Middlesbrough 0, Everton 1 (Echo)
May 1 2006 Dominic King At The Riverside
THERE are more productive and less expensive ways to spend a Saturday afternoon than traipsing to one of England's biggest eyesores to watch a football match of little relevance. But just days after Brian Labone had laid his head down for the final time, Everton's travelling supporters again showed why their legendary former skipper mischievously suggested with a glint in his eye that " one Blue was worth 20 Liverpudlians". If Labone was looking down from on high at affairs on Teesside, he would certainly have been moved by the tribute those fans who had congregated in their thousands at the Riverside Stadium paid to him. Chanting Labone's name incessantly through a second half Everton dominated, James McFadden's late winner ensured the final away trip of the campaign ended on a high with players disrobing and celebrating in front of the visiting section. With innumerable chimneys billowing industrial smog out into the atmosphere, this is one part of the country you would not be in a hurry to visit. So, given what was at stake at the weekend, the turn out at Middlesbrough was nothing short of staggering. It did not go unnoticed. Quick to show their appreciation, the players sprinted over at the final whistle and - as they had done at Birmingham City and Portsmouth earlier this year - handed over their shirts..
After a run of six winless games, four of those without even the semblance of a goal, relations on one side of this particular marriage had become strained. The very public show of affection shows things are back on track. "It (Labone's death) was really sad," said current captain David Weir. "Everyone knew Brian and we'd bump into him regularly on matchdays. "Everybody liked him and had a lot of respect for him for what he did after and during his football career. "The fans were terrific once again. Realistically, there wasn't a lot at stake for them, but they made a long trip and supported the boys. We appreciate that. To nearly sell out is a big achievement and it is something the players are aware of. "We appreciate that. We don't for one minute take them for granted. We are playing for a big club, a special club and there are a lot of people who have made the effort to come and see us." For the opening 45 minutes against a Middlesbrough side that had made nine changes from their staggering UEFA Cup clash with Steaua Bucharest, few would have predicted with any conviction that the full time whistle would be celebrated so joyously. Perhaps their senses were clouded by the putrid waft of chemicals frequently brought into the arena from the bitterly cold north eastern breeze, but there was no disguising Everton were off the pace. Andy van der Meyde, in particular, looked lost. Bar one free-kick from James Beat-tie, Brad Jones in Middlesbrough's goal had an easy time. Mainly on the back foot, Everton did not look as if they were going to take advantage of a golden chance to end their recent malaise. It was utterly wretched. Happily, the second half was much better - arguably the best 45 minutes of football Everton have played since they scored three times against Aston Villa back on March 18. Finally, there were signs of getting over the hangover which defeat at Anfield induced. At the heart of everything positive the Blues created, invariably, was McFadden and he looked the man most likely to break the deadlock. He has not been done any favours, though, by some christening him "the Scottish Wayne Rooney," and heaping unnecessary pressure on his shoulders. This 23-year-old is still learning the game. There is no question, however, that he is maturing into a very good Premiership player. Saturday was McFadden's tenth consecutive start and he looks all the better for it.Take his confidently despatched goal which ended a drought of 513 minutes. Although Jones may have made his mind up by rushing out of his area, would you describe running onto the ball and lobbing the keeper without a touch to control as an easy chance? Exactly. So, after being freed by Leon Osman ' s superb pass, he deserves credit for taking his seventh goal of the year with such aplomb. Provided he makes the expected progress, McFadden wants to be looking for a return of double that amount next season. Another player ending the current campaign on a positive note is Simon Davies, whose ability to run with the ball and keep possession at The Riverside allowed Everton to build a match-winning platform. One of the quieter souls in the camp, it has taken time for Davies to settle and his cause has not been helped by fitness problems, as well as being asked to play in an unfamiliar role.
Some would grumble. Davies simply gets on with doing things to the best of his ability, desperate to make an impression. Moyes has every faith in his ability to deliver and his last two displays have been a step in the right direction.
There should be much more to come when everything begins again in August, and it is hoped that applies to the team as much as certain individuals. For now, a top 10 finish will have to do and it should be achieved if they beat West Brom.
Yet with a huge fan base and a rich heritage, finishing below the likes of Bolton and Blackburn is not cause for celebration. Fans who have been brought up on a great such as Labone, and countless others, expect much more. Man of the match
James McFadden Popped up with a deserved winner but was unlucky not to grab himself a couple more during a lively display.
Keeper Wright a major worry ahead of finale
May 1 2006 By Andy Hampson, Daily Post
EVERTON could be without Richard Wright for their final game of the season.
The keeper was carried off after a clash with Malcolm Christie during Saturday's 1-0 win at the Riverside and was replaced by Iain Turner. Wright sustained a bad cut in the incident and may not be fit for the game at home to West Bromwich Albion next Sunday. Everton assistant manager Alan Irvine said: "He's got a bad cut just below his knee and there is no way he could have continued. "It's very deep and it's in a place where every time he moves it'll open up. "We've just got to hope it will knit together in the next few days but if not it will give young Iain another chance. "It is a shame for Richard because he had been getting better and better." Irvine expressed his relief at Everton's first win for seven games - and the end of their 500-minute goal drought.
The Goodison side had last found the net against Sunderland on April 1.
Irvine added: "Strangely enough we had been scoring goals before this run, but it's been a long wait. "Obviously it was very welcome when it came. "We were getting closer and after a very poor first-half performance I felt as the game went on we looked more likely to score, although Boro did have that very good chance with Yakubu. "It was vitally important to win. We started with a poor run, the last thing we want to do is finish with a poor run." Irvine also paid tribute to Middlesbrough, admitting he was impressed by the side McClaren fielded. He said: "I was at the game on Thursday night and it was absolutely tremendous. "I also admire the fact they were able to field a completely different team. We wouldn't be in a position to do that.
"What we had out there was everyone who was available. "They were able to put out a completely different team of players who have played in the Premiership before. You have to admire what they have done behind the scenes." Boro have no time to dwell on the Everton defeat as they make the trip to Manchester United tomorrow then face Bolton on Wednesday and Fulham next Sunday. Boro manager Steve McClaren said: "It will be a completely different team at Old Trafford and we'll have to see about Bolton." The team that took on Everton was full of youngsters, including eight past Academy players. McClaren added: "Hopefully in two, three or four years they will be the core of the team."
May 1 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
RICHARD Wright is facing a race against time to be involved in Everton's final match of the season after suffering more injury misery. The one-time England goal-keeper was stretchered off with a badly gashed knee and replaced by Iain Turner during the Blues ' 1- 0 win at Middlesbrough. Wright looked in considerable discomfort as he hobbled to the team coach. Everton's medical staff will assess the extent of the damage at Bellefield during the week, but assistant manager Alan Irvine fears that Wright, who has endured some wretched luck with injuries, will miss out.
"Richard sustained a bad cut to his knee," said Irvine. "There was certainly no way he could have continued because it was a very deep cut in a very difficult position. It was a shame for Richard because he had been doing better and better. "He has certainly been looking more confident. I feel sorry for him because he has waited a long time for his chance and this is the second time he's missed out through injury, having watched Nigel not get injured for a long time. "I fear he may not be able to play against West Brom next week because of where the cut is, but we will assess the situation in the week."Wright's injury was the only black spot on an afternoon Everton ended a run of six games without a win with a performance that Irvine felt merited maximum points after they bossed the second half. That was a considerable improvement on the opening 45 minutes and gives the Blues the opportunity of securing a finish in the top half of the table if they can beat relegated West Brom next Sunday at home. Given their poor start to the campaign - Everton took just four points from their first nine Premiership matches - Irvine feels that would be a satisfactory conclusion to affairs. He is aware, however, of the importance of getting a few goals against Bryan Robson's men as a tally of 32 in 37 matches means Everton are on target to register the lowest tally in the club's history. "The goal had been a long time coming and we are delighted it came, along with the three points, even moreso when you consider how poor we were in the first half," Irvine admitted, after James McFadden ended Everton's eight-and-a-half hour goal drought. "The second half was a lot better and we probably deserved the goal. I thought if any one side was going to win it, it was going to be Everton, although during that period Yakubu nearly scored.
" That would have been against the run of play. Middlesbrough had their moments, but we finished the game strongly and I hope we will now get back-to-back top 10 finishes. "That would be a nice end to the season that started badly. After the first nine or 10 games, we would certainly have settled for that," Irvine added..
Moyes to give Turner chance
May 2 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IAIN TURNER will be given a chance to stake his claim for a starting place next season when Everton wrap up the current campaign against West Brom on Sunday.
The 21-year-old keeper did very well after coming on as a substitute for Richard Wright during Saturday's 1-0 win against Middlesbrough. Wright badly gashed his knee at The Riverside Stadium and his injury means Everton boss David Moyes has effectively ruled him out of the Blues' final match. But Moyes today revealed it is his intention to give Turner an opportunity against West Brom, as he has made giant strides this year and is a player for whom the club have high hopes. "My idea would probably have been to give Iain a start in the last game of the season anyway but with Richard's injury, it has been brought upon us," Moyes confirmed. "I would be surprised if Wrighty is fit because he has got a bad gash on his knee and obviously with a goalkeeper diving around, it could open up again. "I wouldn't expect him to be fit. But we have got a lot of faith in Iain and we think he could go on to become a good goalkeeper. "As everyone knows, with young goalkeepers a lot depends on their decision making. That is the hardest thing and last thing to come to their game.
"That only comes from experience and getting games. He's had some games out on loan but being in the first team here is quite different." Turner made his debut for Everton in the 4-1 FA Cup fourth round defeat to Chelsea in February when Wright injured himself during the warm-up but was then sent off nine minutes into his first Premiership start against Blackburn Rovers. A three-game suspension, coupled with Wright's return to fitness, meant Turner had to wait patiently for another opportunity.
"Iain can handle situations quite well and that's why we were all so disappointed with what happened in the Blackburn game," said Moyes, who brought Turner to Goodison from Stirling in July 2003. "We were looking forward to the boy getting an opportunity to see how he would do. We were as disappointed as he was. "But it happened and it has gone now. We will just look forward to seeing him on Sunday now."
Liverpool '86 1, Everton '86 0
May 2 2006 Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THE younger members of the audience will have wondered what all the fuss was about as they watched a bunch of middle-aged men shuffle around the hallowed turf.
Yet while the pace of the game was much more Sunday League than Premier League, Anfield wallowed in nostalgia yesterday as some of the greatest footballers to have plied their trade on Merseyside restaged the 1986 FA Cup Final. Hairlines may have receded and waistlines expanded, yet that did not stop Liverpool and Everton legends treating a crowd of 32,947 to an exhibition and, most importantly, helping raise a huge amount of money for The Marina Dalglish Appeal. For spectators of a certain vintage, however, this was a glorious stroll down memory lane, a chance to watch those fearsome competitors, Steve McMahon and Peter Reid, snap away at each other and Ian Rush pit his wits against the wily old Dave Watson. Others will have marvelled at the opportunity to see artists such as Trevor Steven, John Barnes, Adrian Heath and Jan Molby show their mastery of a football, not to mention 'King' Kenny Dalglish's final appearance in a Liverpool shirt. In the end, the outcome was the same as it was at Wembley two decades ago. The Red half of the city came out on top thanks to John Durnin's late intervention but, for once, the final score of this squabble was immaterial.A victory over the neighbours is always sweet and there was a familiar glint in Dalglish's eye as he reflected on the game afterwards. But of greater satisfaction was the staggering turnout from supporters, and he was quick to express his gratitude.
"It was a great day, a great occasion for a great cause and great to pay tribute to an Everton legend and the wife of a Liverpool legend," said Dalglish, referring to the minute's applause before kickoff for the late Brian Labone and Denise McAllister.
"Nothing was too much of a problem for anyone who you asked for help. Look at Gary Lineker. It speaks volumes for him that he came up just to kick the match off. Steve McMahon only arrived back in England in the morning and was desperate to play. "Hopefully, it is going to be a facility that the people of Liverpool will be proud of. Marina came up with the idea and I know she's got a few more in mind, but I just hope that they don't include me having to run around on a football pitch any more!"
Sat alongside him, Howard Kendall - back in charge of Everton's affairs for one day only - suggested his old players would share those sentiments, judged by the moaning and wailing from the visiting dressing room. "It was superb," said Kendall. "There was good banter before the game in the dressing room, at half-time and at the end. There will be a few walking wounded, though. The doctors will be busy with all the strains, twists and pulls! "But you can never stop quality players passing a ball and Liverpool started to get on top when we were tiring. We did not have as many substitutions because of injuries to a couple of players and that made the difference."
Given the greater playing resources they had available, it was not a surprise to see Liverpool win but, as is so often the case with derby matches, things did not quite go according to plan. Those expecting to see an avalanche of goals were wide of the mark. Just as it was when these two tribes went to war in the 1980s as the country's finest teams, the early stages were tight with mid-field and defences dominating. Father Time has caught up with many but these men remain fiercely competitive.
Injuries and unavailability meant Kendall made six changes to the side that started at Wembley, while Liverpool's sole absentee from that day was Craig Johnston. McMahon - an unused substitute when the Reds sealed The Double - took over..
Liverpool looked the side most likely to score during a first 45 minutes where the tempo only briefly raised above a crawl. Watson's blushes were spared when he headed a Molby cross against his post, while Rush and Ronnie Whelan also went close. It was a similar story after the break when, happily, there was more of an edge about the match. "A lot of the lads have played football for 20 years and you just don't like losing," said Watson, a man who took defeat as a personal affront, afterwards.
This, however, was one he had to take on the chin. Dalglish's introduction lifted the crowd. He was involved in everything good the Reds created. Bobby Mimms did well to deny him a fairytale goal on 62 minutes. When Alan Kennedy crashed a left-foot volley wide, few would have complained had honours ended, even but Durnin - thanks to a generous decision from a linesman - nicked it for Liverpool in the final minute, turning in a Ray Houghton cross. "I think there was a slight suspicion of offside," smirked Durnin, mindful of Reid and Watson sitting either side of him - their responses could not be printed! "We would have been happy had it finished 0-0 but the real winners were the crowd. No disrespect, but you wouldn't get that anywhere else in the country. It was a fantastic event to be involved in."
Sentiments with which nobody would disagree.
LIVERPOOL (4-4-2): Grobbelaar (Bolder 62); Nicol, Hansen (Barnes 33, Kennedy 73), Lawrenson (Gillespie 53), Beglin (Ablett 25); McDonald, Molby (Durnin 82), Whelan (Wark 53), McMahon (Houghton 60); Dalglish (Durnin 1, Dalglish 46), Rush.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Mimms; Harper, Watson, Ratcliffe (Atkins 63), Pointon; Steven (Irvine 39), Reid (Horne 46), Bracewell, Snodin (Bailey 80); Sharp (Wilkinson 46), Heath.
GOAL: Durnin (89)
Revenge in mind as Blues aim to go one better
May 2 2006 Women'S Football By Paul Garrity, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON LADIES aim for a second place finish in the Premier League as they welcome FA Cup finalists Leeds to Rossett Park this weekend. The Blues lost to the Yorkshire side in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in January, as Leeds made it all the way to the final, eventually losing to Arsenal yesterday. But Blues keeper Rachel Brown wants to make amends for that bitter cup defeat. "When we played them in the FA Cup they deserved to win," said Brown. "We let ourselves down, so we are certainly looking to put that right. It will be a bit of a grudge match and we will want to play our best on the day. "I don't think any one player had a good game and it certainly wasn't down to any one player as to why we lost that game. Leeds came out with a game plan to give us no time on the ball and stop our play. They play quite direct and they caught us out on the day. On Everton's aims for the end of the season Brown added: "Our long-term goal is to improve on last season, when we finished third. "Hopefully that will start with a win against Leeds on Sunday. We're certainly not looking any further ahead than that. "Leeds' season will have rested on the result of the FA Cup final. It is a huge thing for them to have got to the cup final and I think they have done a fantastic job to get there. "But we have certainly got far more to play for in the league than them. Hopefully we can take advantage of that." Everton entertain Leeds at Marine FC on Sunday (2pm). Meanwhile, Tranmere's season ended in defeat as they lost 3-1 at Wolves, with Lindsey Smith hitting the consolation for Rovers.
Blues boss backs Faddy
May 3 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today (Wednesday) backed James McFadden to make the next step forward after seeing the Scotland international named as Everton's Young Player of the Year. After a difficult start to the season, McFadden has impressed both on and off the pitch since Christmas and last Saturday's goal against Middlesbrough was his seventh of the campaign. Given he had only scored once in his first 56 appearances for the club, McFadden is now starting to show the form Moyes always felt he was capable of when signing him from Mother-well in September 2003. "I think Faddy has been quite bright over the last month or two," said Moyes.. "He has had dips in form here and there but he has always kept working hard to get himself a goal.
"It wasn't an easy finish against Middlesbrough. It was a good finish and a really good goal. It was an excellent ball from Ossie to put him through and he took it well.
"It's important that he's progressed. When you get a run like he has, you can't argue that you have not been given the opportunity. When you get a chance, you have got to take it. "To be fair to Faddy, he's done quite well. He doesn't look young, probably because he has been around for quite a while. "The thing that he has got to improve on is his decision making. That is getting better and hopefully it will continue to do so."
On a night when Mikel Arteta won both the Player of the Year and Players' Player of the Year, McFadden was a popular choice among supporters and teammates for the Young Player's gong. He admitted it has come as relief to have overcome a slow start to life in England. "It takes time but it seems to have taken me that bit longer," said McFadden. "It's a hard league to play in, some just adapt quicker than others." Reports today meanwhile, linking Everton with a £4m summer move for Wolves defender Joleon Lescott appear wide of the mark. Though Lescott has impressed in the Championship this season, it is highly unlikely that Moyes would lavish almost 60% of his transfer budget on one player.
