From headlocks from Big Dunc, to being booted by Tommy Gravesen and lapping Alex Nyarko, Alan Moogan enjoyed a proper Everton education in the early 2000s. An interview with the former Academy player.
It was too late. The words had left Alan Moogan’s mouth and the Everton academy graduate realised he was in trouble. Deep trouble.
“I shouted, ‘Will you fucking pass the ball properly?’ and, you'll know this, the look he gave me…”
Moogan, still a teenager, had provoked the ire of Duncan Ferguson and instantly regretted it. Training with David Moyes’s Everton in the early 2000s after coming through the ranks with Wayne Rooney, he found out quickly not to get on the wrong side of Big Dunc.
“I'm bombing around and with Moyes, the training was ultra competitive,” he recalls. “You’d have winners and forfeits for the losers. Dunc passed the ball but bobbled it into me. So instead of playing it first time, I've had to take another touch but then someone's robbed it off me. I've turned to Dunc and he's just looked straight back at me.”
The glare was a warning but Moogan, full of youthful exuberance and naivety, couldn’t help himself from questioning his towering team-mate. It was at that moment, he realised he had made a mistake.
“I've said this in front of everyone,” he remembers. “Dunc didn't say a word but stared at me. The game carried on but all I'm thinking is, ‘He's not going to have that!’ Moyes sent us in and, as I'm walking off, you know when you feel someone jogging behind you? There he is behind me… ah no, shit!”
Duncan grabbed Moogan in a headlock, ruffled his hair everywhere and mockingly teased, “Will you fucking pass the ball properly, you cunt?"
Luckily, Moogan quickly realised the retaliation was in jest but now knew his place.
“I looked at him and burst out laughing,” Moogan says, aware he was off the hook. “He must have seen I was shitting myself. He was great with stuff like that. If it was a senior pro, he wouldn't have taken it. He's probably thought, ‘Who's this little snotty-nosed kid?’ The fact he used to pick me up and drop me off probably helped!”
When Moogan made the jump to the first-team, he was living with his Mum and Dad in West Derby village.
“Big Dunc would drive past ours, everyday, in his big Range Rover,” he says. “He's seen me and started beeping. It then got to the point where he'd wave to my Dad and then he'd stop and ask, ‘Are you training with us in the morning? I'll pick you up at 9.’
“Growing up, I saw him score against Liverpool and Man Utd and he was my hero. He was a hard fella on the pitch, passionate and I played a little like that. I’d get stuck in but would cross the line now and again and get sent off. Sitting with him in the car, I was a little starstruck.
“Duncan was great with the young lads. He was an unbelievable footballer as well. His left foot... he used to take free-kicks in training, his passing and striking of the ball were brilliant.”
Moogan also remembers Big Dunc joking around in the Bellefield gym.
“He'd lift weights and do the (punch) bag. I'd grown up around the boxing scene so I'd do the bag too, then go on the weights with him. We were quite similar so I ended up having a good relationship with him.
“I remember him on the bag and he'd clock us watching him. I remember one day Unsy (David Unsworth) was in there and Dunc asked him, ‘Who's the hardest man in the Premier League?’
“Unsy's just looked at him (smirking) and said ‘Fuck off, you’,” Moogan laughs, recalling Unsworth’s reaction as he refused to fuel Ferguson’s ego, even if the Scot was only taking the mickey.
“They used to have mirrors right the way along one side of the gym, and Dunc would turn, look at himself and start laughing, ‘There's the hardest man in the Premier League,’ he would say. Everyone would laugh their heads off. He was just taking the piss out of himself.”
Moogan earned a professional contract in 2003 after helping the Blues reach the FA Youth Cup Final the year before, alongside the likes of Steven Schumacher, David Carney and another young lad, two school years below him, by the name of Rooney.
“I was very, very close to Wayne.” Moogan reveals. “He grew up not too far away from me and would come around to the house after training. He was a great lad and you could see his quality. He was head and shoulders above everyone.
“I went down to Bellefield pretty early at 18, Wayne would have been 16, and we were training with the first team together. Just to see him in that environment, it was unbelievable because he didn't change. It was like he was still playing with the lads in the youth team. His attitude, nothing fazed him. It didn't matter who he was up against, he fitted into the group and it was like he'd been there forever.
