EVERTON WILL STRAIGHTEN OUT FLOODLIGHT DATES MIX-UP
July 8, 1957 The Liverpool Echo
Everton have a board meeting this evening to hammer out an unexpected difficulty which has arisen regarding the date of their floodlight friendly match with Liverpool at Anfield. This is the game they are to play in return for Liverpool’s visit to open the Goodison Park lights on Wednesday evening, October 9, both matches being part of Liverpool County F.A.’s75th anniversary celebrations. Liverpool’s visit to Goodison Park will be the first fixture to take place under floodlight conditions at Everton’s headquarters and Liverpool have been counting on Everton returning the compliment when their lights are completed. Everton have been under the impression that this would not be until early November, and accordingly in the meantime have promised an organizer of matches with foreign sides that they; will play a match against a leading Continental team on Wednesday, October 30. Liverpool’s lights however, will be ready before the latter date, and naturally they wish to play their inaugural match as soon as possible. Not knowing of Everton’s tentative arrangements for a Continental match, they suggested October 30 at the most suitable date.
Desire For Harmony
Now that they know the position I am sure Everton will endeavour to fall in with Liverpool’s wishes. Indeed, Mr. Fred Micklesfield, chairman of Everton’s floodlighting subcommittee, stresses that this is their objective. He had a talk with Mr. Harold Cartwright his opposite number at Anfield. A month ago, when he (Mr. Micklesfield) stressed that Everton were desirous –just as Liverpool are –that there should be perfect harmony between the clubs in the fixing of floodlit games and that there should be no clashing of dates. Without such mutual agreement there might very easily be an awkward clash of interests some time or other. This would not only be regrettable but also economically disastrous so far as support goes.
A Possible Solution
It is a little unfortunate that there should been this slight mix-up, but I feel confident that the difficulty will be overcome to the mutual satisfaction of both clubs. It may be finally straightened out at this evening’s board meeting. Although Everton would not attempt to hurry, their neighbours it seems to me, if Liverpool’s lights will be ready in time, that Wednesday, October 23, might eventually turn out a good date. Everton have no commitment that evening, and though that would mean four floodlit matches in a month –assuming that Continental visitors were accepted by Everton –the football interest in this city is strong enough to ensure worth –while gates for them all. Apart from the rearranged League match with Arsenal on October 16, Everton intend to have only two home floodlit games in October, and after that will not stage any other games until the early spring, apart from representative matches, for which Goodison Park, might be chosen, and rearranged League games or Cup-tie replays if such arise.
EVERTON PLAYERS BEGIN TRAINING FOR NEW SEASON
July 15, 1957. The Liverpool Echo
Whether or not it is a sign that summer is already on the wane I wouldn’t know, but Everton F.C. players today reported for training for the coming season, and that is a pointer which leaves no lover in football in any doubt regarding its significance. It means, if you come within that category, you can now begin ticking off the weeks until the big ball starts rolling again. That will be five weeks next Saturday, which means we are already two-thirds of the way through the close season. To the keen football enthusiast who may have no great love for cricket, or other summer activities the close season seems interminable. But it will soon be over. From now onwards football will come more into the picture with the pre-season practice matches to whet the appetite only just over a month away. Everton are among the first clubs in the country to get back into training. They also have one of the smallest staffs of full-time professionals of any senior club. Numerically it is less than I can recall in well over 20 years. At the moment there are only 19 full timers on the books, 16 of whom reported this morning. McNamara and Rea, who are returning from holidays in the Channel islands today, will turn in for the first time tomorrow, Ashworth is away on a special course.
Cutting It Fine
This seems to be to be cutting things extremely fine. While it is true Everton lost over £20,000 last season, have a bank overdraft and other debts of about the same figure, and a big floodlighting expenditure to face, all of which means they must cut their coast accordingly to their cloth, many of their followers fear they will enter what looks like being a very anxious and testing season with insufficient resources numerically and otherwise to stand the strain. That is something which will be referred to more fully later, when the new season is nearer its commencement but at this stage I cannot feel other than apprehensive regarding the outlook. Everton were able to keep out of serious trouble last season because there were a few sides worse than themselves. They may find those clubs have used the breathing space of the close season as a means of strengthening their resources for the struggle ahead, while Everton seem to have reduced theirs. In addition to the 19 full time players, there are nine in the Forces and nine part-timers. Of the Forces players, three are due for demobilization before the end of September. Inside right Jack Keeley is due out later this month, full back Ian Hillsdon in August and right half Jack Clayton finishes his time in mid-September. Unfortunately Hillsdon will not be fit before Christmas at the earliest. He broke a leg playing for his Army until in Germany at the end of May, and is now on sick leave, attending Broadgreen Hospital on crutches as an outpatient.
