DEC
01
2013
Exclusive Interview With John Hurst
8 comments
Bookmark and Share

Blue Echo interviews John Hurst.

John very kindly invited me to his home and was made very welcome by himself and his lovely wife Rosemary. John's career at Goodison spanned for twelve years and was as you would expect full of very interesting stories of his FA Cup disappointment at Wembley in 1968 and the highs of winning the League Championship in 1969/70.

 Ladies and gentleman     I give you John Hurst. Enjoy, COYB!!

 Q1/ HOW DID YOU BEGIN YOUR ASSOCIATION WITH EVERTON FC?

 A1/ I was quite fortunate because I played for Blackpool, Lancashire and England schoolboys. When I was with involved in the England schoolboys set up, there was probably ten or twelve clubs that wanted to sign me as an apprentice.

I spent a week at Aston Villa and Manchester City having the option to sign for both teams and a few others then I came to Everton for the day.

I saw Harry Catterick, got introduced to him, was then taken around the ground and was shown the facilities. I went home and said to my dad that Everton was the team I wanted to sign for.

I had been training with Blackpool schoolboys a few nights a week but Everton were the team I wanted to join.

Everton was a team I knew very little about then because there was no TV coverage in those days 1961, 1962 so all you saw was what was in the paper. All I was interested in being a Blackpool lad was their results.

If somebody would have asked me then who played for Everton, I wouldn't have known. I may have only known 2 or 3 of the players.

Q2/ YOU WERE PART OF THE TEAM THAT WON THE FA YOUTH CUP IN 1964/65. WHAT MEMORIES HAVE YOU OF THAT?

A2/ It was against Arsenal. John Radford and Jon Sammels played and later went on to play for their first team.

The second leg was at Goodison and weather wise it was an horrendous night. I scored from the spot as it was the only penalty I ever scored in my time at Everton! We went on to win the cup which was the first time the youth team had achieved that but what I remember considering the weather was the fact that there was around 30,000 on the ground.

They are the only memories I have of that night.

Q3/  YOU MAKE YOUR FIRST TEAM DEBUT IN 1965/66   REPLACING FRED PICKERING AS A SUBSTITUTE. WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER?

A3/  I often get told that I'm in the record books to which I ask why to be then  told for being Everton's first substitute.

I only came on for the final few minutes and I remember getting  a corner  but can't recall who took it .But the whistle went for full time as I headed the ball home but unfortunately it didn't count.

My first full debut came a week later against Sheffield Wednesday at home.

Q4/ YOU WERE ORIGINALLY A STRIKER BUT REVERTED TO A WING HALF. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?

A4/  My first game for Everton was in the  'A' team. I was centre forward, Colin Harvey was inside left and Tommy Wright was inside right.

I think it was a lack of pace that I had upfront. I played in midfield but when I went into the back four that is where I found it the most comfortable.

The coach we had at the time (Ron Lewin) used to experiment with you so they would try you in different positions.

We would play games behind closed doors at Bellefield and we would get told that the forwards would play as defenders or midfielders just to have a look at you and great ways to learn other positions, which was another way of learning the game.

Obviously I must have looked better the further back that I went and thought nothing of it. It didn't bother me where I played.

I played also in midfield but enjoyed playing anywhere as long as I was playing. Playing at the back was a position where I felt more comfortable and relaxed.

Q5/ AS A YOUNG PROFESSIONAL WHAT WAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP LIKE WITH HARRY CATTERICK?

A5/ He was a manager who ruled by fear and I'm sure players that you have interviewed who played under him have all said the same thing.

He was successful so you can't knock him for it, even the young kids were successful.

You couldn't be late it, was like being in the army to a certain extent with regulations that you had to sustain.  It didn't do us any harm. You only have to look at the players that came through the youth system it worked; there was nothing wrong with a bit of discipline.

There was Colin Harvey, Joe Royle, Alan Whittle, Tommy Wright, Jimmy Husband and myself that all broke through as apprentices.

Colin Harvey came through before me. Then it was myself and Jimmy Husband a year later then Joe Royle, Alan Whittle, Tommy Wright and Roger Kenyon after that.

 Q6/ FROM 1967/68-1970/71 YOU MISSED ONLY 4 LEAGUE GAMES BEING EVER PRESENT FOR 2 SEASONS 68/68 AND 69/70. YOU WERE EITHER LUCKY ESCAPING INJURIES OR YOU LOOKED AFTER YOURSELF?

