1950-1959

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…
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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…
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The Likely Lads; Mark and John Higgins – Son of my Father (Part Nine)

The Likely Lads; Mark and John Higgins – Son of my Father (Part Nine)

              Mark Higgins joined Everton as an apprentice. Having excelled in his performances for the reserves, he earned a first team start a month after his eighteenth birthday in a 2-2 draw against Manchester City under the lights at Goodison Park.  Mark, a tough no-nonsense centre half, gave nothing less than 100% in an Everton jersey, but his career was blighted by injuries, which sadly led to him missing out on the success of Howard Kendall's sides of the eighties.  After over 150 appearances for the Toffees, Mark made a decision to retire from the game due to the frustration…
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A Classic Everton ‘Who-Dunn-it’

A Classic Everton ‘Who-Dunn-it’

My laptop is playing up during this strange period of Coronavirus induced limbo. I plugged it in again last night and, whaddya know, it worked! Predictably within moments I was on Findmypast.com browsing Victorian newspaper archives for mentions of Fergus Suter and Jimmy Love, stars of the excellent Netflix series ‘The English Game’, which I binge-watched earlier in the week. I found a few bits and bobs about Suter, Love, Arthur Kinnaird, Darwen FC, and co. I knew the TV drama, brought to us by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, had played with certain facts and figures here and there for dramatic…
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Tommy E Jones: A Gentleman on and off the Pitch

Tommy E Jones: A Gentleman on and off the Pitch

The telegram was succinct: ‘Best of Luck — may everything go well for you'. It had been sent by Tommy G Jones — the exalted Prince of Centre-Halves — to his namesake, 20-year-old Tommy E Jones, who was debuting for the Everton first team against Arsenal on 6 September 1950.  Tommy (often referred to as T E Jones in football circles — short for Thomas Edwin) would have the burden of succeeding the supremely gifted and ‘T G'. Nonetheless, he'd go on to carve out his own place in the Gwladys Street Hall of Fame. Looking back when interviewed for Three Sides of…
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Any Dream Will Do: Don Donovan – (Son of my Father Part 13)

Any Dream Will Do: Don Donovan – (Son of my Father Part 13)

Don Donovan arrived in England from Cork, the second largest city in Ireland located in the south west of the country, an area which also produced Roy Keane. Don played junior football for Maymount Rovers then Dalymount Rovers, where he was spotted by an Everton representative whilst the club was on a pre-season tour. Don was invited to cross the Irish Sea in 1949, just after the war, leaving his close family and moving to new surroundings in Liverpool, only to be welcomed by a fellow countryman, Tommy Eglinton. Tommy later became the godfather of Don’s son, Terry. Other members…
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Eddie Thomas – An Unsung Goodison Hero

Eddie Thomas – An Unsung Goodison Hero

Whilst researching and writing Blue Dragon, the forthcoming biography of Roy Vernon, my interest was piqued by Eddie Thomas, the makeweight in the deal that brought Vernon from Blackburn to Merseyside. The fact that Johnny Carey was prepared to sacrifice Thomas, in spite of a remarkable goal per game ratio, underlines just how highly the Everton manager coveted the Rovers man. Like Vernon, Eddie did not have the physique of a footballer. Slight – almost frail looking – he appeared ill-equipped for the hurly-burly of professional football. But appearances can so often be deceptive and the Lancastrian enjoyed a fruitful career over…
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The Age of Illumination – The Story of Goodison Park under Floodlights

The Age of Illumination – The Story of Goodison Park under Floodlights

There is something truly magical about a football stadium under lights. The glow guides you from miles away. From within, there’s an enhanced - almost animated - quality to your view of proceedings. The artificial light glistens on the fabric of the players’ shirts and picks out the moisture on the freshly watered, bright green pitch. And, of course, the electricity seems to energise the crowd - adding a few extra decibels to the crowd’s roar.   It’s hard to imagine that, as recently as the 1950s, winter kick-off times had to be set so that matches would conclude before dusk,…
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Britton’s Blues

Britton’s Blues

In September 1948, Cliff Britton completed the short journey from Turf Moor to Goodison Park to become Everton manager. In so doing, he became the first former player to hold the position and his appointment offered hope for the future. At Burnley he was considered one of the most promising managers in England, leading the Clarets To promotion from the Second Division, an FA Cup final and third place in the top flight in successive years. Britton was a favourite son of Goodison, having enjoyed a distinguished playing career as half-back. He was, recorded a 1936 profile, ‘One of the…
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From West Derby to New South Wales: The Footballing Odyssey of Ian Hillsdon

Ian Hillsdon with the Dixie Dean statue in 2003 (courtesy Hillsdon family) For every local lad who makes the grade at Everton, scores fall by the wayside. Some teenagers fail to develop as expected, some lack the drive and mental toughness to succeed whilst others are just plain unlucky. Of those rejected some quietly slip out of the game, whilst others have a second chance at a lower league club. An intrepid few go further afield to fulfil their footballing dreams. A prime example of the latter category is Ian Hillsdon. Born in 1937, the left-back from West Derby had…
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