely piece.

Alan J Thompson
18 Posted 26/07/2020 at 07:17:47
George Best was the greatest, most skillful footballer I've ever seen live or televised, then or now. An electricity went through the crowd, regardless of who you supported, whenever the ball came within 10 yards (metres hadn't caught on in UK at that time) of Best. I wasn't aware of so many similarities in the lives of both players.

Both were brilliant footballers with a problem that seemed rife throughout the football world and should be subject of another thought provoking article, this not being the place to use names but we all would know more than a few.

It also brought a smile to my face reading, "a considerable oversight by selectors" and immediately brought to mind what seems a not inconsiderable number of Everton youngsters that many thought very promising only to fall by the wayside or have careers at lower levels of the Football League.

To both, many thanks, RIP.

Dave Abrahams
19 Posted 26/07/2020 at 08:44:00
Kieran (17), I find it very strange how George was reported to have been treated when he first travelled from Belfast to Manchester.

Bob Bishop was the scout who discovered George but it was Joe Armstrong who went over to Belfast to convince George and his family to sign for United.

Joe was a Scouser who had been on United’s books as a player but never made it. He became a scout for them and did everything properly, by the book, a gentleman who looked after his signings, or those he was interested in taking to United, with the very best of his ability, so I’m sure Joe would have taken the utmost care with George and his friends travel arrangements, it must have been someone else who did the very poor way these two young had to make their own way.

Jay Woods
20 Posted 26/07/2020 at 09:21:29
My father and I met Howard once, in Belfast (ironically enough given the subject of this article), and he mentioned Bryan Ferry being in his school at the same time as he was.

I found Howard a lovely man, ridiculously humble and affable. And re that FA Cup Final with Preston, my father told him he had looked terrified on the pitch before the game. "That's because I was", he replied.

Lenny Kingman
21 Posted 27/07/2020 at 14:27:37
Brilliant piece of writing. A page turner for sure.

Everton stopped Best getting what would have been his only FA Cup final appearance in the semi at Bolton in 66. Thanks to Colin's deceiving shot and Sandy's goal-line clearance, the Blues prevailed.

Eric Myles
22 Posted 27/07/2020 at 17:01:29
After Alan Ball, George Best was really Simply THE Best.
Charles Barrow
23 Posted 30/07/2020 at 12:12:25
Saw Best a couple of times at Goodison including a magic performance in around '71 or '72 where he terrorised Tommy Wright. Quite a performance as Tommy was a brilliant defender.

Saw him again in the '80s in the Phene Arms in Chelsea. Very friendly and modest. I liked him as a person as well as a footballer.

James Welford
24 Posted 30/07/2020 at 18:35:19
Thank you, Paul, fantastic read.

May both Howard and George rest in peace.

Mark Andersson
25 Posted 01/08/2020 at 07:55:02
Great read from a bygone era. 30 odd years and were still waiting for somthing to be proud of again.

Howard bought me a drink while I was singing in a restaurant in Formby.

He said, "I bought you this drink to make sure you don't sing You'll Never Walk Alone for the owner."

"As if – I'm a born blue like you, Howard."

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