'Music Was My Heartbeat'

Becky Tallentire   08/02/2021 10comments  |  Jump to last

Real Footballers' Wives – Ann West

Gordon West joined Everton from Blackpool for £27,500 in March 1962, ‘a world record that will never be broken’ according to the press, as the miner’s son from Barnsley became Harry Catterick’s first signing. Athletic, agile determined and composed, West played in goal 399 times for Everton and collected a full complement of medals before leaving the club in 1973. Tempted back out of retirement by Tranmere Rovers in October 1975, he played 17 games in total and provided first-team cover for four years before calling it a day. He appeared three times for England and it would probably have been more but he withdrew from the 1970 World Cup squad for family reasons.

Gordon passed away peacefully on June 10th 2012 following a long illness.


Collegiate Grammar was an all-girls school in Blackpool; I was quite academic, enjoyed it very much and left with 5 O’ levels, 2 A’ levels and a scholarship to the Royal College of Music. The great love of my life was music and I’ve often wondered why.

My mum was six and Edie, her youngest sister, only five when their mum died and they went to live in Blackpool with their older sister Emmie, who was 19. Mum was quite musical and would have loved to follow that path but there was never any spare money. Instead, she resolved that when she grew up she would have a daughter named Ann who would play the piano. I went to ballet lessons like most little girls do, and think I was given the choice of ballet and piano. Fortunately I chose the piano because the size of me now, God help us all.

I was born in Aunty Emmie’s guesthouse during the war into a nearly all-female household: Aunty, her husband Walter, their two daughters, Marie and Dorothy, my mum and Edie. Mum managed a tobacco and fancy goods shop at the time and Dad was doing his National Service, he saw me the day after I was born then was posted to the Middle East, Greece, Italy and Palestine. The next time her saw me was in January 1946 when I was four and he was demobbed and resumed his job as a carpet and furniture salesman.

I was five when mum and dad bought the guest house next door to Emmie’s and that was about the time I began studying piano. As far as I can remember I was conformist and a very well-behaved child who only became noisier with age.

There was always lots of family around; my grandparents and dad’s sisters, Elsie and Hilda lived two streets away and we had a constant stream of visitors from Easter until the Blackpool Illuminations ended in November. Everyone in my family could turn their hand to anything, from waiting on tables to peeling potatoes, washing up, making beds and cleaning. We offered three cooked meals a day for 10/6 and had a hectic life with Dad staying up to serve biscuits to anyone who wanted them and redecorating during the winter break while also holding down his full-time job. We all developed a strong work ethic because we never stopped. They were happy days and we laughed a lot.

Music was my heartbeat. I played a lot of duets with my friend Valerie who travelled on her own from Preston to Blackpool for piano lesson from the age of nine and we shared our first attempt at smoking after winning five Woodbines on a slot machine and carefully cutting them in half. It was a bad move, she still smokes to this day and I only gave up in 1995.

I played a Mozart concerto with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain when I was 13, live on television at 15 and accompanied the Blackpool Girls’ Choir from the age of 12. We even did concert tours of Norway so I’ve actually played on Edvard Greig’s piano and it was quite something to be allowed to do that, so I felt incredibly honoured that I was granted permission.

I was 13 when my sister Susan was born, now there was a surprise for us all. Like me, she was born in Emmie’s guest house but she arrived in September, during the Illuminations and when it was packed with visitors. I was absolutely thrilled to bits to have a sister because it was so unexpected, it had never crossed my mind I might have any siblings.

Sue was a breath of fresh air, turned life upside down and didn’t sleep through the night until she was about four. She was a complete tomboy who always seemed to be standing on her hands and causing ructions. She was very musical, too, but unlike me she had a wonderful voice and sang solo with the Blackpool girls’ choir, which was also live on television. She was very temperamental and didn’t like performing. I can remember her throwing a complete wobbly before an event, then singing beautifully, as if nothing had happened. My poor mum.

