DID NOT EXPECT TO SUPERSEDE ARTHUR DAVIES
June 4, 1949. The Liverpool Echo
Thrill To Share Practice Goal
Three Years at Goodison –Though Ted Sagar
By Ted Sagar
As Told To Allan Robinson
Ted Sagar Everton’s international goalkeeper, continues his life story with some “behind –the scenes memories of his early days with the Blues, while serving his apprenticeship in the Central League side.
On Saturday following Gregalach’s Grand National, which I attended an Everton player of 24 hours’ standing with the rest of the Goodison staff. I was chosen to play for the Central League side against Aston Villa Reserves, my first game as a fully fledged professional. We drew 2-2 which on paper, was a better result than the 3-0 defeat the previous week at Old Trafford but I still regard my display in the earlier game as one of the best I have ever put up. Even in the Villa game I had the distinction of saving a penalty kick taken by Gibson, the “Villians” Scottish international right half. That was before goalkeepers were fettered with the “no moving” rule an impost, incidentally with which like all goalkeepers, I will never agree. Admittedly a penalty award is supposed to be a drastic punishment but if the goalkeeper is to be given any chance at all surely he should be allowed to move his feet and use what sense of anticipation he possesses. I suppose the old rule was open to abuse and keepers could advance many yards from their goal, and so restrict the angle, but Penalty takers had their remedy in the lob. Probably goalkeepers like Albert Iremonger, Notts County’s 6ft 6in custodian –I have still a little time to go before equaling his record of 21 years’ service –could advance a couple of yards to a penalty shot and give the taker practically no space to shoot at and his inordinate reach rendered him immune to a lob, but Albert was something of a football freak.
Matter of Luck
Under the “no move” rule the goalkeeper has to make a split second decision, and as one who has made his fair share of penalty saves. I’ll admit a save from the “spot” in these days is largely a matter of luck. I have been asked frequently how many penalties I have saved in my career. I have not kept a record, but I don’t think I am over estimating when I say I have probably saved as many as I have let in. Adaptability is an essential part of a footballer’s make-up, and whatever new decrees the football legislators of Lancaster Gate might deem fit to make it is up to a player to adapt himself accordingly. The successful player has to be a student of the game. A lot can be learned by studying the habits and mannerisms of opponents. Every game has its lessons and no player should emerge for any game without feeling richer in football knowledge. The average footballer plays to a pattern his own pattern –it is only the geniuses like the Deans, James’s, Gallaher’s, Alex Jacksons, Charles Buchan’s and David Jack who do the unexpected, which was why they were geniuses –and he keen student of football can usually learn something about the “other fellow,” which he can file mentally for fortune reference.
Time to Dive
Most forwards have a favourite foot –the number of present day footballers with one good leg and a “swinger” is remarkable and naturally they contrive to bring the ball over to that foot. Often the knowledge that a forward is on the wrong foot allow’s keeper just that fraction of a second longer to position himself or gives him time to dive at the forwards feet. There is no keener student of football tactics than the present Everton manager Cliff Britton who is bringing his wealth of experience as a player profitably to bear in his capacity as manager. Prior to the Chelsea Cup-tie last season Cliff gave a newspaper picture of Harris the Chelsea captain, scoring from a penalty by “placing” the ball with his side of his foot to the left hand side of the goalkeeper. We made out plans accordingly in the event of a penalty being awarded against us. There was no penalty award, as it happened and we were beaten, but it costs nothing to be prepared and as many games are won in pre-match tactical talks as on the field. It is remarkable the hints one can glean from newspaper reports. I make a point of reading the Press descriptions of all First Division games and making mental note of things that I think might be useful when we meet certain teams and players. On the Wednesday after the Central league game against Aston Villa I played for a selected Everton side against Motherwell in a friendly. It was my first experience against the Scots and at 19, I did not think that seven years later It would be facing in the England goal, the cream of Scottish footballers in a full international at Wembley. In the game against Motherwell, who won 4-2, the volatile Jack O’Donnell who was originally of course the Blues full back was tried at inside forward. The unpredictable O’Donnell who later hit the head-lines with Blackpool, was one of football’s cavaliers. I met Jack O’Donnell, in Newcastle last season, I was about to enter our hotel when I was greeted by a familiar “Howya Ted?” and I turned to find the same irrepressible Jack O’Donnell, now working on the docks. We had a long chat about old times. Footballers need to be philosophical. It is hard to sink into obscurity after being in the lime-light. It comes to us all, Eric Brook, Manchester City idol and international of yester-year, is now a bus driver, and hundreds of others are following equally prosaic professions. Few of us would have missed the experience, and given out time over again would make the same decision.