Only Five Teams
Graham Williams who joined the Army four months ago, is also on leave, and will spend part of it attending training sessions at Goodison Park, so that he will be fit, to turn out if he can obtain release from Service duties. The part-timers report for training tomorrow evening and thereafter will attend two evening per week until the season commences. The Everton staff of amateurs is also smaller than for many years past. At the moment it totals under 30 which is approximately half of what it used to be. This winter the club will have one team less than a yard ago, and two less than a few seasons back. In addition to the first and Central League sides, there will be an “A” team in the first division of the Lancashire League, the “B” team in the Under 21 section of the Lancashire League, and a “C” team in the under 17 division of the same organiastion. The last named is the comparable team to that which operated last winter as the Colts eleven, and played only friendly games. The new under-17 division of the Lancashire League should prove a much better “nursery.” It is made up of similar sides from most of the Lancashire Football league clubs insuring, with a subsidiary competition, a regular weekly game under compentive conditions against stronger opposition than the Colts met in previous years. During the summer the Everton trainers and coaches – Harry Wright, Gordon Watson, and Stan Bentham –spent a week at the Lilleshall centre of the Central Council for Physical Recreation where they took a course in the latest methods of training coaching and treatment of injuries Wally Fielding was also there, taking a course to qualify as a Football Association coach.
The players had a gentle breaking in this morning and did not start actual training until the afternoon when they went by coach to the Bellefield practice ground for some lapping and loosening up followed by a spell of concentrated ball work. I gather from Mr. Ian Buchan, the chief coach that he aims to develop training in the forthcoming weeks on a functional basis and that ball practice of all kinds –shooting, heading, dribbling, trapping and so on –will be the main items on the agenda. The necessity of reaching and maintaining peak all-round fitness and ability o withstand the pace will not be lost sight of, but his main aim will be to improve and perfect the ability of the players at the job they have to perform when they get on the field of play each Saturday. Owing to his absence on holidays in Ireland the club chairman Mr. R.E Searle was not able to attend the ground today to welcome the players. Mr. T.C. Nuttall vice-chairman was also absent as he has only just returned home after ten days in hospital. He is having a month’s rest after which he returns to hospital for another examination and further treatment. Mr. Nuttall, ringing me to express his disappointment at not being able to be present today, asked if I would thank, on the behalf, all who have written to him during his illness. It is impossible for him to reply individually, but he is nevertheless extremely grateful for the sympathy extended to him by so many people.
Mr. Jack Sharp welcoming the players and wishing them every success in the coming season said that if they give of their best all the time and played together as a team he felt the club could look forward to the future wish optimism. They would get every help from Mr. Buchan and he (Mr. Sharp) hoped that in return they would play hard and give everything they had got. So far as the younger players were concerned the policy of the club had changed in the last year or so. If they showed the right form they would not have to languish in the lower teams for years without hopes of promotion. Mr. Buchan said that it had been a pleasure to work with the players last season and if he again got the same co-operation he would be well satisfied. Although a smaller company than a year ago, he felt sure they would have much success.
PASSING OF SOCCER STARS IS A MOMENT FOR REGRET
July 17, 1957. The Liverpool Echo
Unlike famous theatrical stars of my long past youth, whose farewell tours and positively final appearances lasted for years and provoked touching scenes in the ranks of their admirers, football stars in the twilight of their careers are frequently like old soldiers –they simply fade away. One whose lot has been such, as far as his former Goodison Park friends on the terraces are concerned is Tommy Eglington, who today reported for training with his new club, Tranmere Rovers. We shall miss Eglington at Goodison Park –and possibly in more ways than one. I was disappointed when Everton, with one eye on the future and the other on their mounting bank overdraft, decided that the axe must fall on this likeable and loyal Irishman. In past years many a player who had less possible service in him than Eglington was granted a further year’s contract, to give him ample time to look around. I had hoped the same clemency might be extended to Eglington, bearing in mind his eleven years of whole-hearted service to the club and the fact that never once had he caused them a moment’s anxiety. Fortunately he has got fixed up all right. Eglington might not always have been everyone’s idea of a first-class winger. He had spells when he suffered off periods. But so does every player. Taken by and large over the eleven years, however, he gave Everton good value for his wages, and missed barely a couple of dozen matches. Football today is very strictly business. There is little or no room for sentiment. Nevertheless it is still a matter for regret when time brings its enevitable changes and a noted player has to stop down into a lower sphere where the cheers of the smaller crowds make less sweet music than those to which he has so long been accustomed.
