Everton won the League in 1970. Their mid field was a very strong one with a skilful trio of Ball, Harvey and Kendall at the heart of it- it was known as “the Holy Trinity”. Colin Harvey was a highly skilled player who should have won for caps for England but an injury in the run up to the 1970 World Cup kept him out of Alf Ramsay’s plans. I was collecting the Esso World Cup England medals and I must say that Harvey’s medal was also the hardest one to collect, on the other hand Geoff Hurst’s and Bobby Charlton’s were the easiest. The game was played on an Easter Monday. I was approaching 15 and unusually for the match I was standing in the Butler Street paddock right in the corner close to the corner flag. One of the most striking aspects of the game was the unusual white boots that Alan Ball was wearing. This juncture allows me to tell an anecdote about Alan Ball from the Bradford City’s coach Fred Eyres book about his encounter with Alan Ball Senior and Junior when he broke down at the entrance of the Mersey Tunnel. He eschewed a lift on the grounds that he did not want to go down as the man who was dragged from the Mersey Tunnel by the Balls.
Anyway back to March 30th 1970 and the encounter with a mid placed Stoke and an Everton about to win the title for the first time in 8 years. By all accounts it was a niggling affair which was decided in the 7th minute when Allan Whittle poked home a Wright cross. There was a great deal of needle between Mahoney and Ball and “spirited tussles” between Pejic and Whittle. Kendall was a great presence in mid field and for Stoke Greenhoff went close to equalising on a couple of occasions but went off injured to be replaced by Elder.
Everton did themselves on favours by feigning injury as the end of the game came into view in an attempt to run the clock down. Stoke’s best chance fell to the feet of Ritchie who hit the post evading the desperate lunge of Gordon West with a few minutes left. One player on the park was Everton full back “Sandy” Brown scorer of one of the greatest own goals in Liverpool Derby history when he scored a diving header against a bemused Gordon West the previous December at Goodison. He had the last laugh over Liverpool as Everton lifted the trophy shortly after the one nil victory at the Victoria Ground.
Not present that March day was Brian Labone. Three months later it was his misplaced clearance that led to Uwe Seeler’s back headed equaliser and the eventual victory of the Germans at the 1970 World Cup quarter final in Mexico. My mate Greg never forgave him for that.
The West German victory had far reaching implications. Not only did it cost Harold Wilson the 1970 General Election or at least he thought, but also broke up a Himalayan expedition which was fraught with personality clashes centring on the irascible Salford born Don Whilans famous for his one liners.
While in camp, some other climber’s overheard news that England had lost to Germany in the World Cup. "It seems we have beaten you at your national sport", said a German. After a pause Whillans replied, "Aye, and we've beaten you at yours...twice.