For my part, I thought two or three seasons would have been the limit of my sojourn at Goodison Park, I was still a fairly raw youth and the Everton officials fixed me up with homely “digs” in Eton Street, Walton, with two maiden ladies the Misses McMullen who were in loco parentis, as it were. They were two kindly souls, who looked after me like a son. I was very grateful for their kindness to me for I had not been about much and Liverpool was a lonely city to a callow Yorkshire youth. Don’t forget me wrong. When you get to know them, Liverpool people are the kindest, and most sociable people in the world. I have a lot to thank them for and I suppose after all these years I am almost one of them. Incidentally, my first roommate was Ted Common, the Everton full back who later went to Preston. Everton must have been fairly satisfied with me, as at the end of the 1928-29 season they allowed Harry Hardy, who had been my predecessor in the Central League side, to leave. I played about ten Central League games before the season end and Everton fulfilled their promise to Thorne Colliery that if I made the grade they would not be ungrateful. The Blues sent my old club a handsome contribution on to their funds. I also thought it was a nice gesture in January 1948 when on our way to a Cup-tie at Grimsby, Mr. Theo Kelly hit upon the happy idea of changing our itinerary to allow us to take tea at Thorne and give the residents of Thorne an opportunity of seeing the Everton team.
Although I had gained a regular place in the Central League side towards the end of 1929 I had a long way to go and could not see myself superseding Arthur Davies, the former Wallasey boy, who finished his career, I think with Everton. Arthur, tall, gangling and with the height that made the high shot look easy, seemed fixture for many seasons to come, but at least I was learning. I remember how thrilled I used to be when I took my place in goal with Davies during shooting practice. I am afraid that more often than not I used to encroach into Arthur’s half to get at “raspers” from Billy Dean and was very proud when I saved them. Immediately I saw Billy Dean on the practice grounds, I was struck by his persistent habit of hitching up his knickers and running his fingers around the elastic band as though apprehensive of its reliability. Footballers are well known for their idiosyncrasies. Billy Meredith’s tooth pick was a legend. Hawes (Sunderland) and Albert Geldard (Everton) now in newspapers in Bolton, felt undressed if they went on the field without a handker-chief in their hand, and one First Division goalkeeper introduced a head bandeau the like of which has never been seen since. Footballers, too are inveterately superstitious. We like our own particularly peg in the dressing room. When we go to a ground where we may have won the previous season, we don’t change out pegs in case we change out luck. Players cling to an old and favourite pair of football boots until they are practically playing on the uppers. Most of them like to go on to the field in the same order each match. My favourite position is first man after the captain, a position in which I always try to file out. Players respect each other’s little superations in that respect. Nearly all of us have our favourite grounds, on which we invariably do well. My favourite ground is Arysome Park, Maine Road, Highbury, Villa Park, and Molineux Park.
SAGAR’S CAPITAL, DARING DISPLAY’ ON DEBUT
June 11, 1949. The Liverpool Echo
Special Training For Cup-Tie Was A Revelation
By Ted Sagar
As Told To Allan Robinson
Continuing his life-story exclusively for the Echo, Ted Sagar, Everton F.C., international goalkeeper today recalls his best game with the senior side and the personalities of the 1929-30 season (during which the Blues suffered their first and only relegation to Division 2, from which they were promoted the following year.
At the end of the 1928-29 season I returned home for the summer to Brodsworth, and I had to spend a lot of time telling my old colleagues at Thorne Colliery all about life in a big club. They wanted to know all the inside stories of players, they had read about but never seen. In between answering their questions and generally holding court, I kept myself fit with cricket. The close season means “hail and farewell.” The end of each season sees the end of someone’s career, and among those taking their bowl was Dick Forshaw, a great footballer and great clubman who had the distinction of playing for both Everton and Liverpool, and among the newcomers were Monty Wilkinson, Newcastle’s understudy to Hughie Gallaher; Tommy Robson, from Blyth Spartans and Joe McClure. In season 1929-30 I was first choice for the Central League side which still include such stars as Tony Weldon, Billy Easton, Ritchie, Jimmie Dunn, George Martin, Jimmy Stein and Albert Virr, the school-master whose football career was soon to finish owing to a leg injury; and others who would have walked into the majority of First Division sides. Everton in these days were rich in football talent, but the blend was missing and it was this that led to the club’s relegation. I remember when we played Oldham Reserves at Boundary Park early in the season, the young goalkeeper in the Oldham side was Frank Moss, who was later to become famous as an Arsenal and England player. We won 6-2 and Tommy White, who originally came from Southport as an outside left, and was one of the best utility players the club ever had got a “ha-trick.” I spent the first half of the season still with the reserves, but I was perfectly happy, as I was gaining the necessary experience.