Some Are Jeered
But that is infinitely better than what has befallen many a star of old, who hanging on to the very last moment of his rapidly ending usefulness has gone out to the jeers and cat-calls of those so short-memoried that they forgot all he had done in his heyday. I am sure all Evertonians will join me in wishing Tommy Eglington much success with his new club. At 33 he still has a couple of years good service in him at least probably more. I hope Everton will have no occasion to regret Eglington’s departure in the coming winter. Graham Williams though a couraging player of considerable promise has yet to prove himself capable of filling the berth regularly and consistently. If he does not, I don’t know where Eglington’s successor is to be found among the existing staff. There is also the possibility that Williams now in the Forces may not be regularly available.
Unheralded and Unsung
Maybe there’s some budding star hiding his light under a bushed in the junior sides who that the requisite ability confidence and balance to take his place in the first team and produce the displays expected of a top-class player I have not heard of him however. Another great Evertonian loyalist who so far as Goodison supporters were concerned went out of the game unheralded and unsung and without the cheers of his eventless admirers ringing in his ears was Bill Dean. Although some months earlier the club had said that Dean would play his last game in an Everton jersey and in the first team we woke up one morning to learn he had been transferred suddenly and unexpectedly overnight to Notts County a Third Division club. Not long afterwards following a short spell in Irish football, the great Dean said good bye to the game he loved in the manner that has been the lot of so many who have graced the Soccer stage –by the appearance of his name along with scores of others in the F.A list.
Sagar Was Fortunate
Ted Sagar was more fortunate. His 23 ½ years at Goodison ended on the appropriate note of a special arranged farewell performance in a Liverpool Senior Cup Final, at the end of the season that Ted went out with the crowd cheering him as they used to do in the heydays in League and Cup. The most memorable exit of any player was that of Joe Hulme whose last game for Huddersfield Town was in the Cup Final of 1938, Denis Compton ran him close for Compton played only one match for Arsenal after his 1950 Cup final appearance against Liverpool. A former Evertonians who might similarly have gone out in a blaze of glory but unfortunately changed his mind with disastrous consequences – was Joe Mercer.
Call was too strong
When Arsenal won the championship in 1953 Joe after being cheered to the echo on the steps of Highbury at the end of the last match of the season told the crowd that he wanted to get out while still at the top and he had accordingly decided to hang up his boots for good. But the call of soccer proved too much. Mercer changed his mind, resumed the captaincy of the Gunners again –and finished the next season in hospital with a broken leg sustained in the game against Liverpool at Highbury in mid-April.
EVERTON WANT HICKSON BACK!
July 20, 1957. The Liverpool Daily Post
By Leslie Edwards
Everton have opened negotiations with Huddersfield Town for the transfer of their former centre forward, Dave Hickson. Everton have been given permission to approach the player who says Huddersfield does not suit Mrs. Hickson, although he has re-signed for the coming season. Hickson who is twenty-six, joined Everton in 1948 was transferred to Aston Villa for £20,000 in September 1955, and after a few months moved on to Huddersfield at a fee of about £15,000. Hickson asked for a transfer last season during which he scored nineteen League goals for the Huddersfield team. There is little doubt that Hickson will agree to return to Everton but the clubs have still to discuss a fee.
News of Hickson’s desire to leave Huddersfield and his hope that he would be signed by some Lancashire club, preferably Liverpool of Everton was given exclusively in the Daily Post last season.
Mr. Ian Buchan the Everton F.C coach said last night “It is hardly accurate to say that there have been negoiatations. We have made routine inquiries about the player. Huddersfield have not named a fee nor have we asked them to. It is clear that Everton are concerned about their resources for the coming season. Were Hickson to return them they would at once strengthened their attack and tempt back to Goodison Park thousands of Hicksons fans. Hickson was helping Norman Greenhalgh the former Everton back at his Wirral hotel a few weeks ago, I understand he has now returned to Huddersfield.
