My Everton #45: Making Front-Page News

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Everton is so deeply ingrained in our family that I was christened in honour of William Ralph Dean.

It didn’t stop there. I have brothers called Colin Harvey Mangan and Roy Vernon Mangan.

My other brother is Derek Mangan, named after Derek Temple.

I’m plain old William, or Bill, which is a shame. I’d have liked William Ralph.

Anyway, as a devout Evertonian, my father must have despaired when I spent my first afternoon at Goodison Park crawling around between people’s legs on the Gwladys Street.

All I remember of the game is that Everton won and the away team was wearing red and white stripes.

My initial indifference, however, was very rapidly overtaken by fanaticism.

Which is how I came to be front page news on 19 May 1968.

This was around a decade after my first match. By now, I was 16 and followed Everton all over the country.

I’d seen the brilliant title-winning team of 1963 – and would be marvelling at another Everton championship side in the not-too-distant future.

I was at Wembley for the 1966 FA Cup final, too.

But I hadn’t managed to get myself a ticket for the 1968 final against West Bromwich Albion.

Imagine my excitement, then, when in the week of the game, dad came home triumphantly flourishing a ticket he had bought for me in the pub.

On the eve of the final, however, a story broke about police discovering a forgery ring around the match.

A number of fake tickets were in circulation, and they featured distinctive characteristics.

The forgeries were for entrance G64 and included a break in the official signature.

And yes, my ticket was for G64 and did have a break in the signature.

I travelled down to London on the coach with my friend Martin. All we talked about was our chances of getting into Wembley.

Despite our shared foreboding, we held out some hope that if we reached the turnstiles early, we’d be met by less vigilant ticket collectors.

We were at the gate hours before kick-off and felt a surge of euphoria when the first person to check our tickets waved us on.

Those fleeting feelings of joy and optimism were extinguished when the guy at the turnstile barked, ‘This is a forgery’ and abruptly handed the ticket back to me. In an instant, I was surrounded by a pack of pressmen, some with notebooks and pencils, others with cameras. I couldn’t see beyond them.

I felt completely suffocated, so I ran.

Only the man from the Sunday Mirror and his photographer stayed with me.

That was how the following day’s headline in that particular paper was born.

And there, underneath the words Sucker Fan, written in giant print, was a picture of me crying on the Wembley steps.


The first I knew of this was when a knock on the door interrupted us watching a rerun of the game on television on Sunday afternoon.

It was a guy from the Mirror telling me I’d been invited to the Everton team banquet at St George’s Hall – and asking if I had a suit.

Yes, I did have a suit, so he whisked me off to the reception, collecting Martin on the way.

That evening has a dreamlike quality in my memories, but I know I was shaking like a leaf when I walked into a spectacular room filled with my heroes.

I was plonked in a seat between Roger Kenyon and Tommy Jackson (pictured in main image), with Colin Harvey nearby.

The mood varied among the players. Jimmy Husband missed some chances in the game and was very down.

He spent a lot of time sitting on a staircase at the side of the hall.

Martin and I went to sit with him and tried to cheer him up but I’m not sure we achieved our aim.

It was only when I arrived home, I finally saw the newspaper – someone had been out to buy a copy.

That image of me in tears and the accompanying headline looked so cruel.

I was due back in school at Ellesmere Port Grammar on Monday and thought, ‘I am going to get so much stick’.

And I did. But I could say, ‘That’s fine, but I went to the reception at St George’s Hall’.

What’s more, Monday’s headline, Boy who wept at Wembley meets his idols face to face, more than made up for the Sunday article.

The paper was soon in touch again. They paid for dad and I to go down to Wembley to watch England play Sweden the week after the FA Cup final and wrote a follow-up piece on our day.

The reaction to that picture of me slumped on the steps, bereft and bawling my eyes out, was incredible. I received letters from mums wanting to adopt me and from girls wanting to marry me. I wrote to some of them for years. But didn’t marry any of them.

I left England for Bahamas in 1982 for a job as an art teacher, then in 1990 moved to Switzerland, where I’ve lived since.

My passion for Everton is undimmed. It means so much, and I still get very emotional about the team and the Club.

My poor wife is not from a football family but she is very supportive and knows how important it is to me and my brothers and our older sister, Joyce.

My sons are 19 and 20 and we took them to their first game on 28 December 2008, a 3-0 win over Sunderland at Goodison.

The oldest is Alex Young Mangan – Alex Young was and is my hero, he was so skilful and received a lot of harsh treatment but always got up and got on with the game, there were never any complaints – but my wife put her foot down over Everton names when our second was born.

There were roughly 20 of us from the family at the boys’ first match and I treasure the picture of us all together that hangs in my studio at home.

I would desperately love to watch Everton at Wembley again. But if the team tries to play good football and entertain and everybody gives everything they have for the Club, that is all any Evertonian expects.

And it is unique, personal memories that stick in your mind as much as the side trotting around the pitch with a trophy, anyway.

I always remember the European Cup game against Borussia Monchengladbach in 1970, not because Everton won their first penalty shootout, but because the German goalkeeper was throwing himself around in the warm-up in front of the Park End, tipping over shots left right and centre, then he conceded a soft goal inside one minute.

I always think about that and what a fickle game football is – how it can lift you up and knock you down.

Alan Whittle came in the team towards the end of the 1969/70 championship season and scored a hatful of goals.

He had very light, blonde hair. In one game, the sunlight kept catching his hair, and it was like his head was on fire.

And he was on fire, he scored so many cracking goals.

I’d had my own moment in the sun by then. And every part of that experience 54 years ago is etched indelibly on my brain. In much the same way as Everton is etched indelibly into the soul of the Mangan family.

By Bill Mangan, Evertonian

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