Nat, King of Goals…and Bowls by Rob Sawyer 29/08/2016

As with many players at Goodison in the 1930s, Jimmy “Nat” Cunliffe’s achievements are overshadowed by the Everton giant that is W.R. Dean. Yet his life in sport was a remarkable one. Plucked from non-league football Jimmy went on to win international honours. Not content with this, he subsequently embarked on enjoy a highly successful career in another sporting arena. Born James Cunliffe on 5 July 1912 to Mary and Peter (a coal miner), Jimmy grew up in Blackrod – a small settlement close to the current location of Bolton Wanderers’ stadium. Upon leaving school he started an apprenticeship as a plater in the boiler-making section of the nearby Horwich Locomotive Works.  The young man excelled at cricket, football and crown green bowls, confiding, years later, to the journalist Stork that most of his friends rated him as a better cricketer than footballer. In one season he had a bowling average of seven but preferred to pursue a career in football,...
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Neville Southall – The Winding Road from Winsford to Goodison   by Rob sawyer

A version of this article was previously published in When Skies Are Grey, the digital Everton Fanzine. The WSAG team are offering a discounted subscription rate to ToffeeWeb readers for a limited period via this link.  George Rooney was a boyhood Blue, growing up off Mere Lane and, later on, in Knowsley. The full-back represented Liverpool Schoolboys and joined Everton as an apprentice in 1962. Coming through the ranks with him at Goodison had been the likes of Gerry Glover, John Hurst, Tommy Wright, Jimmy Husband and Aiden Maher.Released by Everton after two years George joined Coventry City under Jimmy Hill but promptly suffered a broken leg. Laid up back home on Merseyside, George was lent Jimmy Husband’s extensive Buddy Holly record collection to listen to during his convalescence. George recalls what a great prospect Husband had been as a teenager: ‘Jimmy was a lovely lad and a hell of a player. He made such an impact when he got in the...
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Charlie Leyfield – Everton, Wales and England by Rob Sawyer 

Charlie Leyfield had a long association with Everton as a player and trainer. He also can claim the unique distinction of being trainer to both the England and Wales national teams. Charlie was born on 30 October 1911 just south of the River Dee in Chester, the eldest of seven children. Attending Handbridge's St Mary's School, he excelled at football — initially as a centre-half and inside-forward but later as a fast, direct winger capable of going down the outside or cutting in. This led to selection for Chester Schoolboys representative team at the age of 13. Promoted to captain the following season, he was signed by leading local amateur side, Brickfield Athletic. Three appearances for, then, non league Chester FC followed, including in an FA Cup victory over Rhyl. Gifted with his hands, Charlie was a capable artist and, away from football, as apprenticed as a joiner to Cartmel Brothers in Willaston. On the pitch he became the first junior player...
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Initials T.G. – Researching Tommy Jones, The Prince of Centre-Halves by Rob Sawyer  

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 penalty area - accompanied by gasps of fear and appreciation from the terraces. In 14 years of service at Goodison, T.G. cemented his reputation as Everton’s most cultured centre-half – overshadowing the likes of T.E. Jones, Brian Labone, John Hurst, Kevin Ratcliffe and Dave Watson. I sometimes pondered on why T.G. walked away from Goodison to run a hotel in Pwllheli but...
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‘Jack O’ Both Sides’ – The Life and Times of Jack Sharp (1878-1938) – Rob sawyer

  Jack Sharp sits in exalted company as one of England’s few dual cricket and football internationals. To Evertonians he is much more than that – an iconic player, captain, FA Cup winner, club director and founder of Liverpool’s best known sports outfitters. Born on 15 February in Everton’s founding year, Jack (christened John) was the youngest child of Charles and Annie Sharp who resided at 8 Eign Street in Hereford. Dorking-born Charles was a butcher with other business interests in the town, whilst Annie hailed from County Meath in Ireland. Jack and elder brother Bertram (Bert) grew up playing football and cricket. Jack broke scoring records at centre-forward for Hereford Thistle whilst Bert performed capably at full-back. Matches were played at The Barracks ground on Harold Street, The Grapes Tavern (which Charles had a stake in) doubled as the team’s HQ. With 17 year-old Jack in the ranks, the team won the Bristol League, progressing to the Birmingham and District League. His...
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T.G. Jones And The Boys Of ‘39 by Rob Sawyer

EFC Heritage Society member Rob Sawyer is appealing for supporters’ memories of Everton players from a golden era. Rob, who wrote the excellent biography of Harry Catterick, says: “My dad and I watched the Blues sweep all before them in the 1980s but his greatest praise was reserved for the championship-winning team of 1938/39. This has inspired me to chronicle the players’ stories particularly that of Tommy ‘T.G.’ Jones, dubbed ‘The Prince of Centre- Halves’.” Those lucky enough to see it, claim that this team best-fulfilled the School of Science billing bestowed upon the Club by former Derby County striker, Steve Bloomer. Much like in 1984, something clicked for a team that had been in a state of transition during the previous season. And, just like Kendall’s champions, the 1938/39 team was a finely-tuned mix of youth and experience, skill and steel. Agile goalkeeper Ted Sagar was nicknamed ‘The Boss’ for the way he dominated his box. Uncompromising full-backs Billy Cook and Norman...
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ANOTHER GREAT BOOK FROM DECOUBERTAIN – ROB SAYWERS ‘THE PRINCE OF CENTRE-HALVES: THE LIFE OF TOMMY ‘TG’ JONES’

ANOTHER GREAT BOOK FROM DECOUBERTAIN – ROB SAYWERS ‘THE PRINCE OF CENTRE-HALVES: THE LIFE OF TOMMY ‘TG’ JONES’

ANOTHER GREAT BOOK FROM DECOUBERTAIN - Q&A WITH ROB SAYWER, AUTHOR OF 'THE PRINCE OF CENTRE-HALVES: THE LIFE OF TOMMY 'TG' JONES' Posted by Jack Gordon-Brown on May 31, 2017 Rob Sawyer comes from a long line of Everton FC supporters. Listening to his father and grandfather regale the stories of Dixie Dean and the Holy Trinity led to a deep interest in Everton's illustrious history. Whilst researching his first book, a biography of Harry Catterick, Sawyer found just how important TG Jones was to the Toffees. We spoke to him about the Everton great... Hi Rob. You say that when you really became aware of T.G.’s importance to Everton when researching Harry Catterick’s biography. As a keen Evertonian, how aware of T.G. were you before that research? I was certainly aware from Everton history books and talking with my father that T.G. was one of the classiest players to represent The Toffees. Profiles mentioned that he left Everton to run a hotel in...
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Harry Williams – Death of a Mascot by Rob Sawyer

Aside from the iconic Toffee Lady, Everton supporters in the 1930s also possessed two unofficial mascots. Harry Williams of Westminster Road, Kirkdale, and his near neighbour, William Jones, would “play up” for Blues fans both home and away. Williams would wear his trademark mock policeman’s uniform, decorated with the club colours whilst Jones would don a blue and white chess-board suit. In the days before fences and enclosures, the firm friends were often permitted to “conduct” the crowds from the cinder path bordering the pitch. When Everton travelled to St Andrew’s on 11 February 1939 for a FA Cup 5th round fixture against Birmingham City – the “blues brothers” were determined to entertain fellow fans and be entertained by the champions-elect. Press photographers captured Harry Williams in his trademark bobby outfit (with the number 9 emblazoned on the lapels) but, sadly, tragedy would strike. The Liverpool Evening Express described how 44-year-old Williams was walking with a crowd towards the stadium when...
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