EVERTON CHIEF’S “NO” TO SIGNING OF HICKSON
JULY 20, 1957. The Liverpool Echo
“New Fields and Fresh Faces are Needed”
Everton F.C supporters who may have construed the disclosure regarding the Goodison Park club’s interest in Dave Hickson, their former centre forward, as an indication that they are likely to sign him, should wait for further developments. The Board is not unanimous about the matter. Indeed Mr. R.E. Seale, the club’s chairman is definitely against the proposal, and from his tone when I talked to him today, is not easily going to be persuaded otherwise. He was quite adamant in his views.
The first hint of directorial disagreement in the matter came when Mr. Searle contacted me early this afternoon after having his attention drawn to statement in the morning papers regarding the Everton inquiry about Hickson. He had only returned by boat earlier in the morning from a fortunately holiday in Ireland and knew nothing about the negotiations. “The news was a complete shock to me” he said. “There has been no Board meeting while I have been away and so far as I am aware the move has been made following telephone calls between some of the directors. “Although I left my address and telephone number with the club’s officials before going to holidays I was not consulted and only learned of what had been done a little while ago. “Had I been advised what was in the wind, I should have expressed my disproval t once, I have got to deal with the critical of my colleagues whose I know to have been actuated only by their concern for the future well-being of the club, but I feel most strongly about this proposal and am definitely against any further steps being taken with a view to signing Hickson. “It we need to buy players and I am definitely of the opinion that we do, and good ones –I feel we should go out into fresh fields and get new faces. All I am concerned about is the success and prosperity of the Everton club, and with providing first class football for the people who support us and provide the money which enables us to keep going concluded Mr. Searle.
Hickson, in his early days was something of a stormy petrel and the subject of official reprimands and much controversy among football followers I am told, however, that the has shed his former impetuously on the field. The next move will be up to the board, which is due to meet Tuesday evening. It is doubtful however, whether all the directors will be present. Mr. T.C. Nuttall chairman of the playing staff, subcommittee is still confined to his home and unable to attend to business except on the telephone, and Mr. Ernest Green is also ill. Prior to Mr. Searle’s Intervention, Mr. Jack Sharp acting-chairman of the playing staff sub-committee, during Mr. Nuttall’s absence was in touch with Huddersfield Town by telephone this morning, for lowing an interview which Hickson had with two members of the sub-committee in Liverpool last evening.
Everton than made an offer to the Yorkshire club for Hickson’s signature. What this was has not been disclosed, but Mr. Bill Shankly, Huddersfield’s manager, told me when I telephoned him that it fell well short of their estimate of Hickson’s value. “I have told Everton the fee we are prepared to accept” he added, “and it is now up to them. Several other clubs are also interested.” So far as the player himself is concerned, he would much prefer returning to Everton than going anywhere else, and is not likely to sign for any other club while there is the possibility that Goodison Park might still be in the running. He has told their officials that he has always regretted leaving Everton and that he would be glad of the opportunity to prove to them that he still has plenty of top-class football in him.
Many Everton followers would like to see the player back in the Goodison team. Even some of those who could not condone his occasional impetuous actions feels that he would being much needed thrust and fighting spirit to a forward line which has never had anybody to compare with him in these attributes since his departure. To many he is still a popular herd, and there are those who consider that he did more than any other single player to help the club to regain it’s First Division status. There the matter must remain until the board meeting has hammered out the position on Tuesday next. Hickson was transferred by Everton to Aston Villa in September 1955, at a fee of around £25,000 but moved to Huddersfield after only a short spell with the Midland team. During his career at Goodison Park he made 151 appearances in League and Cup matches scoring 69 goals.
July 22, 1957. The Liverpool Echo
Everton followers will await with great interest the outcome of tomorrow night’s Everton board meeting which is to consider whether to proceed with the negotiations to sign Dave Hickson, their former centre forward from Huddersfield Town. As reported in our summer sports edition Mr. R.E. Searle. Everton’s chairman, who only heard of the move when he returned from holidays on Saturday, is against going any further with the matter.