“I was an 18-year-old, up against the likes of Thomas Gravesen, who had played x amount of times for Everton, x amount of times for Denmark and I'm thinking "Shit!", whereas, with Wayne, you could have put Zinedine Zidane in front of him at 16 and he'd have just looked at him and not been interested, just ready to play the game. He had that carefree nature about him.
“He wasn't very loud, but his demeanour and the way he carried himself, he walked onto the pitch like it was a park in Crocky. You could see his quality and he didn't look out of place, if anything, he was the best player.
“Wayne was an ox, strong as anything. He was that strong he was throwing the likes of Alan Stubbs and Unsy about at 16. He wasn't bothered one bit. He was fiery and aggressive, and did boil over at times, but in training I never saw that, he'd shrug things off.”
Moogan recalls Rooney paying a visit to The Western Approaches in L11 after scoring that goal against Arsenal. This was just a normal, down-to-earth lad who boasted supreme ability and was living the dream.
“Wayne was chilled out and he's quite quiet until he's comfortable around you. He was never, ever big-headed. Everyone liked him.”
Thinking further back, Moogan was in awe of what his fellow Scouser could do with a football.
“I’ll always remember training with him at Littlewoods in Netherton. He would have been coming in from school. One game, I've hit a diagonal ball 50 yards, switching the play to Wayne. I think he's just going to control it but 40 yards out, he's just let it come down and – I’m not messing, I’ve drilled it, so on the move, probably one of the hardest techniques to do – he's whacked it on the volley, at 15 years of age, into the top corner.”
Moogan couldn’t believe it, “What the Fuck?”. Everyone was stunned. “If you scored, you then kept possession from your goal, so everyone looked at each other but then had to quickly go and get another ball. You didn't even have time to say ‘Oh My God!’ because we were just playing again.”
Boasting such audacious skill, Rooney wasn’t really one for passing.
“At the time, I thought he was a bit selfish,” Moogan admits. “He was so good, he'd just stay on the ball.
“I remember another game against Derby County, at Littlewoods again. I've played a ball and ran past him wanting to be played back in but he’s completely ignored me and hit it from the halfway line. I stopped running and thought ‘What are you doing, lad?’ but then I've looked up… ‘Fucking hell, it’s going in!’
“It hit the crossbar and bounced outside the box, that's how hard he hit it! He was 15! The stuff he would even try... it was frightening but wouldn't bother him.”
While Rooney became England’s all-time top goalscorer, Moogan, who is now 37 and working as a coach in regional scouting for Liverpool, would go on to play for Burscough, Southport and Telford, after an ankle avulsion fracture during a Merseyside derby with the reserves on the eve of a loan switch to Notts County scuppered a possible career in the Football League.
Released by Everton in May 2004, he departed Goodison Park without making a first-team appearance despite being in the squad for a full season. He very nearly featured in the FA Cup against Shrewsbury when Niclas Alexandersson was taken ill and even saw his shirt hanging up in the dressing room. However, on the morning of the fixture, the Swede declared he had recovered and netted in the 2-1 humbling.
Moogan was denied his big chance and remembers another team-mate who he is adamant should have made the grade.
“We had a keeper called Andrew Pettinger who was superb. He was very similar to Jordan Pickford now, only bigger. He was left-footed and his kicking, handling and shot-stopping were unbelievable.”
However, Pettinger, who made the bench for an April 2002 fixture at Southampton, left the club 3 months later and would go on to make just 3 league appearances for Grimsby Town before turning out for Ossett Town and Gainsborough Trinity in non-League.
“I just dont think he realised how good he was,” insists Moogan. “I don't think he could handle pressure, which is obviously a big thing. He got released but should have been someone who had a long career. He was a brilliant goalie.”
Someone else who could, and should, have made an impact at Goodison Park was Alex Nyarko. A £4.5 million signing from Monaco, the Ghanian was compared to Patrick Vieira on his arrival in 2000. However, his most memorable moment came when he was apprehended by a disgruntled topless fan on the pitch at Highbury who insinuated Nyarko wasn’t fit to wear the shirt.
Moogan couldn’t believe how good the midfielder was in training but quickly realised why he probably wasn’t excelling on matchday.
“Unbelievable footballer,” he says instantly of Nyarko, full of praise. “The best player. He was 6ft-2in, didn’t get tired, and his technique was absolutely brilliant. However, this sums him up… we were doing this run in pre-season and Andy Holden used to put hurdles around the outside of the pitch. You'd do laps – 4-minute runs with the hurdles. You're really pushing yourself. The next thing though, I'm lapping Alex!”