Classy Arteta's double delight
May 3 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA had a double reason for celebration today after team-mates and supporters gave his efforts this season the seal of approval. The Everton midfielder, who has created such an impression since his £2.5m arrival from Real Sociedad, walked away from a lavish awards ceremony at Goodison Park last night with both the Player of the Year and Players' Player of the Year titles.. Though he has spent recent weeks trying to recover from injury, Arteta was in high spirits and took the opportunity to reaffirm his commitment to the Blues. "This is the best team I have ever trained with and I am really proud to play for this football club," said Arteta, who is desperate to be involved in Sunday's final match against West Brom. "It has been a good season for me. I had experience of playing in Scotland so it made things easier for me. But I really need to say thank you to everyone for giving me the opportunity to come here. I feel really comfortable in the city." Arteta was presented with the Player of the Year award by Peter Reid, who also received recognition by becoming an Everton Giant. Reid, a class midfielder himself, has been impressed by what he has seen of the Spaniard. "To be Player of the Year, you have to have a lot of qualities and he has impressed me with his ability on the ball," said Reid. "Sometimes when you go into tackles, you have to be brave. But you have to be brave to have the ball at your feet and Mikel has got great strength in possession." Not surprisingly, Reid was afforded a rousing reception when he picked up his trophy and was clearly touched to take his place alongside other legends. "To play for this club was fantastic, but to become a legend is beyond my wild-est dreams," he said..
" I lost my dad two months ago and when I give this to my mum, she'll put it in pride of place in the living room and every time I look at it, I'll think of my old fella."
Everton 2005/6 roll of honour
* Player of the Season - Mikel Arteta
* Players' Player of the Season - Mikel Arteta
* Young Player of the Season - James McFadden
* Goal of the Season - James Beattie (v Fulham, March 11)
* Reserve Player of the Season - Victor Anichebe
* Everton Giant 2006 - Peter Reid
* Howard Kendall Award - 1966 FA Cup winning side
* The People's Club Award - Brian Labone
* Academy Player of the Season - Scott Phelan
* Ladies Player of the Season - Jodie Handley
* Disability Player of the Season - Michael Barker
* Everton's Fan of the Year - Cathy Keig
Latchford: Why my 30 was only 29
May 3 2006 David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
BOB LATCHFORD has a confession to make.
Twenty eight years after collecting a £10,000 prize for scoring 30 league goals in a season, Latchford admits he was only responsible for 29 of them! A book, called '30', has just been published - to celebrate Latch-ford's landmark 1977-78 season, and to raise funds for the Everton Former Players' Foundation.. And in it, Latchford reveals: "The record books show me scoring 30 league goals in that season, but my third against QPR was scored by Dave Needham - and Mickey Droy's challenge on Mike Lyons (against Chelsea) was never a penalty!" Latchford was credited with four goals at Loftus Road in Everton's 5-1 win against QPR in October of that season, but he admits: "The third goal may not have been mine, even though I claimed it.
"We won a free-kick 25 yards out and Dave Thomas played a looping ball into the box. He found Andy King who volleyed the ball across the face of the goal and I went for the ball with Dave Needham, the QPR defender. "Phil Parkes was completely beaten and there was an open goal in front of me. I couldn't have missed. I wouldn't have missed. Although I suspect the last touch was from Needham. "I raised both my arms to claim it, even though I managed a quick look back to see my marker's reaction. He didn't want to be labelled with an own goal and I wanted the goal, so I was quite happy to accept the congratulations. "I'm not too sure if the Daily Express would have been too happy if they'd have known though, but something tells me they won't be round to ask for the money back . . . "Anyway, there's none left!" The beautifully crafted volume tells the story of the '77-78 season in words and pictures - and is packed with unusual anecdotes. Latchford reveals that the day he became British football's most expensive footballer in 1974, he might have signed for Liverpool! After his £350,000 switch from Birmingham to Everton, Latchford explained: "I was sat in the living room with my wife Pat and children Isobel and Richard, just trying to make sense of what had happened. "My daydreaming was disturbed by a frantic knock at the door. It was Roger Hynd, a team-mate of mine at Birmingham and the nephew of Bill Shankly. Roger was a central defender, and a solid and tough one to boot. He looked nervous. "There was an urgency in his voice. 'You haven't signed, have you?' he growled in a gruff Scottish accent. 'Yes, it's all done,' I cheerily replied. 'I'm moving to Everton!' "'Damn!' exclaimed Roger. 'Shanks wanted to have a talk with you. He's been trying to get hold of you.' "'Well tell him it's too late. I've signed for Everton.'" "Roger's unexpected appearance had failed to take any gloss off the day. In fact, it gave my confidence an extra boost. It was great to know that Liverpool were interested and I had, in effect, turned them down. Nothing could have spoilt that day.'"For a player so unashamedly selfish in front of goal, Latch-ford's selflessness off the pitch was evident, even during his playing career.
"In some ways I resented the award, and still do," he wrote.. "Not because of the money situation, but the fact that it took the attention off a few of the other individuals in the team who deserved a lot of credit. In particular I'm thinking about Martin Dobson and Dave Thomas." The book was written in conjunction with FIFA's Martin O'Boyle, and the pair have produced a volume to cherish. "The book looks super and the foundation can be very pleased with the product," said Latchford. "It gives me a great source of satisfaction and pride. It's a slice of history which is now in print. Hopefully in a hundred years time some Evertonian will pick it up and read about players of that era and get a flavour of what it was like to play then and what the club was like. "It's a historical legacy, not only for the players and myself, but for the club.
"It was easy to sit down and talk about it, although a lot of the incidents I couldn ' t remember. I was prompted by things other players said and photos and what was written at the time, because I never read any press reports ever. "Early on in my career I did, but after a certain time, mid-70s maybe, perhaps 1974, '75, I stopped reading because you get good reports and bads reports and you can get carried away with the good ones as well as the bad ones. "Whatever is said, is said. You can't change it. So I never read anything. "It's quite interesting to read them now, and no, you're never going to totally agree with everything that's written about you!" All proceeds from the book will go to help the Former Play-ers' Foundation. '30' is available in all good book shops for £20, or direct from the foundation at www.boblatchford.com, or by calling 0151 5202362.
Club in 'Labone Lounge' tribute
May 3 2006 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have moved swiftly to provide a permanent tribute to one of the club's greatest captains. Chief executive Keith Wyness last night revealed that from next season, the Vice President's suite will be renamed the Brian Labone Lounge to ensure the ambassadorial work he did for the Blues as a player and in retirement is never forgotten. Labone died last Monday and his funeral will be held at 2.00pm tomorrow at the city's Anglican Cathedral when all those wishing to pay their respects are welcome. Labone was an emphatic choice of supporters to become the first winner of The People's Club Award last night, but the man who collected it for him, Derek Temple, admitted everyone is still reeling from the 66-year-old's passing.
"It is a sad occasion and I wish Brian was here to accept it himself," said Temple. "It is a great privilege to receive it on his behalf. He was a big man, a personality and loved life."
Blues lend their support to cancer centre
May 3 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
JOHN HODGKINS is a man in five hundred!
The only male breast cancer sufferer at the Lily Centre Support Group which hosts 500 women, he is also a lifelong Evertonian. And he is thrilled that the Blues have offered their support to the centre. John joined support group secretary Winnie Keating and chairwoman Peggy O'Brien in a visit to Bellefield. He said: "The more celebrities we can get involved promoting our centre the better - but I'm especially pleased that Everton have got behind it. "My first season supporting the Blues was the promotion year of 1953 and I've made sure my son Paul has been brought up the right way, too!" John was amazed by the ignorance towards male breast cancer sufferers after he was diagnosed with the dis-ease. "It can be a very lonely experience," he explained. "There are always people willing to offer sympathy, but what you really want is empathy. "I remember hearing a so-called cancer expert on the radio saying 'if men suffered from breast cancer they'd have found a cure by now'. "That kind of attitude is all too frequent. My daughter filled in a health policy form and it was returned to her because she had ticked the box saying her father suffered from breast cancer. 'Don't you mean your mother?' was the reply." John hopes that Everton's backing will draw attention to male breast cancer sufferers, and provide a boost for the Lily Centre. "Everton have always provided us with support," said chairwoman Peggy O'Brien. "Dave Hickson, Dave Watson and Alan Ball are all patrons and Graeme Sharp turned up completely unannounced last week which was a lovely gesture."
Major additions needed to transform Blues
May 3 2006 Icliverpool And Liverpool Echo
EVERTON must improve next season.
We don't need a Russian billionaire to turn things around but just simple investment like all clubs get. Stilian Petrov wants to prove himself in a big league, so let him do so at Everton. With Birmingham going down let's raid St Andrews.
David Dunn and Muzzy Izzett are both creative, skilful midfielders and they score goals. Pennant or Routledge are quick wingers, while Nugent and Hasselbaink would boost our strikeforce. With Traore, Ferrari and Upson at the back we would be in good shape for next season.
Steve Leadbetter, Crosby
EVERTON definitely need another centre forward, otherwise next season we will be in a relegation battle. Big Dunc will be missed but we have to get rid of some players to bring in some money. The likes of Lee Carsley, David Weir, Kevin Kilbane and James McFadden - only because of his lack of physical strength - must go..
If the Blues don't bring in some quality youth next season I could see us not even finishing in the top 16. Stephen McNamara, Liverpool
LIKE most Evertonians it's clear to me that Ferarri should be in our first XI, but Moyes doesn't pick him and I'm worried he will end up back at Roma.
Also, just because Tim Cahill had one good season why can't he do no wrong in some people's eyes? This season, besides a few games, he's lacked adventure and not got in the box enough. I also hate being at the match and hearing people call for Ferguson to come on. He is way past his best and if we are going to move forward we need to buy the right play-ers. Just look at Villarreal who have a squad the same size as ours and they didn't spend much money. We have no excuses but I am worried about David Moyes' ability to get the right men in the summer transfer market. Steve Thomas,
I WATCHED Blackburn against Charlton and they passed the ball around wonderfully well. Tugay was outstanding in midfield. Both Tugay and Campo at Bolton are old now, but they are the type of players who can bring the best out of decent strikers. We have no-one in that class, and I'm including Arteta in that because he has lacked consistency. Trev Lynes, Wrexham
Cops snub Labone funeral
May 3 2006 By JAMES GLOVER, Liverpool Echo
MERSEYSIDE police are refusing to provide an official escort for the funeral of Everton legend Brian Labone. The cortege of mourners' cars must travel unescorted from Kirkby to Liverpool cathedral via Goodison Park tomorrow as police only provide outriders for state funerals. Officers will be on duty at Goodison Park and the cathedral to help control the crowds. But the hearse and mourners' cars will have to negotiate roads and roadworks unescorted, and organisers fear there could be delays with some cars being separated. The day is being treated as a full state funeral by Everton with the full first team squad, board of directors, club staff and more than 50 former players from all over Britain travelling to the city to pay their respects with Mr Labone's family. A police spokeswoman said: "It is force policy not to escort private funerals because of safety considerations. We cannot have an active role with the cortege." Today Mr Labone's former wife, Patricia, from Moreton, Wirral, said police had told her there would be an escort, and she was unaware of any change of plan.
"We had a phone call from them yesterday to ask if we could leave a little earlier than we had been planning. It's not that we want a police escort, but we were told we would need one to make things run smoothly." Everton FC declined to comment on the force's decision. But the news has outraged Blues fans who are calling for a change of heart by police. Bob Maylor, of Everton Supporters (Goodison) Club, said: "I don't think the police realise how many people will be there. I think there will be a couple of thousand at least." John Munro, who runs a Southport branch of Everton supporters, said many fans were planning to attend the service. He added: "Even ex-players and their wives and families are talking about arranging buses. "I just hope the police change their minds." The club has been inundated with messages of condolence from all over the world since Mr Labone's death last Monday.
Sunderland Res 0, Everton Res 0
May 3 2006 Daily Post
EVERTON Reserves ended their FA Premier Reserve League North season with a goalless draw at Haig Avenue against Sunderland and again it was no surprise to see a very young side on display. With the first team squad at the player of the year awards evening, Andy Holden left it to the youngsters to wrap up the season and but for a touch of bad fortune they might have got the victory they deserved. Victor Anichebe, a bright prospect for next season, had a number of chances and Sean Wright also went close on more than one occasion. Sunderland too had their opportunities but John Ruddy played well in the Everton goal. Everton will finish the season with a top-10 place irrespective of other results.
EVERTON RESERVES: Ruddy, S Wright, Wynne, Boyle, Seargeant, Morrison, Kissock, Hughes, Hopkins, Phelan, Anichebe, Subs: Dennehy, Irving, J Jones, Elder, Molyneux.
SUNDERLAND RESERVES: Alnwick, Christensen (Ball 79), D Smith, Bassila, Collins, Leadbitter, Taylor, Richardson, Graham (Allan 79) Dowson (Davison 46) B Dennehey Subs: Carson.
Moyes praises Weir's season
May 4 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today hailed David Weir for having a "terrific" season - but has not given any indications whether he will offer Everton's captain a new contract this summer. When the Scotland international extended his stay at Goodison Park 12 months ago, it was assumed that he would only play a bit part, especially so following the £5.1m arrival of Per Kroldrup from Udinese and Matteo Ferrari on loan from AS Roma. Weir, however, has risen to the challenge. Saturday's appearance in the 1-0 win at Middlesbrough was his 41st of the campaign. Kroldrup, meanwhile, was sold to Fiorentina and Ferrari has struggled with injury Whether Weir will be around in August, though, is yet to be decided. "Davie Weir has had a terrific season," Moyes declared. "He played more than 40 games and he deserves an awful lot of credit for that. "It's a great achievement. At the start of the season, he said he would stay for another year and prove that he can play in the Premiership and he's done that.
"To play the amount of matches he has shows how well he has done. We brought Per in, we had Joseph and we also brought Matteo Ferrari in so there was a lot of competition. "To be fair to Davie, he has been very, very consistent. I think he had a little bit of blip around Christmas time but apart from that, he's done a very good job."
If Everton beat West Brom and Wigan Athletic lose against Arsenal, the Blues will secure a top 10 finish and Moyes has spent time impressing on his squad since the victory at the Riverside how vital it is to achieve that goal. James Beattie is desperate to ensure the campaign ends on a winning note and given England's injury problems, a couple of goals might catch the eye of Sven Goran Eriksson but Everton's leading scorer is refusing to be distracted. "The gaffer wants us to get in the top 10 and the lads do as well," said Beattie. "We have West Brom at home and we will be going out to get three points and finish in the top 10."
Farewell to a legend
May 4 2006 By Nick Coligan & Homa Khaleeli, Liverpool Echo
THE streets around Goodison Park rang with applause today (Thursday) in memory of Blues legend Brian Labone. As the hearse bearing the former Everton captain on his final journey passed the stadium, crowds assembled there to watch the sad procession clapped spontaneously as a last mark of respect. The funeral cortege made two circuits of Goodison before continuing on to Liverpool's Anglican cathedral. Hundreds of people lined the roads around Goodison to see the hearse and five black Mercedes carrying the chief mourners. Daughter Rachelle, in the lead car, smiled through her tears at the crowds who were there to mark her father's passing. Ex-Everton and England star Brian Labone collapsed and died near his Lydiate home on April 24, aged 66. Just hours earlier he had been enjoying an awards night organised by Everton fans at the Winslow pub. Friend and relatives were determined his funeral would run smoothly despite a police refusal to provide an escort for the cortege of mourners' cars.The former England star's wife Patricia promised "the best funeral anyone could give him" and said she knew the people of Merseyside would give him a fitting send off. Mrs Labone, of Moreton, said: "The people of Merseyside have big hearts. They had so much respect for Brian that the funeral will run smoothly, even without a police escort. "Brian did so much work for the city that it would have been nice, but we are not bothered. We know it will be the best funeral anyone could give him.
"The funeral was never about pomp and circumstance. It is about family and friends."
Merseyside Police would not provide an official escort for the cortege, but did station officers at Good-ison and the cathedral to help control crowds. The funeral was conducted by close friend Reverend Harry Ross, chaplain of Everton Football Club and vicar of St Luke The Evangelist on Goodison Road. He told the ECHO: "The significance of today for me is that Brian has obviously shown to the whole football community and the whole of Merseyside that he was a friend to everyone.
"He was a wonderful example of what a footballer should be. He was someone who was admired by others and it would be good for modern footballers if they could model the kind of person they are on the loyalty and humility that Brian showed - to Everton, to Merseyside and his friends." The coffin entered the cathedral to an organ recital of I Know That My Redeemer Liveth and the congregation was then welcomed by the Dean of Liverpool Cathedral, the Right Reverend Rupert Hoare. Rev Harry Ross then invited the mourners to sing Brian's favourite hymn, Jerusalem.
Labone was known as "The Last Of The Corinthians" and the readings were to include St Paul's famous letter to the Corinthians about faith, hope and love. Tributes paid at the funeral include: Brian the Evertonian, by Everton chairman Bill Kenwright; Brian the footballer, by his old friend, golfing partner and ex-Liverpool great, Ian Callaghan; and Brian the friend, by Terry Page and Rev Ross, who spoke of how Brian helped establish and was the first patron of the Everton Former Play-ers' Foundation..
Rev Ross was also to read out tributes from former team mates - including Alex Young, Bobby Collins and Joe Royle - and these were followed by the playing of Everton's anthem, the theme from Z Cars, and a tribute from brother-in-law, Charlie Lynam. The Everton chaplain was also reading out a tribute from Fifa president Sepp Blatter, while, at the request of Brian's ex-wife, Ave Maria was being sung by Marie Cunningham - who sang it at the couple's wedding in 1966. The service was to end with the singing of what has become known as the footballers' hymn, having been sung at so many FA Cup finals over the years - Abide With Me. Everton FC said the event would be treated as a full state funeral, with the full first-team squad, board of directors, club staff and more than 50 ex- players attending. Supporters started arriving at Liverpool cathedral from midday, determined to secure a spot at their hero's funeral. Many wore Everton colours and carried scarves, some supporters had booked the day off work to make sure they could attend. Ted and Kath Birchall, of Runcorn, took up position in the shadow of the cathedral in order to be able to pay their respects. Mr Birchall said: "Brian Labone was a complete and utter gentleman on and off the pitch. He was a one-club man and we are unlikely to see his like again.
"I wouldn't have missed today for the world, we travel over from Runcorn and we get to every home game. I have been a supporter since 1946 and the wife started supporting them in 1960. "I suppose she thought if 'I can't beat him I'll have to join him'."
Can we please stop playing a crying game?
