Rob Sawyer

55 Posts
Goodison Park and Women’s Football

Goodison Park and Women’s Football

December 2021 marked the centenary of the directive which flung the women’s game into the wilderness for five decades. Less than a year before this myopic edict, one of the most significant football matches in Goodison Park’s history took place – but it did not involve an Everton team. During the First World War, football matches played between women’s factory teams boosted wartime morale and raised funds for deserving causes. Goodison Park staged a charity match on 1 April 1918, contested by Aintree Munitions Ladies and North Haymarket Ladies Football Club. However, a fixture on a far grander scale took…
Read More
Tom Robson – A Life too Short

Tom Robson – A Life too Short

By Rob Sawyer Everton Football Club has been ably served by many men and women with roots in the North East of England – Warney Cresswell, Harry Catterick, Howard Kendall, Jimmy Husband, Dave Thomas, Don Hutchison and Jill Scott spring to mind. Back in the inter-war years, Blyth Spartans, of the North Eastern League, gained an enviable reputation as a nursery club - developing young talent which blossomed at leading professional clubs throughout the land. The Toffees, notably, benefited from the loyal service of Gordon Watson – who joined from Blyth in a double-deal with his near-namesake Jack Watson in…
Read More
‘Rags’: The Life of Cuthbert Tatters

‘Rags’: The Life of Cuthbert Tatters

By Rob Sawyer Few footballers’ names are more evocative of bygone times in the Goodison lexicon than that of Cuthbert Tatters. Cuthbert was born in County Durham, on 4 January 1915 and grew up on Sunderland Street in Easington. This was coal mining country and Cuthbert’s father, James, worked at Wheatley Hill Colliery. Cuthbert followed the same path, employed as a pit boy there.  On the football field, he played for Shotton Schoolboys, gaining county honours in 1929. He also turned out for Wheatley Hill Juniors. A photo also appears to show him, as a boy, wearing the stripes of…
Read More
A Final Farewell to Jimmy Harris

A Final Farewell to Jimmy Harris

Thursday 26 May 2022 was the day of Jimmy Harris’s final farewell. In the mid-afternoon, the cortège transported the 88-year-old former Toffees striker past the stadium he had graced. A number of supporters had come out to applaud as the hearse drove slowly along Goodison Road. I chatted to an 81-year-old supporter from West Derby, who recalled watching Jimmy in his 1950s heyday. He told me of Jimmy’s quicksilver movement around the pitch and his rasping shot. He fondly recalled a smartly struck Harris goal against the Busby Babes. Another supporter had come all the way from Doncaster to stand…
Read More
George Green – Illustrator Extraordinaire

George Green – Illustrator Extraordinaire

By Rob Sawyer The Toffee Lady is an enduring and iconic image, intrinsically linked to Everton FC. Since the 1950s, a Toffee Lady, or latterly a Toffee Girl, has paraded around Goodison before matches, dispensing the eponymous humbugs. But for many, the definitive Toffee Lady image takes cartoon form. It’s the Mother Noblett, famous for gracing the front page of the Football Echo for decades, looking elated, deflated or indifferent, depending on the Blues’ fortunes that day. Her ‘rival’ character was the Kopite, who showed a similar range of emotions, depending on the Liverpool result. The creator of these enchanting…
Read More
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 –…
Read More
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…
Read More
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…
Read More
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,…
Read More
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…
Read More