Our tribute to Brian Labone and Alan Ball.
Too often in the world of football the word legend is spouted without true justification.
But pick away at the fabric of this football club and it is undeniable the legacy created by Brian Labone and Alan Ball makes them worthy recipients of such a distinguished prefix.
Taken at the tragically young ages of 66 and 61 respectively, today, April 24, and tomorrow, April 25, mark the sixth and fifth anniversaries of their sad and untimely passings.
Perhaps the greatest achievement by the revered duo was their contribution to Everton’s emphatic league championship triumph under Harry Catterick in the 1969/70 campaign.
Individually, however, their relationship with Evertonians went far beyond a single season of glory – however notable.
Indeed, their ties with this Club - much like their hero status among those on the terraces - were endearing.
And Labone’s famous declaration that ‘one Evertonian is worth 20 Liverpudlians’, coupled with Ball’s assertion that ‘once Everton has touched you, nothing will be the same’, means supporters’ admiration for the pair is rightly timeless.
In addition to that 1970 league triumph, Labone picked up a title winners’ medal in 1963 and sampled FA Cup glory after one of the most dramatic Wembley finals of all time three years later.
Ball, meanwhile, joined Everton just weeks after dazzling for England in their famous 1966 World Cup final win over West Germany at the same stadium and, fusing industry and determination with breathtaking natural ability, became an instant fans’ favourite.
In the decades after hanging up their boots, both players continued to make regular trips to Goodison Park; the respect and adoration which existed between the two men and their club mutual.
Indeed, Labone worked tirelessly on matchdays, looking after sponsors and making himself typically accessible to all he encountered.
Even on the night of his passing, the popular former defender was among Evertonians, attending a supporters' awards night in the Winslow public house on Goodison Road.
Despite managing and having strong connections with a number of other clubs, including Stoke City, Manchester City and Portsmouth, Ball served as honorary president of both the Everton Collection Charitable Trust and the official members’ club, Evertonia, and dedicated much of his time to a Club with which he felt an unwavering, lasting attachment.
Legends in the truest sense of the word, Brian Labone and Alan Ball, today and always, remain in the thoughts of everyone at Everton Football Club.