There’s such an age gap, we never fell out and Sue can’t even remember me living at home. She was my bridesmaid when she was six and she’s actually closer in age to my kids than to me, so she was very much like their big sister and they were very close. I remember when Alan Ball lived over the road from us in digs in Blackpool, and he used to knock round for Susan to see if she was coming out to play.

My family all liked football. Mum and Dad even went to Wembley when Blackpool beat Bolton in the Stanley Matthews final of 1953, so I suppose when we heard these friends of ours had young footballers, Gordon West and Malcolm Starkey, staying at their guest house, it seemed like quite a good idea to go and have a look at them. I’d left school by then and I think I was just killing time before I took up my scholarship at the Royal College of Music in London the following month.

It was Gordon’s great sense of humour that struck me the most. I was quite enchanted, he was so charismatic, good looking and different from anybody I’d ever met before. I was 17 years old and had been surrounded by academics, musicians and people from completely different backgrounds all my life, so his individuality played a big part in the excitement and the attraction. He was 17 too and we had our first date in August 1960, a month before I left for London and he made his Blackpool debut in December.

While I was at the RCM, I shared a flat with a girl from the Wirral but travelled home on the train at the weekends and so Gordon and I could continue our courtship. I wanted to enter into the spirit of things, so I supported Tottenham Hotspur for one game because I thought it would be like going to watch Blackpool but with a few more people and I went to see Gordon whenever he played against London club. He would get me a ticket and I would meet him briefly before the match then wave him off on the bus afterwards.

After a year in the Smoke, I transferred to Manchester Royal College of Music which was much more enjoyable and it meant I could live at home. Gordon and I would go out for dinner to The Lobster Pot in Blackpool where they served the finest scampi and steak, followed by a visit to the Clifton Hotel opposite the North Pier where we’d drink Pimms.

When we got engaged in January 1962, Gordon moved into my parents’ guest house and he did his share of helping out. The long winter nights would see us in front of the fire with Gordon making lamps from empty liquor bottles. He used to love my mum’s mixed grill that she served up when I got home from college in Manchester. A fine offering of steak, chop, mushrooms, bacon, sausages, egg, liver, beans, tomatoes, fried bread and chips. When his dad visited, he would request a special serving of it for him, too. It was fit for a king.

After about nine months in Manchester, I decided I’d had enough of college so I packed it in. I’d always played the piano at concerts and when you go to college that stops because you’re too busy learning your trade and there aren’t the venues available, but I’d been so used to playing all over the place that I found it quite strange not to be performing. Looking back, I think what I needed was a gap year, but they were unknown back then; you just had to get on with it. I didn’t give up music for Gordon; I just stopped because I’d had enough.

Everton’s manager, Harry Catterick came to watch him play a few times and in March 1962, backed by John Moores’ millions, signed him for £27,500 making Gordon the most expensive goalkeeper in the world. Catterick wanted his all his players to be married and settled, so he actively encouraged it, and we were wed in June 1962. It took us six weeks to organise the wedding, I don’t know what these people who plan them for months and months in advance are thinking about, they must be mad.

Gordon and Ann West on their wedding day

The wedding was wonderful, I’m a bit of a show person so getting done up in a wedding dress was fabulous. We married in the Holy Trinity church in South Shore, Blackpool. It was quite a big bash, we had about 100 people there and although it’s nothing to how they are today, we had a nice do at the Cliffs hotel in Blackpool then flew from Manchester to Paris for a week’s honeymoon. We were both 19 and it was the first time I’d ever flown.

Nearly all the Everton players lived in Maghull and we moved into a nice three-bedroomed semi, 81 Claremont Avenue, and thought it was wonderful. Mickey Lill was an Everton player and he had lived in there before he’d been transferred to Plymouth. Mickey and his and his wife must have taken in lodgers because Jimmy Gabriel’s name was on a shelf in the airing cupboard. After the bright lights of Blackpool, Maghull was a real shock to my system. It was like living in a backwater and although it was only an hour away, my mother always used to protest that it was so far.

