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I grew up learning about him and we used to watch Southampton purely because of him. Apparently the best Everton player until Kevin Sheedy?
Happy heavenly birthday Alan Ball. I think you just edged my Dad's admiration for Alex Young.
There is something about the Amber kit isn't there? It should be standard.
Reader Comments (47)
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1 Posted 13/05/2022 at 16:43:50
From 1966 to 1970 he must have been in the top 3 attacking midfielders in Europe and was easily the second-best player in England behind George Best albeit Alan's influence on his teammates made him the more consistently effective player.
The likes of Gaza, Gerrard and even our Frank wouldn't have got anywhere near Bally at his peak, he really was that good!
2 Posted 13/05/2022 at 17:06:02
Alan Ball had superb technique, vision, artistry and complete mastery of the football – the failure to reproduce his sort was arguably the start of a decline in English football which has never been reversed.
He was mercurial at this club and for those fortunate enough to see him his move to Arsenal. The club's descent thereafter has become a sort of "you knew where you were when you heard of his transfer" moment.
I think I still haven't recovered.
3 Posted 13/05/2022 at 17:08:36
My middle brother is named after him.
My youngest brother's middle name is Howard.
Me? I'm named after my Grandmother's favourite Irish song, Danny Boy.
Where did I go wrong? What did I do wrong?
4 Posted 13/05/2022 at 17:43:53
Who's the player with the most...?
5 Posted 13/05/2022 at 18:15:39
6 Posted 13/05/2022 at 19:53:41
7 Posted 13/05/2022 at 20:02:47
Mine is David Paul Lynch. My dad saw z horse running with the name David Paul, had a few quid on it and it won.
He was taken with the name and suggested it to my mother who liked the sound of it.
He only came clean when I was about 5 yrs old.
8 Posted 13/05/2022 at 20:26:25
I'm not questioning Ball's efforts, I just think that there were many players who gave their all to the clubs they played for. I believe that's been the nature of the game from the beginning of football until the present day, the "Workhorse/"Dynamo and Predator/Goal-scorer. Feel free to differ, that's what 'ToffeeWeb' is all about, life would be boring if we all had the same opinion.
9 Posted 13/05/2022 at 20:37:23
10 Posted 13/05/2022 at 20:54:13
11 Posted 13/05/2022 at 21:11:12
My own top ever trio for Everton (in terms of pure talent) would be Ball at 3, Colin Harvey at 2 and Rooney at 1.
Of course, Ball and Harvey (and lots of others) are many miles ahead of Rooney in terms of True Blue Value.
12 Posted 13/05/2022 at 21:38:02
13 Posted 13/05/2022 at 21:46:22
The beauty of simplicity. The best footballers are types of mathematician.
Frank should read it out to our brave fumblers, every single day.
14 Posted 13/05/2022 at 21:49:26
Everton were the coolest and most stylish team in British football. The midfield of Ball, Harvey and Kendall was the best around and the epitome of the ‘beautiful game at its best. The only other midfield that came anywhere near was the great Brazil midfield of Gerson, Rivelino and Clodoaldo. We were the then equivalent of todays Man City, a level above any others in terms of pure football. And it wouldnt have been possible without Alan Ball.
15 Posted 13/05/2022 at 22:07:00
16 Posted 13/05/2022 at 22:15:57
Kendall, Harvey and Ball- the best midfield trio I have ever seen.
17 Posted 13/05/2022 at 22:43:23
18 Posted 13/05/2022 at 23:38:13
Just as the 62-63 in team in their April form would've seen off Inter Milan.
The 69-70 team (K. Newton in for Brown just to keep the pedants happy) would've given the 1970 Brazil team a better game than the actual England team did...and both were close run things even in the real world.
The real inadvertant 'Villain' of the piece was Catterick...and by extension The Board.
He was barely tolerant of anybody who didn't toe his line and had any opinion of their own...especially if they were staring the big 3 Oh in the face - but only for as long as they were at the very top of their game.
