DEC
15
2013
Exclusive Interview With Joe Royle
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Blue Echo Interviews Joe Royle

Joe kindly invited me to his home to chat about his association with the club he supported as a boy and later played and managed.

When Joe was given the opportunity to take the reins of Everton whilst at Oldham, he said that he would crawl over broken glass to get there.

I need to say nothing more only that I hope you enjoy yet another article by Royle appointment. COYB!!

Q1/ ASA FAN MANY YEARS AGO, WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST GAME AND WHO WAS YOUR FIRST HERO?

A1/ I can't obviously remember my first game because I was only a kid. My first hero was Dave Hickson and this was second time around.

Because I recognised that this man was committed because he was physical and he got stuck in. I never realised until he died that his goal record was one in three which is a great record which would make him worth 20 odd million quid now.

I have to confess as I got older what it was all about but I was a big Bobby Charlton fan and of course Alex Young. Who wasn't?. My father was a Manchester United fan as he was a Manc born in Eccles and raised in Newton Heath (Manchester) and moved to Liverpool for a job but I was always Everton.

Q2/ HOW DID YOU JOIN EVERTON FC?

A2/ I was playing for Liverpool boys and was the only first and still am the only high school boy to play for Liverpool boys. The secretary for Liverpool boys at the time a man called Dave McKay was my headmaster at school and later along with Steve Coppell we went to Quarry Bank as it was a top school academically which was a great school for sport having great sporting facilities.

I went for trials at Liverpool boys and ended up in the team there and fortunately I was picked as captain for North and the South final trails for England boys and the school refused me permission to attend because I had to play for them in a cup tie.

It was the only one that I missed which was a schoolboy international and as a result of that I bought out and joined Everton a year early.

I went to a great school for 4 years, had a great education and still have friends there. We meet up once a year at a get together or a dinner, we met up a couple of times in Majorca and talk about the old times.

I was spotted for Liverpool boys and the clubs that took interest were Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, City, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Q3/ AS A YOUNGSTER, WERE YOU EVER WORRIED ABOUT HARRY CATTERICK WITH HIS REPUTATION AS A DISCIPLINARIAN?

A3/ He was a disciplinarian but he was very fair. As long as you didn't hook the system and you got in on time and gave your best on a Saturday it was never a problem.

He was always very sympathetic to me probably because I was a number 9 just like he was.

He was always very encouraging to me by saying if he had of had my assets he would have been a far better player. But what he was trying to do was make me use more of my natural assets.

The ball was never a problem and the athletic side of me as I grew was never a problem but Sandy Brown used to call me Cadburys the soft centre. The feeling was I was never physical enough as a striker.

It's a hard thing to do to make a player physical when it's not natural to them, but I think I was always strong and fair.

Q4/ WERE YOU PROUD TO SUSTAIN THE RECORD OF BEING THE YOUNGEST PLAYER UNTIL APRIL 2005 WHEN JAMES VAUGHAN BECAME THE YOUNGEST?

A4/ He came on as sub and I think you will find that it was Jose Baxter who became the youngest player to start a game but yes I was very proud. And more each year.

I was 16 years old at the time and cleaning the boots for the game at Blackpool when I got the call to take off my overall and go and see the boss.

The natural thing was, what have I done?  We didn't see a lot of Harry, as he was the old fashioned manager who wasn't a track suit manager.

When I got to his office he said "I've got your father on the phone and if conditions don't change too much you will be playing in the first team tomorrow"

I was astounded. It was a frozen pitch which wasn't suited to me as I had a long stride.  It was suited to a little ginger haired fellow who played for Blackpool that day who ran us ragged.

I was always convinced that day that Harry had made his mind up that we have to have him (Ball), he was man of the match in the World Cup that year.

That was a formative day if you like, that Bally was going to be a player he would sign and I would be a player for the future. 

 Q5/ 1968 FA CUP FINAL. A MASSIVE DISAPPOINTMENT. WHAT WAS YOUR VIEW ON IT?