HICKSON AN OFFER BY EVERTON
July 24, 1957. The Liverpool Echo
Everton F.C directors last night decided to make a firm offer, in writing to Huddersfield Town for the transfer of Dave Hickson, their former centre-forward. It is probable that Hickson, who has already agreed to go to Everton, will become an Everton player again within the new few days. When he was transferred from Everton to Aston Villa in September, 1955 he fee was £20,000. It is understood that Huddersfield Town now want £8,500. At that figure, Hickson, Ellesmere Port-born, would re-pay his fee in less than a season, on the field and at the turnstiles. Everton F.C chairman, Mr. Dick Searle on arrival from holiday in Ireland last weekend, said that he was opposed to the idea of Hickson re-joining Everton. Either he was won over to the pro-Hickson camp at last night’s meeting or out voted. Hickson heading
DAVE HICKSON…HE’S HEADING FOR GOODISON PARK AGAIN
July 24, 1957. The Liverpool Daily Post
By Leslie Edwards
Everton F.C directors at their meeting last night voted in favour of proceeding with the business of re-signing their former centre-forward Dave Hickson from Huddersfield. So club chairman, Mr. Dick Searle, who made the week-end headlines with his I’m all against it” bows to force of circumstances and to others of the Board who started in his absence, negotiations for a player who is needed to bring more punch to the Everton attack. There can be no doubt that Hickson will now return to his club and soon. Huddersfield Town are asking, I believe a sum in the region of £8,500 for the man Manager Cliff Britton transferred from Everton to Aston Villa in 1955 for £20,000. There can be mp doubt, either that Hickson is a better footballer now than he was then. He is more experience; more subdued; has a greater sense of responsibility on and off-field. I gather that when he met members of the Everton board last week, Hickson impressed them as a man who had a valid explanation for some of the scenes in which he was concerned when he played at Goodison park. Factors in favour of Everton re-signing their old player far outweigh all other considerations. His appearances in their side would bring additional spectators to Goodison Park and to away matches and would add to the line the bite it lacked in many matches last season. Hickson told the Daily Post exclusively last season of his desire to leave Huddersfield Town. He said he wanted to rejoin Everton or play across the Park with Liverpool. Huddersfield Town manager Bill shankly has a theory that Hickson will not settle with any club save his original love, Everton. That is why Everton would be wise to step in and strengthen their side with a man whose enthusiasm for the cause, and ability is beyond doubt. Good players are scarce. In special circumstances –Hickson has said that he wants to play for them –Everton can re-invest in a man who has already paid them tremendous dividends.
GO ON EVERTON, SPRING THAT EXTRA THOUS’!
July 25, 1957. The Liverpool Daily Post
By Leslie Edwards
Though Everton’s offer for Dave Hickson was turned down yesterday by Huddersfield Town the chances are that Hickson will start the new season as an Everton player. It is inconceivable that a player of Hickson’s ability should be lost to Goodison Park for the sake of about £1,000. His return to his old club would re-kindle interest in Everton at a time when enthusiasm for the club’s is only luke warm. I find it difficult to believe that Everton (who received £20,000 for the player when they transferred him to Aston Villa in 1955) are not prepared to compose their financial differences with Huddersfield for a player who might well make the difference between a successful and unsuccessful start to the season. The Hickson of Everton’s Second Division days was not everyone’s cup of tea and I do not mind confessing that I was his severest critic. But he was a fine player them and he’s an even better one I think now, with the important difference that he is now much more subdued. Of followers of Everton to whom I have spoken most have said that they thought Hickson’s return would be a good thing for club and player. The faction which oppose his signing –the club chairman Mr. Dick Searle, heads it –have views which must e respected and which are well understood. But the Board have voted in favour of getting Hickson. He should be signed without delay as a business proposition. That he may, have been offered to other clubs, months ago, at a lesser fee than is asked now should make the difference to Everton’s purpose.
Everton are badly in need of some personality to help resurrect the club. Hickson would do the job admirably. Most followers of Everton would applaud any move to brighten the horizon and the return of Hickson, would assuredly do this. For one young Liverpool schoolboy the break yesterday for summer holidays means no holiday at all. I’m thinking of seventeen-years-old, 6 foot tall Brian Labone, whose 13 stones of footballing ability at centre half, goes into service today with Everton F.C.. Brian starts as a full time professional, though his father a fine player himself years ago, and a dyed in the wool Evertonian, is anxious that an accountancy career should run concurrently with Brian’s football. Everton signed Brian in face of great competition from Liverpool and Manchester United. The boy has played for the Merseyside Grammer school team for the past two seasons and Everton coach Ian Buchan (who is not given in making extravagant claims about anything or anybody) is clearly delighted that the club have succeeded in getting this commanding player.