Beryl Harris, Brian’s wife, and I became great friends and we were very close for a long time. I must have driven her mad because having given up everything to be Gordon’s wife in Maghull; I had nothing to do so I used to pop round there every morning to visit her. She lived a bus ride away in Lydiate, near the Coach and Horses pub, which was very handy for Brian, and he often used to pop out for a ‘shovel full of coal’. She had a son, Mark, who was a baby at the time, and few years later had Ian, and I would be there all the time, I must have driven her insane.

The other person I was really very close to was Rose Hurst. We were both from Blackpool and spent a lot of time together and we saw quite a lot of Pat and Brian Labone, too. We didn’t do anything spectacular; we just went round to each other’s’ houses, had coffee, chatted and looked after the kids. I liked a lot of the other wives but I didn’t see much of them other than at the match.

I was at a terrible loose end and three months after I married, I started my professional career when I was asked to play at Blackpool Music Festival as an accompanist, from then on I worked as a freelance.

Just before we arrived at Everton there was a ceiling on wages of £20 a week. Shortly afterwards, they lifted the cap and they were hailed as the £100-a-week footballers. I think Gordon’s new contract gave him £45 a week, but that was a lot then, and there were win bonuses and extra money for big crowds, so it did add up, especially if they were on a winning streak and the supporters were pouring in. In 1963 they were earning significantly more than the average man in the street. I look at it as being £100 a week when the normal man’s wages was about £10, so we were very well off.

It was nothing to what it is today, and if you want my opinion, I think it’s immoral and obscene and it’s not doing these kids any good at all. That they can earn in a week what a nurse earns in five years. It just can’t be right and it’s spoiling football. They’re no longer interested in winning and they can’t be disciplined because even if they’re dropped, they still get paid these extortionate amounts. There can’t be any incentive to win for them anymore.

I was about five months’ pregnant when we won the League in 1963 and the club took us Torremolinos. I was so cheeky. I’d been invited to do a concert that clashed with us being away, and I asked John Moores if he would pay for Gordon and me to go separately so I didn’t miss it. He said ‘no’ and we all had to go together. Looking back it was a bit of liberty, but you’re like that when you’re young.

Torremolinos was very interesting. Can you imagine it in 1963? It was nothing more than a building site. We stayed at a beautiful hotel called Las Tres Carabelas but when I went back there 20 years later I didn’t recognise the place. It was horrendous. We had a lovely swimming pool and there wasn’t a lot to do beside sit around the pool, eat and drink, but how luxurious to be taken away for a fortnight. I was quite big at that stage, and I always remember one of the reporters rang up for some reason after Stephen was born and told me he hadn’t realised I was pregnant, so he must have just thought I was fat.

I would go to all the home matches and when I had the children they would go over to my mum and dad’s quite a lot of weekends. They were fantastic grandparents and Steve and Mark have great memories of their time spent with them and their cousins Jonathan and Daniel who lived close by. I can only imagine the mischief they got up to with Sue only eight years older joining in, too.

It wasn’t really strange to watch Gordon play because I was used to performing myself so it was second nature to me and I don’t think I let myself in for anything I couldn’t handle. I felt very proud of him though and I can remember the first England cap he won. I flew from Speke airport to London and went to watch him at Wembley. They played Wales and I don’t think there was a big crowd there but I felt enormously proud watching him when the National Anthem was played.

A lot of the players would go out to clubs on a Saturday night but we weren’t into that scene at all. I liked to have a drink, but I didn’t go to nightclubs. I suppose the local pub was The Punchbowl, The Meadows or the Coach and Horses. We’d go for a meal or to the pub but I was never part of the Royal Tiger scene. The Tiger was a club in the city centre where loads of the players and their wives went most Saturday nights.