 A5/ We were the biggest favourites in a long time. We had beaten West Brom twice in the league. We were young, fast and fit. Probably on the day, we froze a little bit and would have given myself a 5 or 6 out of 10   on the day.

Everybody blamed Jimmy Husband for missing chances but he was in that position to miss them and that happens.

They (WBA) were very physical that got about us, there's no doubt about that.  Then Jeff Astle who barely kicks a ball with his left foot bless him hit a left foot shot that he never did before and never did again and it just wasn't to be for us.

That was the start of the 69/70 side starting to come through.

1967/68 we played some great football.  1967/68, 69/70 we became, I don't think we were ever free flowing as we were in as we had the previous year BUT we were certainly harder to beat.

Q6/ YOU WERE ON THE LOSING SIDE OF 2 FA CUP SEMI FINALS IN 1967 AND 1971. HOW MUCH DID THAT HURT?

A6/ The semi finals are the worst games to lose as you are only one game away from the big one. 1968/69 Manchester City who were very bright tactically.

Malcolm Allison was in charge there and it was the first time that I had ever heard that term "Condensing the  Pitch" which what they did was when they got to  the half way line  and they played us in one half of the pitch and we were so that there was no build up and the longer the game went the more it suited us really

We never really ever got going. The goal that Tommy Booth scored, I was supposed to be marking him but the ball came from a corner and ricochet inside the box which fell to Tommy Booth who just volleyed it in and that was 1-0.

The Liverpool  game at Old Trafford came about 3 or 4 days after the Panathinaikos  game and that's when the team died if you like.  Harry had taken ill on the plane coming home from Greece and Wilf Dixon was in charge and we had a drink that night when we got back to the hotel. Labby called the senior players together with Bally the captain and we had a few words amongst ourselves as to what we had to do  to get going again.

Although we had been in the quarter final of the European cup and the semi final of the FA Cup, we had been very disappointing in the league and it looked after about 20-30 minutes that it had worked.

We had gone a goal up as we were looking very much like ourselves then fate. Brian Labone had pulled a hamstring, and I think if Harry was there he would have put me at centre half other than Sandy Brown when we were 1-0 up to deal with Toshack's ariel challenge.

Centre half was my natural position as a kid. I played for Liverpool schoolboys as an old fashioned wing half the link between defence and attack. I was a footballer before I was a goal scorer but when they needed goals they pushed me up front and I got a few.

People don't realise but my first two games for Everton were to fetch and carry. Playing with Fred Pickering against Blackpool, he was the striker and I was the inside right and the same in the next game at Leeds where I partnered Mike Trebilcock.

I remember Harry telling me one day that I was going to be a striker and I never ever had a day off at Everton.

They had this thing about me at Everton that I was lazy so I used to work afternoon collecting the ball and laying it off and running behind then would pick things up quickly enough to know that when I'm in the 6 yard box you could score a goal.

I wouldn't say that I was a manufactured footballer but I might have been a manufactured striker.

Q7/ 1969/70. WHAT GAMES STAND OUT FOR YOU?

A7/ I think emotionally when we beat West Brom to clinch the title.

There was so many games that season. Little Bally would clap his hands and say "Come on, let's go and stuff this lot"  but the game that turned it, was the defeat at home to Liverpool with the famous Sandy Brown own goal and that was only one of 4 losses that season.

 But when we went to Anfield in the March we knew if we would have lost there it would not have been tainted but it would be slightly blurred by the Liverpool fans who  would be forever telling us that they beat us twice when we won the league and we totally we out played them at Anfield.

After that win that started a run that saw us all the way through then. In those days Anfield was a ferocious place to go to, the Kop was roaring and if somebody sneezed a penalty was given.

Q8/ WHAT WAS YOUR OPINION ON YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE PLAYIN IN EUROPE AT CLUB LEVEL?

A8/ We loved it and we should have won the cup that year. The game against Panathinaikos, we played them at home first and I played with a stiff neck and maybe should never have played and I think we had over 20 attempts on goal and they had one and scored and we got an equaliser late on through David Johnson.