Mother Looks On
My Mother, who is still hale and hearty at 68, used to come to see out matches when we were playing at Leeds, Sheffield, or Huddersfield. She always had a great faith in me, and was quietly proud of the fact that she had persuaded me to throw in my lot with Everton. In those days I always sent home a weekly allowance to help her keep the home going. Incidentally, my young brother, Jimmy, might also have made his mark in the game, but for the intervention of the war. He was showing a lot of promise at full back with my old team Thorne Colliery, and I passed the word on to Everton. He was only 17 at the time, but he apparently impressed Tommy Fleetwood, the former Everton half back, who was later on the ground staff, and did a lot of scouting for the club. Tommy brought back a good recommendation after running the rule over him at Thorne, and Jimmy was given a trial at the Everton “nursery,” Bellefield Park. The war intervened, otherwise there might have been another Sagar in first class football. Taking part in the same trial as my young brother was Jackie Grant who is still an Everton player, and who, like many other youngsters, was robbed of several useful years of football life by the war. My brother is now back in the mines as a charge hand, which probably would have been my fate but for providence and Mr. James Geary, my sponsor at Thorne.
I played regularly in the Blues Central League side until after Christmas, 1929 but when the Cup ties came around at the beginning of 1930, and we were drawn away to Carlisle, I was sent with the Everton party for special training at Blackpool. It was the first time I had ever been away for special training. It was the sort of thing we at Thorne Colliery had read about in the papers. I was greatly struck by the difference between the elaborate training system we experienced at Norbreack and our usual approach to a cup-tie at Thorne. Some times at Thorne it was as much as one could do to get a bath after finishing a shift before turning out for a cup-tie –there were no pit –head baths in those days. In fact, I have seen players in some games come straight from the pit on to the field still more or less smothered in coal-dust and looking more like corner-men in minstrel show than footballers. I did not play in the Carlisle Cup tie which we won 4-2, but I felt I was on the fringe of promotion.
On The Fringe
But while I was on the fringe of promotion, the Blues were on the fringe of relegation. The talent was there, but somehow we could not strike a winning combination. It was one of those seasons when nothing appeared to go right. Any ill-luck that was about, the Blues inevitably caught up with it. When things go that way; there isn’t very much one can do. Other fashionable clubs have been in the same position and even though they indulged in spending orgies to try and starve off the relegation bogey –remember Aston Villa –it did not achieve the desired effect. In the early January of 1930, prior to a Central League game against Leeds United Reserves at Goodison, Ben Williams who was later to gain several Welsh international caps, and I were told that we were both on trial with a view to elevation to the first team
Do Or Die
I don’t know who was the more excited, I know that both of us went out that day prepared to do or die. We won 2-0, and apparently both of us had put up a satisfactory performance, as we were in the 14 from which the team would be selected to meet Derby County in a vital game at Goodison the following Saturday. I was chosen to play instead of Davies, and Williams came in vice Cresswell. The writing as certainly on the wall for the Blues about that time. They were next to bottom of the table with 18 points from 25 games. Grimsby Town –have any team had more ups and downs –being bottom with 16 points from 23 games. So on January 11, 1930 I made my debut in the First Division. The team that day was Sagar; Williams, O’Donnell; Robson, Hart, McPherson; Crithcley, Martin, Dean, Rigsy, and Stein. McPherson, the Swansea half back whose coolness and seeming nonchalance earned him the title of “The Icicle,” had made his debut in the previous Leagues match against Liverpool