May 4 2006 Sports View with Echo Sports Editor John Thompson
AND so we near the end of the first week of national mourning for the right foot of Wayne Rooney. Steel yourself, though, there's at least another seven or eight to get through. Undoubtedly, his broken foot is a personal disaster for 20-year-old Rooney and a major setback to England's World Cup hopes. He's a rare, world class talent and it's rotten luck he won't be there now. But six days after it happened this episode is already a saga and one in danger of becoming a drawn out, tedious farce.
What is so puzzling about it all is that many people seem to have written off England's chances in Germany. Many of them are the same people who are the first to raise their beer glasses to the red cross, strain their faces into a passable impression of a barking bulldog and declare the end of 20, or 30 or 40 years of hurt is all but nigh.
Suddenly, some jingoistic national sports journalists and in-yer-face England fans ready to take on the world and win are all but reduced to terrified, whimpering wrecks. How can we possibly cope without Wayne? Why did this have to happen to us? We must take him even if he's only 80 per cent fit for the final etc. Well, for those poor quivering souls who have already lost their bottle and their brittle backbones, let me remind them that all may not be lost. Many England supporters love their history, particularly the military variety, and in it they may yet find hope. Back in 1986, England entered the World Cup in Mexico with high hopes and two world class midfield players. One of them, Bryan Robson, was suffering a long term shoulder problem but was played. It dislocated again and off we went in Rooney-style despair. It was doubled when his partner, Ray Wilkins, was sent off and banned from the next game. Cue Everton's Peter Reid, a diamond of a man and a midfield winner playing better football than either of them at the time - yet someone usually left out because his face didn't fit quite so much as Robson or Wilkins. When Reid left the bench and took to the pitch, England, who were on the brink of being dumped out at the group stage, were transformed. They may not have won the World Cup - God had a hand in that - but they were uplifted and vastly improved. More recently, many people forget that the 2004/5 season for Liverpool was remarkable not just for the fact that they won the European Cup, but that they did it in a season when Anfield suffered its worst injury crisis in living memory. Okay, they were at full strength for the final in Istanbul, but during the historic campaign they were often denied key players. Goals from stand-ins like Neil Mellor and Florent Sinama Pongolle were as important as any others. Yes, Rooney's loss is a huge and cruel blow. But England can yet survive without him and do very well if they can adapt and make full use of the talent they do have. So, can we please stop crying and start believing a bit more? Otherwise, these wimps will spoil the fun.
Beattie's high hopes for Rooney
May 4 2006 Liverpool Echo
JAMES BEATTIE would prefer Wayne Rooney to be fit for the World Cup - despite the Everton striker being in the frame to fill in for the England youngster.
Rooney, who started his career at Goodison Park, is currently sidelined with a foot injury and Beattie has been suggested as a possible replacement for the finals in Germany this summer. Beattie, however, believes Rooney could still feature for England and lead a bid to win the trophy. "Hopefully, Wayne will make a remarkable recovery, go to the World Cup and help bring it home," Beattie said. "Wayne is the most important player for us and can turn a game on its head himself and I hope he gets better." Beattie, 28, still has international ambitions, even though his last appearance for his country was in 2003. The striker, who has scored 11 goals this season, said: "I am desperate to add to my five caps. "I think I performed quite well when I played for England but didn't score, although I went close a couple of times.
"When the new manager comes in everybody starts with a clean slate and hopefully I can stake my claim," he added.
Goodison goes back to '70s!
May 5 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have showed they are sticking with tradition when unveiling their new home kit for next season. A throwback to a design of shirts first worn in the 1970s, David Moyes' side will wear the royal blue and white strip for the first time when they close the current campaign against West Brom at Goodison Park on Sunday.
Subtle changes have been made to improve the look of the kit and supporters of a certain vintage will remember the first time the diamonds of suppliers Umbro ran down shirt sleeves - Bob Latchford was the club's leading scorer. The new kit does not go on sale until Thursday, June 22 but the club and official retail partner JJB are expecting the retro design to be well received by supporters. Chief executive Keith Wyness said: "The club is delighted with our new strip and we are now looking forward to a successful kit launch next month. "It will be the first launch under our new retail agreement with JJB and this will allow the club even greater exposure and ensure that all parties benefit. "It is a hugely important process choosing a new home kit but we hope our supporters are just as pleased with the strip as we are."
The 2006/07 kit goes on sale from the Goodison Park Megas-tore, and all JJB stores on Thursday June 22. It can be pre-ordered from next Monday (May 8) at evertonfc.com, jjbsports.com or any JJB sports store. However, the new kit will not be available in the Liverpool City centre and Chester stores; as these will both cease trading on May 20th after a review of the club's existing retail operation.
Cahill is not ready to return - Moyes
May 5 2008 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON manager David Moyes has rubbished suggestions from Australia that Tim Cahill is poised to make an imminent return to training. Australia's assistant manager Graham Arnold said earlier this week that the Everton midfielder would be "fully fit" for their World Cup opener, against Japan on June 12. But though Moyes is more upbeat about Cahill's chances of figuring in Germany, he has reiterated that the 27-year-old will not travel unless he is completely fit. "I do not think that the Australian team can say that Tim has made a miracle recovery," said Moyes. "Our surgeon who checked him said he would be out for six weeks and that will be decided by Everton.
"He would not be going to the World Cup unless he is fit. "As it is, we do think that he will be fit for the World Cup but he won't be leaving until he is totally cleared from here. "Tim is too valuable an asset to this club, just like I am sure the situation is happening at Manchester United where Wayne Rooney is a valuable asset to Manchester United."
Time to turn back clock
May 5 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
WHEN was the last time Everton managed to finish the season with a win?
Three years ago? Five years ago? Try again. The most recent occasion Everton rounded a campaign off with three points came against Aston Villa exactly a decade ago on May 5, 1996. But even that victory, courtesy of a Joe Parkinson exocet into the Gwladys Street net, felt decidedly flat afterwards, as a Dennis Bergkamp double in the final 20 minutes against Bolton enabled Arsenal to snatch a UEFA Cup place out of Everton's grasp. Since then, the Blues have lost all bar two of their final fixtures, drawing 1-1 with Coventry City in 1998 and 2-2 with Sunderland three years later. Clearly, it is a record which needs drastic improvement. Yet Everton could not ask for a better opportunity to end that hoodoo than on Sunday, when they play host to already relegated West Bromwich Albion. Desperate to avenge one of the most miserable experiences of the campaign - the 4-0 defeat Bryan Robson's men inflicted at the Hawthorns last November still rankles - there are a number of reasons Everton dare not fail to come up with the goods. On an afternoon when Goodison Park will pay tribute to one of its greatest sons - things will not be the same without Brian Labone standing in reception with a cheery welcome - there is a lot to play for.
Should they beat West Brom, and Arsenal win the last ever match at Highbury, against Wigan Athletic, a top 10 finish will be secured to guarantee extra revenue from sponsors, not to mention £5.5m in prize money from the Premiership pot.
If that is not incentive enough, players such as the soon to be out-of-contract David Weir and Alan Stubbs will be looking for eye-catching performances to give manager David Moyes food for thought in the coming weeks. Given the way results have fluctuated so erratically this year - lengthy unbeaten runs have been followed by desperate periods without a victory - Moyes knows the importance of showing fans that progress can be made when things begin again in August.Aware that there will not be a huge reservoir of cash to dip into when the transfer window opens, if an extra £500,000 can be secured by leaping up a place in the table it could be the difference between signing a player and missing out on a target. The search continues apace behind the scenes to bring investment to the club but for the moment, Moyes will have to wheel and deal, as well as signing players on loan, when it comes to drafting in fresh blood, and he is looking for at least three new arrivals. But for the time being, three points against West Brom will suffice. "We want to try to continue a building process at Everton, which we think that we have done," said Moyes, who would become the first manager since Colin Harvey in 1989 to secure back-to-back top 10 finishes if Everton beat The Baggies. "This year, we have had a few ups and downs but I think in the main, we want to continue to progress. I do not think we will have money to buy success, so any success that we do have will come through shrewd management and trying to prepare the players as well as we did a year ago.
"I would like to strengthen in several areas, but I'm never one to whinge about money because I think part of football management is to be a manager without money. But when you are at a club which has big expectations, like Everton, then that can become a stranglehold on yourself. "When I took the job, I realised there would not be a great deal of money at Everton and any money we do get I am grateful for. The board are terrific here. They are very supportive and everybody looks for people to come to the club to invest some money. But as we know at the minute, football does not seem the best investment for any backers." All of which suggests there will be even more of an onus to develop good young players. Moyes has never been afraid to put novices in if they have shown enough on the training pitches, and 21-year-old Iain Turner will start in goal on Sunday, while Victor Anichebe and Bjarni Vidarsson are pushing hard for a place on the bench once again. Confidence has been lifted by last Saturday's 1-0 win at Middlesbrough. After a disappointing run of three points from a possible 18, Moyes senses his squad are ready to give the fans something to shout and smile about.
"Middlesbrough was much better," said Moyes. "I wasn't happy with the way we played in the first half but it got more acceptable in the second and now we can look to West Brom."
'A big day for a big, big man'
May 5 2006 By Paddy Shennan, Mary Murtagh And Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
NIL Satis Nisi Optimum was burned onto the True Blue heart of Everton legend Brian Labone. Yesterday, the club motto's rough translation of Nothing But The Best Is Good Enough was applied to the man himself. The late, great footballing hero was hailed throughout his Goodison glory days as a noble and gentle man of grand stature.
So it was only fitting that thousands of people who held him in such regard and affection should say their last farewells to him in the noble, grand and majestic setting of Liverpool Cathedral. Fittingly, the sun came out and the sky was as blue as the blood which coursed through this utterly loyal and devoted one-club-man's veins.
A beautiful day for a beautiful person. The People's Club - and the whole of Merseyside and the whole of football - was saying goodbye to the ultimate people's player. The funeral and thanksgiving service began and ended in emotional fashion. Current and ex-Everton players formed a guard of honour to clap him into the cathedral, before walking behind his coffin to their seats - yes, even in death, the captains' captain was leading from the front. The service was conducted by Reverend Harry Ross, the chaplain of Everton Football Club and vicar of St Luke The Evangelist on Goodison Road. He told the 2,000-strong congregation (hundreds more were outside): "The tributes that have been paid to Brian are legion and I and others could stand here for the next 24 hours and still not pay adequate tribute to his life."
Calling it "A big day for a big, big man" and explaining that Brian Labone was always just "Labby or Our Brian", Blues' chairman Bill Kenwright said that when he was asked to speak at the funeral he thought of the inscription on the Dixie Dean statue outside Goodison Park, which could equally apply to Brian: "Footballer. Gentleman. Evertonian." Bill added: "There's one other word that will always be applicable - Brian Labone: Legend."Brian's old friend, ex-Liverpool and England great Ian Callaghan, meanwhile, read a poem called The Lab, which began and ended with the verse "First among men, second to no-one, 'Last of the Corinthians': Brian Labone."
Another friend, Terry Page, revealed that he was taking the place of ex-Blues keeper and Brian's "brother-like best friend", Gordon West, the strain on whom would have been "almost unbearable". "Westie" looked on in admiration as Terry spoke of the essence of their great pal and his belief that you should "bury your ego and do everything you can to make life easier and more enjoyable for others."
The Rev Ross, who also read tributes from those who couldn't be at the service, including ex-Everton stars Alex Young, Bobby Collins and Joe Royle and Fifa president Sepp Blatter, joked: "Westie told me quite a number of things I could say but, in all honesty, by the time I've taken out all the expletives there would be very little left!" After telling one or two amusing, but safe, anecdotes, he said: "As everyone knew, they were the greatest friends." Joe Royle's affectionate message began "Hi Skip" and ended "Missing you already" while Alex Young's said: "Brian Labone was a magnificent man, both on and off the football pitch." Speaking on behalf of the family and giving thanks for people's sympathy and support, Brian's
brother-in-law, Charlie Lynam, said: "For the last 10 days I feel like we have been wrapped in a blanket of kindness and affection." Describing Brian as "the greatest living symbol of Everton Football Club", he ended his tribute with a quotation which helped sum up one of life's givers: "What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us. What we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal." At one point in the service, the theme from Z Cars, Everton's anthem, was played, but it was by no means simply Brian Labone's True Blue family who were paying their respects - as proved by the message sent by Sepp Blatter, which read: "Please let Mr Labone's family and friends know the worldwide football community today stands by their side." As the cathedral's great doors were opened and Brian's coffin was carried out, spontaneous applause began and spread throughout the congregation. It was loud and long, and an incredibly moving and emotional experience for all those who had come to pay their respects . . . God only knows how Brian's daughter, Rachelle, and ex-wife, Pat felt. Rest In Peace, Brian, because you deserve to . . . nothing but blue skies from now on.
HUNDREDS of mourners burst into applause as the hearse carrying Blues legend Brian Labone made a poignant tour of Goodison. As the funeral cortege for the former Everton captain lapped the ground, crowds began clapping as a mark of respect.
Up to 500 people lined roads as the hearse and five black Mercedes passed.
Daughter Rachelle, in the lead car, smiled through tears at the crowds.
Harry Poole, 76, from Walton, turned up to see Labby off with Yorkshire terrier Monty wearing his Everton scarf. He said: "My greatest memory of him was when we played at Swindon years ago. Me and another lad hitchhiked to the game and I had a cast on my arm. "After the game we saw Labby and he stopped to chat. He found out we were hitchhiking and got us on the club coach. "I got back with the whole squad on my cast and he even gave me a fiver for breakfast." Marlene Webb, 45, from Everton, said: "He was a true hero - the ultimate gentleman. "Things might change at the club but Labby was like us, he was always an ordinary Blue and a special man."
Gwladys Street season ticket holder Phil Stevens, 25, from Childwall, said: "I was gutted when Labby died. I only wish I'd seen him in his prime."
Reds and Blues unite
FANS started arriving at noon and a slow trickle of supporters quickly turned into a flood. Coach after coach arrived filled with mourners. The barriers runninng down the cathedral drive soon filled with fans three-deep. In among the sea of blue and white there was the occasional Liverpool supporter dressed in red paying their respects. Among the crowd there were office work-ers and three generations of the same Everton-supporting family. Their conversation was of Brian's prowess on the field and gentleness off it. His finest moments on the pitch were relived and memories of the man shared. Stephen Keatley, 42, of Wallasey, said "I'm here to remember Brian as the footballer and gentleman he was. There will be red and blue here today because the man is a legend. We will not see his like again." Two mounted police officers led the hearse to and from the cathedral doors. Among the floral tributes was a poignant "Dad" spelled out in carnations.
Farewell applause was fitting tribute
May 5 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
LOUD and spontaneous applause somehow doesn't sound right in a cathedral. Like shouting in a library, cheering at a funeral or laughter in a graveyard. Yet Brian Labone's funeral was filled with applause yesterday - and it sounded just right.
There was applause after each of the four speakers; there was applause following a message from Sepp Blatter; there was applause after the singing of Ave Maria.
But the most emotional and moving applause of the 90 minute service came at The Commendation and Farewell. As the pall bearers raised the big man's coffin aloft, friends and family broke into loud and sustained clapping. Then as the coffin moved slowly down the Anglican Cathedral's long aisle, the applause spread like a moving, living, wave of noise - as row after row in the packed cathedral joined in with one final tribute. It lasted 10 minutes, until the coffin reached the sunlight and the hundreds of mourners outside. Then they joined in, too. And it was hugely, personally appropriate. Because this was a celebration of Labby's life. It was a funeral service, of course, it was a final farewell to a man who touched hundreds of thousands of lives, but it was also a tribute to a man who "really worked hard to make this world a better place." Blues chairman Bill Kenwright spoke of Labby the Evertonian. His words were touching, inspiring and heartfelt. Ian Callaghan talked of Brian the footballer, in a moving poem which began: "First among men, second to no-one, last of the Corinthians, Brian Labone." Then pal Terry Page delivered a poignant tribute about Brian the friend. There was plenty of humour in among the tributes, because Brian was a man who enjoyed life and laughed every day. Finally, brother-in-law Charlie Lynam spoke of Brian the family man - and introduced more humour and more examples of Labone's selflessness. Typical was the Uncle Albert tale, an anecdote which underlined Labone's humility and generosity of spirit. Uncle Albert was a man who visited the house often, and whenever he turned up, always unannounced, he would be fed, watered, often dressed in some of Brian's old clothes and usually sent on his way with a few pounds in his pocket. "Uncle Albert was," said Charlie "how can I say . . . a little shabby? "And one year I said to Brian 'Which side of the family does Uncle Albert belong?' "Brian looked at me and said 'Noone's. He just turned up one year and he's been coming back ever since.' That's a true story." The service was filled with stories like that one. There was even a remark designed to try and lift the spirits of Labby's devastated best pal, former team-mate Gordon West. "Brian always said to his great pal Gordon, I hope I go first," added Charlie, "because I don't want to have to carry your coffin!" Gordon was alongside Brian ever since they met as young footballers at Everton. Many inside the cathedral had never seen Brian play, plenty had never met him - but they wanted to be present because Brian Labone was a kindred spirit. He knew what Everton meant to its supporters, because the club meant just as much to him. Bill Kenwright spoke of the shame Phil Neville had said he felt when he discovered that the lovely, affable old fella who greeted him on a matchday at Goodison had played 26 times for England against Pele, Gerd Muller and Jairzinho, had won two league championship medals, played 534 times for the club and captained Everton to FA Cup glory at Wembley. Kenwright said: "There's no need to feel ashamed Phil, because Brian would have wanted it that way." Pal Terry Page explained: "Brian lived his life like the words of Rudyard Kipling's 'If'.
'If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with kings nor lose the common touch. . . .' Brian Labone lived his life to the letter of that poem.
One of the last times I saw him, he was talking to a fan inside Goodison Park whose father wouldn't have been old enough to have watched him play. "Are you Brian Labone?" the fan asked. "I used to be son," smiled the Everton legend, before putting a fatherly arm around his shoulder and pointing out some of the pictures on the wall.
Labby, you'll always be Brian Labone . . . the people's player.