A6/  Obviously I looked after myself but I never got muscle injuries because I wasn't quick enough.  For me I had a very high pain threshold, I'd get ankle knocks but would always have them strapped up but still play on them .

I must have been fortunate not to get any serious injuries. I played with stitches in my head and knocks but nothing serious to keep me out.

Somebody told me at a dinner I attended that I hold the record for the most consecutive games which I don't know.

Q7/ YOU WERE TOLD BY THE DOCTORS AFTER CONTRACTING HEPATITIS BEFORE THE FA CUP SEMI FINAL IN 1968 THAT YOU WOULDN'T PLAY AGAIN THAT SEASON. WHAT DID YOU THINK?

A7/ Yes they said I wouldn't play again that year. I was in a nursing home and the old physio Norman Borrowdale used to visit, open all the windows and then sit on the window ledge and ask me how I was going on?

I was listening to the game (Semi Final) on the radio which we won, I came out of the home feeling much better and started to train then got back in to play in the Final which I was delighted with after being told that I wouldn't play again that season. which was a bonus.

Q8/ WHAT WERE THE PREPERATIONS LEADING UP TO THE FINAL AT WEMBLEY IN 1968?

A8/ We went down there a few days before hand, did some light training etc, we visited the stadium a day before to have a look around. We prepared as well as we possibly could.

As you know we beat them at home 2-1 and again away from home 6-2 weeks before the final. We could have played for another day and never have scored.

 Q9/ AFTER THUMPING ALBION WEEKS EARLIER DID THE PLAYERS THINK IT WOULD BE A WALKOVER?

 A9/ No, no. There are no such thing as a walkover in football.

I remember years ago when teams used to play each other twice over Christmas. For example Spurs would play someone and win 6-0 then lose the reverse fixture 8-0 the following day.

I don't think we thought any game was a foregone conclusion and also with us being a very young team and perhaps the nerves got the better of them.

Jimmy (Husband) missed one earlier on which he would normally put away then that set the standard for us all then.

You don't mind getting beat if you have played well but we never performed on the day, which was a disappointment knowing we could have played so much better but when you come off which was very hard to take.

There was nothing said after the game because everyone is down and you can't change what's happened. The dressing room was a glum place to be and at night you tend to get over it.

The year later we were in the semi final against Manchester City at Villa Park. The pitch was like concrete.

When you look at pitches at the end of the season today, they are better than what they were at the beginning of the season in our day!

Again the game wasn't the best, both teams failed to perform and it was going to be a set piece that would win the game.

Q10/ 1969/70 TO LEAGUE CHAMPIONS. AT WHAT POINT DURING THE CLOSING STAGES DID THE PLAYERS BELIEVE THEY WOULD BE CHAMPIONS?

A10/ I think when we went to Anfield in the March and won 2-0.

We had a good start to the season by beating Arsenal away on the opening day 1-0 which I scored and on the following Tuesday we won away at Manchester United 2-1 by scoring again making me the leading scorer!

They were two hard games to start with and to win them both and you felt as though you were going to be up there , just a question of keeping the momentum going.

We had a bit of an iffy spell from what I remember then we came back strong.

Q11/ WE QUALIFY FOR EUROPE AFTER BEING CROWNED CHAMPIONS. DID YOU ENJOY THE EUROPEAN EXPERIENCE?

A11/ Borrussia Moenchengladbach were supposed to be the top team at the time and we saw them off.

It went to penalties didn't it?  It was either Bally or Joe (Royle)  who missed our first one. I have a feeling it was Joe and I remember  Andy Rankin saving the last penalty because I was due to take the first of the sudden death.

One of the main things I remember from that particular game was Gunther  Netzer who was an international for West Germany never took a penalty.

Q12/ THE SALE OF ALAN BALL TO ARSENAL AND THE DETERIOATION OF HARRY CATTERICK'S HEALTH. WOULD YOU SAY THAT THESE WERE THE REASON'S FOR EVERTON'S DEMISE TWELVE MONTHS LATER?

A12/ I don't think it was just the sale of Bally. None of it helped, obviously Bally getting sold was a shock.

It was the World Cup in Mexico after we won the league wasn't it?