at Goodison Park, I can think of no more nerve-racking experience than to make one’s debut in a “Liverton” Derby game –but McPherson had no nerves. As a point of interest the score of that particular “Derby” game was Everton 3, Critchley, Dean (2), Liverpool 3 (Edmed, McPherson, McDougall). We beat Derby County 4-0 on the occasion of my debut –our scorers were Critchley, Dean (2) and Stein – an encouraging performance when one remembers that the Derby team of those days included such fine players as centre half Barker and forwards, Sammy Crooks, Bedford, Stephenson and Mee. The Daily Post summed up Sagar’s debut as “a capital and daring display.” We though the silver lining was showing in the dark clouds hovering over Goodison Park, but the following week the same team were beaten 4-1 in the fourth round of the Cup by Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. “Bee” wrote of the Blackburn debacle the following Monday, “It would be a waste of time, and energy to go into the individual state of the Everton market in this game, except to state that Sagar was brilliant throughout, despite his great limp (the keeper sustained a badly brushed thigh muscle early on), and that he made masterly efforts to save the first two goals by McLean and Bourton.”) Apart from Martin, who is now the manager of Newcastle United, all my team-mates of that year have found a calling outside football. Dean, Cresswell, Critchley and Stein are licensees, Williams and McPherson are back in their native Wales, and Jimmy Dunn works in a local shipyard. Robson met an untimely end being killed in an aero plane factory during the war. After my injury at Blackbun I was off for two or three games. As soon as I was fit, I was back in the first team and a 2-1 victory at Middlesbrough gave us renewed hope.
In that game I saved a penalty from George Camseil, who held the individual record of 59 goals before Billy Dean set up a new record of 60 goals in one season. We were still floundering in the depths and in an effort to avoid relegation Everton signed Billy Coggins from Bristol City, I lost my place to him for the remainder of the season. But it was just not our year. Robson, of Grimsby, will always be remembered as the man who put Everton in the second Division with a “hat-trick” against us –Grimsby won 4-2 at Goodison Park –at a crucial period. Despite a 4-1 victory at home against Sunderland in the last game of the season we finished as “wooden spoonists” and went down for the first time in the history of the club, accompanied by Burnley. My tally that season was seven First Division games.
Next Week Sagar will tell of Everton’s promotion at the first time of asking, prefacing a glorious spell which brought them the first Division championship and the English Cup in successive seasons.
SECOND DIVISION EVERTON BORE GOOD CHEER AND NEW LIFE
June 18, 1949. The Liverpool Echo
“Sweet are the Uses of Adversity”
By Ted Sagar
As Told To Allan Robinson
When Everton won their way back to the First Division at the first time of asking after sweeping all before then in the second Division in season 1930-31, Ted Sagar had to play second fiddle to Billy Coggins, and did not make a First Division appearance. The following season, however, Ted got his chance again, and has never been out of the side since, except through injury. On the fateful afternoon when Everton went down into the Second Division for the first time in their history, Mr. W.C. Cuff, the chairman of the club said: “We will be back next year in the First Division.” It was a well-founded confidence rather than wistful thinking. Mr. Cuff never lost confidence in the team. There was no panic at Goodison Park. The spirit of the officials was “Bad Luck, boys. It is just one of those things. You were good enough, but things didn’t go right.” There were no recriminations, no scapegoats, and it was the boardroom spirit as much as the play on the field that enabled the Blues to get out of the Second Division after only one season. Football form and fortune are peculiar. Here was practically the same team taking all before them in the second Division when 12 months previously they could hardly put a foot right.
