I haven’t updated the blog in a few months now due to being busy organising a wedding and complete life change but as things are starting to come together nicely I’ve decided come back into the world and start blogging again, it’s just a shame I have to start at a sad point with the passing of yet another Everton legend and hero.
Just shy of two weeks ago one of the greatest goalkeepers to ever stand between the Goodison Park sticks passed away after battling with cancer. Though a Yorkshire man born and bred, Gordon West was a diehard Evertonian, a fantastic goalkeeper and a true ambassador of the club. Signed from Blackpool in 1962 his career at Everton spanned over 11 years which saw him start between the sticks over 400 times achieving 2 League medals and FA Cup winners medal and FA Cup runners medal. Although his career at Everton was nothing short of spectacular West only ever received 3 caps for England between 1968-69. After leaving Everton West had a brief spell across the Mersey in Birkenhead with Tranmere Rovers before retiring to take up a role in security as well as being a guest speaker at Sportsman dinners in Merseyside on many occasions.
West was one of those players that my Grandad and Dad would tell me stories about, his heroics and excellect performances in goal was a thing of legends, my Dad even went as far as saying that West was one his first true inspirational footballing icons and made him want to become a goalkeeper the same way Neville Southall inspired me as a young lad. West was known as fantastic character with a huge personality and would happily speak to any Everton and wind up any Liverpool fan. I was lucky enough to run into Gordon back in 2007 on the way home from an away trip to Fratton Park. Despite it being a miserably cold, wet December night and dull Everton draw, West, and one his sons, was happy to chat away to me for a good while whilst sitting in an empty services drinking a cup of coffee.
West was laid to rest after a huge service at Liverpool Cathedral a few days ago attended by hundreds of former Blue and Red players/managers and fans. He will be sorely missed by all Evertonians.
R.I.P Gordon West 1943-2012 – “Nil Satis Nisioptimum”
It is with deep sadness that I have to write about the recent passing of Ralph McQuarrie who passed away on Saturday evening just gone at the age of 82. For those who aren’t aware of Ralph’s work he was the man behind the artwork of Star Wars, ET and many others. His work included the artistic designs of C3PO, R2D2 and of course, Darth Vader, you could say, with every pun intended, he truly was the man behind the mask.
I have absolutely no shame in admitting how much of a massive Star Wars fan I am, I was exposed to the Trilogy at the impressionable age of 5 years old and 20 years on to this day, despite Lucas’ consistent attempts to spoil the franchise I love, I am still as big a fanboy as I was back then. It would be fair to say that Ralph may not have been on Hollywood’s celebrity “A-List” but I believe that without his contribution and his fantastic artwork the Star Wars franchise may have turned out a hell of a lot different, most likely nowhere near as good as it was.
R.I.P Ralph McQuarrie and May the Force be with you.
The last time I updated the blog was with an entry remembering the late great Gary Speed’s untimely death in November and despite planning a big blog update it seems that will have to go on the back burner after the very sad news of the passing of yet another great former Everton player who I got to watch as a kid. Today former Everton, Liverpool and Birmingham (as well as a host of other clubs) defender Gary Ablett passed away after a 16 month battle against non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (cancer of the blood cells).
Gary was brought to Everton from neighbours and rivals Liverpool in 1992 for a fee of £750,000 and established himself into the first team straight away. He played a massive role at Everton including playing a part in the famous “Great Escape” of the 93/94 season as well as playing a pivotal role in Joe Royle’s “Dogs of War” in 1995. He was part of the team that picked up Everton’s last pieces of silverware winning both the FA Cup in a well fought out battle against Alex Ferguson’s Man Utd millionaires team and shortly after beating League Champions Blackburn Rovers in the Charity Shield.
In 1996 after 158 appearances and 8 goals with Everton and Gary was sold to Birmingham and later went on to have spells at Wycombe, Blackpool and a brief spell in America with the Long Island Rough Riders however Gary returned to the club he had helped bring success to in a coaching role which got his managerial career off to a start. From Everton he went back across the park to the team he started with as Liverpool’s reserve manager and then having to take on the tough task of managing of an Administration plagued Stockport County.
His last footballing role was as Roy Keane’s assistant at Ipswich Town it was here that Gary was diagnosed with his condition and despite having a slim chance with his cancer he continued to put a smiling face on when interviewed in programmes and zines of his former clubs. As you can see below (the photo was taken from the Everton programme last season)
During his career Gary picked up 2 football league trophies with Liverpool, 2 FA Cup winners medals one with Everton, one with Liverpool as well as 4 Charity shield winners medals including a shared medal in 1990/1. He will be sorely missed by all at his former clubs but non-more than both Everton and Liverpool where he established a great career with both clubs from his home city.
R.I.P Gareth Ian Ablett 1965-2012 – Nil Satis Nisioptimum/You’ll Never Walk Alone
Woke up this morning to find out that former Everton skipper Gary Speed had been found dead in his home in Chester at the age of 42. I’m absolutely shocked and devastated to hear this. I remember the day Everton signed Gary Speed, a boyhood Blue, from Leeds and being so chuffed. Although his time at Everton was short lived and he left Everton under not so great circumstances he was still loved at the club, and never gave any less than 101% every time he put the Royal Blue on.
I was devastated the day Gary left Everton for Newcastle, I’m even more devastated knowing he is no longer with us.
Rest In Peace Gary Speed
Nil Satis Nisioptimum