I’m a very sociable person and even more so now than when we were married, but I think what really bothered me was that I was never sure if people liked you for who you were or if it was for what you were. I didn’t like that uncertainty. I’m sure a lot of them were genuine and good people, and we did have some good friends, but if you went out for a meal with non-footballers or as a couple then people could be rude. I think they should leave you alone when you’re out privately. We weren’t bothered that much but it was always in the back of my mind that they wouldn’t have been there if Gordon wasn’t an Everton player. Having said that, we did have some very good friends, Vera and Tony Pope and Gwen and Eddie Owen and lots of neighbours whom I hoped liked us too.

Gordon did get very uptight and nervous before a game and I think that’s well documented. They didn’t know much about digestion and diets back then, and they used to eat the wrong food - their pre-match meal was steak and toast. He used to get very anxious before a match because he is a nervy kind of bloke, and I think its folklore now about how ill he would be, but that’s the way it should be. Nerves play a big part when you’re a performer and it puts the edge on your game. I don’t think you should be there if you’re not nervous and I believe that even Stan Matthews used to throw up before games.

I can remember Gordon getting very annoyed one night because he had a match and people were coming over from Blackpool to watch so they would be coming back to the house afterwards for supper. I wasn’t a great housekeeper and I thrust a Hoover in his hand and asked him to get the lounge smartened up a bit before we went to the game. I don’t think he had too much time to let his nerves get to him that night. Looking back it was terrible of me but it was a job that needed to be done and I was often on my hands and knees cleaning the kitchen floor before playing with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra because people would be coming back to the house afterwards.

Whether he had any superstitions in the dressing rooms I can’t say, but he had none at home. He wouldn’t have worn the same clothes for consecutive matches because they were probably still in the laundry basket.

Typical boys, my sons were both born on really inconvenient match-day Saturdays and they were both born at home because my mum had her children at home and I saw no reason not to carry on the tradition. I was very lucky looking back, but you don’t consider any risks when you’re young. It’s only as you get older you start to think more about situations.

The Wests with baby Stephen in 1963

The Wests with baby Stephen in 1963

Stephen came into the world on October 5th 1963. I’d taken cod liver oil on the Thursday to try to bring on the birth; I needed him to come because I was due to start work in a fortnight. I don’t think the cod liver oil worked, all it did was give me terrible stomach ache and he decided to be born on the Saturday lunchtime by which time Gordon had gone off to play at Birmingham. Derek Temple and Tony Kay scored that day and we won 2-0.

Mark was even better. Again Gordon was away because Everton were playing Liverpool in the fifth round of the FA Cup at Goodison the next day, so I went to stay with neighbours so I wasn’t on my own. I got up the next morning, went home and lit the fire and thought ‘I’m having this baby.’ I rang my friend who was a nurse, then rang the midwife and she suggested I might just be excited because it was a match day. I told her not, so she told me to get into bed and headed over. Mark was born about two hours later. The match was an evening kick off, March 11 1967. Gordon rang up before the game and I told him he had another son. Alan Ball got the winner that night and Mr Catterick very kindly sent me a bunch of flowers.

I remember one time when Yorkshire Television came over to film out lives and showed it on television and another evening when we were watching Question of Sport with the kids and a picture of Gordon and I came on. Strangely enough, they didn’t get Gordon and they thought I was a model. We were quite happy to get the kids to bed at 7.30 and sit in chatting or watching the television. In the beginning, we spent a lot of time going over to Blackpool at the weekends because there was so much more to do.

As Gordon got used to Liverpool he didn’t go to Blackpool as frequently but I went over most weekends for piano lessons and to take the kids to see their grandparents. I’m sure Gordon socialised more in the later years in the clubs but not early on and in those days he actually didn’t drink very much and neither did I. We’d get the kids to bed, make a cup of coffee and watch the telly, in fact, it was pretty boring now as I come to think of it.

I don’t know that I ever had many dealings with the club. The fact that there was no players’ lounge and the wives were left standing out in the street did used to bother me a little, but I don’t remember being furious about it. Looking back it was wrong but it didn’t really bother me.

