Sunday, 10 May 2009


Farewell then, Ted Sagar. Gordon West - you needn't have bothered to put on your gloves. Your efforts as Everton goalkeepers have been airbrushed out of history by the PR machine of the Premier League.
Before last Saturday's match between Everton and Tottenham we were all informed that if the current Everton keeper, Tim Howard, kept a clean sheet he would set a new Premier League record of 16 shut-outs in one season for the club. Howard, who has had an excellent season, did exactly that and was duly saluted in some of the Sunday papers.
But this does not make Tim Goodison's greatest goalkeeper.
Ted Sagar, most Evertonians' choice as the only Number One to rival Neville Southall in the club's 131-year history, was a player of remarkable consistency who played from 1929 to 1953. In 1938-39 he kept 18 clean sheets, his value to the team reinforced when, in the only game he missed that season, the defence let in seven.
Gordon West was Everton's regular custodian in the late sixties and early seventies. In 69-70, when they won the League title, he kept opposition forwards at bay no fewer than 21 times - exactly half the scheduled matches in those days.
These men should be acknowledged for their achievements, not shoved into the shadows because of the inconvenient fact that they happed to play before 1992 when the Premier League was invented.
The current era, with its ProZone software, has spawned a fascination with statistics which football fans were content to leave to cricket buffs in the past. People are employed solely to record the number of passes a player makes, the number of tackles achieved. Fine for those who are enthralled by such arithmetic, but let's not fall for the insinuation that footballing achievements are only relevant if they take place in the Premier League. 1992 is not some Year Zero, before which lay only darkness of which none dare speak.
In my view, Howard's achievement is not worth a mention. It is a big "so what?" Once he beats the marks of Sagar and West we can start getting excited. History is too important to be rewritten, and the Premier League is usurping the traditions of the game by allowing it to happen.

1 comment:

Ian Baker said...

Great post. But we live in an era where football pre-1992 and anything below the Premier League now does not exist. And it stinks.