Moogan was completely bemused. “After we’ve stopped running, I've gone over and said, ‘Alex, come on, have a go!’
“I’m a kid, he’s a pro. He’s just looked at me, started breathing heavily (mimicking Moogan) and said, "Alan, it’s no good for your heart."
Moogan, again, was dumbfounded, “I just started laughing like, ‘Fucking hell!’
“He should have been a top Premier League player. His lower body, he was so strong. He was slim up top, only ate small portions, and when you're talking about nutrition (in football), he was ahead at the time. He knew what to eat, when, how often…. He was really fit. We (the rest of the squad) probably needed to push ourselves to get that fit but, if he had just pushed himself that bit more, he'd have been a top player.”
While Nyarko maybe didn’t set the best example, Moogan insists Everton boasted a team full of top pros keen to pass on their knowledge and offer advice.
“Steve Watson would be the best trainer,” Moogan says. “The work-rate out of him, he would be dripping. He was a brilliant footballer and a really good professional. To be fair, there were loads like that.
“I remember Lee Carsley was really good with the young lads as well, Stubbsy too. On the training ground, he would be really hard on you and it could be perceived that he was having a go at you and being out of order but he trained as he played, so he'd shout if you were out of position or being a little bit lazy and weren’t tracking your runner. He'd let you know and give you it but, at the end of the session, he'd say, ‘When that happened, you should have been here, that's why I had a go at you.’ He was doing it to help you. I really admired him for that.”
Nigel Martyn was another older head who Moogan learned from.
“I played with him a couple of times in the reserves and what a goalkeeper he was. His legs were the size of tree trunks; one of his legs was two of mine. He filled the goal. You'd have a shot and he'd palm it away, but he wouldn't just palm it to the side, he'd palm it off the pitch!
“He was a dead jolly person and would have a laugh and joke. He wasn't quiet, just really well-mannered. He'd give you good information.”
While Martyn, Stubbs and Carsley guided the young players, so too did Thomas Gravesen, though Moogan perhaps didn’t realise it at the time and was battered and bruised in the process.
“Moyes was taking a session the day before a game and let it flow for a little bit. I was playing left-back and played a ball up the line but then I've felt something hit me. I've flown up into the air, probably about 6 feet, and slap, landed on my back.
"Fucking hell, what's happened there?!" a startled Moogan wondered.
“I jumped up dead quick and Tommy is standing over me but with his chest pumped out. I've shouted, "What the Fuck are you doing, Thomas?" because I couldn’t let everyone think I'd shy away from him. I’ve squared up to him but he's put his chest in front of me, not said anything and just stared at me with them eyes.”
The pair had to be separated by Kevin Campbell and others as a furious Moyes roared, "Free-kick, that's bang out of order!"
“I had no idea why he did it, it was just one of those moments, something Thomas would do,” Moogan says. However, the youngster wasn’t done and had revenge on his mind.
“I thought, ‘I can't let that happen…’ so, 5 minutes later – bearing in mind he's one of our better players and Moyes doesn't want him to get injured – he gets the ball and from left-back I sprint into the middle of the pitch… he takes it past me and I've tackled him with my right foot and lifted him 6 feet into the air. I've whacked him, he's gone flying, and straight away, as soon as I've done it, I've shit myself. I just thought 'that's it'!
Gravesen luckily wasn’t hurt but the manager was even more incensed this time.
“Moyes shouted 'Free-kick! That's bang out of order!!!' and given me more shit than he's given Gravesen!” Moogan laughs.
Now fearing repercussions, he watched as the eccentric midfielder got back to his feet.
“Thomas was a strong man, so I thought ‘This is it’ but he didn’t even look at me, he just put his hands on the ball and took the free-kick.”
Moyes may have been angered by Moogan’s actions, but the new kid on the block had restored his honour and showed his team-mates what he was about.
“At the end of the game, Campbell shook my hand and said, ‘Brilliant, Alan. Don't ever, ever let anybody do that to you!’ Joseph Yobo was hugging me and saying "Well done!' I realised, if I hadn’t retaliated, they may have thought differently of me.”
Then Gravesen approached.
