Allow me to post in a personal sense for posterity.
I am not a person that allows much room for heroes. I have a few – Jefferson, Orwell, Keith Richards – but most of my heroes played in royal blue.
And they are personal heroes. I started supporting Everton Football Club in the early 1960’s for no other reason than they played in blue, my favourite colour, and also that their players tended to have comic-book names. I got caught up with it and am changed forever, despite my better nature.
I first saw Everton in 1967, at an away game in my then local city of Nottingham. But at the tender age of thirteen I started going to home games which were over a hundred miles away from my home. My first Everton game at Goodison Park was a 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday in 1969. We went on to win the league that season. And therefore the team of team of 1969-70 has remained special to me.
From memory, Everton used only fifteen players in that whole season. Nowadays every team has at least fourteen starters or substitutes. Sandy Brown and Tommy Jackson came from Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively, but didn’t figure much that season – apart from Brown’s spectacular own goal for Liverpool. Remarkably given the state of today’s Premier League, of the remaining thirteen, eight, no less, were born within the city limits of Liverpool. The remaining five were all from Northern England – not a player south of the Trent among them all.
Gordon West was one these five, hailing from Barnsley in Yorkshire. Nevertheless, he came to Everton in 1962 and stayed for ten years, winning the league twice and the FA Cup once. He was the best goalkeeper in England by 1970, but elected not to go to Mexico in that year, preferring to spend time with his family. He did play for Tranmere after that, but was seen at Goodison as a fan for many years. The last time I saw Gordon West was at a pitch-side remembrance for his former colleague and Evertonian Brian Labone. I recall thinking that I didn’t remember him as that big. But he was a giant for Evertonians of my vintage. I confess that I am truly upset that Gordon West died, after a long illness, on Monday June 10.