The team practically chose itself each week and it was hardly surprising that I did not get a chance in the first team that season. Coggins with his greater experience, was the automatic choice. We were good friends and I was quite happy in the Central League side, for whom I played 42 games. I was still a youngster –not yet 21 –and was still willing to learn. Everton won their last home game by beating Burnley their comrades in distress the previous season by 3-2. Although there were no more games to be played before completing the seasons programme, the Blues were nine points ahead of their nearest rivals. West Browmich Albion. As the championship was well and truly won, the president of the Football League the late Mr. John McKenna took the opportununity of presenting the Blues with the Second Division shield which he handed to Ben Williams, the captain. Congratulating, Everton, Mr. McKenna said that he saw no reason why the Blues should not emulate Liverpool’s feat in winning the championship of the First Division the following season. Thus, one more prediction –Mr. Cuff had predicted that we would get out of the Second Division in one season –was due to come true. The spell in the Second Division had not done the Blues any harm it had enabled them to recover their confidence and to strike a winning vein. It had also proved a financial boon to Second Division clubs, as Everton had attracted wonderful gates where ever they had played. Thousands of football fans who would never otherwise have had the opportunity, were able to appreciate what was meant by the Everton traditions. Accompanying Everton back to the First Division were West Bromwich Albion, who had the distinction of winning promotion and the F.A. Cup in the same season. The records of the two leading clubs may be of interest;-
P W L D F A Pts
Everton 42 28 9 5 121 66 61
West Brom 42 22 10 10 83 49 54
There was the usual celebration dinner at which Mr. Cuff rightly remarked that equally as important as the winning of the championship was the reputation for sportsmanship which the Blues had left on every ground they had visited in the Second Division. Footballers are not known as after-dinner speakers, but several of the boys revealed hidden talents in that direction on this festive occasion. With Coggins playing so well in the promotion season I did not expect my chance to come so soon. During the close season, however Coggins went down with appendicitis and was not ready for the beginning of the 1931-32 season. And so I got my big chance. I did not think then that, but for one game, I would have been an “ever-present” that season. Neither did I think that 18 years later I would be challenging Elisha Scotts record of 429 appearances for Liverpool. I know that form is a fickle thing, but I am hoping that next season will enable me to play a least in the 17 matches that will enable me to emulate Elisha grand record of service. My 40 appearances season brought my total of League games for Everton to 412. Naturally, I can’t expect to go on forever, but it is reassuring to know that when a sports writer recently asked an Everton official whether the club had anything in mind for Sagar when he had finished his playing days, he replied that they had not given it a fought as they were anticipating another three or four years’ service from me. I only hope I am able to justify that confidence.
There were new faces at the beginning of the 31-32 season. There was burly Bill Bocking, a capable full back from Stockport County, Phil Griffiths the right winger who made a good impression when the Blues played Port Vale in a friendly game and was brought to Goodison at the first opportunity; Archie Clark, from Luton who passed on to Tranmere Rovers and captained them in their promotion year, and who is now manager of the non-League club, Gillingham; Archer from Walsall; and Holdcroft the Darlington goalkeeper, who later won two English international caps with Preston North End. Phill Griffiths, who is teaching the young schoolboy idea in the Potteries, always comes along for a word about old times whenever we play Stoke. Ex-Blues, wherever they might be living are amazingly loyal to their old club, and there is hardly an away game that some “old-timer” does not come along to wish us luck. Nothing succeeds like success and out triumphant period in the Second Division reflected itself on our return to the First Division. It had given us just that touch of confidence. We won the first three games off the reel. In the first game of the season we met Birmingham and Harry Hibbs of home and won 3-2 thanks to a hat-trick by Jimmy Dunn, who, although a member of the Scotland forward line that earned the title of the “WembleyWizards” (Jackson, Dunn, Gallagher, James and Morton) did not; to my mind get the international caps he really deserved. Of the rival keepers in the Everton-Birmingham game the Daily Post said; “Sagar did not have a great deal to do, but he played a safe game, more so than Hibbs, who was curiously uncertain at times and more than once missed the ball completely. “ the following Thursday we played at Portsmouth and won 3-0. Dean was injured and unable to play and Tommy White who came in at the last minute as deputy scored the three goals.
Death Stalks The Field
Two days later we beat Sunderland 3-2 at Roker Park. Our scorers that day were Johnson, Griffiths and Stein. One of the Sunderland goals was scored by Billy Eden, the dapper little outside right, who later became a firm favourite at Prenton Park. That day will always stand out in my mind as it was the day Glasgow Celtic’s Scottish international goalkeeper Johnny Thompson, was killed in a purely accidental collision with Sam English, one of the fairest and most genteel footballers ever to have graced the game. English later came to Anfield, and in style and demeanor was very similar to the present Liverpool leader. Albert Stubbins, a higher tribute than which I cannot pay to Sam English. Billy Cook, Everton’s Irish international full back, was playing for the Celtic on the day of the Thompson tragedy, and was only a few yards away when the fatal collision occurred. Cook and Thomson have many times told me since that in features style, and build I reminded them of the ill-fated Johnny Thompson. Fortunately tragedies on the football field have been few. The only two other instances of death stalking the playing pitch are Wynne the Oldham full back who collapsed and died and Thorpe the Sunderland goalkeeper, whose injury on the field was stated to be only a contributory factor.
