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|ALAN BALL FACTFILE Born:
Playing career: Played for Blackpool, Everton, Arsenal, Southampton, Philadelphia Fury, Vancouver Whitecaps (player manager), Blackpool (player manager), Southampton, Eastern (Hong Kong), Bristol Rovers Made 975 appearances in a 21-year career
Managerial career: Portsmouth, Colchester, Stoke, Exeter, Southampton, Manchester City, Portsmouth
Honours: World Cup (1966), league title (1970)
Lawrie McMenemy, who twice signed him for Southampton, told the BBC: "He was my guest at St Mary's on Saturday and I should have been playing golf with him this morning.
"We were very, very good friends.
"I was very fortunate to manage him. I wanted him badly not just for his ability but for his enthusiasm. Once his feet touched the grass he was like a performer on the stage.
"In his early career he was a runner, a scrapper, a fighter, a workmanlike player. At the end of his career he became the best one-touch footballer in the game.
"Alan started life as a road sweeper and ended up as the best lead violinist Southampton ever had.
"They were a tight-knit family that World Cup team but he has gone to join Bobby Moore now.
"He was about to move up to his close pal Mick Channon and start a new part of his life that he was very excited about.
had an enthusiasm for life, not just football, and it
spread. He was a lovely fella."
Sir Bobby Charlton , his midfield partner in 1966, said: "He was probably the best player that day and if it had not been for his impact the result could have been totally different.
"He did not appear to have a nerve in his body, and he was an inspiration to us all.
"Alan was always bright and bubbly in everything he did as a player. He went about his work with great enthusiasm and gusto and he always had a smile on his face.
"He was a sensational little player with great touch and great vision. He had great close control and although he wasn't a fast player he didn't need to be. He could see things clearly and always made the right decisions.
was the youngest member of our squad and we were all
looking forward to our latest reunion in two weeks. I
am very sad and shocked by the news. Alan will be
England team-mate Alan Mullery said: "I just can't believe it. His nickname was 'Bouncy', he was just such a bouncy, lively 61-year-old.
"It's such a shock. He was a loveable character, heart of gold and lived football. He just loved playing for his country.
"He was a wonderful footballer to have in your side, he was so enthusiastic. He had a marvellous engine for a midfield player and had wonderful skill.
"In the World Cup final he was 5ft 10in when he started but he did so much running that day he was 5ft 5in at the end.
everyone else was tiring there was Bally running
round the pitch."
England team-mate Jack Charlton added: "Alan was a brave little fella. Everybody loved Alan; he was a lovely little lad.
"Every time I met him and spent time with him he was taking the mickey out of me, he was having a go at me. It was something we had going since 1966.
"I used to get annoyed with him and grab him by the shirt but it was only fun and we both knew it and I am going to miss Alan more than anybody because we had a tremendous relationship.
laughing now because I am thinking of Alan. I am not
happy and I don't know why I'm laughing. It's just
thinking of him. I've got so many good memories of
Kevin Keegan, who played with him at Southampton, said: "He was a great player but I think as a person he was even greater
"I played with him when he was 38, I'd already been European Footballer of the Year twice but he could teach me things that I never even thought about."
Former Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson, who played alongside Ball at Highbury in the 1970s, said: "Everyone can visualise him with his red hair and squeaky voice which is still there and will always be there.
was such an infectious character, an extraordinary
character - his love for the game was amazing. He
would argue all the time, love to talk about the game
- just an amazing character."
Former Blackpool and England team-mate Jimmy Armfield said: "It is devastating news.
had energy, ambition, drive and passion - and if he
was not passionate about something, he didn't do
Howard Kendall, who combined with Ball and Colin Harvey to form the 'holy trinity' at Everton, said: "We arrived at Everton in the same season and hit it off immediately.
"He was such a bubbly character, it was really Alan who made the partnership with me and Colin work as well as it did.
is a terrible loss for the club and for football. I'm
devastated by the news, I have lost a friend and
Ball was part of Everton's 1970 league championship-winning side and also appeared in the 1970 World Cup finals in Mexico.
