In Profile: Harry Catterick
To some he was a masterful motivator, a visionary and a saviour. To others he was a cold, crude authoritarian, a silent figure who was easy to respect but tough to admire.
One thing that is certain is that even now, over five decades on, Harry Catterick remains one of the most intriguing figures in Everton's long and illustrious history.
Nor in doubt is the indelible footprint he left on the Club, or the success garnered from his iron-fisted, uncompromising approach.
A meticulous disciplinarian, it was Catterick that Everton turned to after chairman John Moores famously took the decision to fire Johnny Carey in the back of a London taxi following a Football League meeting in 1961.
Given a directive to restore the Club’s standing as England’s leading force, the new man at the helm would go on to transform the Toffees, win the FA Cup in the most dramatic of fashions in 1966 and twice deliver much-craved league championship glory - the first coming less than two years after his appointment.
Yet, quiet and introverted, Catterick was an enigma; the driving force behind his side’s success, he was hardly known to those who earned him his accolades.
“Harry didn’t make friends easily,” says Derek Temple, the gifted forward who experienced both league and FA Cup glory under his stewardship. “He was a very deep sort of man, he kept himself to himself and he delegated a lot of responsibility to his coaching staff.
“If you were doing your job he was okay, but you knew he was in charge and if he wasn't happy he would show it.
“But it didn’t affect the players at all that he was distant - the record books show that. There were quite a few players who didn’t like him at all, but you don’t need to be a popular manager to be a successful one.”
Mick Meagan, a title-winning defender in 1963, remembers a more misunderstood Catterick, a thinker and a man-manager who could adapt his approach to suit his needs.
"I'd agree he was a hard man but he had a nice balance," he explains. "He would encourage you nicely. If you had a bad game, there was no animosity, he'd just have a word with you and tell you he thought you could do better."
A returning player, Catterick had turned out for Everton throughout the 1940s and early 1950s. A centre-forward, he scored 24 league and cup goals in 71 matches, leading older fans to welcome him back with an optimism that wouldn’t prove misplaced.
Confident in his own judgement and undeterred by criticism, one of Catterick’s greatest attributes was a sharp eye in the transfer market. Through extensive trawling of the domestic leagues, he acquired a series of top quality players, bringing in names such as Johnny Morrissey, Fred Pickering and Ray Wilson – talents who would form the skeleton from which he built one of the Club’s most productive ever sides.
“Harry was good at signing players who believed in themselves,” Wilson, a World Cup winner with England, once recalled. “What’s more, he had no problem signing perceived ‘big heads’. Because once you signed for him he’d bring you down and quickly make it clear he was the man in charge.”
He was also willing to give youth its chance. Meagan, Temple, Brian Labone and Brian Harris all came through the ranks to play an integral part in the 1962/63 success.
His finest discovery arguably came later however, with the emergence of a Quarry Bank High School striker named Joseph Royle.
“Harry gave me my chance at 16, was patient with me and was always fair with me,” says a player who went on to replicate Catterick in guiding the Club to FA Cup glory as a manager. “Yes, he was a disciplinarian, but he believed in football and in footballers - and you only had to see the style of his teams to appreciate that.
“Once or twice I received his wrath when I deserved it,” he adds. “You got it more when you were in the reserves. Harry took great pride in the youth players. If we’d not played well on the Saturday and you heard he wanted to see you in what we called ‘the rollicking room’ on Monday morning, you knew you were in trouble.”
It was a post-match ritual from which no player was exempt.
"If he thought you hadn't played well or hadn't tried enough, he'd have you in on the Sunday morning training," remembers Temple. "But he wouldn't tell you, he'd get Tom [Eggleston, Catterick's assistant] to tell you. Tommy would come up to you after the game and say, 'You're in tomorrow', and you'd know the boss wasn't happy with you."
Achieving fourth place in his first season at Goodison Park, Catterick’s second campaign saw the dream of the board and supporters come true.
Having waited since the final campaign before the Second World War to regain the Football League trophy, Everton ended two decades of hurt with a panache that had been the hallmark of the Club's earlier successes.
But Catterick's crowning afternoon arrived three years later, courtesy of the other great game to be played at Wembley in the summer of 1966.
For the FA Cup final, ‘The Catt’ – a nickname none of his players dared utter in his presence - gambled on a little-known Cornishman called Mike Trebilcock to replace fans’ favourite Fred Pickering in attack.
But his decision was more than vindicated as the incoming wideman scored twice to help the Blues come from 2-0 down to stun Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 and lift the trophy against all the odds.
With England World Cup winner Alan Ball joining a line-up of rising stars such as Royle, John Hurst and Jimmy Husband just months later, and with another new signing, Howard Kendall, in fine fettle, 1968 saw Everton travel to Wembley once again.
This time, though, their hopes were dashed when West Bromwich Albion inflicted FA Cup agony in extra time, the late Jeff Astle scoring the game’s only goal just three minutes into the additional 30.
A year later, with the 1969/70 season beckoning, hopes were high as Catterick had once again remoulded Everton into a side widely backed to dominate the English game.
The expectations were realised as the Toffees secured the league championship in style, with the ‘Holy Trinity’ of Kendall, Ball and Colin Harvey giving silk and steel to what was unquestionably the most admired midfield in the country.
However, disaster was to strike for Catterick the following season as team confidence inexplicably plummeted after a semi-final defeat against Liverpool in the FA Cup and a European Cup exit at the hands of Greek outfit Panathaniakos, the team falling to 14th place only 12 months after heading the table.
Defiant, Catterick began rebuilding once again but, driving home one night in January 1972, suffered a heart attack behind the wheel.
He survived, but in April 1973, with four years still to run on his contract, continuing fears over his health forced him to step back and accept a less strenuous role as a senior executive.
He did so having not only galvanised a football club but having restored the respect Everton sides had commanded in the pre-war heyday of Dixie Dean.
What’s more, despite a 1970s lull, he left a legacy and a blueprint that would ultimately ensure further glory in later years.
“To his credit, four of that Everton side from 1970 went on to manage top-flight clubs, three of us Everton, and that itself is a great tribute,” says Royle. “He taught us the values of discipline, timekeeping, smartness and, of course, football.”
Catterick continued to follow Everton’s progress and was a regular at Goodison Park right up until his death in 1985.
That he missed out on seeing one of his players – Kendall - guide Everton to their first European trophy by just two months is a tragic footnote to his remarkable tale.
His own achievements at the Club – started 50 years ago this weekend - will ensure, like Kendall, Harry Catterick forever commands a frontmost place in the annals of Everton folklore.