Beattie back in the frame
May 5 2006 You Bet! with Adam Oldfield, Liverpool Echo
JAMES BEATTIE is reckoned to have an outside chance of making England's World Cup party following the devastating injury to Wayne Rooney. The Everton striker (12-1 Hills) joins Liverpool's Peter Crouch (1-6) as candidates for a starting role in England's opening group game against Paraguay. With Michael Owen (1-3) also struggling to recover from a similar foot complaint, the Merseyside duo could face competition from Jermain Defoe (3-1), Darren Bent (7-2), Andy Johnson (16-1) and Dean Ashton (25-1). Rooney is 16-1 to make a miraculous recovery and line up in Frankfurt on June 10, although the smart money is on him not making a single start in Germany (evens - Hills). The possible absence of the United striker has also hit the tournament betting, with England now 10-1 fifth favourites (Ladbrokes) to win the World Cup, from 6-1 second favourites. Defending champions Brazil shorten to 9-4 (from 11-4), with Argentina and Germany unchanged at 7-1 and Italy 8-1.
Meanwhile, with Nike's new Total 90 Supremacy boots under scrutiny, tote-sport are asking which footwear will the next England player to break his metatarsal be wearing. Adidas - as worn by Steven Gerrard, David Beckham and Frank Lampard - is the 7-4 favourite, with Nike 15-8, Umbro 5-1, Reebok 7-1, and any other 3-1.
Arteta's sacrifice for 'special' Duncan
May 8 2007 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA today revealed he happily sacrificed his first Goodison Park goal of the season to allow Duncan Ferguson to end his Everton career in style. Having been given the captain's armband and a guard of honour as he made his way from the pitch following yesterday's 2-2 draw with West Brom, Ferguson signalled he has played his final game for the club. As he walked around Goodison Park with the rest of the squad at the end, Ferguson - carrying a banner which read 'Once a Blue, Always a Blue, thanks for the memories' - could be seen telling the crowd: "Every one of you is quality". The 34-year-old, starting for the first time since January 28, gave supporters what they wanted in the final minute when he scored at the Gwladys Street at the second attempt after Tomasz Kuszczak had saved his penalty. Arteta initially went to spot the ball but hastily passed responsibility to Ferguson when James McFadden reminded him that it was the last occasion the former Scotland international would have such an opportunity. "The reception he got was unbelievable and it was really nice to have a team-mate like him," said Arteta. "It was his last day and everyone was terrific with him. Everybody would love to have a last day like he has done.
"He has been someone special at the club, a special character. We will find it difficult in the training room because he is a strong character and he always has nice words for each of us. "All last week, I kept asking Duncan 'what are you doing next season?' but he kept saying 'Micky, I don't know. Maybe I feel like I can keep playing'."So I didn't know. Then we got the penalty and Faddy came running over. "He said 'Micky, Micky what are you doing? It's his last game!' I just said 'Fine, here, have it!' That's the way it was. I understand that he wanted to score and I'm very happy for him."
As one striker said goodbye, Victor Anichebe announced his arrival in the Premiership with a goal and sprightly substitute performance that left Arteta tipping the 18-year-old to make a big impact next season. "I think he can become a very important player," said Arteta. "He's still young but he was one of the players who changed the game for us. Taffy told me before the game that if he came on, I should pass the ball to his feet. "That's what I tried to do. I think he has been amazing. Two or three times he looked like he was going to score. He scored one and he can only improve. He's in a terrific situation. He's shown us some very good things.
"We need strikers to score goals and if he can do it, then it will be even better because he is from here and we won't have to spend any money. But it is different playing just one game to all the season. He needs to do it all the time." There was no disguising Arteta's frustration, though, as he reflected on a draw that meant Everton ended the season in 11th place. Yet it could have been worse had they not staged a late rally.
"We wanted to finish with a victory and the way the game was, I don't think we deserved to be 2-0 down," added Arteta. "After that we had a great comeback and if the game had been a little bit longer, we would have won it."
Everton 2, West Brom 2 (Echo)
May 8 2006 By Dominic King
WHILE all eyes were on the man at the back of the pack cradling his child and waving to an adoring public, it was impossible not to be taken by a figure towards the head of affairs whose actions were of equal significance. As Duncan Ferguson made an emotional farewell to supporters who have idolised him from the moment he set about terror-ising Liverpool in 1994, David Moyes headed off for his holidays with the look of a person who knows he won't be doing much relaxing. Disappointment was etched all over his face. A season that had started with plenty of reason for optimism ended yesterday with many supporters fearing that if the right moves aren't made this summer, the mountain standing between Everton and the Premiership's elite will become too big to climb. With hopes of sneaking into the top 10 squashed by a 2-2 draw with a West Bromwich Albion that had already been relegated, it was no surprise that Moyes was feeling and looking flat. Equally, it would not have come as a surprise if he was also worried. The aim, of course, is to build a squad capable of bursting into the top six, staying there and proving that the fourth place finish achieved so memorably in May 2005 was not the flash in the pan that many critics believe it to be now. But how long is that going to take? Moyes has a budget of £7m at his disposal this summer yet will such a figure be enough to make dramatic improvements between now and August? Unlikely. To make huge changes, double that amount would be needed. Missing out on a place in the top 10 is sure to have an impact on what there is to spend and Moyes will have to watch in frustration as Everton's nearest rivals lavish cash on big names. The onus is on the manager, then, to be creative with his signings. A new goalkeeper will arrive, more than likely in the shape of Manchester United's Tim Howard on a season-long loan. But that is the least of his worries. Above all, he is crying out for someone to score a lot of goals on a regular basis. Not signing a forward after securing a spot in the Champions League qualifiers was a major error, which was exacerbated during the January transfer window.Too much of an onus was placed on the shoulders of James Beattie and James McFadden. Becoming the lowest scoring side in the club's history, with a meagre return of 34 in 38 matches, can only be described as abysmal.
This just two seasons after the lowest points tally was accumulated. Since McFadden scored Everton's second against Sunderland on April 1, they have found the net just three times in 604 minutes of play - a damning statistic. There have been plenty of occasions throughout the campaign when Everton have had good spells of possession and had opposition teams pinned back. When the opportunity to turn the screw came, however, they were found wanting. The Anfield derby, anyone? Think of the points that have been squandered along the way. West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City have been relegated yet Everton only managed to take two points off those sides at Goodison Park despite having plenty more opportunities. Wigan Athletic, Sunderland and West Ham United were the teams to win promotion but all Everton had to show for their efforts was six points from a possible 18. We could go on and on but whichever way you look at things, disappointment is the only outcome.
To avoid similar angst when things begin again in three months, Moyes must scour the country and beyond to find a solution. With Crystal Palace flattened in the first-leg of their Championship play-off by Watford, Andrew Johnson will be linked.
Quick and direct, he certainly has the ability to trouble Premiership defences and his pace would complement Beattie's power. He will not fancy another season playing outside the top flight but will he be within Everton's price bracket? Probably not.
Another name which keeps surfacing is Benni McCarthy, a player long admired by Moyes. As a Champions League winner, his credentials cannot be questioned but some would wonder what kind of impact this capricious soul would have on the dressing room. Either way, Ferguson needs replacing, as does Marcus Bent. Finding someone of the former's ilk, however, will prove to be impossible. Forwards, sadly, don't come in the battering ram model anymore. True, there will be some glad to see the back of Ferguson. They will argue he never scored enough goals, was injured too often and always seemed likely to get himself needlessly sent-off. They are all valid points.What Ferguson brought to the party, though, was something mystical and magical. He might have been born in Scotland but his love for the club made it seem as if he was brought up on Scotland Road. This is one Blue who will stay Blue.
Fighting back the tears as he made his way down the tunnel for a last time, Ferguson on his day was practically impossible to play against. There was no more appropriate way for him to bow out than scoring a last minute goal in front of the Gwaldys Street, swinging his right leg at a bobbling ball after Tomasz Kusczcak had saved his initial penalty. Tapping his heart as he walked back to the centre circle and puffing his cheeks out with relief, it was clear to see the moment had got to him. It also saved Moyes and his squad being sent away with howls of derision ringing in their ears. Losing to West Brom would have guaranteed a lap of thanks (how can it be a called a lap of honour if you don't win?) turned into a walk of shame. That they were spared such ignominy was down to the efforts of Ferguson, Mikel Arteta and a lively cameo from Victor Anichebe, whose first goal in senior football triggered a comeback after Everton trailed to efforts from Zoltan Gera and Williams Martinez. Anichebe's development has not gone unnoticed and there is every reason to believe he will get better and better next season. He offered more threat in 24 minutes than Bent did in 24 appearances before he was sold. Talk of selling inevitably brings us back to Moyes and how he will improve his team. Cast a glance at the sides that finished above Everton and it is safe to say they will all be prepared to pay top dollar to boost their hopes of mixing it with the best. One false move on Everton's behalf now and it could be their rivals disappearing beyond recall. No wonder Moyes appeared so pensive - this is make or break time.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Turner; Neville, Weir, Stubbs, Valente; Arteta, Osman, Davies (van der Meyde 67), Kilbane (Anichebe 67); McFadden, Ferguson. Subs: Ruddy, Naysmith, Ferrari.
BOOKING: Neville (foul).
WEST BROMWICH ALBION (4-4-2): Kuszczak; Watson (Hodgkiss 63), Martinez, Davies, Robinson; Gera (Carter 76), Wallwork, Quashie, Greening; Ellington (Nicholson 69), Kanu. Subs: Hoult, Inamoto.
BOOKINGS: Wallwork (dissent), Carter (foul).
REFEREE: Alan Wiley.
Dunc overcomes spot of trouble
May 8 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DUNCAN FERGUSON was nearly denied a farewell goal at Goodison yesterday - by cramp. The Scottish striker had to be talked into taking the 91st minute penalty by team-mate Mikel Arteta, after the Spanish midfielder had been brought down by Williams Martinez. And afterwards, boss David Moyes said: "Duncan was the penalty taker here before James Beattie and he said the reason he wasn't going to take it was because he had cramp in both calves. "He felt he wouldn't be right to take it, and when he hit the ball I saw the keeper save it but then couldn't see what happened after that.
"We had a laugh about it afterwards - but I think it was right that Duncan took it."
Moyes also believed it was right that Everton secured a point, after they trailed 2-0.
"I thought we deserved it," he said. "I thought from the first minute it was all us.
"I think we missed a chance after five minutes, with Kevin Kilbane in the middle of the goal, and it was like that throughout. "Then we lost a goal and after that it was constant opportunity after opportunity. "I think the feeling around the ground was that we were going to get a goal, but when we started to miss the ones we missed I thought that it wasn't going to happen. "We had to make changes, go with a bold 4-2-4 with the outside right pushed up and the outside left pushed up to get the goals in the end.
"But I don't think we deserved to be 2-0 down at any time. "We just needed to get the first goal. It should have come five minutes after half-time, not five minutes from the end." Young substitute Victor Anichebe sparked the comeback with his first goal for the club in the 83rd minute and Moyes added: "We have got high hopes for Victor.
"That goal today will send him home for the summer with a lot of confidence and it gives us another young centre forward to have around here. We have James Vaughan as well. "But in the end I am disappointed with 11th. Maybe in October or November, 11th would have been seen as acceptable. "But for some good goalkeeping and poor finishing we would have been 10th, but you are where you are at the end of a season and we are 11th."
Paying tribute to departing Blue heroes
May 8 2006 Analysis by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THEY came to honour departing heroes. An emotional tribute before kick-off ensured that Goodison paid its final respects to the last of the Corinthians. Then Duncan Ferguson's 92nd minute penalty kick ensured that a modern crowd idol was sent off in style, too. It was typical Ferguson, really. He gave a sense of meaning to a last match which looked like dying on its feet - and he gave supporters something to celebrate when all hope looked lost. Eleven-and-a-half years after the Tartan totem bulleted a soaring header into the Gwladys Street net for his first Everton goal, Big Dunc squeezed a rebound from a penalty-kick under Thomasz Kuszczak for his 72nd, bringing the curtain down on an eventful career. Whisper it quietly, there was even a tear in his eye as Everton's Brave-heart escorted his children around the pitch on a lap of appreciation. That strike changed the atmosphere completely inside Goodison.
Instead of frustrated boos at the final whistle, there were roars of relief. They will only be temporary. No-one was kidded that this has been anything but a disappointing campaign. But the margin between progress and failure is thin. In different circumstances, you might have mustered an argument that 2005-06 hadn't been all that bad. A flawed argument, obviously, and one that might have seen even your favourite barman refusing to serve you any more. But you could still have offered an argument nonetheless. One more goal - Everton could have had half-a-dozen yesterday - and you'd have been looking at back-to-back top half finishes for the first time in 14 years, back-to-back victories - a last match triumph for the first time in a decade . . .
Instead Everton could only scramble a draw, against a relegated team which could already count a 4-0 win over the Toffees to their credit.
So focus switched to all those negative stats - and there were plenty.
One win in their last eight games, just three goals in the last six, seven home defeats, only three home points against the relegated trio. And most damning of all was the goals scored column - the worst in the club's entire history. Just 34 goals in 38 matches, one short of the mark mustered by the centre-parted Victorians of St Domingo back in 1888, in only 22 matches mind. At least Everton avoided the unwanted statistic of ending a season without their number nine figuring on the scoresheet. The club of Dean, Lawton, Latch-ford and Sharp looked like ending a second successive campaign without a single goal from the number most expected to provide them (unless you count Kevin Campbell's successful conversion in a League Cup penalty shoot-out at Bristol City last season, which is straw clutching in the extreme). But Ferguson's right-footed strike at least avoided that stat. Everton created chances - they could hardly fail to do so against a West Brom team already relegated and playing like it. But the lack of devil in front of goal which has hindered Everton all season was painfully, piercingly evident. Kevin Kilbane crashed a header against the crossbar in just the fourth minute, when he should really have done better with Arteta's cross. The same player was denied twice by Kusczak from six yards, Ferguson couldn't quite connect with Valente's cross, touched on by Osman, McFadden blasted straight at Kusczak from six yards, Phil Neville did the same, then Leon Osman failed most miserably of all when he shot over an unguarded goal from eight yards. By the 79th minute West Brom had even given up marking Everton play-ers in their penalty box, and still the Blues couldn't score, Alan Stubbs planting an unchallenged header into the Gwladys Street End. If the answer to the scoring drought is to be found in this current squad - it will have to come from the youth academy.
While the focus was on departing heroes, it would be wrong to ignore the entrance of a young striking star who was the catalyst for Everton's comeback.
Victor Anichebe's zest, pace and sharpness in front of goal swung the match dramatically in the last seven minutes. A 67th minute substitute for Kil-bane, he had already troubled the Baggies back four with his youthful enthusiasm before he turned and fired a low drive underneath Kuszczak. His persistence then chiselled out a sitter for Leon Osman, which was lifted wastefully over the bar - and he might even have earned a penalty kick before Alan Wiley finally did point to the spot in time added on.
That gave a thirty-something the chance to say farewell. But if the financial readings are accurate, the teen-brigade will have a significant part to play in Everton's immediate future. Just for yesterday, though, Evertonians were prepared to look back.
The looking forward begins today.
Watson hails Blues legend
May 8 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
STEVE WATSON today paid tribute to his former teammate Duncan Ferguson when he described the striker as an Everton legend. Having played alongside the 34-year-old for Newcastle as well as the Blues, Watson knows just how good a player Ferguson can be and is breathing a sigh of relief that he won't have to lock horns with any more.
After 273 appearances and 72 goals, the former Scotland international looks poised to bring an end to his long association with Everton, but Watson - now with West Brom - knows Ferguson's love for the club will remain as strong as ever. Injuries and suspensions may have diluted Ferguson's impact in recent years, but he showed in yesterday's 2-2 draw with West Brom that the talent remains, leaving Watson to declare that his old pal may prove to be irreplaceable. "I certainly preferred playing with him," said Watson, who made 136 appearances for the Blues. "He is a talisman for Everton, he wears his heart on his sleeve. He is an Evertonian and has done fantastic over the years. He will be a big miss. "Duncan is a big, oldfashioned type of centre-forward and people found it very difficult to play against him. On a day when we said goodbye to one legend, Everton have said goodbye to a second. "It was bad news for us that he scored at the end but from an Everton point of view, it was fitting. I have played against him enough times to know how difficult he is to mark. On his game, I've heard world class centre-backs say he was unplayable. "You could not get near him at times, he was so strong and so physical. He is like Alan Shearer in that he enjoys the physical side of the game and making life difficult for centre-halves. He'll be a big miss."While Ferguson was given a rousing send-off, Watson also enjoyed a warm ovation when he was substituted during the second half with supporters quick to acknowledge his efforts for them during his time on Merseyside. He believes, though, that in James Beattie, Everton have a player who is capable of filling the void and expects to see a significant improvement on the 11 goals he netted this year.
"Duncan is an Evertonian," said Watson. "Even when he went up to Newcastle, he didn't hide it at all, did he? But he came back and they'll miss him. Beats has done very well this season and I was disappointed that he wasn't fit. "But he has proved to a lot of people that he is a very good striker and I will be looking forward to seeing Beats do well again next year. "I was delighted with the reception I got but it was just a bitter sweet end."
Smith: Faddy is showing his true class
May 8 2006 Liverpool Echo
SCOTLAND manager Walter Smith claims James McFadden is beginning to show his true class at Everton. The 23-year-old moved to Goodison two and a half years ago from Motherwell, but initially struggled to pin down a regular first-team place amid criticism he was out of his depth in England's top flight. McFadden was constantly rumoured to be returning to Scotland, but the striker has gradually confounded his doubt-ers and was last week named young player of the year by Everton fans.
Smith, who takes Scotland out to the Kirin Cup tournament in Japan where they will play the host nation and then Bulgaria, insists McFadden is now showing the form that got him the move south in the first place Smith said: "It was always going to be a big step for James to go to the Premiership and try to create what he did at Motherwell. "People expected him to do what he'd done there right away, but he was never going to be able to do that. "However, he has settled down a wee bit and this has been his best season at Everton, I don't think there is any argument about that. James is playing really well. "It's just a matter of maturing and they are starting to see the very best of him down there."