The latter stages of the game they were poking and prodding at us  ulling our hair and saying "Athens, we will see you in Athens"

When we went over there, outside the hotel, their fans were driving around on motorcycles to keep us awake and we knew there was something funny with the referee. I knew that Everton did appeal afterwards and I do believe later that the game was proven to be suspicious shall we say.

Q9/ WAS YOUR DEPARTURE FROM EVERTON DUE TO YOUR BACK PROBLEMS?

A9/ No, I wasn't in the team. I needed to play. I was 24/25. Billy Bingham and I never really saw eye to eye.

I partnered Bob Latchford for 7 or 8 games and I think  I got 3 goals whilst Bob got 7 or 8. We then lost a league cup replay against Aston Villa I think it was at Goodison. Afterwards Jimmy Hill said on television that Joe Royle and Bob Latchford don't look a natural pair.

We went to Coventry City on the Saturday expecting to play and was pulled on one side by Billy Bingham who told me that I wasn't playing and Jim Pearson  was to be given his chance.

I only ever played one more game for Everton after that.  I have to say that I was taking a long time to get over back surgery, I wasn't playing well and other clubs wanted me later on and Billy seemed obsessed about me going to Birmingham City.

We parted, not with animosity but  we weren't the best of friends when I left Everton and left Christmas eve 1974.

Q10/ 1976 YOU WON THE LEAGUE CUP WITH MANCHESTER CITY AND IN 1981 YOU WERE NAMED PLAYER OF THE YEAR BY NORWICH CITY. 2 GOOD PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENTS FOR YOU?

A10/ Great.  Player of the year when I was 31 years of age. Particularly again as John Bond who had signed me to play up front with Justin Fashanu had written me off very quickly who thought I was a spent force.

I spoke to him about it and was going to do so again and he then went to Manchester City and Ken Brown was his assistant who immediately brought me back in the side.

Okay, we were relegated but in many ways being a striker and player of the year after being relegated was a great honour for me.

Manchester City in the league cup, I had scored in every round of the competition up until the final although I had a goal disallowed in the Final. I don't know how or why but the ball was chipped in from 25/30 yards but somehow was given offside.

Never the less the season after we (Manchester City) were runners up to Liverpool in the league by only a point. It was a great side with people like Peter Barnes, Dennis Tueart, Asa Hartford, and Colin Bell who was getting injured at this stage.

Mike Doyle, Tommy Booth, Willie Donachie and not forgetting big Joe Corrigan who would have had more England caps only for Clemence and Shilton being around. We were on our way to being a top side.

 Q11/ 6 ENGLAND CAPS. TELL ME ABOUT YOUR FIRST GAME IN MALTA

 A11/ Malta with Colin Harvey. We made our England debuts together on a corrugated pitch!! It was one of these old sort of gravel pitches that if it rained heavily prior before the game the rain had left ruts everywhere to give it a corrugated effect.

It was hard, Brian Clough had wound them up on television by saying that Malta were a team of waiters.

It was hard, we won the game 1-0 and I did slightly less than okay. I wouldn't give myself great credit for any of the game then had to wait until 1972 for my next chance.

Q12/ AFTER A SUCCESSFUL STINT AS OLDHAM MANAGER YOU BECAME MANAGER OF EVERTON. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?

A12/ I got a phone call from Cliff Finch who was later to be the deputy chairman at Everton. He told me that I was considered as a possibility for Everton.

I was in shock and don't remember much about it but was later told that my answer was "I'd crawl over broken glass"

The next thing was that I was told by the Oldham chairman Ian Stott that Everton wanted to speak to me and did I want to speak to them?

I said "Yes please"

It had been 12 fantastic years at Oldham. We tilted at windmills. We had got to 2 semi finals and got to a final. We had been promoted as champions; we were founder members of the premier league.

We had International players and had made a profit on transfers every year of the 12 years. I had a lovely time but I felt that the time was right for Oldham and for me so went to speak to Peter Johnson as I thought.

