Rob Sawyer

Ray Veall – honoured at last

Ray Veall – honoured at last

'I played with great players... I just wish it had lasted longer' By Rob Sawyer Skegness-born Ray Veall, now 71, was a slightly-built outside-left who made an impact at Doncaster Rovers and placed himself on the radar of the two Harrys – Everton’s chief scout Cooke and boss Catterick. A £10,145 outlay was sufficient to persuade the Division Two outfit to part with their left-wing prodigy in the autumn of 1961. Veall recalled: “The coach called me in and said, ‘Harry Catterick wants to see you at the Earl of Doncaster Hotel.’ I caught the bus there by myself –…
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The story behind the photograph – Tom McIntosh – Everton’s First Full-Time Secretary

The story behind the photograph – Tom McIntosh – Everton’s First Full-Time Secretary

Tom McIntosh is a significant off-pitch figure in Everton's story, yet, despite the club's achievements under his watch, he seems to have fallen through the cracks of the club's historical records and his contribution over 16 years is largely overlooked He came from humble beginnings. His Scottish father, Peter, left his native Nairn to become the resident baker at the lunatic asylum in Sedgefield, County Durham. Here he met Eleanor Hunter, an attendant at the asylum. Eleanor's sister Elisabeth and brother-in-law, Thomas Nokes, would also work at the institution (John rose to the position of Chief Attendant). Peter and Eleanor…
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Billy and Bob: The Fabulous Balmer Brothers

Billy and Bob: The Fabulous Balmer Brothers

Billy and Bob: The Fabulous Balmer Brothers By Rob Sawyer William and Robert Balmer formed a fearsome, and fruitful, fraternal partnership in Everton’s back-line in the early years of the 20th Century. William’s selection for national team duty would also make him the club’s first Scouse England cap. They were the sons of James (a carpenter and joiner) and Martha. William Atherton was born on 29 July 1875 whilst Robert followed on 28 November 1881. The pair - better known and Billy and Bob - grew-up alongside their siblings John (b. 1874) and Mary (b. 1877) at the family home…
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Everton and Huddersfield Town – The First Encounters

Everton and Huddersfield Town – The First Encounters

Everton and Huddersfield Town – The First Encounters Today marks the 59th League fixture staged between The Toffees and The Terriers, 98 years after the first. A mere 13 years after its formation, the Yorkshire club had shrugged off the threat of a merger with Leeds United to gain promotion and reach the 1920 FA Cup Final. Everton came to Leeds Road on 9 October to play the newly promoted side. It would be the first instalment of back-to-back matches (a regular scheduling feature at this time). Everton fielded: Fern, Downs (captain), McDonald, Fleetwood, Brewster, Grenyer, Chedgzoy, Kirsopp, Peacock, Reid,…
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Dixie’s Sunset, Bally’s Sunrise

Dixie’s Sunset, Bally’s Sunrise

Ashton's Everton Connection Ashton-Under-Lyne, six miles to the east of Manchester, is dominated by a huge Ikea store and known by football trivia fanatics as the birthplace of Sir Geoff Hurst.   Yet it is another Hurst that connects this Tameside town with Everton Football Club. Hurst FC was founded in 1878 (a familiar ring to it for Evertonians), playing its first reported fixture the following year.  Within two years the club had relocated to the Hurst Cross ground and remains there to this day – one of the longest residences in football. The team has muddled along in regional leagues…
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The Life of Hunter Hart

The Life of Hunter Hart

Hunter Hart was always recognisable by a distinctive quiff which pre-dated that of Wolves' Billy Wright. He served Everton with distinction on the field in the 1920s and behind a desk in the 1930s but, unfortunately, his association with the club he loved was to end prematurely, as was his life. Born on Glasgow on 11 March 1897 to Alexander (a carter) and Jessie, Hart grew up less than half a mile from Celtic's stadium. By the age of 14, living in Shettleston, Lanarkshire, he had lost the sight in one eye,  in what was described as 'a childhood accident'.…
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Easy’ – The Mick Heaton Story – Rob Sawyer

Easy’ – The Mick Heaton Story – Rob Sawyer

Mick Heaton was an ebullient and wholehearted full-back who captained Blackburn Rovers to promotion to the Second Division in 1975, later assisting player-manager Howard Kendall as the Ewood Park club came tantalizingly close to reaching the top flight in 1981. On Merseyside, he was a vital part of the managerial team which led Everton to an unprecedented period of glory. To a younger generation of football supporters, Mick’s name might not ring any bells, so, to coincide with the 25th anniversary of his untimely passing, this article celebrates his life and achievements.  A Yorkshire Terrier James Michael Heaton was a…
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Initials T.G. – Researching Tommy Jones, The Prince of Centre-Halves

Initials T.G. – Researching Tommy Jones, The Prince of Centre-Halves

William Ralph “Dixie” Dean sits unchallenged as the king of Goodison Park. Joining him in the Royal Blue dynasty is the Prince of Centre Halves: Thomas George Jones. Tommy, as his friends knew him, was so famous in his pomp for Everton and Wales that he was known merely by his initials - T.G. Devouring Everton history books as a youngster, I would read of this artist in the Blues’ half-back line. Dominant in the air, immaculate on the ground and possessing a rocket-like shot, T.G. was so confident in his own ability that he would dribble in his own…
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George Sharples Remembered by Rob Sawyer

George Sharples Remembered by Rob Sawyer

George Sharples, who passed away on 14 December 2020, aged 77, had been one of nine surviving players to have played a part in Everton’s title-winning season of 1962-63 (the others being Jimmy Gabriel, Mick Meagan, John Morrissey, Derek Temple, Tony Kay, Billy Bingham, Ray Veall and Frank Wignall). George Sharples c.1961 A son of Ellesmere Port, he was born on 20 September 1943, to parents James and Florence, who ran a large and successful newsagent business in Overpool. A student at Wirral Grammar School – a rugby-playing establishment – George always had soccer as his first sporting love. He…
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Goodison Park, a Greyhound Stadium and Walton Hall Park- Rob Sawyer

Goodison Park, a Greyhound Stadium and Walton Hall Park- Rob Sawyer

The Lily Parr statue at the National Football Museum Everton and the Rise, Fall and Revival of Women’s Football  This December marks a centenary of one of the most significant football matches played at Goodison Park – but it did not involve Everton FC.  The participants were Preston’s Dick, Kerr Ladies FC and their St. Helens counterparts. The festive season match, in front of a record crowd for a women’s match, suggested that the women’s game was on the way to establishing itself as a mainstream spectator sport. 15 years later Dick, Kerr Ladies - rebadged as Preston Ladies -…
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