Old Everton Pictures


BigMick

Player Valuation: £8m
BALL GEMMILL.jpg

The King and the Pretender....Alan Ball and Archie Gemmill: A Conspiracy Story.

Harry Catterick was never a man for resting on his laurels. No sooner had his Everton team been crowned league champions in April 1970 than he was planning for the future the future. One player he wanted was Preston's Archie Gemmill and the Catt came to a verbal agreement with both Preston and the player that he would sign for Everton.

In September 1970, though, Gemmill was identified by Peter Taylor as the man who could help lift Derby County to the next level, and so Brian Clough drove up to Preston to meet the player. Gemmill wasn't keen to meet Clough as he was set on moving to Goodison, and his wife wasn't keen on Old Big Head, from what she'd seen of him on TV.

Preston's manager, though, told Gemmill he might as well hear what Clough had to say, and so he agreed to meet him, with the inevitable result that he ended up signing for Derby rather than us. One of the lines he used was, 'If you sign for Everton you'll have to shift Kendall, Ball or Harvey to get a game; with Derby you'll be in the team on Saturday'.

Harry Catterick was furious, not so much with Gemmill but mainly with Preston and, in particular, their manager.

Who was the manager who played such a key role in us missing out on a talented midfielder?

None other than Alan Ball (senior).

Now Gemmill at that stage of his career was more like Alan Ball in style than he was Kendall or Harvey. So the player that Catterick envisaged Gemmill replacing was most likely Ball, who did indeed become the first member of the Holy Trinity to leave when Catterick sold him to Arsenal in December '71.

Catterick was very suspicious of the role played by Alan Ball (senior), who was, of course, very close to his son. Did he suspect collusion between the two Ball's to prevent a player who would have been a threat, at some point if not immediately, to his son's position in the team from signing for Everton?

The following month Catterick thought he'd taken some revenge when he beat Clough to another player he fancied when he made Henry Newton the most expensive player in our history when he paid Forest £150,000. Gemmill cost just £60,000.

I know who got the better deal!
 

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