MOYES HAILS AN EVERTON GREAT
David Moyes has led the tributes for Everton legend Brian Labone who tragically passed away on Monday evening.
The Blues Boss had met the former Goodison skipper on numerous occasions since arriving at the Club in 2002 and he revealed that Brian was never shy to offer his support.
Moyes told evertonfc.com: "I was shocked to hear that Brian has passed away and my sympathies go out to all his family and friends.
"He was a real gentleman around the club and he always had a good word of support for myself and the team whenever I was in his company."
Everton CEO Keith Wyness added: "I have only been at the club a short time but Brian Labone was a person who made a huge impression on me in terms of the history and whole feeling of being an Evertonian.
"He was always lively and embraced the role he had on a matchday. Brian was one of my childhood heroes and I used to cut out photos of him, Gordon West and Mike Trebilcock from Football Monthly and put them on my bedroom wall. He was a legend.
"There was never a time when you shared Brian's company without a joke or a laugh and he was someone with a warm handshake. He always found the time to have a laugh and he was a wonderful person."
Brian's ex team-mate and former manager Howard Kendall added: "It is such a tragic loss he was a great player, a great leader.
"The last time I saw him on Saturday, he was on the pitch at Goodison and I couldn't think of a more appropriate image. He loooked so well."
Like Brian, Kevin Ratcliffe captained Everton to FA Cup glory. He said: "Brian was Everton. If you could put together a team of every player that has ever captained Everton, every one of us would turn to Brian to lead us out. He will always be known as the captain of Everton."
Friend and former teammate Derek Temple said: "He is a great loss and a great Evertonian. It is a loss to the city and to Everton.
"He was a big man who lived life to the full and always had time for people. He will be sadly missed. Harry Catterick christened him 'The Last of the Corinthians' and that was perfect for him - he was a true gentleman. I am shocked and saddened."
Dave Hickson, himself an Everton legend, worked closely with Brian at Goodison over the last three decades providing tours for supporters and hosting guests in the club's lounges.
He said: "I was with Brian at a supporters event on Monday night and he was his usual bubbly self. There was always great affection for Brian, not just because of what he achieved as a player but mainly because he was such a gentleman. Such a nice man.
"I spent a lot of time with him at Goodison - he used to
joke with people that I was his grandad - he was a lovely man. My
phone has been ringing off the hook with people who know him from
the lounges passing on their regards. He did so much for the club
and was so down to earth. He will be sadly missed."
Labone's great friend and rival Ian Callaghan, a Liverpool stalwart, was stunned by the news.
"I can't believe it. I just can't believe it," he said.
"He was such a lovely man. He loved life and he lived it to the full. It's terrible news. It's unbelievable. I was with him on Saturday and he seemed fine, his usual self.
"We would also regularly travel together to sports dinners and play golf together. He played at Ormskirk.We became good friends after I moved into the next street to Brian."
Callaghan also recalled his meetings with Labby on the field.
He added: "Obviously we played against each other lots of times in derby matches and he was a quality, classic ball-playing centre half.
"He was a great footballer and Everton through to the core. He always used to tell me that they were better than us in the 60s.He loved the club so much but he was a very fair man too.
"He was so passionate about Everton and had a great relationship not just with Blues fans, but with all football fans.
"In many ways he typified the derby spirit which Merseyside became famous for. I will miss Brian terribly - he was my good friend."
Graeme Sharp, the second highest scorer in Everton history, has fond memories of Brian: "I was speaking to him only last weekend before the game against Birmingham. We were chatting about former players and the old times.
"I said to him that if he had played in the same era he would have kicked me to bits but he said he was not that kind of player, he was a reader of the game.
"He was a fantastic player and the number of caps he earned for England in an era when there were so many quality players to choose from shows just how good a player he was.
"When you listen to stories from people who played with him
you realise he really was a giant."
Former Everton manager and team mate of Labone Joe Royle looked back ont he way Labby had helped him in his formative years.
He added: "Brian was a father figure to me at Goodison Park. He was fantastic to me and we were still close friends. As far as I know he had never had an illness in his life and it was a huge shock to be told this morning.
"Brian was a clever footballer, who played in the right way. He never lost a header or a tackle, yet I never saw him booked.
"He shared with goalkeeper Gordon West and they were a tremendous double act. He was a senior figure when I was a youngster in the Everton side and I could not have been better looked after. I am devastated; it has been a terrible year for losing good people."
FA Chief Executive Brian Barwick has also added a tribute to Labby.
Barwick, who grew up on Merseyside, said: "Brian was one of football's true gentlemen - a one club man and a legend in the history of Everton Football Club.
"Growing up on Merseyside, the keen rivalry between Liverpool and Everton was always fair-minded and fans appreciated the qualities of players on both sides.
"Brian's strengths were of the highest calibre - a cool, classy, committed defender and a great leader of his team.
"He also made 26 appearances for England including playing his part in the 1970 World Cup alongside the late Bobby Moore.
"Brian's life-long love affair with Everton continued after he finished playing. I recently saw him at a function on Merseyside and was still enthusing about football and Everton in particular.
"He was a great man and it's a sad loss."
Labone's England team mate in the 1970 World Cup, Alan Mullery, paid tribute to Brian's nature on and off the field.
He was a huge man, an old fashioned centre-half. When he tackled you, you knew you'd been tackled," said Mullery.
"He played in three games in 1970 and in a way took over from Jack Charlton.
"He was a special sort of player. If you played centre half in those days you had to be big, powerful and strong and you had to be able to tackle and head a ball. And that's what he could do.
"He was a lovely Scouser lad. And he had this great love
affair with Everton Football Club. He loved them dearly."
Another FA Cup winning captain, Dave Watson, said Labby was simply a 'hero'.
"I'm very upset," he said. "I used to see Brian once or twice a week and he was a lovely man who was still an important part of the club.
"Players like me and Kev Ratcliffe always looked up to Brian - he was our hero.
"Everyone he met when he was doing the hosting on match days went away counting him as a friend, Brian was just like that.
"He was so down to earth and just considered himself another Blue who was lucky enough to play for Everton and hear the roar of the Goodison crowd when you lead the team out."
John Hurst played alongside Labone successful teams of the late 60s and early 70s. He highlighted Labby's gentelmanly nature: "Labby was a great ambassador for the club and was just a lovely fellow," he said.
"He never had a bad word to say about anyone, playing the game in a tremendous spirit and never committed fouls on purpose. Even when he did foul he often used to apologise."
Another former team-mate, Brian Harris, added: "We were always good friends - Labby was the best man at my wedding - and I kept in touch with him by phone.
"When I occasionally went to Goodison he would look out for you and make sure you were all right. He was a very good player for Everton."
Brian was also friends with the original Everton legend, Dixie Dean.
Dixie's daughter, Barbara, recalled: "He came to see dad, who he idolised, when he had his leg amputated and they used to have a good laugh together.
"He used to say how terrified he was carrying the coffin - he said it was more terrifying than walking out at Wembley - and we always joked with him that he had the lighter side of the coffin to carry."