The Everton Scots: Football Memories

Everton won the title in the early 1960s helped by some Scottish players, often overlooked for international duty.Everton won the title in the early 1960s helped by some Scottish players, often overlooked for international duty.
Everton won the title in the early 1960s helped by some Scottish players, often overlooked for international duty.
Historian Michael White remembers 'The Everton Scots' including one of the Falkirk greats and the ex-Hearts player behind one of the lounges at Goodison Park

The numbers of Scots currently playing in the top flight of English Football is tiny.

Changed days from the 1960s when this picture was taken of a successful Everton side that included Alex Scott, Jimmy Gabriel, Alex Parker, George Thomson and Alex Young. Everton won the League Championship in 1963, while Manchester United won the FA Cup, their first major trophy since the Munich Air Disaster. Tottenham Hotspur, including ex-Bairn John White, won the European Cup Winners' Cup, becoming the first English side to win a European cup competition.

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Older fans will remember the very severe winter which caused hundreds of postponements. Everton won the league with 61 points from 42 games, with two points for a win, and the Scots played a prominent part in their success. Alex Scott had moved to Goodison from Ibrox and was still a very powerful force on the right wing. Scoring 4 goals from his 17 appearances, he provided much of the ammunition for his fellow-Scot Alex Young. Jimmy Gabriel had started out with Dundee and was the centre-piece of a strong defence, playing in 45 games. He was always a threat at set-pieces and his six goals were a fair reflection of his aerial ability.

Alex Young, who died in 2017 was the darling of the Everton faithful, referred to as “The Golden Vision” and the subject of a complimentary drama- documentary by the renowned film-maker Ken Loach. Alex Young had been a star at Tynecastle and his ability in the air was phenomenal considering his height. He scored 22 goals that season against some of the best defences around.

If you visit Goodison today, you will find two big lounges. One is named after the legendary Dixie Deans; the other is the Alex Young Lounge. George Thomson was another who moved from Hearts to Everton in the same transfer as Alex Young, and he played 20 games in that unforgettable championship-winning season.

Alex Parker needs no introduction to older Falkirk fans and was arguably the best ever Bairn of the modern era. He was the first of the attackingfull-backs despite claims of others, and he was the master of the sliding tackle. Stories abound of his ability to retrieve lost causes and his goal-line clearances are legendary. Alex Parker saved his keeper on countless occasions- Bert Slater at Falkirk, and at International level- Tommy Younger. He was highly respected at Everton and captained the club on many occasions.

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The Everton Scots were often overlooked by the Scotland selectors, and it remains a tragedy that Alex Young and Alex Parker were overlooked so often after they left Hearts and Falkirk respectively. Those who took their places were usually home-based Scots but were far less talented players. The manager was Harry Catterick, who had come from managing Sheffield Wednesday, and as he had inherited several players, including Alex Young, he felt he wanted to impose his own style and selections on the team. When he dropped Alex Young in favour of a teenager called Joe Royle, the fans were furious and the manager had to back down- quickly. He is widely regarded as one of Everton’s most successful bosses, and with two league wins and an FA Cup win few could argue with that claim. When they won the FA Cup Final in 1966, the team included Jimmy Gabriel, Alex Scott and Alex Young and they triumphed 3-2 against Harry Catterick’s old side.

When you look at the top sides in England today, you struggle to find Scots who hold down a regular place and in recent times, Darren Fletcher at his peak would probably be the last Scot to do so. Changed days since the 60s and 70s when Scots formed the backbone of several successful clubs, notably Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester United. That Everton side was an entertaining one and the Scots more than played their part in their success.