Labby went with England to Mexico as did Alan Ball, Tommy Wright and Keith Newton and they were gone for some time. The heat was different to what they were used to here.

Today for example when players have been involved in a World Cup match they come back later into pre season but in 1970 they came straight back and had no rest.

So I think it was just the after effects of the players coming back too soon after the World Cup.

Q13/ TWO DEFEATS IN A FEW DAYS AGAINST PANATHANAIKOS  IN THE EUROPEAN CUP AND  LIVERPOOL IN THE FA CUP SEMI FINAL. WHAT EFFECT DID THAT HAVE ON THE CLUB?

A13/ Panathanaikos ,we absolutely battered them.  Antoniadis scored their goal. If we would have won 5 nobody could have argued because that was the result it should have been.

We went over there and drew 0-0. The hotel was surrounded by people sounding horns, we never slept it was amazing.

The ground was tight with a dusty pitch. We got spat at which never affected our performance.

They threw everything at us, we put up a great performance and we needed a goal.

We came back, Labby got injured early on at Old Trafford in the semi final to be replaced by Sandy (Brown).

We couldn't understand with Labby struggling why Roger Kenyon wasn't sub. Sandy was a great player don't get me wrong but with Labby being so suspect  Roger should have been the sub.

To lose two such important games in a space of a few days was quite disappointing and either of them games we could have won.

 Q14/ YOU END YOUR LOVE AFFAIR WITH EVERTON AFTER 12 YEARS TO JOIN OLDHAM ATHLETIC. WHAT WAS THE REASON FOR THE MOVE?

 A14/ Billy Bingham didn't want me anymore. It's a simple as that. He thought I was past it and like all manager's they have their own ideas as to who they want to bring in.

I was in negotiations to go to Canada , Billy told me that he wasn't going to retain me and Alan Hinton came in for me and I was told that I could have a free transfer.

I spoke to my wife and was ready to go then the club (Everton) said they wanted X amount for me leaving to which Hinton's club never had that sort of money.

This was January and their deadline for signing players was February. After that I was told I could have a free transfer and joined Oldham Athletic ending up having 5 good years there.

Q15/ YOU LATTERLY WORKED UNDER JOE ROYLE AT EVERTON. WAS IT GREAT TO GO BACK?

A15/ I was working with Ronnie Goodlass looking after the apprentices and the YTS lads. We were there when Michael Ball, Danny Cadamarteri, and Richard Dunne came through.

Q16/ WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE GROUND?

A16/ I liked playing at all the big grounds. Old Trafford, Anfield especially when we got a result which we did on a couple of occasions.  They were my two favourite grounds.

Q17/ WHAT WAS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE GAME AND GOAL?

A17/The game that stands out is the night we beat West Bromwich Albion to clinch the Championship.

The FA Cup loss again against West Brom. The night we beat Liverpool in the FA Cup when Bally scored and they had it telecast over at Anfield on a Saturday evening. They are the games that stick out in your mind.

My favourite goal was at Old Trafford when we won there in 1969/70.

Q18/ WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED POSESSION FROM PLAYING FOOTBALL?

A18/ I think the Championship medal without a doubt. The thoughts I have are great reminders. The people I've met and played with. Going on tours with the England U23's.

We went on tour with Bobby Charlton's team, all Internationals going all over the world.

Q19/ IF YOU EVER SWAPPED SHIRTS WITH ANYBODY WHICH IS YOUR BEST ONE?

A19/ We were never allowed to swap shirts no. You wore the same shirt all season long ,you only got a shirt.

You wore the shirt for a game it got washed then you wore it for the next game.

The only shirt we got to keep was the one that we wore from the Championship of 69/70.

Q20/ WHAT WAS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE  DERBY GAME?

A20/ The one when we won in the FA Cup 1-0. Also the one when we won the year we were Championship.

Q21/ WHAT IS YOUR FUNNIEST MEMORY FROM YOUR CAREER?

A21/ Once when we were having a team talk and Harry Catterick was saying to Sandy Brown.  (He was referring to the player Sandy was marking)

"Be careful Sandy, he's the quickest thing you've ever seen"

Sandy says "But boss, he cannot run with no legs as they will be in the air"

I always think about that but overall there has been quite a few funny moments.

I always remember Westie always being physically sick. You would be running out and he would be behind you retching.