“He grabs and hugs me,” Moogan recalls. “He apologised and said, ‘Bad tackle, you got me back, fair enough.’ He then shook my hand and walked away. He was sound.”
While trying to force his way into the team every Saturday, Everton spent £1.25m to sign James McFadden from Motherwell. Only a year older, Moogan wasn’t convinced at first.
“Without being disrespectful, he wasn’t way ahead of us,” he claims. “We’d stay behind with Alan Irvine, working on our technique, and I wondered what they had seen (to pay the money for him).
“Moyes maybe had to justify bringing him in but he ended up doing alright for Everton and had a very good career.”
Despite those early doubts, Moogan and McFadden were good mates.
“He was a cracking person and a great lad. Everyone liked him. We got on really well, and I went to Scotland with him; they loved him up there.
“I remember his 21st birthday party at the Everglades (hotel) and a lot of the team were there... Wayne, Big Dunc, all smoking cigars and having a laugh.”
But for injury, who knows if Moogan could have forced his way into David Moyes’s plans alongside McFadden? Shortly after his 20th birthday, he and Everton parted ways.
“Back then, if you weren't in the first-team by that age, you were looking for another club,” he says. However, that wasn’t the case for everyone. Leon Osman became a regular later than that, following spells at Derby and Carlisle. Moogan wasn’t surprised.
“He was 23 when he got his first proper chance. His feet were phenomenal. Colin Harvey and Andy Holden absolutely loved him.
“Technically he was very good. He wasn't the quickest but had a great attitude, a great way about him, and just got on with his job. He always had a smile on his face at the training ground, he loved it. He was great to play with, he'd encourage you all the time, work with you, talk to you.
“He was one of the few who got a chance later on but that shows what they thought of him, they waited until the time was right.”
Osman was part of Everton’s 1998 FA Youth Cup-winning team. So too was Tony Hibbert, who also enjoyed a long career as one of Moyes’s trusted lieutenants.
“Hibbert had a dead dry sense of humour,” Moogan reveals. “He was quiet but would then say something, one or two lines and that was it, he'd have you laughing. He'd have a funny little laugh and all he'd say was 'alright laa'.
“On the pitch, he wouldn't open his mouth! He'd train and get right off. You wouldn't see him!”
Headlocks from Big Dunc, booted by Tommy Gravesen, and lapping Nyarko. Moogan enjoyed a proper Everton education.
Reader Comments (56)
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1 Posted 01/07/2021 at 20:05:26
Evertonians? Those who don't understand don't matter.
2 Posted 01/07/2021 at 20:10:29
3 Posted 01/07/2021 at 20:22:36
And, as Brendan says, some of us badly needed a couple of chuckles today.
4 Posted 01/07/2021 at 20:27:34
Thank you, Ell and Alan, for showing us a window into how players seemed to enjoy their time with Everton, even if it didn't quite work out for some of them.
5 Posted 01/07/2021 at 20:30:13
6 Posted 01/07/2021 at 20:36:35
7 Posted 01/07/2021 at 20:37:03
It's only an Everton thing to us though, Darren, because I'd say it's probably the same everywhere.
Young fit lads full of energy, and also getting paid to play football, usually only means one thing, “What the fuck is there anything to grow up for” when they're already living the dream.
8 Posted 01/07/2021 at 21:19:48
I really annoyed that!
9 Posted 01/07/2021 at 21:22:02
As seen from a young lad's perspective and shows what the youngsters have to go through to make it.
10 Posted 01/07/2021 at 21:33:31
I've seen many very 'ordinary' player's at Everton over the years, who simply seem to be in and around the first team, for what seems like decades, but they always seem to be able to avoid career-threatening injuries.
Great storytelling though.
11 Posted 01/07/2021 at 21:35:20
Had a monumentally awful day. Thought, go on the site see what the lads are up to. Brace myself for a downer, see this. Well done!
12 Posted 01/07/2021 at 21:47:38
13 Posted 01/07/2021 at 22:17:03
14 Posted 02/07/2021 at 06:44:04
He was making a movie with John Hurt and a big name actress whose name escapes me. John Travolta was also in the movie but had his scenes in the can and gone before Hoskins arrived. He didn't get on with the other two but one afternoon off from shooting they asked Bob if he would like to join them in reading a Chekov play.
Bob's answer was, "What, while Bo Didley is playing at the pub down the road!"
All very down to earth.