I was directed I think up to the Dixie Dean lounge and I thought this is going to be a big lounge for an interview and the doors opened the lights and cameras came on and was introduced as Everton's new  manager. I hadn't even talked about a contract in fact we never got round to a contract until a month later.

Q13/ YOU BROUGHT SILVERWARE TO EVERTON IN 1995 BY WINNING THE FA CUP. DID THAT MAKE UP FOR NOT WINNING THE TROPHY AS A PLAYER?

A13/ I would still maintain it was lovely. The cup is for the fans and I saw what cup success did for the fans at Oldham.

My first gate at Oldham was 2,900 people against Shrewsbury Town in a league match . When we were Premier league we were getting 18,000 but what had got things going was the season before, we had got to a Final and  a semi Final losing to Manchester United in replays.

That cup season, it brought fans in and put us on the map so all of a sudden our gates averaged between 3,000-8,000 the following season.

I was aware that Everton were bottom of the league when I joined them as manager but I didn't know how bad it was until I saw the fixtures to come and the ones that had been with one win in 14 against West Ham. They had played other clubs at home who they should have beaten so I didn't realise how bad it was and I didn't want to have the tag of the manager who took Everton down as relegated.

Staying up for me was more important and until we won the semi final at Elland Road against Tottenham, the FA Cup could be a hindrance in case we got suspensions and injuries out of this. When the semi final was over, I knew we were going to be safe.

The cup was terrific but you know what?  The people never talk about the Charity shield. I thought beating Blackburn in the Charity shield was a bigger statement from where we had come from.

So in a space of months, we had beaten United twice, we had beaten them in the league  and in the FA cup final. We beat the Champions Blackburn Rovers and we were on the move. We had gone from the worst team in the league to the 6th best team in the league

In the early rounds of the FA Cup we had a scare at Bristol City as we had flu in the camp. One or two couldn't make it and Bristol City battered us. The weather was poor, the pitch was heavy and Matt Jackson swung his left foot just like Jeff Astle in the 68 Final and half volleyed one in the net late on in the game.

They (Bristol City) had a lad playing for them called Junior Bent and if he could have finished, we would have been two or three down before we got going.

Having said that you need that bit of luck in the cup.  The performance against Newcastle in the quarters and in particular against Tottenham in the semi final is still one of the best performances by an Everton side in recent history.

We were supposed to be fodder for them with Klinsmann, Sherringham and Barmby . This great footballing side was going to take us apart and the only goal we conceded in that cup run was that very dodgy penalty. There was no doubt about it, we were terrific that day from 1-11 we were terrific.

Q14/ HOW MUCH OF HARRY CATTERICK WAS IN YOUR STYLE OF MANAGEMENT?

A14/ I learnt something from every manager that I played for. Harry had values which weren't hard to take on. When you think, Alan Ball, Howard Kendall, Colin Harvey and myself who had all played under Harry all went on to be managers.

The man must have had something going for him. He was not really recognised as the manager that he was because he was cold with the press but Harry was the old fashioned manager who had great standards.

What he was more than anything was that he was a very shrewd judge of a player? He brought Kendall, Harvey and Ball together, we were the very first side to play 4-3-3 and win the league.

He was hard working and diligent and sometimes he was spotted at a game in Scotland with his cap on assisted by his scout and partner in crime Harry Cooke . He would be back in his office next morning, not on the training ground. The only time he put a tracksuit on was when John Moores was coming.

Everyone knew where they were with Harry and if you were honest and fair with him and didn't mess around you never had a problem.

 Q15/ WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED POSSESSION FROM FOOTBALL?

 A15/ Too many, honestly too many. I've got a championship medal, an FA cup winners medal, a league cup winners medal, 6 England caps. Most treasured thing is memories.

 Q16/ WHO WAS YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCE?

 A16/ I've had great support from my family, my mum and dad. From humble beginnings in Norris Green.

My father was a terrifically talented man, an engineer and an absolutely brilliant pianist and concert trained and played Jazz for a living for most of his life.

