“Bunny” – The Robert Bell Story – Rob sawyer

The Wirral has a proud tradition of producing high-calibre footballers who have graced stadia on Merseyside and beyond. For a period in the first half of the 20th century Tranmere Rovers became something of a centre-forward factory, producing some of the finest striking talent in the land. There was, of course, William Ralph “Dixie” Dean, but also Tom “Pongo” Waring, Bill “Nibbler” Ridding and Robert “Bunny” Bell (it appears that nicknames were mandatory in this era). The latter wrote himself into the record books by scoring a triple-hat-trick on Boxing Day 1935. More of which later… Bob, as he preferred to be known, was born on 10 April 1911, the son of Robert and Alice Letitia of 54 Woodchurch Road, Birkenhead. One of five brothers, Bob attended Temple Road School, a stone’s throw from Prenton Park (Jimmy Harris is another former Temple Road pupil). When the school-master was not looking, Bob’s gaze would be drawn towards Tranmere players training outside –...
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Elie Hurel – The First Jerseyman to Play in the First Division – Rob Sawyer

Elie Hurel holds a special place in the footballing folklore of the Channel Islands. Decades before Graeme Le Saux and Matt Le Tissier became household names; Elie was the first man from those Crown dependencies to play football in the English top flight. His journey there — from being orphaned as a child to lining up alongside the legendary Bill “Dixie” Dean at Goodison Park — is a remarkable one. Elie, the fifth of twelve children born to Emile Andre and Marie-Francoise Hurel, took his first breath on April 10 1915. As their names suggest, Emile and Marie-Francoise were French nationals who had moved to Jersey in 1900 in search or employment. Emile would become a market gardener, specialising the growing of tomatoes. With his brothers Elie would regularly kick a ball on the beach or grass by Five Mile Road at St Ouen's Bay. Tragically, when Elie was just seven years old, his parents died from tuberculosis within a year of...
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St Luke’s – the church with its own football ground

  ST LUKE’S – THE CHURCH WITH ITS OWN FOOTBALL STADIUM! Although Everton F.C. started life as the St Domingo’s church team in 1878, it is now closely associated with another place of worship. St. Luke the Evangelist, nestled between the Main and Howard Kendall Gwladys Street Stands, contributes to The uniqueness of The Old Lady. But why does the stadium have a church in such an unlikely spot? A wooden Church of England mission hall predated Goodison Park by at least nine years. Therefore, since its opening in 1892 the stadium has had to grow around this sacred spot. In 1899, the first Bishop of Liverpool laid the foundation stone of a parish church to replace the wooden building. The architect, James Francis Doyle, was known for the White Star and Royal Insurance buildings in the city centre. His original designs for  St St Luke’s included a tower and spire but these were rationalised. Construction of the adjacent parish hall commenced in 1908.  A...
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T.G. Jones at 100

T.G. Jones at 100 Posted by Rob Sawyer on October 12, 2017 12 October 2017 marks the centenary of the birth of Thomas George Ronald Jones in Queensferry, Flintshire. The tall, quiet son of a Connah’s Quay coal merchant would find his footballing feet at Wrexham F.C. but he would achieve immortality at Goodison Park. His first two initials, T.G. became synonymous with the art of cultured defensive play. In March 1936 the footballing eye of Toffees director Jack Sharp - himself a playing great – recognised the promise in the leggy teenage centre-half. In no time T.G. had swapped The Racecourse Ground for Goodison but the callow youth initially struggled on Merseyside. Only upon returning to live just across the Welsh border did he settle and secure his place in the Everton first eleven, at the expense of Charlie Gee. Goodison Park had never seen anything quite like T.G. – here was a centre-half who could deal with the physicality of rough-house centre-forwards...
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