In the 1960s, on his critically-acclaimed album Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan penned a beautiful song about a wafer-thin enigma with a Welsh-sounding name. "Something is happening here and you don't know what it is, do you, Mr Jones?" Over 50 years later wordsmiths Rob Sawyer and David France have come together to write an equally beautiful ballad of sorts of their own about Everton's Welsh enigmatic thin man from that decade. Something was certainly happening on Merseyside at the start of the 1960s, and Royston Vernon was a key figure in bringing overdue success to Goodison Park. Written in the same informative, no-nonsense style of Sawyer's books on Harry Catterick and TG Jones, Blue Dragon, through the use of the player's hitherto unpublished memoir notes and interviews with over 100 teammates and supporters, details Vernon's playing career, from his time at Blackburn Rovers to his end in non-league football, with most of the book concerned with the Welshman's 5 years wearing the blue of Everton. The key figures of the time are discussed in great detail here, with "Taffy's" affection for Johnny Carey coming through clearly, likewise his respect for Catterick, even though the two of them did not always see eye to eye. On a personal note, the book helps to fill a gap in my Everton and wider-football knowledge (Alex Young and Gordon West apart, the 62/63 title-winning side is one I knew little about in comparison to the team of 69/70, and I knew even less about the NPSL scene and British clubs fulfilling fixture obligations under different team names in the US). It has also got me interested in finding out more about the events of the early 1960s at the Old Lady, such as the Albert Dunlop drug allegations and Tony Kay saga, areas I hope Gavin Buckland's Money Can't Buy Us Love will cover in more detail. Blue Dragon is an excellent book about an important Evertonian. Thank you Rob and David.
Reviewed by Paul Owens on 30 Nov 2019 | Permalink
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