My Mum was a hard working woman of her times with limited opportunity but gave all she could for me.

And from my wife Janet and my 3 sons so quite honestly I've had great support from them.

Q17/ YOUR FUNNIEST MEMORY AND MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT?

A17/ I once shared a room on an away trip with Brian Labone and Gordon West. I don't know why but there must have been an odd number in the squad but they had a room for three and they put me in with those 2.

I couldn't believe it, 2 England Internationals in their late twenties messing around with a tickling stick and we laughed our way to the Championship, sometimes in tears.

There was so much going on in the dressing room with Westie performing his court sessions. There were all sorts of stuff going on. Labby used to torment Howard but it was all good natured banter. There are so many memories and it's hard to pick one moment out. 

My most embarrassing moment?

I'd been talked into doing a book as a teenager probably one of the first teenagers to do it and had been recommended by Brian Labone to do it, maybe so he could wind me up. The book was called Royle Flush and the book came out when we lost the semi final to Manchester City in 1969.

The lads brought it in for signing and they nicknamed it Royle Blush. So that was a bit of an embarrassment for me at the time but it was never to be a life story at the time just a bit of fun.

Q18/ WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO BE HAILED AS AN EVERTON LEGEND WHEN YOU THINK OF THE LIKES OF DEAN,HICKSON ETC...?

A18/ If I'm a legend, what's Alex Young and Roy Vernon? 

Incidentally, Alex Young told me that Roy Vernon was the greatest player he had ever seen. Roy Vernon was awesome, ahead of his time. Vernon waited on a defenders shoulder wanting to run behind and use his blinding pace. The forerunner of Ian Rush if you like (another great Evertonian) Roy Vernon was some player.

Roy was just about there when I joined a great character, famous for putting his cigarette out in the tunnel before he ran out onto the pitch and famous for having a fag in the showers.

Harry was changing that regime. When I first joined Everton, players used to get in the  communal bath and light up!

And don't forget, this is before everyone knew the dangers of smoking. I've never touched one so it's never been a problem to me.

If you ever look at the old black and white photographs with players on it's amazing to see how many players smoked. Even our team in 69/70, without naming names three quarters of them smoked.

Going back to legends, I remember Jimmy Gabriel a ferocious footballer but what a beautiful man. If ever there was a thing about a beautiful man, Jimmy Gabriel was that.

Jimmy and Ray Wilson were so good to me. Alan Ball was a legend. You ask anyone that played with Alan Ball and they will all say that he was the best player that we played with and that's no put down against the others.

In fact sometimes I get quite emotional when people ask me about Ball and Labby.  Labby was a big hero from when I was a kid and he always recognised that I was a Quarry bank boy as he was a Collegiate boy .

I think if you asked the players in our dressing room which player would have gone on to be a successful manager, 90% would have said Labby.

There was another side to Labby. He liked his comforts in life and he liked time to himself also. Football as a manager is a very demanding job as your out all night at games then back in the office at 7.30-8.00am. By the way, I've no complaints.

Q19/ MOST MEMORABLE GAME AS A PLAYER AND AS A MANAGER?

A19/ The most memorable game as a manager  is easy. My first game at Goodison as manager. We were bottom of the league playing  Liverpool.

I think the bookmakers made Liverpool 4 to one on to beat us. I got home later on and watched the game again on the old VHS.

The noise when the first goal went in. Duncan scored his first goal for the club. We went on to win 2-0 and the roof came off.

Goodison is such a complex situation because it is one of the last traditional clubs, I've always said that. Night games in particular are fantastic at Goodison.

Equally, I've got 2 metal knees and when I go to games at Goodison, I know I'm not going to be comfortable  there because there is no leg room.

It's a very old fashioned stand and in many ways that's what is holding us back but there is still NO place like it. When the crowd are up for it, I've seen the crowd turn games. I was there that night Howard's team beat Bayern Munich.

