When the favourite footballers of your childhood die, it makes me and fellow members of the baby boomer generation realise that our own days are numbered.
I am not an Everton supporter, but I always had a soft spot for them in the days when the midfield was sublime. When Howard Kendall, Colin Harvey and my lookalike (at least when it came to the hair colour) Alan Ball were a joy to watch. Years later I would be lucky enough to interview on camera some of the Everton team of what became known as the Golden Vision era of football on Merseyside. At least on one side of Stanley Park.
Alex Young was some player. His death at the age of 8o has been announced today. He was the Golden Vision.
Everton fans old enough to have watched him play paid tribute via Twitter.
Lifelong Toffees supporter Peter Lawless said: ‘So sad to to hear that Alex Young, the great Everton footballer, has died. The best player I have had the pleasure of watching over last 65 years.’
The assistant coach at Sheffield Wednesday, Lee Bullen, grew up in Scotland where Young was idolised by supporters of Hearts. Bullen says of Young: ‘My first football coach as a kid. Devastated doesn’t cover it. A wonderful man with a wonderful family.’
Sports journalist and author Norman Giller saw the greatest footballers of the 50’s, 60’s and beyond. He told me that Alex Young was: ‘One of the most skilful centre-forwards of his generation.’
Young scored 77 goals in 228 games for Everton. Prior to that he’d become a legend at Hearts, where he scored 71 goals in 155 games over a period of five years.
In 1968 the now famous film director Ken Loach was cutting his teeth in television drama. One of the Wednesday plays on the BBC was called ‘The Golden Vision’ and was directed by Loach. It was co-written by Gordon Honeycombe – a man who would go on to become known as a newsreader for ITN. The film opens with the daughter of Alex Young talking to camera.
Young and that Everton team are still remembered as The Golden Vision side. They were sublime to watch.
If you were too young to watch that BBC drama, or that Everton side, you can do both below. To a younger generation, the play and the football action may appear dated. As one who watched football avidly in the sixties, I’d rather watch the football of that decade than of any other. There is a generation who think football was invented by Rupert Murdoch and Sky Sports. It wasn’t.