Dennis Stevens: The Players’ Player- Rob Sawyer

Dennis Stevens: The Players’ Player- Rob Sawyer

Two members of the same family left Dudley for Lancashire to pursue careers in the top echelon of English football.  Duncan Edwards joined Manchester United as an amateur in 1952, making his debut at 16, the following year. He won 18 England caps and two League titles as a star of the Busby Babes but lost his life as a result of the Munich Air Disaster in February 1958 at the tender age of 20. It is one of football’s great ‘what ifs’ – could he have inspired the England team to World Cup glory before 1966?  Less heralded is Dennis Stevens, three years his second cousin’s senior (another relation of Edwards was Ray Westwood who, like Dennis, enjoyed success at Bolton Wanderers). Dennis merits a higher profile for his ability and enthusiasm which were integral to silverware being won at both Burnden Park and Goodison Park. Born on 30 November 1933, Dennis was the 12th, and youngest, child of James (a coal...
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Jack Humphreys – Blue Dragon – Rob Sawyer

Jack Humphreys – Blue Dragon – Rob Sawyer

Jack Humphreys (courtesy Humphreys family) Tommy “T.G.” Jones is rightly hailed as an Everton great yet, for the post-war phase of his 14-year association with the Blues, he frequently found himself relegated to reserve team football. Although club politics and injury problems played a role in this state of affairs, so too did the form of T.G.'s fellow Welsh centre-half, Jack Humphreys. The son of the headmaster of Llandudno's Dyffryn Road Primary School, Jack (christened John Vaughan Humphreys) attended Friars School Grammar School in Bangor. As a teenager he played football for Llandudno Town in the Welsh League North. He became a student at Loughborough College, renowned as a centre of sporting excellence. Here he captained the university's Athletics Union and was selected for a Varsity representative football team. With the advent of the Second World War, Jack enlisted with the Army, seeing action as a bombardier in France. Whilst serving he made frequent appearances in Army football teams. In 1942 Jack wrote to Everton requesting...
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The Life of Smart Arridge – The Welshman from Sunderland – Rob Sawyer

The Life of Smart Arridge – The Welshman from Sunderland – Rob Sawyer

The wonderfully named Smart Atkinson Arridge was one of Everton’s first Welsh international players – in spite of not qualifying to represent his adopted nation. He was born on 21 June 1872 in Southwick, a village on the north bank of the River Wear which has since been absorbed into Sunderland (it lies a short distance from the Stadium of Light). Smart was the third of four children born to John, a shoemaker originally from Lincolnshire, and Isabella. With Smart still an infant the family uprooted themselves to North Wales via West Yorkshire, residing “above the shop” on the High Street in Bangor. Attending Friars Grammar School, Smart represented the school team and also served as a chorister in the cathedral choir. At the age of 15 he joined Bangor City - forming part of an Arridge dynasty at the club. Younger brother John (known as Jack) was a highly-rated half-back whilst eldest sibling William kept goal when the Citizens won...
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Tommy Eglington – The Flying Winger of the Fifties – Rob Sawyer

Tommy Eglington, the Irish international left-winger, gave unstinting service to the Blues’ cause during some of the club’s darkest days. He is forever associated with his teammate and great friend, Peter Farrell, who crossed the Irish Sea with him in 1946.  Tommy was born in Donnycarney, a Northside suburb of Dublin on 15th January 1923. He was one of seven siblings born to Christopher (a butcher by trade) and Margaret. As was the norm, Gaelic Football was played in school, so Tommy would only get to indulge his passion for the ‘British game’ in the fields near his home after lessons finished. His early footballing experience was with Grace Park - a Sunday team he formed with friends (it disbanded when the war broke out). On a Grave Park tour of the Midlands he was offered a trial with West Bromwich Albion but he turned it down - feeling that he was too young to leave home. He’d go on to...
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