They didn’t go away too often pre-season, not like they do now, but I remember when they went to Australia for six weeks when Stephen was a baby. I would have wished he hadn’t gone for so long, but more often than not they’d go to Llandudno and Blackpool for weekends of ‘special training’, and I didn’t mind that at all, it was just part of the job.

The Everton players' wives at Lime St preparing to travel to London in 1966

The Everton players' wives at Lime St preparing to travel to London in 1966

Going to Wembley was absolutely great and I remember real excitement at the thought of it. We all went on the train together from Lime St station, then were herded into the hotel and to see the Joe Brown show in the evening. I don’t think clubs would get away with shunting everybody around like that now, but it was all part of the excitement then and we were so young we didn’t question very much.

We were 2-0 down and suddenly Mike Trebilcock scored two, it was unheard of, he’d hardly had a game before that and was only brought in at the last minute when Fred Pickering was injured. When Derek Temple sealed the victory, we were shrieking with delight. I’ve still got the photo of Princess Margaret presenting Labby with the Cup and Gordon is beside him - that was a fabulous day. We had a good night, too, but I seem to remember we had an ever better night two years later after we’d lost. I think we drank more and tried harder to compensate for the bitter disappointment.

The second time we got to Wembley, in 1968, we stayed at the Waldorf again, and it was still as posh. After our night out, we all went back to my room for a drink. I remember ringing down to the bar to ask them to bring a bottle of something up to the room and being politely told that we might have had enough already. I think it was done in a nice way but they made themselves clear. We weren’t over the top or anything, because in those days one didn’t do such things, but they thought we’d had enough and to be honest, they were probably right but we got the bottle we wanted in the end.

The Everton wives outside the Waldorf before the 1968 FA Cup final

The Everton wives outside the Waldorf before the 1968 FA Cup final

We were sitting around talking about the dresses we were going to wear for the after match dinner. I’d bought mine from Lytham in Lancashire and it cost 25 guineas, which was quite a lot in those days. Maureen Temple started to describe hers and it dawned on me that it was exactly the same only in a different colour. I thought I would go out on the Saturday morning and try to find something different but I couldn’t of course, so we just kept well away from each other.

I’m sure Everton did a lap of honour as losers in 1968, it was the first time it had happened and Gordon led the way. I can also remember Alan Ball throwing his losers medal on the floor. It was the most wretched feeling you could ever imagine.

I decided to go and teach music in Seaforth, north Liverpool, for a while and did a bit of ‘concerting’. Then I decided that I wouldn’t mind playing with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra so I went and auditioned for that and did two concerts with them. I didn’t make any sacrifices for Gordon’s career and he wouldn’t have wanted me to. I did keep a scrapbook of our achievements and I’ve got it here right now, it’s a bit tatty but it’s still here. In it are the newspaper cuttings from when Gordon declined to go the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. I don’t know why he made that decision, but he did and it was totally his choice.

The England squad went to Mexico for 10 days or so the year before to get them acclimatised. Gordon Banks’ dad died and he was sent home so Gordon played and injured his shoulder and Peter Shilton was flown out to replace him. When Gordon came home he made up his mind that he wouldn’t be going the next year, and it absolutely amazed me.

In a way I was pleased that he didn’t want to go but I’m not sure he gave the real reason for his decision. He didn’t like being away from home for that long and again I guess nerves played a part in it, too, because that really was the world stage, but he made that choice. I daresay it wasn’t the best decision he made in his career but you can’t turn back time.

He was second to Gordon Banks and they were in their prime at the same time but on his day, I think Gordon West was much better. It was hard for him to break in and when he had that chance he could have made his mark but he chose not to. If he’d decided to go, we might have seen a different set up altogether but we all know that hindsight is a wonderful thing. Gordon Banks didn’t have too many bad games and was less flamboyant but Gordon West was a great keeper and I suppose that decision practically finished his international career.

I don’t know whether he regrets it, but I suppose he does now. I know I got blamed for him not going and I’m thinking back and there were times when I asked him not to go on tour. Who would want their husband to go away for a long time? But to be honest, I’d have been quite pleased for him to go. So, next time you see Labby, tell him to stop making up stories about me.