15 Posted 02/07/2021 at 08:15:05
16 Posted 02/07/2021 at 08:22:20
For me, it draws out a number of things that we sometimes overlook in our binary view of life as supporters.
Some just have it and you can see it straight away. Rooney.
Others need to work at it and eventually their talent will get them there, but they need longer to develop. Osman. Dare I say Davies is cut from similar cloth?
Some have the ability and the talent but misfortune (injury) or opinion (manager of the day judgement) prevents them from realising the potential.
Others have the ability and the talent, but don't have the desire. Nyarko. I know he's a controversial name in Everton circles, but I could always see a player in him and this ex-Everton player who trained and played with him supports that thought. Wasted talent through a lack of desire.
I've often thought that aside from the really talented obvious Rooney's of this world, there is little to separate a lot of footballers in the pyramid. It's often about timing, getting the opportunity and that most unreliable virtue; luck. It's like trials, some only get one shot. A bit like Britain's Got Talent, if you have an off day on your big moment, that could be it. I don't watch Britain's Got Talent by the way. The wife does.
Really enjoyable read and account. Thank you again for posting that Ell and thank you Alan for your recollections and insight.
17 Posted 02/07/2021 at 10:14:33
Hope your career is going well.
18 Posted 02/07/2021 at 10:47:09
19 Posted 02/07/2021 at 11:14:48
Made me think about a player mentioned above who never gets a mention anymore, Tony Hibbert. I heard he didn't want anything to do with the club as he was released with Leon Osman by text message I think. Given his service, it was a poor way to handle it by the club.
20 Posted 02/07/2021 at 11:29:02
21 Posted 02/07/2021 at 11:57:04
According to some old notes I have on file, Brian Moogan was Alan's cousin and in the Academy around the same. Surprising he's not mentioned but he was released the year before Alan (2004), as he made it into the first-team squad. Santa Monica is a lovely place to live!
Steve @10 makes a good point about injuries. Just going through all the profiles of the current players we have in the (much-maligned) Academy, you'd be astounded at how many of them have been forced to take many months, some case years out with serious injuries. I've mentioned before that this may be viewed as a right of passage, or just dumb luck – a risk for every young player that is out there, just waiting to happen?
I wonder if there is another view? In industry now, safety is paramount. Thinking all the time about the risk of injury or death at every turn, every minute of every day… and actively changing your behaviours to avoid it. I nearly added "at all costs" – but that must be the point with footballers. If you don't go in sometimes too hard and take the extra risk, you're likely to get marked down for not putting in enough effort.
Talk about fine margins...
22 Posted 02/07/2021 at 15:55:32
23 Posted 02/07/2021 at 15:55:40
And Alan, if as you say you could've gone on and on, you and Ell need to get together more regularly and share your memories with us here on TW.
In this offering alone you torpedo a few myths about a lot of things many presume about individuals and how Bellefield and now Finch Farm operates.
24 Posted 02/07/2021 at 16:27:35
25 Posted 02/07/2021 at 17:22:16
I knew a footy coach who spent some time coaching in Holland and he said the reason this country simply cannot produce technical players like Iniesta, Xavi, Modric, Zola, Bergkamp etc is in good part due to macho blockheadedness infesting UK clubs.
Sounds like he was spot on.
26 Posted 02/07/2021 at 17:55:37
27 Posted 02/07/2021 at 17:55:59
The old cliché of kicking tin cans around alleys in old footballers autobiography's can be a bit tiresome for me.
I loved the insight and story telling in this article. There are fine margins with players careers and Alan hit the nail on the head with the goalie. For all the natural ability has to be backed up with a mental resiliency and a massive slice of luck or nepotism.
Alan could be our not so secret football correspondent. You must have lots of footy stories not just of Everton players from that era.
Barry25. I agree with you to a point about the physical and mental approach that has traditionally held our domestic and international team back. Under pressure we revert to old habits though I do think this is changing with the professionalism that the foreign managers and players have brought to the premiership.
28 Posted 02/07/2021 at 18:21:06
29 Posted 02/07/2021 at 18:48:23
30 Posted 02/07/2021 at 19:12:35
Used to be ball playing footballers everywhere when I was a kid "will o the wisp" lads who could sidestep you in a phone box. They've all gone phased out by clubs looking for strength and athleticism.
Judging by the lack of heirs to Ronaldo and Messi it now seems a world problem.
