Wembley-TargetThe F.A. Cup Final 1966, before Catterick arrived at Goodison Park Everton had not won the League since 1939 we had not won the Cup since 1933, so what he had done in 5 years was nothing short of a miracle. I had a feeling at the start of the 1965-66 season that we would win the Cup, it was so strong I told anyone who would listen that I would have the F. A. Cup tattooed on my arm.
The season had been hard and long, I had been to every game but never had a season ticket, in those days it was mainly people who went into the Stands that bought them, so getting a ticket for the Final would be a problem.
We had one more game to play, midweek Leicester City away, I decided on the Monday night to hitch hike to Wembley to see if I could get a ticket there then hitch hike to Leicester for the Wednesday night game.
I set out from the East Lancs Road before midnight on the Monday, I stood with my thumb out by the M6 slip Road and was only there for a few minutes when a car stopped, I told him where I was headed and he said “ It’s your lucky day, I am going to London hop in”. I arrived outside Wembley at 9am Tuesday morning and went to the box office, I was told that there was no Cup Final tickets there, I would have to try my luck at one of the London clubs who all had an allocation. I wasn’t going to do that so made my way back into London, where I spent the day in the Tatler Movie House and watched none stop cartoons until I fell asleep. Later that night I went to see Thunderball the James Bond film.
After the movie ended I made my way along the Edgeware Road and hitch hiked towards Leicester, it was now the early hours of Wednesday morning and I got a lift the the service station before the Leicester turn off, I tried to sleep in the service station but it was a bit noisy even at 4am. At 8 am I went to the slip road in the service station to hitch into Leicester, I was only there for a short while when a German in a Jeep stopped to give me a lift, I told him I wanted to get out at the Leicester turn off and he just nodded and said ya or something like that. As we approached the turn off I said to him, this is where I need to get off, he turned onto the hard shoulder and stopped before the slip road, I said to him you can’t stop here you need to go down the slip road drop me off and the get back on the motorway, he just grunted and said “No you get out here” so I did. Worrying that the Police might spot me walking on the Motorway I ran like the clappers to the slip road and walked as fast as I could until the end of it, when you are in a car, slip roads seem like short little tracks to the main road, when you are on foot it feels like you are doing a bloody marathon.
I arrived outside Filbert Street about 9.30am cold, skint and knackered, the things you do for Everton Football Club. At 6pm the coach carrying my mates arrived, I greeted them like long lost relatives as it had been hours since anyone had spoken to me. Alex Young came out of the player’s entrance and gave the lads about twenty complementary tickets for the stands. We went into the ground and before kick off Alex Young cam and sat by us, we were all saying that he better play in the Cup Final and he just smiled. Everton lost 3-0, did you expect anything else? It was also Peter Shiltons debut and we all knew that night he would be a future star. Fred Pickering played, making a comeback from injury but he didn’t look fully fit. Every Evertonian should give thanks to Harry Catterick because this man who had been pushed and shoved by his own fans after dropping Alex Young at Blackpool did the tactically right thing by keeping Alex in the Cup Final team and playing the fit Mike Trebilcock in place of the unfit Fred Pickering. The man who was supposed to hate flair won the Cup for Everton by doing what no one expected.
Looking back on those times now it looked as if Everton would continue spending huge money and winning everything in sight. The signing of Alan Ball and Howard Kendall was to be the last of the Big signings. Moores took a back seat at the Club and the man called Catterick who had been accused of buying the League set about creating one of the all time great teams in Everton’s history.
John Hurst, Jimmy Husband, Alan Whittle, Joe Royle, Colin Harvey, Roger Kenyon, Tommy Wright, Frank Darcy, mostly local lads or players who had been through the schoolboy system with the Club all made their debuts under Catterick. The man who had “Bought” the League had formed a “Wonder Kids” team that would go on to storm the League in 1969-70. The fact that all the team apart from Sandy Brown were English didn’t go unnoticed by the fans. It was also the year of the World Cup in Mexico and the fans sang “Send our team to Mexico Hallelujah” over and over again. West, Labone, Alan Ball, Keith Newton and Tommy Wright all got selected but Gordon West decided not to go. For me the man of the season was Alan Whittle, he came into the team mainly for the suspended Alan Ball and was a sensation; he ripped defences apart, was lightening fast and scored goals for fun. Of course this wasn’t enough for the dour Alf Ramsey, the England Manager, Alan wasn’t given his chance to catch out unsuspecting International opposition.
Catterick suffered from ill health and the team selection was left in the hands of others, Alan Ball left the Club under mysterious circumstances and Everton went downhill. In fact if it wasn’t for Howard Kendall we could have suffered the indignity of relegation.
However Catterick came to Everton Football Club and achieved wonders, he won Two League Titles, One F. A. Cup as well as taking us into Europe and another Cup Final. In the 1960’s he won more ‘Derby’ games and more points in that decade than Liverpool, Man United, Man City, Chelsea and Tottenham.
Yet today all we hear about is Busby, Shankly, Bill Nicholson and others but very rarely do we hear Harry’s name mentioned. Maybe it was his treatment of the Press and TV companies that came back to haunt him. Reporters from that era are still surprisingly around Brian Glanville, Hugh Mc Ilveny and others rattle on about Best, Law, and others with no mention of Alex Young, Roy Vernon, Brian Labone, Alan Whittle, Jimmy Husband players who played under Harry Catterick and won medals.
Even today as the fourth most successful team in English Football League History we are ignored and talked about in the same breath as Spurs who haven’t won the League since 1961, Newcastle who haven’t won it since 1927, West Ham, Southampton, Stoke etc who have never won the League Championship.
Harry Catterick made Everton a Top team again, he took on all the so called other great managers of the time and outpointed them, sometimes outclassed them. In the hearts and minds of Evertonians Harry will live forever, unfortunately in the mind of the Media he is forgotten but this is a media that never mentions the 60 goals by Dixie Dean, the fact that he scored 37 hat tricks.
I wonder where all the so called stat men get their facts from, maybe the League only started in 1992 and I have dreamt all of this?