Harvey The Great Player

After 40 years of serving his beloved Everton, Colin Harvey's dedication to the Royal Blue cause will be acknowledged on Sunday when Everton face Bologna in his testimonial game. To mark this achievement, evertonfc.com will be running a three part series entitled 'The Colin Harvey Story'.....

The first part pays tribute to 'Harvey - The Great Player'

by Darren Griffiths

This Sunday thousands of Evertonians will pay tribute to one of their favourite sons when Goodison Park hosts Colin Harvey's Testimonial.

Some would argue, with justification, that a benefit match has never been more deserved after over 40 years of loyal service to Everton, but as Colin reflected back on his glorious story he revealed that he could well have been a Liverpool player!

"I had a trial for Liverpool but I was an Evertonian and so were all my family so playing for Liverpool wasn't really what I wanted," he smiled.

"I would have gone there though, if there had been nothing else."

Fortunately, for generations of Everton supporters, there WAS something else!

"An uncle of mine knew someone at Everton and he got me a trial," he said.

"I was asked back after the trial and began to play for the C-team."

The rest, as they say, is history.

Player, coach, assistant manager, manager, youth coach…Colin has done it all at Everton but his love affair with the club began on the terraces of Goodison Park.

"I used to watch from the boys pen and the first players I saw were Wally Fielding and Johnny King. Then John Moores arrived, brought in Harry Catterick, and started bringing in quality players like Bobby Collins and Jimmy Gabriel, who were my heroes."

From cheering these players on from the terraces, Colin swiftly found himself sharing a dressing room with them.

He signed as an apprentice in October 1962 and within 12 months he had made his first team bow at the tender age of 18 at the magnificent San Siro Stadium against Inter Milan in the European Cup in front of 90,000 people.

"I had worked hard the previous summer and got into the reserves," he explained.

"It was after a match against Sheffield United that Gordon Watson told me to report with my gear for the Inter trip. There was me, Barry Reece and Ray Parnell and we thought we were going to carry the skips!

"We knew Jimmy Gabriel had been injured on the Saturday so there was a place up for grabs but I didn't think for one minute that it would be for me."

But it was - and Colin's playing career that would scale the heights of Championship and FA Cup Final wins was under way.

"Harry said that Dennis Stevens would move to number 4 and that I'd be playing number 8," said Colin. "I didn't have time to be nervous and I didn't do too badly."

After that though, it was back to the reserves to continue his footballing education. His league debut didn't arrive until the following March, away to Blackburn Rovers.

From there though, Colin soared.

His winning goal in the FA Cup semi-final in 1966 against Manchester United carried Everton to Wembley and he then played his part in an unforgettable Final against Sheffield Wednesday - The Toffees' first cup win for 33 years.

Four years later, the title came back to Goodison when Catterick's side, prompted by the 'Holy Trinity' of Harvey, Kendall and Ball, stormed to the title.

"We played a lot of good football," said Colin. "It was a team of internationals but us three did get a lot of credit for it.

"But three men didn't win a title, even though Brian Labone's favourite line was 'we are the only three-man team ever to win the championship'"

In April of that season, Colin's impeccable timing shown through again when he scored against West Brom in the win that decided the championship in Everton's favour.

One of the best midfielders in the country was now only missing international recognition, but that was rectified when he teamed up with Joe Royle and Alan Ball in the England team to face Malta in February 1971.

To many people's surprise (even disgust in some cases) that was to be Colin's only England cap.

"It was a tight knit England team then and it was very difficult to break in," he reflected.

"Alf Ramsey ran it like a club side but very often you see a compilation team made up of one-cap wonders, which I'm often in, so at least I'm remembered for it!"

A championship winner and an England international, Colin was at the height of his game, but injury problems curtailed his marvellous progress.

The magnificent Everton side that won the title gradually broke up and a bad hip injury limited Colin's appearances.

"I picked up an injury not long after that title win and it turned out to be a big hip problem which I felt from about the age of 27," he said.

"It was a big wrench to leave Everton but Billy Bingham arrived and made it clear that he wanted his own players. I wanted first team football so I went to Sheffield Wednesday."

To his own frustration, Colin was never the same player again, but it was by no means the last page of his Everton story.

He was to return to his beloved Goodison and reach the dizzy heights as a coach that he had done as a player.

The chapter in his remarkable tale, entitled 'Harvey - The Great Player' had finished, but there was more, an awful lot more, to look forward to!

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