Also signed (but only so far as amateur are two other young Liverpool schoolboys David Todd, an outside right and Norman Birch, who is an inside forward. These boys have been coached in football at Liverpool Institute by Messrs Morgan and Devereux, among others and should develop quickly now Everton have taken interest in them. It is felt that League football can improve most and quickest by the introduction of young men of this type, boys who are keen to learn and who have plenty “upstairs” to supplement the skill of their feet.
HICKSON TO SIGN TODAY
July 27, 1957. The Liverpool Daily Post
By Leslie Edwards
Everton F.C. will sign Dave Hickson from Huddersfield Town today, Hickson will come to Goodison Park to sign. The agreed fee is about £8,500 Huddersfield Town are happy, Everton are happy and Hickson is delighted. This move to his old clubs solves all his problems not least the domestic one posed by a wife who has never been really happy since she had to leave her native Ellesmere Port for Huddersfield. Everton moved fast once they sensed the outside chance that Hickson might go to West Ham. At a board meeting hastily requisitioned yesterday it was decided to step in and get Hickson without delay. I have yet to meet the followers of Everton who does not express pleasure that Hickson will be back. Though many were critical of Hickson in his first spell with Everton –none more so than me – there is reason to believe that he is now taking his football more philosophically. He is far too competent a player to be involved in football scenes with Hickson to take part of the load, forward. Gauld should have wilder scope, just as J.W. Parker did when Hickson was last in the team.
Plenty of Backing
Hickson will have the backing of countless thousands of fans who admire his ability and enthusiasm. If he can demonstrate to them that he has developed in other ways since he left Goodison Park –I think he will –he should have a long and successful second spell with the club. Hickson left Everton for Aston Villa (fee £20,000) in September 1955. In November that year Huddersfield Town paid Villa £16,500 for him. In his first season with Huddersfield. Hickson scored nine times in 26 league matches; last season, when the club were in the second division he had 19 goals in 28 league games. Among those present at the Everton meeting at which the Hickson decision was taken was Mr. Tom Nuttall who is out and about again after a long spell of illness. One of several absentees was Mr. Ernest Green, the former Everton chairman, news of whose health is not so good.
WAGES PROTEST BY EVERTON F.C. PLAYERS
July 29, 1957. The Liverpool Daily Post
By Leslie Edwards
Everton F.C’s proposal not to pay top-ranking players the new League maximum of £17 per week during the playing season but to give them £15 a week with an extra £2 only when they appear in the first team, has caused some disenstion in the dressing room. The players concerned asked the board to reconsider the matter and at the directors next meeting tomorrow the decision is likely to be taken that men of first team status will be paid top money whether they are in the first team or not. The idea of the proposal to pay £15 with the extra £2 contingent on a player being in the first team stemmed from the club’s desire to give their players some form of incentive to reach first-team status. To describe Everton F.C’s proposals as stingy (a word players are reported to have used in connection with their grouse) is ironic since Everton are known to be one of the most generous of all football league clubs. They believe that only the best is good enough for their staff.
Reports that the twelve players concerned in the protest threatened to ask to be pull on the transfer list if their demand for top money were not met is, says an Everton officials, not true. The players know that the board are to reconsider the matter, he said, and so far as the club are concerned they have only heard that players dislike the scheme and wish the board to think again about it. The players concerned are goalkeepers Dunlop and O’Neill; Backs Tansey and Donovan; Half backs Peter Farrell, Birch, Jones, Rea and forwards Fielding, Gauld, Jimmy Harris, and McNamara. There is little doubt that Everton will reverse their decision and that the players will get their demands. So with Dave Hickson, newly signed from Huddersfield Town reporting today Everton should e a happy place again when the players attend for training this morning. But it will take players some time to live down the allegation, that they described their club as stingy. Everton may or may not be all manner of things –except that.