Drop off; and it was any excuse - you were gone, asap...and if he could make or recoup money on the deal - all the better.
Sometimes he was possibly right - Vernon, Young?
Sometimes he was vindictively wrong, Jimmy Gabriel springs to mind.
Sometimes he was Spectacularly Wrong - Collins and Ball.
Yes Ball wasn't the 22, 23 yr old goal machine box to box dynamo he used to be. But post war prosperity and better nutrition was starting to throw up more and more players who weren't done in by 30...they were always there.
Players who could use their heads to save their legs Matthews, Bryan Douglas, even, *spits, Johnny Giles.
But football was changing too, we saw the beginnings of what we have now, the middle distance runner as a footballer.
Dashing wingers of the 50s and 60s dropping back, coming inside, Charlton, *grudgingly Callaghan.
In hindsight (skirts over any gambling issues)
all this was not in Harry's world view - hence the sale.
Young was my hearts pick - Ball my heads pick.
His 3rd(?) game in Aug 1966, Vs the rs, were, seemingly on his own, he ripped them a new one - magnifique!
Shankley would've snapped him up in an Instant he 'hated him' = so he must've been very, very, good - and He was.
For good reason we sang - "who's the greatest of them all?"
We've never seen the like since - nor I think will we again.
19 Posted 13/05/2022 at 00:14:25
We won the FA Cup on 14 May 1966. It was huge. For this 10-year-old boy who was there, it provided a memory that will never die. We got home and there were no images of it on the telly. My Dad took us to the pictures in town a few days later so we could see the goals again, in colour.
Then came the World Cup. It was wonderful, black and white magic nearly every night, although a few people on here got to see at Goodison Park – the gold and green of Brazil, the claret, white and green of Hungary, North Korea stunning the world by going 3-0 up against Portugal. We all watched as England struggled to win the final, but inspired by a little guy playing on the right wing, playing everywhere, eventually picked up the Jules Rimet trophy.
The new season started very quickly after that. We were well beaten in the Charity Shield at Goodison by Liverpool. A couple of days later, a newsflash told us we had signed Alan Ball for £110,000, a fortune.
A couple more days later, on a sunny day in blue and white he scored the only goal at Craven Cottage. A fortnight later he scored 2 in the first 20 minutes at Goodison against Liverpool in a 3-1 win. It was instant love.
For me, he was the transition from one era of football to another. Bally was wonderful, a magnificent passer of the ball, a goal scorer, a showman who was very happy to use his arse either to trap the ball or to sit on it. There was something about his appearance, red hair, blue shirt, white shorts, white socks, white boots, that just suited Goodison, graced it.
He wasn't perfect. But for four years, he was as close to it as you are going to see on a football pitch.
20 Posted 14/05/2022 at 00:25:12
He was that good, and narky as hell.
His transfer denigrated the club for a decade and it's the reason I cannot remember the Catt with any affection.
21 Posted 14/05/2022 at 02:01:41
I'm with you Stan (14), I think we're about the same age. Colin Harvey incredible skill (the 'White Pele') only player I saw who could match George Best for ball-control skills. Howard Kendall was awesome too. I think he was the youngest player to play in an FA Cup Final (Preston vs West Ham) age 17.
22 Posted 14/05/2022 at 06:09:53
If only there had been the television footage we have now to capture the magic that many of you witnessed. How much more would they have been revelled considering how seemingly just above average players are now hyped about?
The heart said Young, the head said Ball. That was my Dad's view as well. In that era he also had a soft spot for Brian Labone and Jimmy "the Angel" Gabriel. And Colin Harvey who has to be the biggest Evertonian I am aware of. I know I've said it many times, but he actually brings me to tears on that scene outside the Gwladys Street every time I watch Howard's Way.
I never saw them, but what a team. What a generation.