A match that would mean more to James Beattie than any other
May 8 2006 By Mary Murtagh, Liverpool Echo
HE is already a hero to Everton fans. Now James Beattie has signed up to the ECHO's campaign to save the lives of little Ella and Sam Wright. The 28-year-old Blues striker is the latest signing to the Anthony Nolan Trust bone marrow register as an international search for a life-saving donor for the Southport sister and brother continues. James joins thousands of other potential new donors inspired to sign up after reading our stories about Ella and Sam, who face a race against time.
Ella, four, and Sam, two, must have a transplant by this summer to give them the best chance of survival. On Friday, James met the youngsters at Everton's Belle-field training ground and found out how his gesture could help save a life.
He said: "It is a privilege for me to be able to sign up to help Ella and Sam. I just hope that suitable donors can be found. I would urge anyone thinking about signing up to do so without delay." If James gets the call from Sven Goran Eriksson and ends up playing for England in the World Cup, he will have two special fans cheering him on back in Mersey-side, according to Ella and Sam's mother, Sally. She said: "James was just brilliant. We are over the moon that he is signing up to the register. I really hope that his generosity inspires thousands of other players and fans to do the same. The kids really enjoyed meeting him." James will fit in his simple blood test, the only requirement to join the register, this summer so it does not clash with his commitments on the pitch. He is an extra welcome new recruit to the register because he is a young and healthy man. The register desperately needs more men to sign up because they are under-represented. Last month the ECHO launched the Chance for Life campaign in the hope of finding a donor for the children. Since then more than 3,000 people, touched by Ella and Sam's plight, have signed up to the register.
Faddy talks break down
May 9 2006 Liverpool Echo
JAMES McFADDEN is facing a summer of uncertainty after it emerged talks to extend the Everton striker's contract have broken down. Having enjoyed his most consistent run of form since moving to Goodison Park in September 2003, discussions began with McFadden's representatives last February to improve the terms on his current deal, which runs out next summer. McFadden, who yesterday headed off with Scotland's squad for a two-match tour of Japan, was offered a considerable pay rise to keep him at the club until June 2009 only for it to be rejected. But it is understood Everton have no plans to return to the 23-year-old with increased terms. With discussions reaching an impasse, a number of clubs in England and Scotland are monitoring the situation in which McFadden - who cost the Blues £1.25m when he left Motherwell - finds himself. Everything now depends on whether David Moyes wants to keep a player who scored seven goals in 41 appearances during the most recent campaign or allow him to leave. But McFadden's agent, Catherine Robertson, is hopeful that something can be thrashed out. "I have been trying to negotiate his contract but as yet there is still nothing," said Robertson. "All James can do is keep performing and getting it right on the pitch and the rest will take care of itself.
"There have been clubs interested in him but he wants to prove himself at Everton and his performances have shown that this season. He's had a long run in the team and we are just waiting on a phone call. "The ball is in Everton's court." Meanwhile, Alan Stubbs and David Weir will have to decide whether to accept reduced terms if they want to stay at Goodison after being offered one-year deals by Moyes yesterday.
Though they will have a combined age of 70 when Weir turns 36 tomorrow, they have been Moyes' first-choice partnership in central defence since Stubbs rejoined from Sunderland in January. With Joseph Yobo still a target for Arsenal and Matteo Ferrari returning to AS Roma after Everton decided not to take up the chance of signing him permanently for £3.7m, Moyes has moved swiftly to bolster his back four. West Bromwich Albion have expressed an interest in Weir and their manager Bryan Robson is looking for experienced performers to aid his side's push for promotion but Weir would be reluctant to drop down a division.
Howard is first summer signing
May 9 2006 Liverpool Echo
TIM HOWARD is ready to relaunch his Premiership career after becoming Everton's first signing of the summer. The 26-year-old, who will be part of the USA squad that heads to next month's World Cup finals in Germany, has agreed a season-long loan deal with the Blues after becoming frustrated by a lack of opportunities at Manchester United. Though he made a bright start to life at Old Trafford following a £2.3m move from New York/New Jersey Metrostars, he lost his place to Roy Carroll and the arrival of Edwin van der Sar from Fulham made things even more difficult for Howard. He made just one Premiership appearance last season - as a half-time substitute against Portsmouth in February - and his other starts were restricted to the early rounds of domestic cup competitions. In all, he played 77 times for United Everton boss David Moyes has been keen to strengthen his goalkeeping department for some time and though he was linked with Norwich City's Robert Green, Howard was always his first choice. With question marks against Richard Wright's future, Moyes will offer Nigel Martyn a new one-year deal providing the results of a scan on his damaged ankle do not show any serious problems. The last of Martyn's 100 appearances for Everton came against Chelsea in the FA Cup fourth round on January 28. Martyn will be 40 in August but Moyes, who as expected released Duncan Ferguson and Li Tie yesterday, is eager to extend Martyn's spell on Merseyside by another year.
Fans' fury over new contracts
May 10 2006 Echo Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
EVERTON must be really hard up to let Ferrari go and keep Weir and Stubbs.
What's more we are consistently told the club is making progress. We are going backwards. This is just the start of what I suspect will be a very depressing summer.
I don't blame Moyes - but I do blame the crew supposedly running the club. So glad I renewed my season ticket and so not looking forward to next year.
Brian Underwood, Garston
WEIR and Stubbs? Can't wait for next season! Moyes should be stronger with the board. We can surely invest in better players than that without risking doing what Leeds did a few years ago. We could have got Ferrari at a decent price.
Dan James, Bootle
IF MOYES is interested in youth, why has he let Ferrari go and kept on Stubbs, Weir and Martyn? This decision is a disgrace to all of us who have renewed our season tickets. Moyes has taken us as far as he can and it's about time Joe Royle was brought back to finish the job he started nearly 10 years ago.
Gary Lewis, Birkenhead
THE PATIENCE and support I had for Moyes has gone thanks to the new deals being offered to Stubbs, Weir and Martyn. I'm anticipating the exits of Yobo, Arteta and Cahill next.
John Townley, Gosport
HOW much longer will we let Kenwright get away with it? Another season with Weir and a bizarre decision to send back a younger centre half. Everyone on the board should be ashamed of themselves and Moyes is now breaking records for all the wrong reasons. Lowest points tally EVER, lowest goals tally EVER - and how about the hidings we've had too? Newcastle 6-1, West Brom 4-0, Villa 4-0, Arsenal 7-1, Man City 5-1,Tottenham 5-1. Is that shrewd management?
Adrian Codd, Aintree
WEIR handed a new deal? It beggars belief. He has been a great servant to EFC but he is too old now. Ferrari was an ideal replacement alongside Yobo. They were our future in defence. Where is the young blood Moyes talked about playing not long ago? Where is our youth policy?
Martin Naylor, Formby
DELIGHTED to see that the contracts of Weir and Stubbsy have been extended.
They have both been brilliant in the second half of the season - but we still need another centre back, and a natural goalscorer. Andrew Johnson would fit the bill perfectly.
Shaun Lyall, Tuebrook
Johnson price tag must drop to temp Blues bid
May 10 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDY JOHNSON will only become an Everton player if they can agree a realistic price with Crystal Palace. Despite reports to the contrary, Everton have not launched a £6m bid for Johnson, who has been named as one of England's standby players for the World Cup after scoring 17 goals for Palace last season. Blues boss David Moyes has had a long standing interest in Johnson and would love to bring the striker to Goodison Park. It is also understood that the 25-year-old would relish the chance to link up with his close friend James Beattie. With Palace resigned to spending another season in the Coca-Cola Championship, it is inevitable that Johnson will leave during the summer but if Selhurst Park chairman Simon Jordan invites offers of £6m and above, that will compromise Everton's chances. If Moyes went in at that price and was successful, it would effectively eat up his entire transfer kitty as, having spent a gross £23.95m in the past 18 months, he does not have a huge amount of funds at his disposal. The manager, though, is desperate to bolster his forward line and there is little doubt that the jet-heeled Johnson, who has scored 84 times in 155 appearances for Palace since he joined them four years ago from Birmingham City, would fit the bill.Meanwhile Duncan Ferguson has hailed the "overwhelming" support of Evertonians following an emotional farewell to Goodison on Sunday which brought the curtain down on his near 12-year association with the club. The former Scotland international, who was released by Moyes on Monday afternoon, brought the house down when scoring in the final minute to secure his side a 2-2 draw with West Brom.
When he set off on a lap of honour after the final whistle wrapped in a banner proclaiming 'Once a Blue, Always a Blue - thanks for the memories' with his children by his side, Ferguson was moved to tears by the ovation he was afforded.
Since scoring the first of his 72 goals for the club against Liverpool in November 1994, Ferguson has been the darling of the Gwladys Street and he was eager to salute the support he has been given. "I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the Everton fans for the wonderful reception I received at the West Brom game," said Ferguson. "On Sunday at the end of the game, the emotion I felt at seeing my family sharing the famous Goodison experience with me was overwhelming. It was a moment of pure magic that I will never forget."
Williams aiming to get one over Addicks
May 11 2006 By Paul Garrity, Liverpool Echo
SECOND spot in the league and a place in next season's Community Shield match is at stake when Everton Ladies play their last match of the season against Charlton on Sunday. Former Charlton midfielder Fara Williams has played a key role in helping the Toffees in their battle with the third-placed Addicks this season. She is relishing the chance to get one over on her old team and finish runners-up. "We have worked hard this season and we have got nothing to show for it," said Williams. "To get second place could be a reward for us for the hard work we have put in this season."
The Toffees lost 1-0 to Charlton in London last October, and Williams knows that it will be a tight fixture this time as well. "The team now is completely different to when I was there. We know that they have a strong team. "It should be a good game and of course second place is at stake, so it's all to play for." Everton go into Sunday's fixture on a high after beating Leeds 2-1 at the weekend. Williams admits victory is important to help their progression. "Last year we finished third. So this year we are hoping to finish second, which will be an improvement on last year. Who knows, we could be competing for the title next season," she added. Everton play Charlton at Formby FC, Altcar Road, kick off 1pm on Sunday.
Bob Latchford book winners
May 11 2006 Liverpool Echo
THE three lucky winners of our recent signed Bob Latchford book competition were: R Miller, Crosby; Colin Clarkson, Ormskirk and Lorraine McKeown, Norris Green.
All three correctly replied that Latchford scored his first Everton goal against Peter Shilton. Prizes have been posted.
Van der Meyde vows to make it with Blues
May 11 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDY VAN DER MEYDE today pleaded for a chance to prove he can become one of Goodison Park's key men as it emerged Everton are considering selling the Dutch winger. Signed from Inter Milan last August for £1.7m, Van der Meyde's spell on Merseyside has been decimated by two serious injuries meaning he has only made seven starts and failed to complete 90 minutes. He was also sent off during the Anfield derby. It is understood there have been concerns about the attitude and fitness of the former Ajax flyer and if Everton could find a club willing to meet the price they paid for him, he would be allowed to leave. As yet, there have been no firm offers.
Van der Meyde, however, is desperate to show he can recapture the kind of sparkling form that secured a move to the San Siro in 2003 and saw him catch the eye for Holland during the European Championships in Portugal 12 months later.
"I haven't heard anything about whether the club wants to sell me but I would like to stay and fight for my place," said Van der Meyde. "I want to show everyone here what I can do. If they want to sell me, there is not much I can do. I like playing in England, I'm settled here and I spoke with the gaffer before I left for my holidays."
Having arrived with a groin problem which stopped him making his Everton debut until October 26 in the Carling Cup against Middlesbrough, a ruptured thigh muscle sidelined him for three and a half months. Van der Meyde understands why some have their doubts."I was disappointed the season was very unlucky for me," said the 26-year-old. "That's why I want the new season to start quickly, so I can make it up to everyone. ""We may be on holiday but I will be doing some training. I'll work on my fitness, do some running so I'm in good shape when I come back in July."
Meanwhile, Australia have reopened the debate over Tim Cahill's fitness with Socceroos assistant coach Graham Arnold blasting David Moyes. The Everton manager is reported to have said that a decision on the injured midfielder's participation at the World Cup finals would not be left up to Australian "witch doctors". Cahill has partially torn the posterior ligament in his knee, but Arnold claimed earlier this month that the 27-year-old was on course to make a return to full training. Everton will not allow Cahill to travel to Germany until they are satisfied he has made a complete recovery.
Moyes set to move in for Lescott
May 12 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has dropped the broadest hint yet that his next signing will be a central defender when explaining why he did not pursue a deal with Matteo Ferrari.
When Ferrari joined Everton last summer on a season long loan, AS Roma gave Everton first option on a permanent £3.7m deal but a succession of injuries restricted the Italian international to just 13 appearances. Though he showed glimpses of class, he did not do enough to convince Moyes to keep him at Goodison Park and the manager has turned his sights elsewhere - notably in the direction of Wolves' Joleon Lescott. Lescott signed a new four-year deal at Molineux last October and it would take a fee similar to the one it would have cost for Ferrari to prise him from the Black Country to Merseyside but his performances in the Championship have caught the eye. Moyes, typically, is playing his cards close to his chest but he did reveal that letting Ferrari go was made easier by the fact there are more suitable targets within his range. "I've got other alternatives at the moment," Moyes confirmed. "That's why I decided not to pursue it [with Ferrari]. There might be a new one coming in."
Meanwhile, Moyes is hopeful that veterans Alan Stubbs and David Weir will decide to extend their stays at Goodison by another 12 months. It is understood Leeds United and Sheffield United are ready to offer Weir a two-year deal. "We have asked them both to stay," said Moyes. "It's important that we have some experience around. We want them there to help us. They did well together, particularly from Christmas time.
"Both of them are good lads and we have agreed that we will talk quite regularly about it. David is away with Scotland and we will speak with Stubbsy over the next week, too."
Martyn to be handed new deal
May 13 2006 By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
DAVID MOYES is ready to offer Nigel Martyn a month-to-month contract if there is a chance the goalkeeper can recover from the ankle injury that threatens his career.
Martyn will undergo a scan next month to deter mine whether he will be forced to retire due to a hairline fracture that has sidelined him since January. With doubts over the veteran's long-term future, Everton manager Moyes moved earlier to bring in Tim Howard on a year's loan from Manchester United. But he admits he is willing to be flexible in the hope Martyn can prolong his stay at Goodison since joining from Leeds in September 2003. "We'd want Nigel to stay on because of his experience," said Moyes. "His situation has thrown us a little bit because we can't say at the moment whether he will play on or will have to retire. And in any case, he's also nearly 40.
"He's a good pro and a great keeper, and we'd want to keep him on even if that's only on a month-to-month capacity to see if he can cope with his injuries. "He doesn't want to put his future life in jeopardy by playing on if the injury is going to affect him. He'll be checked again in a month by the doctor to see if the cracks in his ankles have healed at all." Of Howard, Moyes added: "Tim gives us an addition. I think we're quite well covered with goalkeepers, but the loss of Nigel was crucial to us, I felt. I've given the keepers reasons for Tim coming in, and if he does well we might be able to take things further at the end of the loan spell." Moyes, has dropped the broadest hint yet that he is poised to capture a new centre-back by revealing his reasons behind Matteo Ferrari's de parture. Everton yesterday completed the signing of teenage striker Scott Spencer from Oldham for an undisclosed fee. The 17-year-old has agreed a three-year deal at Goodison.
Everton line up America summer tour
May 13 2006 By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
EVERTON have announced another tour of America as part of their preparations for next season. David Moyes's side will play two matches in the States, as well as visiting Preston North End, Celtic and Aberdeen during pre-season. Everton have chosen to visit America again after the success of their trip to Houston in 2004.
As part of the 10-day tour, they will face American MLS side Columbus Crew on July 26. The squad will then move on to Dallas before facing Mexicans Club America - who they also played in Houston - at Pizza Hut Park on July 30. Before their trip to the USA, Everton begin pre-season with a fixture at Preston on Wednesday, July 19 ahead of a friendly at Celtic on Saturday, July 23. After returning from America, Everton travel to Aberdeen on Tuesday, August 8, with at least one other friendly to be scheduled.
Martyn facing an anxious wait
May 15 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
NIGEL MARTYN has admitted he will need to be completely free from pain if he is going to prolong his Everton career by another season. The former England international has been out of action since January 28 with ankle and heel problems that have required surgery and left him fearing the worst. His spirits have been lifted in the past week, though, after Everton manager David Moyes revealed he is prepared to offer Martyn, 39, a month-to-month deal to keep him at Goodison Park until he knows how serious his injury is. As flattered as he was to learn about Moyes' proposal, Martyn faces an anxious four weeks until he visits a special-ist again for further X-rays on his injury. Only then will he know if he can fight for his place again when the new season starts in August. "That was nice news from the manager because it is a worrying time," said Martyn. "I have a problem in the ankle with a stress fracture and everything. It has been taking its toll after 20 years in the game.
"But hopefully, it will heal properly and if that enables me to carry on playing then I will be delighted to stay. I get a scan in just over a month. The result has got to be a good one. "I will have to be pain-free and if that is the case, it will enable me to carry on. I have my foot in a protective boot at the minute. It is improving but very slowly. Hopefully next month's scan will be better." Though Moyes has already brought Tim Howard in on loan from Manchester United and has been encouraged by the progress of Iain Turner, he has made no secret of the esteem in which he holds Martyn.
Having made 100 appearances for Everton since arriving from Leeds in September 2003 for a nominal fee, Martyn's career has enjoyed an Indian summer and he would love nothing more than to play a part in the forthcoming campaign. Provided he gets the green light from the medical staff next month, Martyn aims to return to Bellefield for training along with the rest of the first team squad. Only then will he start thinking about making a push for a starting place again. "It is good news that the club still wants me," said Martyn. "I have a lot to be thankful to the manager for because I was going nowhere at Leeds and he was the one who showed faith in me. "I have enjoyed my time here. I have always tried, always given my best and it is nice to feel wanted. Provided I'm fit, I will come back to give 100 per cent to the club. "I will see a consultant in June and if I get the go-ahead, I can start doing some light stuff at the end of June or start of July at the earliest. Then we can push on from there."
Meanwhile, the Blues have announced two more pre-season friendlies. Moyes will send a mixture of first team and academy prospects to both Port Vale and Bury on Saturday, July 15.
It's your chance to celebrate Labby's Finest Hour
May 15 2006 Liverpool Echo
IT'S a must for every Evertonian - and it's out now!