My first game at Goodison against Liverpool was just awesome. I had just sat down in the stands with Peter Johnson as I always spent the first half there and he was obviously very nervous being bottom of the league with one win in 14 games.

He said "Can we possibly get a draw out of this?" I replied "I expect to win Chairman" then he (Johnson) must have thought that he had brought in a nutter to manage.

The joy in the directors room after the game, we were up there a while, the crowds were taking a while to get away and a knock came on the door.

"Is Joe there, can we speak to him" It was the owner from the Wilnslow pub across the road telling me that people would not leave until I went over as he was trying to shut the place.

I went over there and was certainly too heavy to pass around the room but it was a fantastic welcome back to Goodison. We went to Chelsea the following Saturday and won 1-0 courtesy of Paul Rideout then we beat Leeds United.

We went on from there and we were flying. We had gone from the worst team in the league to a team who had kept 3 clean sheets with 3 wins and we were on the move.

Q20/ WHAT WAS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE GOAL?

A20/ I've already said that a 2 inch nudge in with your knee counts as much as a 30 yard volley and I never scored many of the 30 yard volleys. A lot of people go back to a near post header I scored at Leeds.

Bally and I worked in training on a set routine. If the ball was anywhere near the edge of the penalty area, Bally would get on it then would look totally disinterested. He was a great little actor God love him. I would walk away equally disinterested and as I'm walking away from the ball and the far post then I'd duck back in.

 Bally then could hit a ball just off one stride and smash it sort of waist high and I had to get across and whoever was still with me which I did. As I did, Garry Sprake (Leeds GK) came out feet first and took my hip but I'd scored. That goal put me on the map if you like.

 Q21/ WHAT WAS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE DERBY AS PLAYER AND MANAGER?

 A21/ All Derbies are memorable. My first as a manager which I've already mentioned.

When we won 2-0 back in 69/70, big Ron who was great man and a great friend. In those days, Derby games were brutal.

Tommy Smith playing at right back and Johnny Morrissey playing outside left. The game was decided over ten rounds not 90 minutes. At the end of the game they would go off with their arms around each other.

Big Ron was a nightmare. Roy McFarland (Derby County) gets the accolade as the best centre half I ever played against but Ron was tough because you knew you'd get a clip around the ear.

I hadn't given him too many problems admittedly and he had said that in the paper the night before.

In the Liverpool echo which I haven't read since the day I left Everton as manager. He said that Joe has never given me too many problems; he's always been in my pocket. So came the day when I soared above Ron and Ray Clemence.

I had been City high jump champion as well and jumping was never a problem to me as I had always been a good springer. And as you know, we went on to win the game.

Afterwards we went to Tommy Smith's club and he stood on the door and said "What do you want? And by the way, big Ron said it was an own goal and not yours!"

I told him"that if he wanted it that bad, he could have it."That was more of a reflection rather than an indication of the relationships with the teams.

Colin Harvey and Tommy Smith were very great mates who used to see each other except for twice every season for 90 minutes when one wore the blue shirt and the other a red one.

Jimmy Gabriel used to stay in the top of the tunnel after Derby games just in case of any problems, a bit like a security man. Of course there were scuffles.

I still see big Ron, Tommy Smith and Roy Evans who lives nearby and we still have good relationships except for on the day when we were up against each other.

Q22/ WHO WAS YOUR BEST STRIKE PARTNER?

A22/  If I had to play with a partner?  Probably Brian Kidd from when I played with him at Manchester City and Dennis Tueart. The season we came runners up in the league, they both got over 20 and I got 16. about that worked.

Generally I operated as a lone striker.

We (Everton) were the first club to play 4-3-3. I would play through the middle Jimmy Husband would play on the right with Johnny Morrissey on the left and me up the middle and I played on my own and I liked playing on my own.

 Q23 / FAVOURITE STADIUM?

 A23/ Oh, Goodison. I loved Goodison as it was always good to me. I think there's always a tradition to see local boys there. Tony Hibbert is well received there as is Leon Osman. I signed Leon when he was a kid.

