Our favourite Uncle Charlie, Mum’s brother, used to come and see me and my brother quite often.
He had no sons of his own and he used to regale us with stories of his time in the Navy during WW1 and also gave us sound advice. He convinced us that football and smoking were incompatible and promised us ten shillings each if we hadn’t started smoking at age 21. Neither of us has ever smoked.
On one visit he asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. We immediately said that we wanted to play for Everton. He thought for a moment, then he said that nothing falls in your lap in this world, you have to go out and grab it. What you must do, he continued, was go to Everton and ask for a trial. If they refuse, say that you are going to Liverpool and they will call you back as they will be worried about losing out to Liverpool.
The following Sunday, the two of us went to Goodison Park. We found a door open at the back of the main stand and went up several flights of stairs until finally we came to a window with ‘enquiries’ on in gold letters. There was a bell which we rang. We heard footsteps approaching, the window slid back and a woman said ‘Waddya want’. In unison, we said ‘we’ve come for a trial’. She looked us up and down and then said ‘wait here’. She closed the window and went away. After a few minutes we heard the footsteps return and she said ‘how old are you’. We hadn’t expected this and my brother added a year and said ‘fifteen’ so I added a year on to mine and said ‘fourteen’. She said ‘wait here’ and disappeared again.
A few minutes later she came back and said ‘come back when you are eighteen’. The window closed. Devastated, we trudged down the stairs, then half-way down we remembered Uncle Charlie’s advice and shouted ‘we’re going to Liverpool’. We shouted it about three times but no one answered. We were very disappointed in Uncle Charlie as his advice was usually sound and on his next visit we told him the story and he laughed until tears ran down his cheeks. Anyway, he gave us a shilling each which cheered us up a bit. This is a true story that happened in 1949.
We never did go back for our trial as, at eighteen, my brother was doing his National Service in Hong Kong and I was doing mine in Singapore and Malaya.