Interesting mention of Ball being narky. The good players, especially midfielders need that. They have standards, which leads to expectation of those around them.
23 Posted 14/05/2022 at 06:31:02
This 12 year old had a similar experience in 1984. I'm repeating myself, but I attended the Milk (League) Cup final and was mesmerised to the point my Dad kept shouting at me to watch the football, not the crowd.
We were back several weeks later to see us lift our first trophy in 14 years. I can still see my Dad trying to get on the pitch at the end. I was behind wondering how I was going to get home if he was successful.
24 Posted 14/05/2022 at 09:03:51
25 Posted 14/05/2022 at 09:30:08
Alex Young was a football maestro but Bally was as close to finest poetry in motion in terms of playing football. There's been very few British players who could come close to him, in even the modern game.
For myself, in the modern Premier League, the best player in my view and consistently is Kevin de Bryune at Man City but, for tenacity, Bally would edge him out.
He's an Everton Legend, and rightly so. Legend in the modern game does seem to get used out of context, but Bobby Collins, Alan Ball, Colin Harvey, Howard Kendall, Brian Labone, Bob Latchford, Kevin Sheedy, Trevor Steven, Neville Southall – for me, all are genuine Everton Legends.
Now for Brentford.
26 Posted 14/05/2022 at 09:31:13
27 Posted 14/05/2022 at 10:13:11
My own Alan Ball, was Peter Reid, and this current Everton team, need similar personalities, players who absolutely detest losing, and spread their infectious nature right throughout their team.
Some lovely stories, and Peters passionate description of Alan Ball was brilliant, and made me realize why I fell in love with the beautiful game, and Everton.
28 Posted 14/05/2022 at 10:39:37
29 Posted 14/05/2022 at 16:17:07
Hopefully this era can herald the building of new Everton heros.
Lets hope so.
30 Posted 14/05/2022 at 16:34:01
Its the stuff of family legend that my Dad placated her by promising that because we missed Mass, he would take us to the procession that afternoon instead. But he failed to mention that the procession was not the traditional Catholic one in honour of Our Lady, but the one involving the FA Cup being brought down Queens Drive!
31 Posted 14/05/2022 at 17:01:14
How we could do with him now, and anytime.
32 Posted 14/05/2022 at 20:01:28
Quite a few who came on our coach never went back on it, they headed into London while we had a decent driver who took us unto one of the new towns, might have been Milton Keynes where we stayed until it closed.
A woman who lived there kicked off on us, a real witch and nutcase of a woman, until her husband, a Londoner, calmed her down. Where was she from? Liverpool!!
You couldn't make it up, she must have been a Rednose fan.
Good on your dad getting out of that bit of bother with your mum!!
33 Posted 16/05/2022 at 21:10:56
I lived in Robson Sreet, walking distance from Goodison Park. I was 17, and my dad asked me to get the Daily Mirror from our newsagent. I walked in, picked up the Mirror, paid for it, then looked at the sports page at the back.
I couldn't believe what I was reading, that Everton had sold Alan Ball to Arsenal. I recall the sum: £220k, and knew it to be double what Everton had paid for him 5 years before. But I couldn't fathom why it was happening at all.
I'm not prone to being dramatic, but at that moment I remember simply wanting the clock to be turned back to 1966, to the World Cup Final, where Alan Ball had been MotM, and to our signing him not long after. I felt that a football rug had been pulled from under my feet, that Everton had done something utterly unfathomable.
At that moment, the shine was taken off my football world. It was no longer the same Everton. I felt miserable, and that feeling didn't disappear. For me, Everton would never be the same again.
Now, this sounds ridiculous and dramatic, but that's how it was. Alan Ball was my hero, he was a footballing god. Everton sold him, and I never really forgave them for it. People say the club is bigger than any player, but that's not how I saw it.
I don't think I've ever forgiven Everton for that action and, in a sense, I've disliked the club since then. Every time they've let me down after building me up (and they've done that a lot since then), I've been reminded of my dislike.
