Gordon West is best remembered as a flamboyant, athletic goalie for Everton, where he played for 11 years between 1962 and 1973 – and, as those of us who are just old enough to remember him as more than a face and a cap on a football card can attest, he was certainly a larger-than-life character.
West won three England caps in the late ’60s; but, tantalisingly, it could have been more. Who knows what might have happened had Gordon not chosen to turn down Sir Alf’s call-up to the England squad for Mexico 70, citing his desire to stay at home with his family in the close-season. With the huge, inspiring figure of West at the back in place of Banks (and instead of Bonetti), maybe in partnership with his lifelong mate and comical sparring partner Brian Labone… well, it’s tempting to say things might have turned out differently.
Signed for £27,000 – then a record for a goalie – from Blackpool, West went on to make over 400 appearances for the Toffees during a golden era for the club, winning two league championship medals, an FA Cup winner’s and a runners-up medal.
He was a good ‘un.