WEST BROMWICH ALBION 4 -v-EVERTON 2
Tuesday 31st March 1964.
With Albion in mid-table, a visit by high flying Everton, League Champions no less, and sitting proudly on top of the first division, two points clear of their Merseyside neighbours Liverpool, with seven games remaining. It was a game that held no fear, for a more than decent Albion side, now being shrewdly managed by Mr Jimmy Hagan.
Playing with a re-shaped forward line, due to an injury to John Kaye, Hagan draughted in a young 18 year old, by the name of Mick Fudge, to play at inside left, alongside Ronnie Fenton who reverted to centre forward. Amazingly, young Fudge, had played for the reserves the previous day, against Aston Villa, in a game Albion lost 0-1, and by the managers own words, ‘Fudgey’ had not had the best of games. He made his debut four months earlier against Sheffield United at the Hawthorns in the December and was on the score-sheet against Spurs in the Christmas 4-4 thriller. However, he had limited opportunities since, so maybe young Mick, had a lot to prove, and what better opposition to prove it against than ‘the League Champions’. He certainly did that, and more, with a great hat-trick, which more or less put the skids under Everton’s championship hopes.
1964-31 Micky Fudge Goal
Unfortunately, history will show, that this game will be remembered more for a rather ‘unseemly’ side of life, than the beautiful game, for some months later, it would transpire, that this fixture was one of several documented in a bribery allegation against several players, including, Everton wing-half Tony Kay. Sad, that it should overshadow, what was a magnificent performance by young Fudge, and of course an Albion side, with also, a lot to prove.
Ironically, Fudge ran out to jeers and ‘cat calls’ from the Hawthorns faithful, quite ‘why’ the reports of the day, didn’t expand on. Maybe they didn’t’ feel he was up to the job, certainly replacing someone of John Kaye’s stature would be difficult. Happily, those who jeered beforehand, were cheering at the end, as ‘the boy’ Fudge, came good, and left the pitch to a hero’s reception. His manager, was very ‘up-beat’ in the post match conference “Can you beat that.” He declared, “We were shocking against West Ham,” (referring to Albion’s home defeat by the Hammers three days previous), “Young Fudge was shocking for the reserve side yesterday.” (Referring to the 1-0 home defeat by Villa Reserves). “I’m scraping the barrel with only five forwards to call on, so I’ve no choice at all-and we end up beating the champions and playing like this.”
Manager Hagan added. “Fudge is a good boy. He gets in position. He missed them with the reserves, but those were three beauties he got today.”
1964-65 Team Group
The Fudge hat-trick, came after Graham Williams had given Albion a 7th minute lead, after skipper Don Howe jumped over a free kick, to leave Williams to blast home a fierce left footer. Four minutes later, Everton were level, when the brilliant Roy Vernon, ran a full 30 yards, to score for the Merseysiders. Unfortunately, Vernon turned from hero to villain, just before the break, when his protestations with the referee Mr Setchell, over a possible free-kick, allowed Albion to catch the Everton defence unawares. Clive Clark roared unmarked down the left, crossed one of those beautiful ‘pin-pointers’, that only ‘chippy’ could, and young Fudge was on hand to finish it off with header just inside the far post.
After the break, there was little to choose between the sides, until the 61st minute, when Albion increased their lead with a similar finish, to their second goal. This time involving right winger Kenny Foggo. Foggo, also outstripped the Everton defence, got the ball into the middle, where once again, young Fudge was on hand to net. It wasn’t long before 3-1 was 4-1. Scotsman Doug Fraser, enjoying his first season at the Hawthorns, after being snapped up by Hagan from Aberdeen, flicked a gorgeous ball out to Alec Jackson. Jacko weaved his magic through the Merseysiders defence, slipped the ball to Fudge, who made no mistake to grab his hat-trick, and Albion’s fourth goal. Vernon did manage to reduce the arrears with nine minutes remaining, but for ‘the champs’ it was a case of ‘too little too late’.
Everton manager Harry Catterick, with the title fast slipping away from Goodison Park, to their neighbours across Stanley Park admitted, “The result is a good one for Liverpool.” He added, “We’ve been written off six times already from retaining the championship. We havent’t given up hope yet.”
The truth was, they never matched Albion’s energy. They persisted in playing the ball through the middle in the hope that new man Fred Pickering would get on the end of it. However, they found Stan Jones and Done Howe in superb form, and in no mood to give anything away. Eventually, so dominant were Jones and Howe, that Pickering was forced to play out wide on the right, thus out of danger.
Mickey’s hat-trick that day, was 3 of the 5 goals he netted in 16 first team outings at the Hawthorns. However, his record in the reserves, was very impressive, netting 38 goals, in 96 appearances for the ‘stiffs’.
When Alan Ashman took over as manager in 1967, Mickey was released from the Albion, and joined Exeter City. He also had spells at Wellington Town, Telford United, Kidderminster Harriers, Malvern Town and Brierley Hill. He eventually retired from the game in 1981.
Liverpool secured the championship that season, with Manchester United ‘pipping’ Everton to the ‘runners-up’ spot. ‘Spurs’ finished in 4th position, with Albion in a very creditable 10th place, just 9 points behind Everton, gaining 43 points out of 42 games.
Laurie Rampling-March 2010