It's like a paradox: I'm an Evertonian but I dislike the club. I love Evertonians, and I love Everton winning, but I dislike Everton.
There you have it; for me, this is all a measure of how great Alan Ball was – of how, to me, he was Everton, and of how Everton was never the same after he was sold in that unfathomable way.
34 Posted 17/05/2022 at 11:05:33
There was also a time (vs Sheffield Utd?) that Ball, Young and Harvey pretended to argue over a free-kick.
35 Posted 17/05/2022 at 15:02:42
Le Tiss got the audience all on side straight away by mocking himself and all the weight he had put on since he retired: “I've taken up a new sport – ballooning. And you can see I've ballooned to over 16 stone”.
His most memorable anecdote concerned Bally. Le Tiss and a few team-mates had broken curfew on an away trip and had a few late night beers.
On sneaking back into the hotel, they found Ball sat waiting for them. He tore a strip off the lot of them, threatening non-selection and fines. He sent them all off to bed except Le Tissier, who the others assumed would receive an extra bollocking as club captain at the time.
Ball's final quiet words to just his captain were: “Don't worry about all that, son. You're playing magic at the moment. Just keep it up.” The best bit of man-management Le Tissier said he ever received in his entire club and international career.
36 Posted 17/05/2022 at 15:47:13
There were many rumours circulating around the Alan Ball transfer, the strongest referred to his alleged gambling.
In a radio interview some time later, Harry Catterick said "The truth will come out some day". Unfortunately with the principal characters no longer with us, it never did come out and it's unlikely that it ever will.
I was 34 earlier in that year so you've got a little catching up to do, I hope you witness as much success as I have, along with the inevitable disappointments that are the lot of the football fan.
37 Posted 17/05/2022 at 16:53:42
38 Posted 17/05/2022 at 17:18:28
I had my white boots and always had my Everton shirt half hanging out, half tucked in as that looked like the way Colin Harvey always wore it, to me anyway.
Neither player should have been sold when they were, but Everton never recovered from the sale of Ball. One of the worst decisions in football.
39 Posted 17/05/2022 at 17:27:54
His one-touch passing game was devastating and yet he was a superb wide player too (1966 World Cup?). His long passing was magnificent and 16 goals a season from midfield.
A privilege to have seen him 1966 to 1970. I watched the game down at Wolves in the 1970 Championship season. He got 10/10 in all the Sunday papers that gave marks.
40 Posted 17/05/2022 at 17:41:07
41 Posted 17/05/2022 at 17:45:17
There's a superb pic of our great no 8 in the Raven pub in Waterloo (a Blue pub) in the Royal Blue,white shorts and pale amber socks...which should be our regular home kit imho!
42 Posted 17/05/2022 at 17:47:52
Catterick replied that he'd obviously consider it as every player had his price but after due consideration he'd reject it as Alan Ball was that good.
Thinking about that now maybe brings a similarity to Kenwright saying he'd refuse any less that £50 million for Rooney then accepting less than £30 million in many conditional instalments?
43 Posted 17/05/2022 at 18:01:42
44 Posted 17/05/2022 at 18:35:57
Bally came to take a corner and I threw him a Wrigley's Spearmint chewy which he picked up opened and put in his mouth before taking the corner.
45 Posted 19/05/2022 at 10:00:19
46 Posted 19/05/2022 at 10:13:22
47 Posted 19/05/2022 at 14:36:15
Anyway, many many years later, as a grown man myself, I was in a pub down near Maidenhead in Berkshire, in the back of beyond, on a rural country road, and stood at the bar was none other than man himself! He actually owned the place.
I actually choked when I saw him and although I could muster a smile and a nod I was so overwhelmed I couldn't speak. It was my big chance to say hello but I fluffed my lines. He was my hero as a boy but just being in the same room was enough for me. A class act.
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