The West family

I didn’t hate anything really about being a footballers’ wife, but I’ve always been ex-directory since we got home from a derby game where we’d been beaten 5-1 and somebody rang up and shouted ‘Thanks, Gordon’ and hung up again. We had a couple of calls in the middle of the night, too, and that was quite menacing, but as far as people knocking on the door, that didn’t really happen apart from the young kids knocking round for Stephen and Mark to go out to play.

In 1971 we decided that one of us needed to get qualified in something because his career would eventually be coming to an end and he wasn’t qualified in anything other than playing football. I encouraged Gordon to try and get into teaching because he was a really hands-on father and very good with kids, but I’d already got A levels so I could easily go back to college or university to gain some qualifications. A bloke who taught at CF Mott training college in Prescot said they had a beautiful Bosendorfer piano from the BBC Manchester studios at the college and he asked if I wanted to go and see it.

It was wonderful and I fell in love with it. I knew a lot of people at Liverpool University and when the Professor there knew I wanted to go back into education he said I could go there but that was going to be too academic for me and they had this beautiful piano at CF Mott and that was the deciding factor. So that was where I went to train as a teacher and the day I started teaching in 1974 at St Dominic’s Catholic school down the road from CF Mott and I had to ask for the morning off to go and get divorced. My lifelong friend, Joanne accompanied me to the court for moral support, she’s a professional singer and I’ve accompanied her in a musical capacity ever since. I had no concept of how awful divorce was and the terrible effects it can have on a person’s life and it took me a long time to get over it.

I taught for 20 odd years, initially in Huyton where I stayed until 1977, then I married Ray and moved to the Isle of Wight. He taught Craft, Design and Technology and we met at St Dominic’s. I brought my parents from Blackpool to the island in 1998 so they’d be closer to me.

Sue went over to Australia in 1977 for three months for a ‘look around’ with her fiancé, Paul and they’ve been there ever since. They’ve been married 25 years now and have two teenage children, Ben and Louise, and have settled in Mount Lawley, Western Australia. In spite of the distance, we’re still very close. I’ve visited seven or eight times and in 1992 I went out there for a year on an exchange. My parents loved Australia, too, and I go back as frequently as I can. It’s like a second home to me

Ray got a job teaching in the International School in Papua New Guinea. They wanted us to go as a couple but my mum was unwell so it wasn’t a good time for me to leave, but I went over there a couple of times when I retired from teaching. An exciting if rather terrifying thing happened the one time I was there. I was booked to play an outdoor concert and was just about to sit down at the piano when in true Hollywood style a gun was fired just outside the venue. It turned out not to be too serious, just an attempted hijacking which was quite run of the mill in Port Moresby. Mum made her recovery and things were looking up then a routine operation went wrong and had to be repeated and I lost her in 2003. It was totally unexpected and I still find it hard to believe she’s gone.

Where my boys are concerned, Steve is a mad Evertonian, Mark used to say he supported Liverpool but I think that was just to cause trouble, in fact he had a season ticket for Southampton a couple of years ago, I think he loves football but nobody in particular. They both play a lot of football, both in goal and I think they could have been professionals if they’d had the dedication but I imagine it was too demanding because it takes over your whole life.

They didn’t do music and I didn’t force it on them at all. Stephen did start to learn the piano and now like everybody regrets not having continued. He seemed to have a natural facility for it and he also started learning the violin and the oboe but I’m sure he wouldn’t like to be reminded of that.

Mark is married to Lisa and they have children of their own now but he played and trained for Lancashire at tennis before we left the North West for the Isle of Wight and went on to do the same for Hampshire for a time. I think going across the water on the ferry to training on cold Friday nights really tested his dedication and it became too much for him in the end but they both play a very good game. They were sport minded and I thought that would always keep them off the streets. Snooker, cricket, golf, football anything to do with sport they had a love for but Stephen’s true passion is Everton. He travels the length and breadth of the land following the Blues and in 1985 he travelled to Czechoslovakia and all over, he made it his business to follow them everywhere, he’s just mad about them.