To celebrate one of the greatest FA Cup victories in history - and to commemmorate the life of the late great Brian Labone - the ECHO has produced this superb 28 page special. Labby's Finest Hour recollects the day on May 14, 1966 when the mighty Blues came from two goals behind at Wembley to blitz Sheffield Wednesday 3-2.
Relive again Mike Trebilcock's famous second half double, Derek Temple's cracking winner and the moment when proud captain Brian Labone climbed the 39 steps to receive the cup from Princess Margaret. This superb ECHO special recounts in detail the entire one club career of Everton and England legend Labone, who died last month at the age of 66 and who was dubbed 'The Last of the Corinthians' by Goodison's 60's manager Harry Catterick because of his superb sportsmanship and ability.
There are anecdotes and tributes galore from his ex teammates, club colleagues and others, including pictures and reports from his astonishing and moving funeral service at the Anglican Cathedral. It's also packed with priceless pictures from the era when Labone led the School of Science to glory. And we reproduce the original match report from the '66 final penned by the ECHO's Michael Charters and capturing a comeback which will never be forgotten. Labby's Finest Hour is in shops now. Don't miss it!
Kelly on song to secure second
May 16 2006 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON LADIES clinched second spot in the Premier League with a 1-0 win over closest rivals Charlton. Mo Marley's side only needed a draw against the Addicks to finish runners-up behind champions Arsenal, but victory was secured by a late goal from midfielder Kelly McDougall. The Blues had the better of the first half with Fara Williams testing keeper Pauline Cope with a header after just two minutes of play.
McDougall was in the thick of the action in the first half and she saw an effort from the edge of the box tipped past the post by keeper Pauline Cope. Becky Easton was also denied by the Charlton stopper, as the home side pressed. Charlton were limited to very few opportunities, the best of which was a Casey Stony free kick, which was comfortably collected by Toffees keeper Rachel Brown. In the second half, former Charlton midfielder Fara Williams had a free-kick saved and Casey Stoney headed over the best chance for the visitors. Just as nerves were starting to set in, McDougall ran onto a Williams free-kick to head the ball into the net with just four minutes left to play. Along with victory comes the chance for the Blues to play in the Community Shield against Arsenal in next season's curtain raiser. Manager Mo Marley said: "We are making progress every season and the credit must go to the players. They are believing in what we are doing here and I am really pleased for them."
Moyes not worried over Faddy talks
May 16 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES says he is not worried that talks between Everton and James McFadden's representatives have reached an impasse, even though the Scotland international is entering the final year of his contract. McFadden was offered considerably improved terms to keep him at Goodison Park until 2009 last February but, so far, the deal remains unsigned and Everton are unlikely to return with a new offer. The manager, though, expects the issue to be resolved in the coming months, as he does with Joseph Yobo, another player who has left a contract unsigned and will be free to move on a Bosman next year. "There has been a contract there for a few months, so we will see where that goes," he said. "There's not really much of an update. We have offered Faddy a contract where the club think his value is and we will see how that goes over the summer months. "He has got a year to go on his contract, so we are not in a desperate rush to get things done really. Joseph has been offered a contract as well and I'm sure we'll get some word on that quite shortly as well." Everton will have two players at the World Cup after the squads of those countries competing were announced yesterday. Tim Cahill is set to join up with Australia and Nuno Valente takes his place in Portugal's 23. Phil Neville, however, has been forced to suffer World Cup heartbreak for a third time after England headed out for their training base in Portugal without him. Moyes, though, insists his midfielder deserved a spot on the plane. "I thought he deserved to be in the squad," he added. "His form has been good enough. But he will get a good break and he will be ready for us when he comes back in pre-season. If he's not at the World Cup he will be fresh."
Lescott in hint to Blues
May 16 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JOLEON LESCOTT has paved the way for a summer move to Everton by making it clear he favours trying his luck in the Premiership rather than La Liga. UEFA Cup winners Seville are reportedly keen on signing Wolvesundefined central defender and are ready to offer £4m for the 23-year-old. But it is understood the elegant Lescott, the star performer for Glenn Hoddle's side last season, does not want to uproot too far from his home in Birmingham. Newcastle United are also keeping an eye on affairs but David Moyes - who confirmed last week that he is ready to sign a defender after allowing Matteo Ferrari to return to AS Roma - appears to be leading the chase for Lescott. Wolves have not received any official bids yet but accept it is a case of when, not if, Lescott will leave after failing to gain promotion. Informal talks have already been held with his representatives and Wolves won't stand in Lescott's way.
Porto star tops Blues list
May 17 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has stepped up his efforts to bring a new striker to Goodison Park with Benni McCarthy shooting back to the top of his wanted list. The Everton manager has long been an admirer of McCarthy and paid a flying visit to Lisbon last Sunday to watch the South African international help FC Porto beat Vitoria Setubal 1-0 in the Portuguese Cup Final. McCarthy came close to joining the Blues last summer but a deal was scuppered then because Everton could not obtain a work permit for the 28-year-old, who has also won the Champions League during his three-year stay in Oporto. But if Moyes' pursuit of McCarthy is to reach a successful conclusion, a lot depends on whether Porto's board conduct their business in a sensible manner or remain as erratic as they have in the past. There have been times in recent years when Everton have thought a deal has been done, only for Porto to bump up their demands at the last minute and scupper the transfer. However, McCarthy - also a target of Portsmouth and Blackburn Rovers - has made no secret of his ambition to test himself in the Premiership and has offered Moyes some encouragement that he might finally land his man. McCarthy, who is likely to cost around £4m, said recently: "Everyone knows that I have wanted to play in England". "I know that one day I will play in the Premier League. I am certain of that." Given his side struggled for goals so desperately last season, Moyes - who has a transfer kitty of roughly £7.5m - has made no secret of his desire to sign a prolific forward and has also run the rule over Auxerre's Luigi Pieroni. The Belgian netted 12 times in Le Championnat last year and representatives from Goodison were in the crowd at Stade Abbe-Deschamps to see Pieroni score twice as Auxerre beat Strasbourg 4-0. Prior to joining Auxerre, Pieroni made a name for himself with Excelsior Mouscron in Belgium where he found the net an impressive 28 times in 30 appearances during season 2004-2005. Moyes continues to monitor Andy Johnson's situation at Crystal Palace but it appears Everton will be priced out of the running for the England international if an auction starts, as seems likely. Bolton Wanderers were today reported to have entered the race for Johnson and their manager Sam Allardyce said before his summer holiday that he was "prepared to spend more money than the club had ever done" to sign a young striker of "proven" Premiership quality. Meanwhile, one forward already at Goodison Park is itching for the new campaign to begin in August. Victor Anichebe ensured season 2005-2006 ended in a blaze of glory as he scored his first top flight goal in the 2-2 draw against West Bromwich Albion. Having made eye catching progress under the guidance of reserve team boss Andy Holden, Anichebe is now hoping he can do similar for Moyes. "I would like to thank Taff [Holden] for working with me all year," added Anichebe. "When the ball went in against West Brom, it was a class moment."
Pieroni would welcome Premiership move
May 18 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
AUXERRE striker Luigi Pieroni says he would welcome a move to the Premiership after emerging as a potential target for Everton boss David Moyes. Pieroni, who scored 12 goals in Le Championnat last season, was watched by an Everton delegation last Saturday when he netted twice in Auxerre's 4-0 thrashing of Strasbourg.
"As a player with Italian roots, I dream mainly about playing in Serie A," said Pieroni. "But England has an attacking style, which suits me. Of course it's physical, but you get kicks everywhere." Pieroni is one of a number of players whom Moyes has watched - his main targets are Porto's Benni McCarthy and Andy Johnson of Crystal Palace - but the player's agent is hopeful a deal can be reached to take him to Goodison Park. "I believe something will happen before the break. Auxerre won't block their players.Pieroni didn't cost them much. "Everton would fit in with his development. Luigi is made for England. He is tall, strong, has a good header, loves playing in space and can score goals."
Blues signing a gem says Moore
May 18 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have snapped up a striking "gem," says Oldham boss Ronnie Moore.
Renowned on Merseyside for his own striking exploits, Moore, who scored 72 goals for Tranmere between 1971 and 1979, believes that 17-year-old Scott Spencer can make the grade at Goodison. Spencer has just completed a £250,000 move to the Blues, after a season in which he scored 29 goals for Oldham's junior teams.
He has yet to make his League debut, but Moore said: "He's definitely a gem. If he keeps progressing the way he has been, Everton will have a real player. "He's still a bit wet behind the ears but Everton will work on him. "We were very sorry to lose him, but it's a decent deal for a football club of our size. "In fact Spurs were after him as well. They came in with a late burst but it was that far down the line with Everton they couldn't do anything about it." Moore outlined Spencer's qualities. "He is quick and he has a good eye for a goal, there's no doubt about that," he explained. "Over 20 yards - and especially the first five - he is lightning quick and when he gets a chance he finishes it. "He has decent feet so he will come short and he can get on the end of things over the top too, but for me he is at his best when he is play ing on defenders' shoulders. "He never gives defenders a minute's peace. "We gave him a couple of run-outs in the reserves last season and he handled the step up well. "He is not the biggest and his heading is not brilliant. He is more of a second striker than anything else, but he is clever and he has a trick or two, and I'm sure he will do well at Everton."
The 17-year-old signed a three-year deal at Goodison last Friday and is expected to begin his Blues career with the club's Academy. Spencer said: "I am ecstatic. It is a dream come true getting my first professional contract. No disrespect to Oldham but this is a great move. It is astep up. "I have developed a lot in the last 18 months. My pace has helped. I scored 29 goals last season but I didn't really get near the first team. My long-term target is to get into the first team here. "I like running at defenders, but I have been doing a lot of work on improving in the air as well." "The good thing about him is that he is effective with his back to goal and he is effective if you want to lift it over the top.
Cahill aims to step up recovery
May 18 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL was today hoping to receive the go-ahead from doctors to intensify his fitness programme as he battles to be fit for the World Cup. The Everton and Australia midfielder's hopes of fulfilling a child-hood dream hung in the balance when he partially tore posterior ligaments in his knee during the 0-0 draw against Birmingham City on April 22. An initially gloomy outlook, however, has brightened considerably when Cahill - who has been doing three physio sessions a day - was given the green light to start running again earlier thisweek. Cahill was given aboost when Socceroos coach Guus Hiddink revealed he would be taking the influential 27-year-old to Germany regardless of his fitness levels. But, such is the progress he has made, the indications are that he will be ready for his country's opening game at the finals against Japan in Kaiserslautern on June 12. He is even looking at Australia's final warm-up game against Liechtenstein as apossible starting point on June 7.
Cahill said: "The injury is looking good. I have another scan and we will see how I get on, but I am optimistic and am giving myself every chance of going. "I am running now and I am very positive. I have spoken to everybody at Australia and they are going to take me all the way regardless, which is great to hear. "I am just trying to give myself every chance. I am just keeping my fingers crossed and working really hard.
"I have obviously sacrificed my holiday and I am doing three sessions a day, with one at Bellefield in the morning, another in the afternoon and a third in the evening with my Australian physio. "The relationship is going really well between the Australian guys and Baz (Everton physio Mick Rathbone) at the club. Things are looking good."
Johnson can be real 'Andy man
May 19 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
HAVING spent 12 months desperately trying to bolster Everton's attacking options, it appears that David Moyes' patience is on the verge of paying off. The news that Everton are ready to break the club transfer record for Crystal Palace flyer Andy Johnson comes as welcome news following a season of unquestionable frustration and should help lift the gathering gloom. Undone by a lack of goals, there is little question that if Johnson arrives at Goodison - Bolton and Wigan are also interested - he will give Everton a dimension they have been missing since Tomasz Radzinski left for Fulham in 2004. Speed. A player whose lightning bursts invariably stretch defences, the 25-year-old has long been admired by Moyes, who sees Johnson as the ideal foil for James Beattie's power and muscular aggression. In many ways, it looks like being the perfect match. As much as James McFadden has progressed, there have been occasions when he has flattered to deceive, and the fact he has left a contract unsigned since last February puts a question mark over his future. With so much at stake in the forthcoming campaign, Moyes needs to get his squad together quickly. The most successful season in recent years was achieved after an excellent warm-up campaign in the States when Moyes had all his prime targets - Tim Cahill and Marcus Bent - secured early. He has intimated that he wants to do something similar this time.
Some will feel the £7m fee for Johnson will gobble up Moyes' entire transfer budget and if there are going to be more arrivals to go alongside loan recruit Tim Howard - possibly Joleon Lescott from Wolves - sacrifices will have to be made.
With a contract left gathering dust, Joseph Yobo is the obvious name supporters will consider, especially as he has been linked with Arsenal. Other cynics will feel there are shades of Alan Shearer, Alan Smith, Michael Owen and Dirk Kuyt surrounding this bid for Johnson. -'PR Stunt!' they will sneer. The difference with this scenario, however, is that Johnson, capped twice by England after scoring 22 Premiership goals during 2004/2005, is known to be keen on a move to Merseyside and is a close friend of Beattie. If Moyes can entice the 25-year-old north, it will give supporters a huge lift and give cause for optimism for next year. Think of the teams who visited Goodison Park and defended deep yet were always a menace because there was a quick forward ready to latch on to long balls out of defence. Provided Everton keep their nerve when the bidding begins, this is certainly one transfer battle they can win.
Blues set to make record bid for striker
May 19 2006 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are ready to smash their club transfer record to bring Andy Johnson to Goodison Park this summer. The Blues are on the verge of making an opening offer in the region of £7m for the Crystal Palace striker, though no official approach has been made yet. Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic are Everton's main rivals in the race for Johnson, who has caught the eye during training sessions at England's pre-World Cup base in Vale de Lobo, Portugal. Having seen hopes of progress hindered last year by a lack of goals - 34 in 38 games represented the lowest total ever recorded by an Everton side in top-flight football - chairman Bill Kenwright and manager David Moyes are determined to get things back on track this summer. Although Moyes has watched FC Porto's Benni McCarthy and been linked with Luigi Pieroni of Auxerre, Johnson has emerged as the man whom he wants to play alongside James Beattie. And the Blues board are ready to push the boat out to land the 25-year-old.
After missing out on promotion to the Premiership, Palace chairman Simon Jordan has accepted that Johnson, who has scored 85 goals in 160 appearances, will leave Selhurst Park this summer and the early indications are that Everton have become favourites to land his signature. Johnson is a close friend of Beattie - Everton's current record signing at £6m - and has told pals he would jump at the chance of moving to Merseyside, despite suggestions to the contrary. The decision to up the ante has strengthened the possibility of that happening.
Blues face wait for Johnson
May 22 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will have to play a game of patience as they wait to see whether their pursuit of Andy Johnson reaches a successful conclusion. Some reports suggest adecision might be reached before the end of the week about where Johnson will play his football next season, but that is unlikely to be the case. The Crystal Palace striker is currently concentrating on making sure he has achance of being included in England's World Cup 23, if Wayne Rooney fails to recover from his broken metatarsal. Until he gets adefinitive answer from Sven-Goran Eriksson on whether he will be travelling or not - that might not be until after England's final friendly match against Jamaica on June 3 - Everton will have to wait for Johnson. An ideal scenario, though, would be something happening before the end of the week. Bolton Wanderers are Everton's main rivals in the race for the 25-year-old's signature, but while they are prepared to smash their club record transfer - just like the Blues - they have not yet contacted Palace chairman Simon Jordan, despite claims they lodged an £8m bid over the weekend. Wigan Athletic and Portsmouth are also in the running and are willing to start the bidding at £7m. Such ascenario will satisfy Jordan - who is resigned to losing his star asset - with an auction bumping Johnson's price up. That is something Everton are desperate to avoid. Johnson has told friends that Goodison Park remains his preferred destination and wants the chance to play alongside his pal James Beattie. Everton remain committed to smashing their transfer fee to make that happen.
Until something concrete happens with Johnson, the pursuit of acentral defender will have to wait, though Everton are still keen on signing Joleon Lescott from Wolver-hampton Wanderers. Leeds United's failure to win promotion to the Premiership has strengthened Everton's chances of keeping hold of David Weir next season.
The Elland Road club were prepared to offer Weir a two-year contract but he does not want to drop out of the Premiership and could be ready to put pen-to-paper on the contract Everton offered to him recently. Meanwhile, Tim Cahill has reassured Everton that he will not jeopardise his long-term fitness for the chance to play in next month's World Cup. The Australian international damaged knee ligaments on April 22 against Birmingham City yet remains confident of lining up in his country's opening match against Japan. He said: "I feel positive about everything. I'm keeping myself fit, running on it every day but I'm not pushing it too hard."
We won't pay king's ransom
May 23 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will not allow themselves to be held to ransom over Andy Johnson as they step up their efforts to land the Crystal Palace striker. The Blues are one of three clubs to have bids for Johnson turned down by Palace chairman Simon Jordan - the others being Bolton and Wigan - and it is apparent he wants to encourage an auction for the England international. Johnson withdrew from England's training base in Hertfordshire to meet with Jordan last night to discuss his future options but was told that he will only be allowed on the chairman's terms. Jordan is adamant that he does not have to sell. Jordan said: "If I decide to sell, which is by no means certain, I will be selling at a price that suits me and not the buyer. "We don't have to sell Andrew Johnson. We would sell him because we want to improve the squad." The reality, however, that Johnson will leave Selhurst Park in the near future and Everton are hoping to contact their rivals for the 25-year-old's signature to ensure a bid war does not ensue and logic prevails. Everton are ready to smash the club transfer record to land Johnson and are prepared to pay as much as £8m for a player who has scored 85 goals in 160 appearances for Palace. He has long been admired by manager David Moyes. Everton remain hopeful that Johnson's desire to move to Goodison Park will hold the key but even if he does arrive for a huge fee, the board will make more money available for Moyes to sign a central defender. Wolves' Joleon Lescott remains the top target but Aston Villa have also entered the race. Should any move for Lescott flounder, Robert Huth of Chelsea is high on Moyes' wanted list. The champions have made clear, however, that they want in the region of £6m for the German international and for the time being, all efforts are being concentrated on winning the battle for Johnson. Just as they did with Aston Villa over James Beattie's transfer from Southampton and with Newcastle United when Scott Parker came up for grabs from Chelsea, Everton hope to agree with Bolton and Wigan that they all lodge the same bid and then let Johnson decide where he wants to go.