Btw I blame Liverpool they supplanted individual brilliance with hard working grafters like Keegan, Hall and umpteen other non-descripts joined to dirty bastards like Case, Souness, Smith, Neal etc and won everything.
Everyone tried to copy and the die was cast
31 Posted 02/07/2021 at 21:59:21
Hope he is doing well now.
32 Posted 03/07/2021 at 07:28:18
It's frustrating. I experienced it first hand coaching for 6 years at youth level in west London. The problem starts way down the football chain. I was part of the youth setup of a reasonably decent semi-professional club too; the senior team hit the Conference but mainly floated in the Conference South at the time.
"Coaches" (that's another problem), opting for big fast and powerful lads over skill and ability to win an under 14s game. Leading to another issue; too much focus on results at youth level, not development. Those who were big and powerful at 14 may not be so at 18, when results start to matter and others who have developed later catch them up. But they are actually average footballers. Those who were small but talented have long given up football. We miss out on so much talent because of our approach. And then don't start me on our facilities in comparison to those in Holland or Germany. Another discussion, but linked.
My son noticed yesterday that a lad who used to play in the same league as us (rival team) signed for Middlesborough for £1M. He wasn't that great a footballer but stood out because he was big, fast and powerful for his age. I noted that Middlesborough's manager is Neil Warnock, so it makes sense. Hey, take nothing away from the lad, he has obviously shown a great deal of commitment, desire and hard work to get there. Best of luck to him and great to see someone forge a career in the professional game. Liam Feeney was another who came through our club.
Anyway, I'm a scratched record on this so I will stop!
Back on thread, although this is kind of linked. Please consider a Part 2, Ell and Alan. Great stuff.
33 Posted 03/07/2021 at 08:27:08
I remember playing for Liverpool Schoolboys Under-13s, in a year in which we only played friendlies, but what a team we had. Mostly small kids, but we couldn't half play though. I think we lost one match in about 35 games.
Then a new manager had trials for the Under-14s, got rid of most of the talented little footballers, replaced them with runners possessing less than a quarter of their ability. Although I will be forever grateful to our metalwork teacher, Mr Neville, for introducing me to very hard physical work, I can honestly say I can't remember learning anything else during the next two years.
My biggest problem with academy football is exactly what you're saying in a roundabout way. The clubs are fighting for the best players, and discarding everyone else. I personally think it suits these methodical coaches, who don't spend enough time developing kids on a one-to-one basis.
It's sink or swim, even though the slow ones now could be later to win, but not until the times they are “really a-changing!”
34 Posted 03/07/2021 at 09:53:55
35 Posted 03/07/2021 at 10:13:52
36 Posted 03/07/2021 at 10:36:10
37 Posted 03/07/2021 at 11:22:39
He had a decent career though, Jemson, I remember he scored the winner in a Wembley cup final, and makes me think, did he get more opportunities because the club paid good money for him, or did they just have better scouts!?
38 Posted 03/07/2021 at 11:26:11
Just as a slow player can be coached and taught to compensate for lack of pace, the smallest of players can be taught how to use their body strength. Maradona, Messi, Paul Scholes (shocking in the tackle!!) and even our own Peter Reid wasn't the tallest. But they all had strength.
39 Posted 03/07/2021 at 11:41:08
I used to love the way he used to step across players when running forward with the ball, making them slow right down, or bounce back off him because he was as you said, so strong.
It was always an absolute pleasure watching Reid play, and although I still dont think he would have caught Maradona, he never played for Everton till around Christmas after that game, because Im sure he was playing with a broken bone, the day he was exposed by the brilliance of the great Diego Maradona.
40 Posted 03/07/2021 at 12:47:34
Absolutely, that sudden shift in pace was startling. From being a little tug boat, that all changed when he came within 5 foot of the ball. The speed was from nowhere, I can only think he was actually quite fast but for injuries whatever he chose to slow it down. Probably a bit of gamesmanship to the other team, as well 'this old fella won't be catching me for the next 90 minutes' and he was only 28!
41 Posted 03/07/2021 at 12:54:21
Others use speed of thought and brain. Their decision is made before they receive the ball; they know what they're going to do and the ball is gone by the time the opposition player gets to close down. Chasing shadows as they say; by the time you get there, the ball is gone because the player made a quick, early decision with his brain.