It doesn’t surprise me that Gordon still has legendary status, because Evertonians remember everybody who ever played for them, so he’s in the right place to have that sort of recognition. He was pretty famous at the time and wherever we went people would recognise him. I remember on holiday in Spain and Italy people came up to him in the street, in fact I’ve just returned from Madeira where I bumped into an Everton season-ticket holder and it only took moments before Gordon’s name was mentioned. Probably because his career was cut quite short his name isn’t the first one that springs to mind when people think of a goalie, they think of Banks, Shilton and Bonetti but when you go back into the record books, he did have a very good career.

I wouldn’t like to be a footballer’s wife now although I would like the money but not really for myself. I could give it away so my family had mortgage-free houses. I’m happy just settling down to be a quiet-ish 60 year old. I still can’t get over the sheer delight of being a grandmother. The fair at Ryde is not quite Blackpool pleasure beach but provides me and Mark’s kids with endless hours of fun.

I’m sure the current footballers’ wives love it but some of them are famous in their own right so they’re not short of a few bob either. They live a completely different life now, and I’m absolutely sure they wouldn’t live in a three-bedroomed semi in Maghull. I can’t say that I’d like to be a part of what it’s become now, but I have very few regrets and I really mean that.

****

Gordon West passed away on June 10th 2012, his funeral was held in Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral which was packed to the rafters. His wit, generosity of spirit, kindness, wisdom and gentleness will always be remembered by those lucky enough to have known him.

Taken from Real Footballers' Wives – the First Ladies of Everton, still available for purchase in book or Kindle form. Copies are also for sale by contacting Becky directly via Twitter at @bluestocking63 or by email.

© Becky Tallentire 2004

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Reader Comments (10)

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Steve Hogan
1 Posted 08/02/2021 at 11:30:52
I simply love these stories Becky, there is a wonderful innocence about them. Ann West's re-collection of the 'minutiae' incidents during those heady years simply adds to the wonderful memories she has.

Sad to hear her and Gordon split up after just 12 years, they seemed very much in love at the time.

Merseyside in the 60's was a much different place then, no social media and all the toxicity it brings with it. The black and white pictures of the girls 'dressed up' is charming as they set off for Wembley.

Hilarious story about them having a party back in Ann's hotel bedroom but being told by the reception staff 'no more alcohol' please.

Wonderful wonderful story.
Paul Kernot
2 Posted 08/02/2021 at 22:08:52
Gordon was our keeper when dad took me to my first game when I was only 6 and for a while after. My memory is that he was a gentleman and a bloody good keeper too.
Danny O’Neill
3 Posted 08/02/2021 at 22:12:49
Fascinating read Becky. Thank you for taking the time.

Two interesting things I took (amongst others). Firstly the nerves. Every player (and I was by no means gracing the grass the great Gordon did) has to have nerves. It's how they channel them that matters. Adrenalin is necessary but how it is channeled determines whether a player uses it positively and is "up for it" but without losing their head. It's a fine balance. As this is a goalkeeping story, Jordan Pickford could take note. It's good to be pumped up and nervous but controlled aggression is more conducive.

The separation piece is close to my heart and one I don't think footballers get enough credit for. Not sympathy as clearly they get many benefits, especially financial ones in the modern game. But don't underestimate the personal sacrifice they make in giving up the normal things in life that many take for granted. They give up control of their own life and belong to something else.

I spent 18 months of my son's first 2 years away out of the country. I continuously spent periods of 6 months at a time away from the family in foreign climes because I was owned by an establishment; one I volunteered for so I new the terms, but owned. No choice. I wouldn't change a thing, but I agree with Ann and the author, being away from family for long periods is difficult; more so for the family who are left behind to cope with it.