Most games you would go into the toilet and he would be vomiting.

If any player had done something Westie used to set up a court room in the dressing room and he would act as the judge.

We used to have a good laugh but Westie was crazy like that.

I remember the time up at Newcastle United when Wyn Davies their forward used to stand in front of Westie and he couldn't release the ball.

Westie warned him to move otherwise he's had it. Anyway later on, Westie released the ball with a throw and followed through by punching him in the face.

Westie was pleading with the referee but the linesman saw everything which ended up in a sending off.

It wasn't funny because Wyn Davies was in a bad way but funny the way that Westie did it.

On the pitch Westie was deadly serious but off it he was completely different.

Q22/ WHICH OPPONENT WAS THE TOUGHEST?

A22/ A little fella for Sunderland Bobby Kerr used to give me some trouble. Kevin Keegan and a few others were a handful but there was never anybody that worried me.

Anybody that had pace I used to be wary of.  Francis Lee (Manchester City)  was also a handful but he was hard as well.

The one that gave me and Labby trouble was Alan Clarke (Leeds) he was a clever player. He was the one who gave me a lot of problems.

Q23/ WHO IS THE BEST PLAYER YOU HAVE EVER PLAYED WITH?

A23/ I think Bally would go down as the best I ever played with. Labby for different aspects, Young as a centre forward.

But for his honesty, endeavour his touch and play was Bally.

Labby wasn't a great talker but would do when needed to. Bally wasn't a great talker, he used to moan a lot but a great leader by example.

As a leader it was Labby because he knew what to say and when to say it., and what he said was always sensible.

Q24/ 2013. WHAT IS JOHN HURST DOING TODAY?

A24/ (Laughing) Retired. I worked at Tesco doing stock control. I play golf a couple of times a week, I'm a member there and doing things that the wife wants me to do like gardening.

I wasn't in the best of health last year and had a heart bypass,  so it's just a case of looking after myself and being sensible.

I have three grandchildren and one of them is an absolute Everton fanatic but his dad is a Liverpudlian but takes him to Everton now and again.

My grandson is 11 and can tell you all the results from last season.

 

Email Bluekipper at enquiries@bluekipper.com

Comments about Exclusive Interview With John Hurst
 
8
A great interview. Sounds like a very humble man. A True Blue.
Andrew, Australia, 12:30 PM 6/12/2013
 
7
Another great insight into our past history. After winning that incredible comeback Cup Final in '66, the 1968 Final was my first taste of a major defeat; I cried for ages after, but in later life came to really respect Jeff Astle, who is still adored by the Baggies, even though he died some years ago. In 1969, we beat Arsenal and Man Utd away in 4 days, then went on to win the League. Could history be about to repeat itself?
Joe Dids, Bury, Lancs, 12:38 AM 6/12/2013
 
6
Different class, a genuine unsung hero who epitimised the ethics of Harry Catterick.
El Cid, Offshore, 8:56 PM 3/12/2013
 
5
Another great interview, thanks. The games John mentions I remember like they were yesterday; which is funny, because the things that actually did happen yesterday are often difficult to recall.
Gerry Morrison, Los Angeles, 4:55 PM 2/12/2013
 
4
Top top player - never flustered and strong as they come. One of the many fabulous young players to come through the ranks. If you know your history ! That was a fantastic team. As I remember that WBA final was such a let down. Wrong colour shirts and all the players appeared to have been supplied with new Puma boots - none of which fitted !
Craig Findlater, Romsey Hampshire, 11:12 AM 2/12/2013
 
3
A model professional and a true Blue legend. Another top interview and the Westie stories are a hoot.
Andy, Accra, Ghana, 12:03 AM 2/12/2013
 
2
Always relieved when Hursty's name was on the team sheet, Mr Reliable he was. Great reader of the game, and he had this little pocket sewn into his shorts in which he placed the opposition's forward for 90 minutes. Top man
Steve, Widnes, 11:08 PM 1/12/2013
 
1
Absolute legend had the privilige of watching John when I was a youngster and a very dependable player on which the club has always thrived, will always wish him well
Stuart parker, Ashingdon,Essex, 7:22 PM 1/12/2013
New comment about Exclusive Interview With John Hurst
Name:
Location:
Comment:
Verify:

Reload Image
 Please type the string above in the input box below.