I also remember Rooney coming in when he was only academy age. Ray Hall brought him in to see us. Leon is a great Evertonian who has brought great service to the club.

We used to worry about him (Osman) physically but he has come through as a good footballer.

Goodison loves its own and hopefully, I'm one of its own.

Q24/ YOUR BEST SIGNING AS A MANAGER?

A24/ Kanchelskis. Duncan also as joint. Duncan made such an impact.

I infamously said one day that Duncan would become a legend before he became a player  and that wasn't to knock him because I felt there was so much more to come from him. Duncan is still probably the best equipped number 9 of all time.

He was quick, by God he was quick. At 6ft 5 he could leap and normally at that height they can't but he could leap out of the sky and was tidy with the ball. He knew the game and if Duncan was up for it and somebody kicked him or it was Man Utd or Liverpool he could have spells in the game where he was unplayable.

He might have scored more goals but you have to accept players for what they are and what they do and Duncan was awesome.

Andrei, the one season he gave us was just mind blowing from what he gave us. He gave us 16 goals in 32 games. He frightened and terrorised full backs everywhere .He wasn't a winger, he was a wide striker. He wasn't a good crosser of the ball he was a flat crosser of the ball.

So you will find that Duncan or whoever was playing with him wouldn't score too many goals from his shots but from keepers trying to hold on to it.

In the Derby at Anfield he smashed one through James, if the ball would have hit him full on it would have taken it with him. There was of course the very rare headed goal from Andrei .

One ex Liverpool player on the radio embarrassed himself by saying "it was long ball football "and when you look at the goals afterwards they were both intricate breaks through perfect passes, perfect crosses and great finishes.

Q25/ WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT AS A PLAYER AND A MANAGER?

A25/ As a player the 69/70 thing didn't last long. For whatever reason or whatever it was I don't know but we should have gone on and done more as a team.

As a player leaving Everton on Christmas  Eve 1974 which took a lot of getting over.

As manager going to see Peter Johnson on deadline day in 1997 and we both came up with this absurd compromise that we would part by mutual company. We just temporarily lost faith in each other. We should have seen it out and who knows where it would have gone from there.

Q26/ BEST PLAYER PLAYED WITH?

A26/ Alan Ball. Not by a mile. I played with a lot of good players Colin Harvey, Howard Kendall and Colin Bell was awesome believe me, Asa Hartford was terrific .

Q27/ WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGETS REGRET AS A PLAYER AND AS A MANAGER?

A27/ Biggest regret as a manager was leaving Goodison. no doubt at all about that.

Biggest regret as a player. (Thinking hard) Very few regrets overall. I've got 2 metal knees and a metal hip and I wouldn't change a day. 

Q28/ YOUR TOUGHEST OPPONENT?

A28/ The best opponent was Roy Mcfarland.  The toughest would be Ron Yeates.

Ron was like a big Robocop. He would stand around the pitch and they (Yeates and Smith) would be intimidating. But by the time i had got to 21, I had grown into that.

They are all great guys and I see Ian St John now and again and he can still has the fire in him.

I went to a dinner once and somebody had spilled a drink on him and I thought it was going to go off!!

I remember Bill Shankly after he had left Liverpool as he used to come over to Bellefield for a sauna and I was then playing then  for Bristol City and it was Gordon Lee that used to let me train there one day a week.

He said to me one day, "Are you fit big man? To which I replied "Yes".

"I was going for a cross country run then a game of squash "and he tutted and said "footballers play football" And that was Shanks.

Q29/ AT PRESENT, CLUBS WRAP THEIR VERY YOUNG PLAYERS INTO THE CLUB ENVIROMENT. YOU PLAYED FOR LIVERPOOL SCHOOLBOYS AS WELL AS YOUR SCHOOL AND DEVELOPED INTO A GREAT FOOTBALLER. DO YOU THINK IT BENEFITS?

A29/ I think the whole academy system is too easy and too soft now. I think we make decisions on kids too early. I don't think kids of 10 and 12 should be dealing with disappointment.