Fantastic read. Really enjoyed that.
Mike Gaynes
4 Posted 09/02/2021 at 02:04:36
Great observation, Danny. Whether by decision or circumstance, lengthy family separations are always painful and can have long-term effects. Millions of families around the world, including mine, have learned that during the pandemic.
Bill Watson
5 Posted 09/02/2021 at 02:12:40
Great read, Becky!

What strikes you about these stories is how ordinary their lives were; living in semis amongst everyone else albeit probably on a bit more money. At that time, Liverpool had three club houses, opposite us in West Derby, one of which was in a terrace of four! (Kevin Lewis lived in that one).

You'd often bump into the players, or their wives, in the Co-op or the paper shop etc. I had the great pleasure of meeting Gordon a few years before he died and we had a long chat about those days.

I asked him if he was envious of the huge amounts present day footballers earned (and this was 15 years ago) and he said he wasn't. He was just glad to be earning relatively good money at Everton rather than working down the pit back home in Barnsley.

Becky Tallentire
6 Posted 09/02/2021 at 18:25:51
I love coming here and reading the comments - thanks guys.

The reason this piece has made comeback (so to speak) is because I was speaking to Ann before Christmas and she told me Steve (her son) had died.

She had gone and spent some time in Australia with her sister while she digested the news.

Steve was a good Evertonian and a stalwart in spite of living in London.

God bless - stay safe

Up the Toffees 💙
Andy Crooks
7 Posted 09/02/2021 at 20:55:55
Brilliant stuff, Becky. Saw Gordon play for the Football League against the Irish League on a rainy night many years ago. I was behind his goal in the second half and it was just wonderful to see a legend close up.
Jay Wood
[BRZ]

8 Posted 09/02/2021 at 21:17:00
Becky, you have just shaken me to my roots with the news that Steve West had died.

I've mentioned it before but my family also had family in Blackpool and we were some how related to Elsie (who Ann mentions in the article) and her husband Ronnie.

Knowing I was a mad Evertonian Elsie arranged it for me to meet Gordon during the summer hols when visiting Blackpool.

He was a very handsome fellah was Gordon. A real Adonis. Playful, charming and very generous. He would get me and me da tickets to Goodison some times and somewhere I've got a great press photo of him off the ground in a backward arching dive that he gave me with a personal message and autograph.

Really shaken to read about Stephen's passing. He was a good 5-8 years younger than me, I'm sure. Deep condolences to Ann.
Jay Wood
[BRZ]

9 Posted 09/02/2021 at 21:17:10
Becky, you have just shaken me to my roots with the news that Steve West had died.

I've mentioned it before but my family also had family in Blackpool and we were some how related to Elsie (who Ann mentions in the article) and her husband Ronnie.

Knowing I was a mad Evertonian Elsie arranged it for me to meet Gordon during the summer hols when visiting Blackpool.

He was a very handsome fellah was Gordon. A real Adonis. Playful, charming and very generous. He would get me and me da tickets to Goodison some times and somewhere I've got a great press photo of him off the ground in a backward arching dive that he gave me with a personal message and autograph.

Really shaken to read about Stephen's passing. He was a good 5-8 years younger than me, I'm sure. Deep condolences to Ann.
Jay Wood
[BRZ]

10 Posted 09/02/2021 at 21:17:14
Becky, you have just shaken me to my roots with the news that Steve West had died.

I've mentioned it before but my family also had family in Blackpool and we were some how related to Elsie (who Ann mentions in the article) and her husband Ronnie.

Knowing I was a mad Evertonian Elsie arranged it for me to meet Gordon during the summer hols when visiting Blackpool.

He was a very handsome fellah was Gordon. A real Adonis. Playful, charming and very generous. He would get me and me da tickets to Goodison some times and somewhere I've got a great press photo of him off the ground in a backward arching dive that he gave me with a personal message and autograph.

Really shaken to read about Stephen's passing. He was a good 5-8 years younger than me, I'm sure. Deep condolences to Ann.

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