Our run of successes in the early part of 31-32 season came to an end in the fourth game when we lost 1-0 at home to Manchester City, I should imagine that Len Langford, the City goalkeeper of that day, will always regard it as his luckiest match. The game almost resolved itself into shooting practice for the Everton forwards, but Langford’s goal had a charmed life. Then we went on to Derby in mid-week and were beaten by the County 3-0; I remember that one of the Derby stars was Cooper (of Cooper and Blenkinsopp, English international fame), who finished his career with Liverpool and was killed in a motor-cycle accident during the war.
Next week Ted Sagar will tell of his first “Liverton” Derby game and some of the highlights of Everton’s championship year.
THIRTY-THREE GOALS IN FOUR MATCHES
June 25 1949. The Liverpool Echo
Everton Champions Had A Purple Patch To Remember
By Ted Sagar
As Told by Allan Robinson
Ted Sagar’s Everton’s international goalkeeper, continuing his life story, recall’s his first “Derby” game against Liverpool and some outstanding memories of the Blues’ 1931-32 championship season, including a purple patch, in which they scored 33 goals in four successive home games.
I Played my first game in the Everton-Liverpool series on September 19, 1931. It is a testing time for one’s nervous, and no excitement that the 60,000 spectators feel can measure up to the pent-up feelings of the players. I have seen some players who don’t betray a flicker before an ordinary game positively with the jitters prior to a Derby” game. At the age of 21 I was the youngest player on either side on my first occasion the oldest being my opposite number Elisha Scott, one of the best goalkeepers and servants Liverpool have ever had. A picturesque character was Elisha and a firm favorite with the crowd. He and Jimmy Dunn were in those days heaven-sent characters for George Green, to whom they were what Tishe and Melbourne Inman were to Tom Webster. Elisha’s volubility made him a mark for the cartoonists, and I don’t suppose on the field that I can be called the strong silent type.
I suppose it is a common falling for goalkeepers to shout instructions to their team-mates in the heat of battle. A goalkeeper can see more of what is going on than those in front, and cannot restrain himself from trying to communicate it to his colleagues. Incidentally, after my first “Derby” game, which we won 3-1 Elisha Scott sought me out to congratulate me and told me that if I kept it up I was bound to be “capped” I was greatly encouraged by his words as Elisha who is now manager of Belfast Celtic, was not given to idle predictions. Elisha was present to see his prophecy come true, as when I played in my first international game for England against Ireland. Scott was in his usual place in the Ireland goal. The teams on the occasion of my Derby debut –the game was at Anfield were- Liverpool; Scott; Done, Jackson; Morrison, Bradshaw, McDougall; Barton, Hodgson, Smith, Wright and Gunson. Everton; Sagar; Bocking, Cresswell; McClure, Gee, McPherson; Critchley, Dunn, Dean, John son, and Stein.
That Liverpool team brings back memories =Done as tough as they come and in complete contrast, the football culture of “Parson” Jackson a half-back line that has probably never been surpassed in Liverpool’s history with “Tiny” Bradshaw treading his light measures. Barton the Blackpool butcher’s boy, who once hit five goals from the centre forward position, Gordon Hodgson, the Springbok and Lancashire fast bowler, and Wright and Gunson, who carried on their Sunderland partnership to Anfield’s delight. The scorers that day were Dean (3) for Everton and Wright for Liverpool. I doubt whether Billy Dean ever played a better game, a fact in which I, as his principal fan rejoiced, as it had been hinted earlier in the week that he might be dropped for the game. Billy that day certainly showed his critics the error of their ways. You can have them all; As a header of the ball the game, before or since has not seen Dean’s equal.
Nod and Drive
It was immediately after that game that the rather humorous story was current of Elisha Scott and Dean. They passed each other the following Monday on opposite sides of the road, so the tale goes, when Dean nodded his head in recognition and Elisha dived full length on the pavement. The following match was in midweek, when we got our revenge over Derby County with a 2-1 victory both goals coming from Tommy Johnson, who would have been close up in any “Best Looking Footballer” competition. Then we went to Highbury, where we were beaten 3-2 by Arsenal. Will there ever be a better forward line than Arsenal’s that season –Hulme, Jack, Lambert, James, and Bastin? I think I can include that match in my private list of “Sagar’s best games.” In fact as I have told you previously, Highbury has always been one of my favourite grounds. Of my display in that game “Bee” was good enough to say” …stern Sagar, relentless in his daring, and beautiful in his leaps to the high ball.” “Roy” Bastin was beginning to hit the headlines about that time and of him the same writer said “Bastin is one of the hardest hitting youngsters in the game. His drives were cannon balls, and Sagar stopped them so well that he left the ground with a rare volley of applause. The North London crowd have always been kind to me, but they can also be stern football critics. Yet throughout my football travels I have not met a fairer minded crowd of supporters than Everton’s. In goal I probably hear more than any other player and I have not encountered anywhere a crowd more versed in the finer points of the game than at Goodison.
