530 appearances, 2 goals
“One Evertonian is worth twenty Liverpudlians”
Everton’s consummate defender and captain, Labone was firmly ensconced in the England set up of the 60s; however, ‘the Last of the Corinthians’ turned down a place in Alf Ramsey’s 1966 World Cup squad to marry his wife. Both a modest and loyal servant, Labone’s relationship with Everton was monogamous, and light years away from the modern crazed transfer carousel where players put multiple club badges to their lips.
Booked just twice in his 530 games for the blues; it would be easy to portray Labone as an annoyingly prim head boy, with squeaky clean shoes and a shiny school blazer. Labone was more than that, he was hard but fair – he’d bring class to the defence, and his comedic double act with Gordon West is the stuff of legend.
Labone was an unflappable, cut glass footballer. Just as importantly, he was a vigorous protector of his defensive team-mates. Willing to dish out sharp tongued taunts in the dressing room, he would react with prickly unease when anyone teased a member of his defensive unit.
“The last of the great Corinthians” – Harry Catterick