Neville given England call
May 23 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE'S hopes of playing at the World Cup finals have been given a boost after he received a surprise call-up to the England standby list last night.
A back injury to Nigel Reo-Coker forced the West Ham United captain to withdraw from the squad yesterday and prompted Eriksson to call for the versatile Neville.
The Everton midfielder had been facing up to the prospect of missing out on a third consecutive finals, having missed the cut at the last minute in 1998 and 2002.
But Neville will report to England's Hertfordshire training retreat today knowing that further injuries to Sven Goran Eriksson's 23-man squad could open the door for him to travel to Germany. Since making his debut against China in 1996, Neville has been capped 52 times by England but his international career has stagnated in the past 12 months. The 29-year-old's most recent appearance for his country came during a 3-2 win against Colombia on May 31 last year and things looked bleak for him when Eriksson axed Neville for the friendly with Uruguay in March. Neville, one of Everton's most consistent performers following his £3.5m move from Manchester United, had been coming to terms with missing out but is keeping his fingers crossed it might prove to be third time lucky. "Everyone knows I'm desperate to go to this one," Neville said recently. "I've missed out on two right at the last stage. If I make the World Cup squad after such an enjoyable season, it will cap everything off. If it doesn't happen, it won't be for the want of trying."
Sheff Wed planning move for Big Dunc
May 24 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY boss Paul Sturrock has offered Duncan Ferguson the chance to extend his footballing career at Hillsborough next season. Ferguson was released by Everton earlier this month after scoring 72 goals in 273 appearances and has yet to reveal his plans for the future. It seems unlikely that Ferguson will head to South Yorkshire for a swansong, given he came close to retiring last Christmas when expressing concerns to Everton manager David Moyes about his levels of fitness.
When he paraded emotionally around Goodison Park on the final day of the campaign with his family, Ferguson - who has played for Dundee United, Rangers and Newcastle United - appeared to be telling Evertonians that the time had come to hang up his boots up. Sturrock knows he faces an uphill battle to persuade the 34-year-old to drop down into the Championship. But having been his coach at Tannadice Park between 1990 and 1993, Sturrock feels Ferguson would prove to be a tremendous signing. Sturrock said: "He is an exceptional talent, although he had a wee injury last year. I'm not writing him off anyway. I'm sure Dunc will be finding a home in the Premiership but I hope it's with us." Meanwhile, the Andy Johnson saga shows no signs of reaching an imminent conclusion despite Wigan Athletic making an £8.5m offer for the striker that Crystal Palace are likely to accept. Ultimately, though, it will come down to the 25-year-old deciding whether he wants to move to the JJB Stadium or hold out for another club. Bolton have lodged an £8m bid, while Everton are prepared to pay a similar figure to land the England international. Palace chairman Simon Jordan said: "One club is close to matching our valuation. But whether Andrew Johnson decides to join that club is another matter." Wigan are understood to be outsiders in this particular three-horse race but their decision to increase their offer is simply making things difficult for both Everton and Bolton, while playing into Jordan's hands. Everton were ready to come to an agreement with their rivals to all offer the same price but have not received any feedback. Given Johnson favours a move to Goodison Park, the Blues are resigned to not receiving any co-operation.
Every effort is being made at board level to ensure the pursuit of Johnson reaches a successful conclusion but, unless the player digs his heels in and demands a move to Merseyside, it looks some time before that will happen.
Johnson's price tag just out of our range
May 24 2006 Echo Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
WILL someone tell me how we are expected to break our club record transfer fee - £7m - to sign Andy Johnson when Bolton have made an £8m bid? Are they now abigger and richer club than us? Then we are also going to sign that unknown Joleon Lescott from Wolves for £3m-£4m -all from abudget of £7m! This, after we signed that ludicrous waste-of-space Kroldrup. You really are taking the Michael, now Bill?
Disgruntled Dave Murphy, Merseyside
BILL Kenwright is pretending he is going to sign Johnson, Lescott ... this player and that player, all on a budget of £7m, while the big clubs in the north west (Wigan and Bolton) can outspend us. I will no longer buy aseason ticket to fund Bill's plan B.
Steve Edmonds, Bootle
I'M not really sure Johnson is worth £7m, but the £10m tag placed on him by Simon Jordan is a joke. It's way too much for a player of Johnson's calibre, and we would have to sell other players, like Yobo, to fund the transfer. I think we could buy two or even three decent players for £10m. Johnson is good and I'd love to see him in an Everton shirt, but surely there's better value around for that sort of money.
Simon Robinson, Childwall
I READ the comments in Saturday's Echo re Mr Kenwright. This man professes to be the saviour of our club but, during the most important summer in our recent history, he will be in the States. In the period he has had control of the club and, taking into account money spent on transfers and money brought back in to the club through player sales. his total balance is just over £5m - approximately £840,000 spent on players per season. How can any Premiership club be expected to progress with such apitiful investment? We don't need emotional speeches telling us how much you love your club, we need investment to give our loyal fans what they deserve.
Act now before the team from over the park disappear over the horizon.
Paul Williams, Liverpool 15
Davies has lacked the inspiration
I WOULD like to take issue with the article about the boo boys being unfair on Simon Davies. He was booed because we have waited all season to see something from him and he has failed to deliver. Most Evertonians (me included) believe he is not good enough to wear the famous blue shirt. If you look at last season, he more or less played every game up to Christmas and was terrible. He was later injured and when the more talented Leon Osman took his place we enjoyed our best run of the season.
In the final quarter, he was back in the side, and we were poor again. Coincidence?
Wherever he has played across midfield he has looked unconvincing at best.
Moyes, I believe, only plays him to justify the spending -£4.5m - which is more than Arteta and Cahill combined. I feel we should get rid of Davies and, if Barry Horne believes he has contributed in every game he's played, he must be on adifferent planet to 37,000 Evertonians. S Twist, St Helens
ANOTHER blank season under BillKenwright and the negative David Moyes.
What we need is aruthless chairman who demands success - no matter what the cost - and an attack-minded manager with abit more ambition than amid-table finish.
Until then, Everton will win nothing. S Thomas, Everton
Local heroes' Borneo trek
May 24 2006 Liverpool Echo
FOOTBALL legends Neville Southall and Alan Kennedy are in Borneo for a nine-day jungle trek. The Everton and Liverpool old boys will join ex-players Brian Kilcline, Arthur Albiston and Simon Garner in a challenge aimed at raising more than £100,000 for the Children Today charity. During the trip they will lead teams on challenges including white water rafting, mountain biking and a torchlit trek to the summit of Mount Kinabalu. The legends will captain the teams with the goal of completing each task in the quickest time to win the PFA Borneo Cup. Alan Kennedy, captain of the Liverpool team, said: "After months of training and preparation it's so exciting that the time to take up the challenge has finally arrived. "We're all used to battling for 90 minutes but nine days of physically demanding tasks is a whole different ball game.
"I just hope I've put in enough hours in the gym to bring my fitness up." Everton captain Neville Southall said: "It's the opportunity of a lifetime. "But the bottom line is about raising a lot of moneyfor charity."
Moyes' tribute as Stubbs signs in
May 25 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today hailed his second summer 'signing' and urged him to keep delivering the performances that have made him indispensable. Alan Stubbs ended all speculation about his future yesterday when putting pen-to-paper on the one-year contract extension he had been offered by the Everton manager earlier this month.
Following on from the loan arrival of Manchester United goalkeeper Tim Howard, Moyes has now addressed two of the pressing issues with his squad and is hoping a third - namely the signing of Crystal Palace striker Andy Johnson - can be completed soon. Stubbs was one of Everton's most consistent performers when he returned from Sunderland in January after an ill-fated spell in the North East and kept Matteo Ferrari and Joseph Yobo out of the starting line-up. If the 34-year-old is going to figure so prominently next season, though, Moyes has warned Stubbs that he can't allow his standards to drop as he intends to bring a new central defender to the club as soon as possible. "There will be competition next season and he knows that," said Moyes. "But we did not want to let him go. We did not want him to go last season either but that is all water under the bridge now and we can look to the future. "Stubbsy came back here after Christmas and he really helped steady the ship. In a way, he proved himself to be indispensable. I felt he made a significant contribution to helping us up the table. "He was always fit and available, he was always around for the games we played. He kept himself very fit and always did his best. He is an Evertonian and embodies the spirit of supporters on the pitch. "I'm sure that he is someone who will have an influence next season. He wanted to stay and play apart and we wanted him to stay, too. We always hoped he would because he is an experienced player.
"We are pleased that he has signed and maybe he can stay around in the future. That is something that we can think about. But, nevertheless, we are still looking to bring someone else in." Having made 156 appearances for Everton during two spells, the signs suggest that Stubbs - who was signed initially by Walter Smith from Celtic - will play out his career at Goodison Park. Speaking shortly before the end of the season, he revealed how happy he was that the chance to make amends for that move to Sunderland came around in January and is eager to draw a line under the episode.
"If we could all go over the mistakes that we have made... well, I think we've all regretted doing certain things during our short life span," he said. "It happens. You move on, get on with it, learn from the experience." The Blues, meanwhile, must decide today whether they think Andy Johnson is worth £8.5m. Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan has accepted an offer from Wigan for that figure and told Everton and Bolton they must match it. "Wigan are in the box seat," he said. "Everton and Bolton are keen to have the player, but they need to get a move on."
Sign up train with the Blues
May 25 2006 Liverpool Echo
PLACES are still available for next week's Everton Soccer Camp at the club's Academy training base in Netherton. The Camp will run from Tuesday, May 30 until Thursday, June 1 between 10am and 3pm. For just £50 you can sign up your son or daughter to be coached by a team of top Everton coaches at the same training facilities which have been home to the likes of Tony Hibbert, Leon Osman and James Vaughan in recent years. The camps are open to boys and girls aged 5 -14 years and cater for every ability level, from beginner to superstar! The children are grouped into age and ability bands on the first day to make sure everybody enjoys their time with Everton.
A typical day at a camp includes a proper 'footballer's style' warm-up, skill sessions, penalty competitions, small-sided games, and water breaks, of course!
The last hour of each day consists of a tournament for the youngsters to show off their newly learned skills. For more details, ring (0151) 330 2307 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
BT teaming up with Everton
May 25 2006 By Neil Hodgson, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have linked up with telecoms giant BT to launch a fans' loyalty card that doubles as their new season ticket. The swipe card will give fans turn-stile access and collect points for a range of high street retail partners. BT will gather and examine data from the card and other partners include Teamcard, which has a pedigree in foot-ball and SkiData which specialises in organising Alpine ski lift access.
Everton deputy chief executive Robert Elstone,said: "This is BT'sfirst foray into this area." The club will deliver local partners for the loyalty scheme and BT will provide high street retailers. "They will be well known names whereour fans spend on aregular basis, like supermarkets or petrol stations," he added. "The high street partners will offer our fans a good deal for using the loyalty card." He added: "The business drivers behind it aresafer and quicker access to the stadium, cost savings from turnstile operators and stewarding and it minimises ticketing abuse. We are confident of making savings." About 40,000 cards will be sent to season ticket holders and shareholders first and the scheme will be extended later. "It is advantageous for us to have as many cards in issue," said Mr Elstone. Cards will be sent out from the end of July and will be tested in a pre-season friendly match. "The loyalty starts as soon as the fan gets the card in their hands," said Mr Elstone. Meanwhile, the club Megastore will close over the bank holiday for a refit linked to the three-year partnership with sport chain JJB which is taking over Everton's retail operations. Mr Elstone said: "We are looking to partner with experts in other fields. JJB is providing us with guaranteed profit and growth from retail."
Blues set to offer £8.5m for Johnson
May 26 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are set to match Wigan and Bolton's £8.5m bid for Andy Johnson.
The Blues have decided to trade blows for the striker - by increasing their offer from £7.25m. But they still can't match the terms their Lancastrian rivals are prepared to pay. While Bolton and Wigan can pay the bulk of the £8.5m fee over 12 months, Everton want to spread the deal over two years - with funds also needed for a new centre-half. The Blues hope that Andy Johnson's preference for Everton will force Crystal Palace to accept those terms. Johnson was a guest at James Beattie's wedding last week and is close pals with a player who could become his new strike partner.
Johnson met Wigan boss Paul Jewell this morning, and is also expected to meet Bolton's Sam Allardyce over the weekend. The concern for the Blues is that Wigan could smash their salary structure in their desperation to land a striker - and offer an unrealistic pay deal they cannot match. This is where it will become apparent how much Johnson wants to move to Goodison Park. If he digs his heels in and tells Palace chairman Simon Jordan that Merseyside is the only option that appeals, the likelihood is that he will become Everton's record signing. A Palace statement said yesterday: "Crystal Palace have accepted another bid for Andrew Johnson, after Bolton Wanderers offered £8.5m for the player on Thursday. "The offer from Sam Allardyce's side matches the one made on Wednesday from Wigan Athletic and therefore the 25-year-old now has permission to speak to both Lancashire clubs."
Everton will not turn their attentions to a central defensive signing until the Johnson saga is resolved. But Chelsea stopper Robert Huth and Wolves defender Joleon Lescott are both in manager David Moyes' sights. Wolves yesterday turned down a £4.5m bid from newly-promoted Reading for Lescott. "I am now dealing with serious enquiries for Joleon," said Wolves chief executive Jez Moxey.
Time to bite the bullet
May 26 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE dearly departed Brian Labone was rarely at a loss for words. But I once saw him rendered speechless - after being told that Andrei Kanchelskis had asked for 24 hours to choose between Middlesbrough and Everton. The look of bewilderment and disbelief was genuine, as he shook his head and turned mutely away.
Perhaps it's humane that Labby isn't around to hear that the Blues could be outbid by Wigan for a footballer this week. Their offer for Andy Johnson was accepted yesterday. Everton's next move is undecided. Before we go any further, I should point out that Andy Johnson is not worth £8.5m. He's probably not even worth £6m. But it's supply and demand. Proven goalscorers with a working knowledge of English football are not ubiquitous. And Johnson's tally in each of his last three seasons is 32, 21 and 17 - the middle total scored in the Premiership, the first figure only two goals short of Everton's entire Premiership goals tally last season. The alternatives are not appetising. Championship strikers without any top flight pedigree, men like Cameron Jerome, David Nugent or Marlon King, would still cost around £5m. Yes, David Moyes could strike lucky and end up with another Darren Bent. But he could also finish with egg on his face and Bobby Zamora on his books. Callers to this desk have championed the claims of Dean Ashton, but he still cost £7.25m and scored three Premiership goals last season. There is no doubt that shopping abroad offers better value for money. But sometimes you have to speculate to accumulate - and I'm rapidly reaching the conclusion that Everton can't afford to lose out on this target. And if you want to know how Simon Jordan can demand £8.5m for a footballer who four years ago was a makeweight in a deal which took Clinton Morrison to Birmingham, the answer's quite simple. He's been reading the terms of football's new TV deal.
Everton chief executive Keith Wyness outlined the untold riches available to Premiership clubs on the club's official website this week. Each Premiership club will now receive £28m a year in TV revenue alone. That means the club which finishes bottom of the Premier-ship next season will get £30m. The club which finishes 10th will receive more than Barcelona won this season for lifting the Champions League.
And next season's champions will 'earn' double the money Chelsea picked up this year. Andy Johnson isn't worth £8.5m But a litre of petrol isn't worth 95p - you still grudgingly pay it because you have to get to work in the morning. If Andy Johnson can match the total he scored in his last Premiership campaign, £8.5m would seem a small price to pay. He could turn out to be a Tony Cottee, or he could turn out to be a Mickey Walsh. If he goes to Wigan we'll never know. And Brian Labone would turn in his grave.
Why total professional Neville is always on call
EVERYTHING you need to know about Phil Neville was underlined by his snap decision to swap Barbados for Reading this week. On holiday with his wife and children in the Caribbean, he jumped on the next available flight when he heard that Sven wanted him to replace the injured Nigel Reo Coker in England's stand-by squad.
Perhaps he remembered Trevor Sinclair in 2002 - not even in the stand-by squad in May, in the starting line-up against Nigeria, Denmark and Brazil in June.
Or maybe he's just a total pro who loves his country.
Johnson agrees to Blues switch
May 29 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDY JOHNSON is poised to become Everton's record signing today after he undergoes a medical at Goodison Park. Though both Bolton and Wigan still hold hopes that they will win the race to sign the Crystal Palace striker for £8.5m,
Johnson has his heart set on a move to Merseyside and will put pen-to-paper on adeal within the next 24 hours. Everton chairman Bill Kenwright agreed a fee with his counterpart at Sel-hurst Park, Simon Jordan, late on Friday evening and Johnson was impressed by David Moyes' ambitions when he met him over the weekend for talks.
Moyes has spent 12 months chasing the England international and believes Johnson will be the perfect foil for last year'sleading scorer James Beattie, who also happens to be agood friend of the 25-year-old. Once the I's are dotted and the T's arecrossed on Johnson's contract, Moyes - determined to make sure Everton do not endure similar frustrations to last season - will turnhis attentions to signing a central defender.
Robert Huth and Joleon Lescott are his two main targets but moves for either of those players will not be financed by selling Joseph Yobo, as some wild stories emanating from Nigeria suggested yesterday. Yobo, a target for Champions League finalists Arsenal, has still not signed the deal he was offered 12 months ago and will be free to start talking to clubs about a Bosman move from January. Though Moyes has maintained there is no need to panic about the situation, he was quoted in Nigerian newspaper as saying: "I would have loved to hear a word from Joseph or his agents before the World Cup. "I learnt in the papers they want him for £4mil-lion but I will recommend that we sell at £8 million, so we should be ableto cash in on his movement if he decides to go." Everton, however, quickly rubbished the story and are understandably furious that the quotes were fabricated. Hope remains that Yobo - who is settled in Merseyside - will commit his future to the club. One man who has done just that is reserve central defender Mark Hughes. He has agreed a 12-month extension after impressing for the second string during the most recent campaign. He feels he can improve further still. "I'm happy to sign the deal," said Hughes. "This year has all been about trying to get a contract for next year and it has been pretty successful really. Hopefully next year we will be here again doing the same thing."