Following a 3-2 victory over Blackpool, we hit a “purple patch” of high scoring that many will remember. It started with a 5-1 victory against Sheffield United at Bramell Lane. Dean getting three and Johnson and Stein one each. United’s goalkeeper that day was Kendall, who was previously on Everton’s books and their goal was scored by the Irishman, Dunne the forward, who got his first goal of the season. The following week we were at home to Sheffield Wednesday whom we defeated 9-3 our scorers being Dean (5), Stein, White, Critchley, and Johnson.
Ex-Blues Crop Up
In the Wednesday team that day were Tommy Robson (it was remarkable the way ex-Blues kept cropping up against us and Ellis Rimmer the Birkenhead boy who won a Cup Final for Wednesday at Wembley before nearly 100,000 spectators, without a tremor, and was as nervous as a kitten, when he took an engagement –he was a brilliant pianist –at the old Argyle Theatre, Birkenhead, the following Monday Ellis is now the licensee of a public house on the outskirts of Sheffield and looks scarcely a day older than when he was racing along Prenton’s touchline as a boy. On October 24 we took over the League leadership from West Brom who had come up with us the previous season, by beating Aston Villa at Villa Park 3-2. (Critchely 2, White). Remember the Villa stars of those days –Smart and Mort, backs; the sky-scraping half-back line, Gibson, Talbot, Tale, Mandley, Beresford, “Pongo” Waring, Billy Walker and Eric Houghton. Curiously enough, Walker is now manager of Notts Forest and Houghton manager of the neighbouring Notts County.
More High Scores
On November 2 we resumed our high-scoring exploits with a 8-1 home victory against Newcastle (Johnson 2, White 2, Dean 2, Stein and Critchley). Not even Sam Weaver the longest thrower of a ball in the game’s history, and with whom each throw-in was practically a free kick, could ease the pressure for Newcastle that day. Still on the goal-trait we beat Chelsea 7-2 at Goodison, Dean getting five and Johnson and Stein one each. It was on that occasion that Peter O’Dowd, who was signed from Burnley at what was then a record figure made his debut at centre half for the Pensioners. One sympathies with O’Dowd in meeting Dean at his best. He certainly did not solve Chelsea’s centre half problem that day. On the other hand, the Blues were almost embarrassed in that direction, for on the following Wednesday when England played Wales, two Everton pivots, schoolmaster Charlie Gee and cellist Tommy Griffiths, were on opposing sides. Also in the Welsh side were Ben Williams and lanky Albert Gray of Tranmere, who would have made an equal mark either as a golf or tennis professional.
We went on beat Leicester City 9-2 at Goodison on November 21, 1931 (Dean 4, White 2, Johnson 2 and Clark), and thus in four successive home games scored 33 goals against eight. Goodison fans were certainly getting their “bobs” worth. Incidentally, in that game I was debited with an “o.g,” I was experimenting with a new pair of gloves with rubber palms. It was a wet day and one of the first shots I tried to deal with spun out of my rubber palmed gloves into the net. I spent the rest of the game, while our forwards were pounding the Leicester goal, tearing the rubber palms off the gloves. It was about this time that Spain and Zamora hailed as the best goalkeeper in the world came over to play England at Highbury, England won 7-1, Johnson scoring two and Dean one. Dean was in one of the many “incidents” in the game, being kicked and struck. “Ruefully treating his bruises later. Billy remarked “They should stick to bull-fighting it’s more humane.” At the half-way stage of the 1931-32 season we were still at the head of affairs with 31 points from twenty-two games, West Bromwich coming next with 27 points from twenty-three games.
Next Week Sagar will tell how Everton held on to their lead to become First Division champions in their first season after promotion from Division 11, finishing two points ahead of the luckless Arsenal, who were beaten in the Cup final by a goal that will always be disputed.