In 1973, he became only the second England player to be sent off in a full international when he was dismissed in a vital World Cup qualifier in Poland.
He missed the return game at Wembley as a result, a match that famously saw England fail to reach the 1974 finals and resulted in Ramsey's dismissal.
Ball went on to briefly captain his country but his international career was ended abruptly in 1975 when Ball was only 30.
In May 2005, Ball put his World Cup winners' medal and commemorative tournament cap up for auction to raise money for his family. They were sold for £140,000.
survived by his son, Jimmy, and two daughters, Mandy
Many thanks to Andrew Taylor for informing me about the death of Len Hill on 10 April 2007. Len was a Swansea City player in the 1970-71 season, but this tribute is written by Andrew who contributes to Newport County's matchday programme, where this article first appeared. Many thanks to Andrew for letting me reproduce it here.
Len Hill sadly passed away on 10th April Andrew Taylor pays tribute to a true County legend.
The word legend is perhaps used too lightly by modern day supporters hungry for heroes and we are perhaps living in an age where nostalgia is treasured to the point of occasionally exaggerating past times, events and achievements. Who should be regarded as a legend? A player with hundreds of appearances for your club to his name? A terrace hero for his exploits on the field, or loved for a special relationship that bonded him forever with all who saw him and whose reputation endures with subsequent generations? For me, a legend is most likely to be all of these things, but most especially, a loyal and wonderful performer and personality. In other words, Len Hill a player and man who truly justified and indeed personified the accolade.
Midfielder Len, signed for County, his boyhood favourites, from Lovells Athletic in November, 1962 and told me, I desperately wanted to join.After suffering the frustration of an early broken ankle, Len made his debut at Torquay in February; the first of 421 appearances during which he scored an exceptional 74 goals.
Lens tally would have been even more impressive, had he not joined Swansea City for £4,950 in July, 1970. Len didnt want to move but was told, do you want there to be a County? The only way to keep the club going is for us to sell you. So with heavy heart Len, not that long married and with a child on the way, found himself leaving his spiritual home. He told me, To be honest my heart was never in it at Swansea, although it was a quality club, a lovely place to live and I had good mates there like Dave Gwyther but I always wanted to go back to Newport.
During 1971/72, Lens wish was granted and he returned to Somerton, initially on loan and then for a fee of £2,500. The following season was Countys best since the war, thanks in no small part to ever-present Lens influential midfield orchestration.
Programme Editor, Ray Taylor, was privileged to see most of Lens appearances in County colours as well as many of his performances in the whites of Glamorgan Cricket Club; Lens sporting prowess also extending to his second love.
Ray reflects, Len was one of the most talented County players I have ever seen. He was certainly good enough to play at a higher level and was a Newport County man through and through. I can still remember my keen disappointment when he was sold and the delight when he returned. I was fortunate to get to know him personally and a more genuine guy you could not meet. For me and many like me, this is a very sad day.
Rays sentiments are echoed by Dave Gwyther, I was stunned when I heard. He was such a good mate of mine at Swansea We shared many interests and bought fishing nets together. And what a pro and a player he was too a bit in the Billy Lucas mould he really could play! Such a nice man.
George Young was not only a team-mate, but a workmate for many years as building contractors and the closest of friends. He was a real all rounder at sport and as a builder but what Len will be missed most for is as a friend. He was straight as a die but always had a twinkle in his eye and a tremendous sense of humour.
Albert Derrick adds, Len was probably the best all-round sportsman to come out of Gwent. We all know about his football and cricket but he was also a category 1 golfer and a superb tennis player. I will miss him ever so much.
Len left County in 1974 but played on until he was 42. County though never left his heart and for certain he will never leave ours.Greatly missed but never forgotten, by all those who had the pleasure to see him play, by those who had the good fortune to know him and by his loving wife Toots and family.
Further Spring 2007 news can be found at ...
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