42 Posted 03/07/2021 at 13:08:47
If you loved Peter Reid. You'd have adored Colin Harvey. He used naturally to do the right thing, usually before most of us realised what the right thing was.
Every bit as aggressive and competitive as Reidy. Blindingly talented and I don't believe I've seen a player who played with a greater pride in the Everton shirt.
I loved these two players and often wonder how they would have got on against each other. Harvey was slightly the more gifted, but I would put Reidy ahead when it came to the dark arts – not by far though
When we are all dead and gone and playing our footy in heaven, I'll be badgering the fuck out of St Peter to ensure I play in the same midfield as these two.
43 Posted 03/07/2021 at 13:20:43
44 Posted 03/07/2021 at 13:21:35
If Alan Ball was his Everton wife, Colin Harvey was definitely his secret Everton mistress.
I like to think he's in the great blue Cathedral in the sky now trying to get a game with them!
45 Posted 03/07/2021 at 13:25:05
Yes, as I've got older, it's the players who use their brain the most which fascinate me. I could watch Gareth Barry all day, although he would have bored me rigid when I was a kid. It's that knowing where to stand, when to move, timing, just wonderful to watch.
46 Posted 03/07/2021 at 15:31:30
I look back at my football regards coaching, and think kids from different parts of the country are better at different things. Geordies liked to dribble, Yorkies could usually run, players from down South were usually a bit more fancy, whilst Scousers were more naturally aggressive. But that is just my own general observations for a country that are usually underachievers at a National level, and possibly because of how we go about coaching the kids throughout their development years.
47 Posted 03/07/2021 at 16:03:48
What was Clough like, or did you not get close enough to experience him in full flow?
Darren- great post but Harvey a clear winner for me.
48 Posted 03/07/2021 at 16:10:47
London, yes, due to many influences, they like their fancy Dans as we would call them. Lads who like a trick too many, much to my frustration as a coach on many occasion, when the simple pass I'd drilled into them was on!! But also you get the complete opposite here more often and what I mentioned earlier, big, powerful and fast players eventually taking their place.
Massively stereotyping but that's just been my experience.
I hope you never washed the shirt Colin Harvey possibly pulled or pushed. His opening scene in Howard's Way never fails to bring a lump to the throat.
49 Posted 03/07/2021 at 16:29:35
50 Posted 03/07/2021 at 17:47:55
51 Posted 03/07/2021 at 18:23:41
I loved his self-belief, the closest I've seen to Alan Ball in ability. Won the game and the thousand or so Blues, despite the efforts of the cockneys trying to ram the tube wooden door, we got home in one piece.
Shame we never do dynasties. All too quickly wiped out.
52 Posted 03/07/2021 at 19:43:16
Danny. I was going to ask about your dad's old hunting grounds... Then I remembered how many O'Neils and O'Neill's are in this City. I would have been looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.
53 Posted 03/07/2021 at 22:52:02
54 Posted 03/07/2021 at 23:52:17
I don't know where my Dad hung out as a young adult. Without going deep, I've eluded we didn't have the best of relationships outside of Everton and the Army! Hey we got on okay, especially on football and most importantly with Everton.
He was from Garston and grew up in the Tenements and the family were well know there. Most moved to Speke and when we eventually ended up back there, he tended to stay local. His main drinking hole was the Peg (Pegasus), now long gone and the Fox on the Western Avenue end of Speke. He would occasionally drift back to Garston and some of the pubs in the under the bridge area.
My mother's side (McAlister) were much more unassuming. My Grandfather came from Belfast and settled in Speke and married a Glaswegian. That's why I always describe myself as a Liverpool Irish Celtic mongrel!!
When he left the Army, he worked in a factory in Huyton and started up a football team. I used to play for them as a 17 / 18 year old. I won't lie, the standard was awful and they just wanted to kick the shit out of me. But personally it was great physical education in honesty! And I got great satisfaction in running rings around some of those wanting to crack my shin pads!! We always used to socialise in Mossley Hill then. It wasn't the Rose, there was a bar right next to the station, but it's not a bar any more and I can't remember the name.
My Dad was a bit like me, left Liverpool early to join the Army but never left Liverpool if that makes sense. Went back but then left again. But never left; never in spirit. I never will; it's my home city and always will be.
55 Posted 04/07/2021 at 15:45:08
56 Posted 07/07/2021 at 07:31:27
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