EVERTON WAGES SQUABBLE WILL BE AMICABLY RESOLVED
July 29, 1957. The Liverpool Echo
Although I understand on good authority that the latest Everton bombshell will be no more than a pricked bubble after Tuesday night’s board meeting and that the matter of wages will be adjusted to the players satisfaction, an important matter of principle is involved. The players Union has long campaigned for the abolition of the maximum wage. They want their members paid according to ability. It could be argued that cuts both ways and that those who do not reach top standard should have their money docked for lack of ability. That in effect is all the sliding scale means. Don’t think I’m against players getting all they can, within reason. Far from it. Not what is sauce for the good is sauce for the gander as well. There are some among the twelve full timers who have demanded top money, irrespective of whether in the first or second teams, or even just sitting in the stands who in the past have been unable to command a regular first team place. One or two, indeed have been in and out of the first eleven like a dog at a fair, and have been dropped more times than I can recall. These case is decidedly weaker than some of the others. At the same time, Everton are in a cleft stick. They have their smallest staff numerically since the war, they have few players who can be regarded as stars and with these handicaps they simply cannot afford to start the coming season with even the slightest dissension in their ranks. I think the players will get what they have asked for. They also have in the past of those who were on top money last year without any qualifying clauses considerable justification for their demand. The intention of the Football League was that such players should get £2 more this winter and Everton themselves voted for that at the League’s annual meeting. There was no provision for any its and buts about it.
At the same time the sliding scale to a recognized feature of football Administration. Quite a number of clubs favour its aid as an incentive. I believe that at one time not very long ago, even Wolves with all their money –and they are much wealthiest than Everton –had no more than four or five players on top money, irrespective of where they played. That of course does not makes it right if the principle is unfair. But is it? There are occasional players who would prefer, if it involved no financial loss, to remain in the second team. especially when the senior side is having a sticky time and getting the bird from its followers. The principle of the maximum wage for all likely to be required for senior duty also leads to the rather incurious conditions that often the reserve team man draws more than his first team colleagues. If the seniors are doing badly. He may get winning in the Central League side while the first team is losing. That happened at Goodison many times last season. It is significant that throughout all the campaigning for better conditions which the Players Union has done there has been no move to get the sliding seals abolished. Must one assume from that even the Union recognizes there is something to be said for providing an incentive to men to make the first tam and stay there? These are more or less rhetorical questions. You can form your own conclusions. In every walk of life the man who has the most important job usually gets the best pay. Is there any valid reason why footballers should be excepted.
How It Started this latest Everton rumpus began a few days ago, when the players were asked to sign an addendum to their contacts – which had been made out before the League sanctioned the £2 embodying the sliding scale clatise. They kicked against it, and the 12 concerned (Farrell, Jones, Fielding, Dunlop, O’Neill, Donovan, Tansey, Birch, Rea, Harris, Gauld and McNamara) appointed the first named three as a deputation to put their case to the board. They were due to see members of the Playing Staff subcommittee Directors Sharp, Micklesfield, and Bamforth) last Thursday afternoon but with the Hickson deal on the table they were told that the meeting would have to wait until early this week. This they were content to do. They all agreed not to say a word to anybody. But as I have said many times before in relation to other matters, where there has been an attempt at hush-hush it is foolish to hope that something which is known to a score of players nine directors and everybody else behind the scenes –to say nothing of wives and sweethearts –can remain a secret for very long. And that is no reflection on the ladies. Men are sometimes even more talkative!
Who Spilled The Beans
Some of the players are genuinely upset that the matter has been given a public airing. Now they are looking across at each other and wondering not only who spilled the beans but how much better off he is in pocket. Peter Farrell told me, “this matter has leaked out. Whatever out request to the Board we are still loyal Evertonians. Such things do the club no good. I feel confident that if the matter had assumed a normal course we could have reached an amicable solution when deputation met the directors.” Regarding the report that the players threaten to place in transfer requests before the board if their demands are not met. Farrell said this was not discussed at the players meeting. “When we have seem the directors he said we shall report back to the others. That is all we have been in powered to do.” Though Farrell declined to discuss the possibility of transfer requests I understand from another source that some of the players taking among themselves subsequently to their meeting made a passing reference to such a move if their plea was turned down but that nothing definite was decided. It was felt best to await the decision of the board and not to take any steps which might be misconstrued.
