When Keith Newton walked into Everton’s Bellefield training ground, shortly before Christmas 1969, it appeared to be a sporting match made in heaven. For Newton, the classy Blackburn Rovers full-back, it offered a chance to demonstrate his skills with one of the finest footballing sides of the era – and cement his place in Alf Ramsey’s 1970 World Cup plans. For Harry Catterick, the Mancunian – equally adept in either full-back position – fitted the bill as Ray Wilson’s successor and was expected to the aid the club’s push for the Football League title.
Come the spring of 1972, Newton departed Everton without fanfare, after less than 60 appearances, on a free transfer. He’d dropped out of favour and found himself displaced by Henry Newton and, subsequently, John McLaughlin. He was snapped up by Burnley and revitalised a seemingly moribund career. How did it come to pass that this partnership, one that promised so much for both parties, delivered so little?
This is just one of the questions I consider in my newly published book – The Keith Newton Story. This short biography (60 pages, with many rarely seen images) covers the highs (including 27 caps and a League Championship medal) and lows of Keith’s playing career at domestic and international level. It also looks at this easy-going family man off the pitch. It draws on contemporary press reports and interviews with family members, supporters and teammates.
The self-published book, with design work by Thomas Regan of Toffee Art, is priced at £7 (£8 with p&p) and can be ordered by contacting me via Twitter (@robsawyer70) or email@example.com. I’ll also be selling copies at the Everton Heritage Society exhibition at St Luke’s church hall on Sunday, prior to the West Ham match, between midday and 1:30pm.
Reader Comments (11)
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1 Posted 15/10/2021 at 09:45:21
After such a short and undistinguished Everton career, what was it that prompted you to focus on him?
2 Posted 15/10/2021 at 11:02:17
I remember in the World Cup 1970, England played Romania, and Tommy Wright was hacked down by their left-back I think. Keith came on to replace him and was also hacked down by the same player. Terrible tackles I can still recall today. (I think!)
3 Posted 15/10/2021 at 12:11:43
1970 the high and then that week in spring 1971. The succession of dodgy / unsuccessful players... Newton, Tiger Mc, Peter Scott (not the birdwatcher), Steve Seargeant, Joe Harper. And then... drum roll... Rod Belfitt.
I went to University in 1971 supporting one of the most respected sides in the UK. I left in 1974 supporting a car crash.
To be a blue, eh.
4 Posted 15/10/2021 at 13:24:13
Chris (2) It was Keith who was hacked down in the 1970 game against Romania. Tommy Wright came on his place (and got a kicking, too) and also played in the following match. A fit-again Keith then came back into the side.
5 Posted 15/10/2021 at 13:35:44
Alan (3) flashbacks indeed - I was somewhat behind, entering Secondary School as FA cup losers, then Champions then ending School years as chumps. Little did I realise that other than a spell in the '80s, that was to be the high watermark.
As you say - to be a Blue!!
6 Posted 15/10/2021 at 14:27:46
I guess Keith joined at a peak, and a pretty rapid decline set in, almost immediately. Harry lost his health and touch, and the internal supply line wasnt producing the Harveys, Husbands, Royles, Kenyons, Hursts, Wrights any more. Add in injuries to key players and Ball falling out with everybody and getting sold and you have a perfect storm.
You have to have a bit of sympathy for Keith Newton, it wasnt what he signed up for. Me neither!
7 Posted 15/10/2021 at 16:17:40
8 Posted 15/10/2021 at 17:15:15
9 Posted 15/10/2021 at 21:59:12
But Keith was a right-back. He did an adequate job at left-back for a dozen games without being outstanding, before getting injured and Sandy stepping in to perform admirably for the rest of the season.
Keith and Tommy Wright both got done by Mocanu, the Romanian, a dirty bastard, in the World Cup, and neither player was the same again.
10 Posted 22/10/2021 at 09:41:52
I'm a bit behind you. I started school in September 1969. We were Champions in my first year in the Infants. I was at University the next time we chuffing-well won anything.
11 Posted 04/11/2021 at 00:23:14
I remember us signing Keith Newton and getting his autograph just after he arrived. He was bought as a permanent replacement for the great Ray Wilson, even though he was generally a right-back. I was surprised to hear that he received a medal when we won the League, as I thought that at the time you had to have played in 15 matches to receive one.
He always seemed to me, as good a right-back as he undoubtedly was, a square peg in a round hole. He was also unlucky, in that he joined the club at the height of success but also on the cusp of decline, the reasons for which have long been debated. If the team had not declined so rapidly the season after winning the title, then maybe his time at Everton would have been very different.
In hindsight, a natural and younger left-back would have been a better option. A David Nish, perhaps, who captained the Leicester 1969 Cup Final side and won the League with Derby County in 1975. The history of Everton Football Club is unfortunately full of 'what ifs'.
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