There has got to be a better balance. They play on perfect pitches, they have freshly scrubbed kit and are given the best boots available and we are producing few players than ever as a country.

So it's with regret they don't do the boots anymore and they don't clean the toilets out like we did and they don't paint the place in the summer because it gave me a great grounding and personality for the game and a great ambition for the game.

Roger Kenyon and I used to carry bins to where the car park is now. I didn't like it in our overalls. We were footballers. I hated mopping the floor and taking dirty socks to the laundry but it was part of what you had to do.

In those days the club could sign you as pro anytime after you were 17 but your apprentice contract ran until you were 18. Sometimes Harry Catterick would keep you hungry until your 18th birthday so you didn't know then it gave you an incentive and a hunger.

I think sometimes the regime was too far the other way, it was oppressive at times and they told you what you did wrong too often and what you did right too little. But there is no doubt that it breads a hunger.

I worry for the next generation of England teams at the moment because I still want Rio Ferdinand to play and I think that John Terry is the best centre half around. We are still playing Gerrard and Cole even though there's an exciting left back at Southampton waiting to challenge Baines and Cole for a place, in the near future.

If Rooney doesn't score we don't have a goalscorer.

When I was trying to get into the England squad, I was competing with Geoff Hurst, Malcolm Macdonald, Mike Channon , Allan Clarke, Mick Jones, Peter Osgood and Brian Kidd . I got to 17 one season and all good strikers get 20 plus a season.

England went into the European Championships and Rooney went into the championships as top scorer for his club on 29. The next best I think was Grant Holte at Norwich with 14.

There used to be 15 players in the top flight who all scored over 20  a season.

Q30/ THE LAST AND CRUELEST QUESTIONS OF THEM ALL. YOUR BEST EVERTON XI FROM THE CHAMPIONSHIP SIDE OF 69/70 AND THE FA CUP WINNING SIDE OF 1995?

 A30/ I wouldn't do it. Just say Alan Ball and ten others.

 

Email Bluekipper at enquiries@bluekipper.com

Comments about Exclusive Interview With Joe Royle
 
6
I am one of Kenwrights critics but if he had of been chairman while Joe was there he would never have left. I still believe if he had of been able to use the Kanchelskis funds we would have had more success. He was hung out to dry by a press and chairman who didnt have a clue, notably a huge injury list. Sadly another example of what if. Like you Joe I have barely looked at the Echo since.
Gareth, Brisbane, 5:37 PM 23/12/2013
 
5
Brilliant ,such an honest man not like that the ex players from over the park
richard, stockport, 10:52 AM 22/12/2013
 
4
Always regarded Joe as an iconic Blue, not many supported, played and managed Everton, Joe and Colin Harvey, Joe more famously as he was a success as both player and manager. Great media presence, and should be given more profile, on a modern day media obsessed with ex redshite. Famously never managed a team who didn't play in Blue, and had a great record against the shite. I skipped the popes visit to Dublin in 1979, as Joe was coming home with Bristol City, as 1m people headed off to see JP1 in Dublins Phoenix park I took the Ferry to see the great man JR9 at Goodison Park, there wasn't many on the ferry that night. If memory serves me right Joe had a fondness for Dickie Rock the Irish showband legend. Met him a few times, and he had great time for fans, Joyle Royle Blue legend
Fran, Dublin, 10:58 PM 16/12/2013
 
3
Would expect nothing less than, very informative, forthright and article from the great man. I said before that i met him at a players lunch amazingly friendly, got out the FA Cup allowed everyone to have their photos taken with it. All the backroom staff and tea ladies etc loved him, and i know why, just a great genuine guy and super ambassador to the club. Love the man, he likes Sinatra too so cant be bad, and if of course he did "his way"
LES, PHUKET, 6:06 AM 16/12/2013
 
2
Hero. Legend. Great Man.
Win, Stafford, 5:02 PM 15/12/2013
 
1
superb read Top man and a top Evertonian
blue peter, fazak, 4:39 PM 15/12/2013
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