Mr. Ian Buchan, the club’s chief coach, who was also reluctant to discuss the matter, said that he knew nothing about likely transfer requests and nobody had suggested such a possibility to him. Although every player on the staff gave of his utmost last season, he added “I feel that if a player can earn £2 more a week by being in the first team it must surely be an additional incentive. What the players are asking for in effect, is £17 a week in the reserves team. It is however, a matter for the directors and they will consider it at their meeting on Tuesday.”
As I said earlier, when it comes before the board I shall be surprised if the players request is not granted without quibble. Everton can hardly afford to do otherwise. In any case, the amount at stake –apart from the principle of providing added incentive which is in another category –is of small that it would be foolish to do otherwise.
A LITTLE FRIENDLY ADVICE TO A FORMER STORMY PETREL
July 31, 1957. The Liverpool Echo
Now that Dave Hickson is an Everton player once more my view on the Goodison Park prospects for the coming season may have to be revised. Hitherto I have had cold shivers down the spine whenever I have thought about them. Though normally always ready to look on the bright side, the feeling that Everton would have a job keeping out of the relegation zone could not be staken off. At the best I could not see them getting away from the bottom half dozen clubs. Hickson’s return, which I trust is the forerunner of further Everton signings in the not too distant future, makes the outlook brighter. His transfer has been warmly welcomed by the vast majority of Everton supporters, who are eagerly looking forward to seeing him in a blue shirt again in the opening match against Wolverhampton Wanderers on August 24 –and before that in the public practice match. He will add thrust determination and scoring ability to a front line which has had all too little of these attributed since he left nearly two years ago. It is almost impossible to measure the debt which Everton owed him the season they regained their First Division status. Not only was he the dominating figure in the side but he got far more out of the men alongside him than anybody else on the staff could have done.
Proved By time
I recall with pleasure some of the many heroic displays he gave in Everton’s colours when he battled on, bloody but unbowed and snatched it seemingly lost cause from the grave. I recall what I wrote –before he went to Aston Villa – at the time Sheffield Wednesday sought to sign him. I said then that Everton could not afford to let him go and that if they did a large section of the club’s supporters would be bitterly incensed. The first of those contentions has since been adequately proved. The second has been justified by the enthusiasm with which his re-signing has been greeted. The former may be pleasant reading for Dave. Some of the things I shall be saying in a minute may not be quite so pleasant. They have to be said, however, for his own good as well as the reputation of Everton. In the past Dave always took my remarks in the right manner, I hope he will do so now, for they are made only because I have his best interest and future success in the game at heart.
A Great Future
Three years ago, when I had a heart to heart talk with him I prophesied that he would one day play for England if he could exercise a little more control on the field. I cannot say, having seem him in action only a couple of times in the last two years whether that prophecy is likely to be fulfilled. I hope it will be. Those who allege that in the past, I was biased against Hickson were taking rubbish. I pleaded for his restoration to the team when I thought he was wrongly dropped soon after making his debut and I had been impressed by his promise. I have defended him on scores of occasions when I felt he had been more sinned against then sinning and had been unfairly blamed for certain incidents. Often his tremendous keenness and wholehearted devotion is Everton’s cause caused his actions to be wrongly interpreted. But there have been other occasions in the past when, even granting extreme provocation, Dave did things which were not to the credit of himself, his club or the game in general.
No More Controversy
The very attributes which made him so valuable to Everton in the past, allied to his forceful personality on the field –yet to mild and unprovoking off it –made him the central figure in many controversial happenings. I am not going to labour the point. All that is over and done with. What I want to do now is express the hope that Hickson will give his detractors no cause for further criticism. He is older now, he has family responsibilities and he has a public behind him that is intensely loyal and wants always to be able to speak well of him. And that goes for me, too. In short I sincerely hope he will cut out those petulant and dubious actions which used to make it so difficult for even his best friends to defend him. He need not sacrifice any of his thrust determination, or forthrightness. In the modern but rather inelegant phase, Dave can “get stuck in” to his heart’s content so long as he does it cleanly and sportingly I hope and believe he will, for I know how anxious he is his own words, that he is “a reformed character.” He has many admirable qualities not the least of these being lion hearted courage bags of energy and enthusiasm and football skill of a high quality which if he cut out the questionable stuff, could be even higher still. I wish Dave the very best of luck in the future, I am looking forward to him justifying all the good things said of him in this column in the future.