Van der Meyde staying
May 30 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
GALATASARAY are keen to sign Andy van der Meyde, but their efforts to prise the winger away from Goodison Park are likely to end in frustration. The Everton midfielder is aware that a cloud hangs over him following an injury-ravaged first season on Merseyside, when he made just seven starts and failed to complete 90 minutes. Having been alerted to the fact that van der Meyde might be available for transfer, Galatasaray are keeping an eye on the situation and would love to take him to Istanbul. Van der Meyde, however, told the ECHO earlier this month that he wants to stay and fight for his place and his agent, Chiel Dekker, today reiterated the midfielder's intentions. "He's not going to Turkey, absolutely no way," said Dekker. "We are aware of an interest from Galatasaray but Andy wants to stay at Everton and prove himself. He is looking forward to going back for pre-season training."
The main challenge facing van der Meyde now, though, is convincing Everton boss David Moyes that he can play a part next season after it emerged there were worries about his attitude and fitness. While he wants to stay with Everton, van der Meyde could yet be sold if a club is willing to match the £1.8m it cost to sign the 26-year-old from Internazionale last August.
Johnson to be unveiled tomorrow
May 30 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDREW Johnson will be unveiled as Everton's record signing tomorrow afternoon once the formalities of passing a medical have been completed. The striker has been given permission to leave England's World Cup training camp to tie up the loose ends on his £8.5m move from Crystal Palace and he is already counting down the days until he joins up with his new team-mates. "I find the prospect of playing for one of the biggest names in British football impossible to resist," said Johnson, who has been offered a lucrative four-year deal. "I am now just hopeful I can swiftly complete my medical so that I can sign on the dotted line and commit myself to the club."
Now that his prime transfer target has been secured, Moyes will now switch his attentions to signing a central defender. Joleon Lescott remains at the head of his wanted list, in front of Chelsea's Robert Huth. Huth is unsettled at Stamford Bridge and been frustrated by a lack of opportunities. Wigan and Middlesbrough are keeping tabs on the German international but the 21-year-old does now know what the future holds. "All I know is that I am not happy," said Huth. "After the World Cup, I will speak to Jose Mourinho. Even a transfer to the Bundesliga is a possibility. It is all wide open. Nothing has been decided yet."
Duncan Ferguson: Icon or hooligan?
May 30 2006 Liverpool Echo
The bare statistics show Duncan Ferguson's Everton career encompassed 272 matches and yielded 73 goals. But career stats cannot quantify the level of affection many football fans held Ferguson in. Big Dunc wasn't the only man with tears in his eyes as he completed a final lap of honour at Goodison Park on the last day of the 2005-06 season. Today DAVID PRENTICE starts a five-part series chronicling his career. INSPIRATION or exasperation? World beater or a waster? Head man or head case? Duncan Ferguson's football career has sparked more opposing views than perhaps any other footballer. Onlylast week, one national newspaper article summarised his career using words as wildly varied as "Icon, hooligan, man of principle, shameless mercenary, tender bird lover, vicious thug, generous team-mate and waste of space." Football journalists, particularly those north of the border, often sneered at an individual demonised as little more than a footballing thug, a man who turned his back on his country and never realised the full potential of his God-given talents. Football fans, however, especially those from the blue half of the city of Liverpool, often claimed that if they ever found Duncan Ferguson in bed with their wife, they'd tuck him in! So how did one footballer spark such wildly differing perceptions? Even as a teenager he inspired devotion from his fans, while his manager fined and banned him! Ferguson signed for Dundee United after being spotted playing for junior side Carse Thistle in his home town of Stirling. He made his professional debut at Ibrox Stadium on November 11, 1990 - and immediately upset the establishment. The Terrors triumphed 2-1, and under the iron-willed tutelage of renowned disciplinarian Jim McLean, the youngster quickly established himself as a striker of rich promise. He made a further nine league appearances that season, scoring one goal, and was the semi-final match-winner when Dundee United beat St Johnstone to reach the Scottish Cup final. But stories of a stormy relationship with manager McLean quickly surfaced, culminating in his being fined and banned after an unscheduled walk-out. His fuse appeared to be equally short off the pitch. Fined for butting a policeman in 1991, fined for kicking a Hearts fan on crutches in 1993 and then later that same year put on probation for assaulting a fisherman in an Anstruther bar, the incident which had the most lasting repercussions came following his British record transfer to Rangers in the summer of 1993. Walter Smith paid £3.75m - at a time when Ferguson first flashed across Everton's radar. Howard Kendall, then in his second spell at the club and having conceded that his midget gem strike-force of Peter Beardsley and Tony Cottee needed beefing up, bid for Rangers' highly-rated target-man - along with Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Leeds. But it was Rangers who landed a player who was already starting to makean impact at international level.
Called up to Scotland Under-21s in 1992, a summons to the full national side followed, where a spectacularly athletic overhead kick against Germany which smacked off the crossbar suggested the Scots had found a talisman to carry national hopes for years to come. The moment showed his rich potential. But it also became a motif for his tantalising ability to fall short of genuine achievements. His move to Ibrox never worked out. After finishing two successive seasons as top scorer at Tannadice, Duncan Ferguson's time in Glasgow was not able only for the incidents which made front page headlines, rather than the sports pages. A serious knee injury meant he was restricted to just 14 appearances and two goals in 12 months.
But an incident against Raith Rovers in April 1994 ultimately had lasting repercussions. Ferguson was involved in an altercation with John McStay, a flare-up which ended with him head-butting the player. It was unsavoury and regrettable, but hardly unique on a football field. There action of the Scottish football authorities, however, was. A barely disguised witch-hunt was launched which only ended when Ferguson served a 44-day jail sentence in Glasgow's Barlinnie Prison. By the time Ferguson served his time, however, he was an Everton player. And the seeds of a lasting love affair with Everton Football Club and its fans had been sown.
Spending spree is not over
May 31 2006 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON chairman Bill Kenwright today finally welcomed Andrew Johnson to Goodison Park - then hinted the Blues' new record signing will not be the last arrival this summer. The 25-year-old broke off from training with England yesterday morning to first undergo a medical at Bellefield, then complete a deal that will keep him on Merseyside until 2011. Having boosted his forward line and drafted Tim Howard in from Manchester United on a season-long loan, some have suggested that manager David Moyes has blown his entire transfer kitty but Kenwright was quick to point out that is not the case. "At the end of last season, David confirmed he would like to strengthen the squad with a new goalkeeper, a defender and a striker," said Kenwright. "We have completed the first two parts of the triangle and I'm hopeful we can complete the third." Chelsea's Robert Huth and Joleon Lescott of Wolves are the two players who head Moyes' wanted list today, though, all talk is about Johnson, who has cost Everton £8.6m after scoring 85 times in 160 appearances for Palace.
The fee dwarfs the £6m it took to bring James Beattie north from Southampton 17 months ago and the interest of rival bidders Wigan and Bolton caused a few anxious moments. Kenwright, however,always had a feeling that Johnson would end up on Merseyside and is delighted that an interest which was first registered to Crystal Palace 12 months ago in the end bore fruit. "There is no such thing as a simple transfer these days and this one probably took a while longer than most," said Kenwright, who only negotiated the fee late last Friday evening after lengthy discussions with Palace. "It's no secret that David wanted Andrew Johnson a year ago but weadhered to Crystal Palace's request not to push with our enquiries. They were understandably keen to keep Andrew to help them regain their Premiership status.
"Simon Jordan, though, was a good as his word and when it became obvious thatAndrew was forsale this summer,he was as straightforward as any chairman I have ever dealt with. "Simon is a canny negotiator but from what I have perceived over the last two weeks, he deals with the truth, which always makes things easier. We kept our powder dry until relatively late as other clubs made their approaches. "But the actual transfer itself was reasonably simple once both clubs had agreed the fee. It's my impression that Andy became an Everton player from the moment he met our manager. "He was honourable enough to say he wanted think about the situation for 24 hours beforeletting anyone knowhis decision. But Iwas pretty convinced he was going to be in a Blue jersey long before the end of that period."
We'll fight to keep Blues in our city
May 31 2006 By Nick Coligan & Sam Lister, Liverpool Echo
COUNCIL leader Warren Bradley today vowed to "fight tooth and nail" to stop Everton FC leaving Liverpool. Experts have been sent out by the council to scour the city for potential sites for a new stadium, after it emerged Knowsley was offering the club three possible plots including land next to Kirkby sports centre in Valley Road.
Reports that Kirkby municipal golf course - owned by Liverpool council - was also being offered to Everton were today denied by Knowsley chiefs. It is thought the Knowsley offers would see the space being provided free or cheaply to attract the club. But Liverpool council is desperate to come up with its own sites within the city boundaries, and has not ruled out resurrecting a ground-share with Liverpool FC. The Reds have repeatedly said that is not an option. Cllr Bradley, an Everton season ticket holder, said: "We have got land development services looking at available sites in the city, in south as well as north Liverpool. "Everton chief executive Keith Wyness knows we are doing that and has not told me that they have plans to move anywhere else. "We have also not yet discounted a joint stadium because Liverpool have not yet given a definite 'yes' to the new Anfield, and if there is a change of hierarchy, it could be back on the agenda. "If Everton did leave, the knock-on effect would really be felt in Walton." Labour opposition leader Joe Anderson, also a Blue, added: "The council must be more proactive and talk to neighbouring authorities to see if we can broker some sort of deal." Speculation about Everton's future at Goodison Park has been rife since a plan for a waterfront stadium at Kings Dock collapsed more than three years ago. The ECHO revealed last year that a site off Switch Island, Netherton, was also being considered by the club, while Liverpool's Central Docks have also been mentioned. An Everton spokesman said: "There are talks ongoing. We have a number of options."
Start of a love affair as Dunc hits Goodison
May 31 2006 Liverpool Echo
Duncan Ferguson made a lasting impression on Evertonians, from the first moment he pulled on a blue shirt as DAVID PRENTICE discovers in the second of our five-part series to mark the end of the talisman's Goodison career.
DUNCAN FERGUSON evoked the spirit of Andy Gray when he arrived at Goodison Park in October 1994. But, at the time,the loan signing from Rangers was merely paying lip-service to his new employers - as both parties made it clear the centre-forward was merely arriving on loan for three months in a bid to escape the constricting media pressure in Glasgow. At a press conference with fellow loan Ranger Ian Durrant, and resplendent in bright red jacket, Ferguson said: "I've come down here fired up to do the best for myself and Everton. "If I can score a few and contribute to the team, hopefully that will help us in the league. "Andy Gray also started his career at Dundee United and became a big favourite at Everton. If I can do half as well as he did here I'll be happy. Any player will tell you first team football is the priority. That's why I jumped at the chance Mike Walker has given me."
Both parties saw the move as temporary, but Ferguson was the right player at the right time for Everton Football Club, and, although he might not have appreciated it in the autumn of 1994, Goodison Park was very much the right place at the right time for Duncan Ferguson. There was no escaping the intense media scrutiny, however, on a striker who still had a suspended 12-match ban hanging over his head from the SFA.
Morning newspaper headlines ranged from 'Farce' to 'Loan Rangers Fiasco' and 'Walker's Wobbles' after some papers claimed that chairman Peter Johnson had brought in Ferguson and Durrant without manager Mike Walker's knowledge, and that the chairman had even tried to add ex-Evertonian Trevor Steven in a triple swoop.
The club reacted angrily. "They are both Scottish internationals. All we have done is sign two players who can help get us out of the predicament we are in," rapped Walker. "Duncan Ferguson is an exciting striker. He is a great player, but unfortunately for him other events have overshadowed his ability.
"Ferguson is a good player - despite what some people seem to think. The only problem has been what is getting written by some people. Some of it has been scandalous. "If I had got involved in it I would have brought the game into disrepute. Constructive criticism is one thing, but some of the stuff being thrown about is another. "The players we have signed seem to have been some source of amusement to some people, but I think they are quality." Chairman Peter Johnson added: "It's absolute nonsense to suggest I am signing players without the manager's knowledge.
"Because I went to Glasgow last weekend to tie up the two loan signings some people have tried to give the impression Mike Walker was unaware of what was happening. That is ridiculous. "Mike identifies the player or players he wants and I do all Ican to get them." Ferguson made his Everton debut at Portsmouth in the second legofa Coca-Cola Cup tie Everton trailed 3-2. Despite a 1-1 draw ending Everton's interest in the competition, Evertonians' interest in the big target man was intensified by his perfor mance. "Duncan Ferguson started and made an immediate impact. It's a long time since Evertonians have watched a tall line leader dominate amatch inthe air," reported the following night's ECHO. "That's just what the big Scot did, and proved he's no slouch on the floor either with neat distribution and some sharp links with Amokachi."
While Duncan Ferguson's Everton career was only just starting, however, manager Mike Walker's was in its death throes. Ferguson played five more matches under the man who brought him to Goodison - a streaky 1-0 home win over West Ham the only success - before Peter Johnson terminated Walker's employment and brought renowned football fire-fighter Joe Royle back to his spiritual roots. He had one hell of a fire to extinguish. Everton were rock bottom of the table, and with eight points from 14 matches had made the worst start to a season in the club's entire history.
Even worse, Royle's first match was against neighbours Liverpool flying high with nine wins, two draws and just three defeats, a goal difference of 32-12 - and an in-form striker in Robbie Fowler who had scored more goals than the entire Everton team. To make matters worse, Royle's own target man was arrested on an alleged drink driving charge in Paradise Street at 1.20am on Sunday . . . barely 24 hours before the big derby. The incident hardly registered with Ferguson - butafter his swash-buckling performance against the Reds it helped cement his place in Evertonian folklore. Ferguson produced his first match-winning performance in the 2-0 victory over the Reds at Goodison - but not his last. He opened his goalscoring account for the Blues with a soaring second half header down at the Gwladys Street End - again far from his last, and he ignited a love affair with the crowd which would last more than a decade. "You wouldn't have known he had anything worrying him," said Joe Royle afterwards. "He's a character and he can play. "He obviously needs the big occasion and he thrived on it. He was absolutely terrific in the second half.
"He went to war in many ways and showed all the aggression we know he has, allied to his ability." Just a day later, Rangers boss Walter Smith reiterated his club's stance.
"When his three-month loan is up, Duncan will be returning to Ibrox," he said.
Smith had failed to appreciate, however, the level of fervour Ferguson had generated on Merseyside. A rebel in search of applause had finally found a home where he felt wanted - and he started to explore the possibility of a permanent residence at Everton.
Our 'exclusive' with Ferguson
May 31 2006 Liverpool Echo
DUNCAN FERGUSON did speak exclusively to the Echo once - although the words exchanged hardly amount to an illuminating exposé of his thoughts and footballing philosophies. In the days when footballers were altogether more familiar with and more trusting of the local press, I was booked into the same hotel as Mike Walker's Everton team for four nights, as they faced Portsmouth and then Southampton.
Despite alate goal ending Everton's interest in the League Cup at Fratton Park, the majority of the players headed into Bournemouth. Ferguson, who was nursing a badly swollen ankle, did not. I joined him at the hotel bar and asked: "Do you think you'll stay at Everton once your loan's finished?" "I wouldn't have thought so," he replied.
And that was that. Infinitely more entertaining was a colourful exchange between Ian Snodin and David Burrows, but Ferguson had long since retired to bed.
Johnson is just right for Beats
May 31 2006 Echo Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
ANDREW JOHNSON will provide the perfect strike partner for Beattie and they will have something to prove together for Everton and England. I would like to see the club move on in the transfer market. Local lad Kevin Nolan would be a great signing if we could raise the money along with Curtis Davies from WBA. We need to be signing young English talent to push to the next level. Alan Bond, Merseyside
IS Andrew Johnson the answer? I thought James Beattie was meant to be the answer.
Perhaps Johnson would do okay, but £8.5 million worth? I think not.
Let's hope Moyes can sort us out sooner rather than later otherwise this will be the first decade we've won nothing since the 1950s. (I'm including the 1969/70 championship as a 1970s trophy).
John Cartwright, Maghull
CONGRATULATIONS David Moyes. He has managed to get blood out of a stone and Andrew Johnson wants to come to Goodison. For once let's look forward to the new season and see that we have two of England's best strikers together and that our board have backed the manager. Phil Maynard, Wirral
ANDREW Johnson is a great signing, the price is immaterial as every club buys flops. So why not take a chance on Johnson, it's better than trying to buy Nugent or some other non-international, unknown and untried in the Premiership for £5m.
We now need to secure Yobo and buy another young centre-back and bring on Anichebe, Vaughan and Turner. Jack Merchant, Bootle
NOW that Mr Johnson will be a part of the Everton scene for the immediate future, Kenwright must, as a matter of priority, force the Yobo saga to a quick resolution.
We can't have this situation festering into the new season; either he accepts new terms or he's shown the door. The club could then take the appropriate steps to prepare as best they can for the new campaign. We can't afford to have players on our books who aren't committed 110% to the Blues' cause.
Jamie Williams, Liverpool
I THINK Andrew Johnson is worth that amount of money when you see his goalscoring record. With Victor Anichebe and James Vaughan coming through next season, our strikeforce looks good now. I think Moyes should now concentrate on getting a centre-back and keeping Joseph Yobo and also keep Andy van der Meyde.
He will be an influencial player next season like Arteta was.
Thomas McCann, Liverpool
I'M GLAD to read that Joleon Lescott is our number one target in defence as opposed to Chelsea's Robert Huth. The Wolves man is a reliable defender and a superb passer of the ball and will not be fazed by the pace of the Premiership. He has been the star man this season in a team which would have been promoted had the attack been nearly as reliable as the Lescott-inspired defence has. Huth, by contrast, is your archetypal 'yard dog', and was hardly a regular at Stamford Bridge even before all the millions came rolling in. Elizabeth Fairhurst, Aintree
Duncan Ferguson tribute paper - Out now!
May 31 2006 Liverpool Echo
A superb 92-page glossy salute to Duncan Ferguson is in your shops now.
"Big Dunc, His Remarkable Story" is a major farewell tribute to one of the most controversial and exciting figures in the game. Get your copy now.
Available through your newsagent (£3.99) or by ringing: 0845 1430001 (£5.49 including postage and packing).