Our first meeting back in the Dug Out saw approx. 110 members and an exciting buzz. For Covid reasons, we kept the doors open but with a warm and sunny afternoon that presented no problems. Our guest was ex-Tiger, Stan McEwan. His arrival was acknowledged with a warm ovation, our members had not forgotten a much-loved player from the 1980s.
Chairman David, did his best to steer questions to Stan, although it seemed that Stan was usually one step ahead each time! From his introduction, we learned that he grew up in Newmains, near Stirling (Scotland) and that he was not the only footballer in the family. His brother Billy also played professional football and his sister not only played the game but also played for Scotland.
At 15 Stan left school and joined Rangers as an apprentice but when it came to being offered a full-time professional contract it was another club that attracted him – Blackpool. He went on to make 213 appearances for the Tangerines, scoring 24 goals. He made his senior debut against West Bromwich Albion in 1974 at the age of 17 years. When Stan described his first goal he modestly said it was “a great goal!” Managers come and go, his third at Blackpool was Bob Stokoe and Stan described him as “a taskmaster” and “disciplinarian”. Stan admitted that living in Blackpool there were many distractions for young footballers, Stokoe kept them focussed. Othe managers there were Harry Potts, Allan Brown, Stan Ternant & Alan Ball.
Stan was a prolific penalty taker – even took two penalties at Wembley. He said that the key was always to be positive. He said, with a sigh, that whilst he scored nearly every penalty he took, the fans don’t forget the ones he missed and looking at a room of City fans he said “I bet everyone here remembers the one I missed!”
After 8 seasons at Blackpool he moved on to Exeter City – it was supposed to be Cardiff City but as the Bluebirds dithered the Grecians took the opportunity to trump them! He had 2 good years, 65 appearances and 15 goals but he was a long way from home – he still had his house in Blackpool and travelled to the south-west every Tuesday morning. In 1984 he was given the opportunity to return north, Don Robinson and his manager Colin Appleton bringing him to Hull. A contract had been agreed when he came over to Hull and met Colin who then told him he had to go up to Scarborough and sign the contract with the ‘Don’. Don Robinson surprised him by saying he wanted to ‘squeeze’ the contract a little, to get him to sign for less than had been agreed. Don was used to getting his way but not Stan, he turned around, walked out and went home to Blackpool! Colin had to rescue him assuring him that the real contract was waiting for him to sign and that the ‘Don’ had just been “trying him out!”
Stan loved coming to Hull, it kind of reminded him of home and the people were “fantastic!” He scored in his 2nd game (v. Bury) and he soon formed a formidable partnership with Pete Skipper. That first season saw them needing to beat Burnley (away) in the last match by 3 clear goals, they came agonisingly close but a 2-0 win saw them miss out to Sheffield United. Colin Appleton immediately resigned and the club brought in Brian Horton. The dressing room was lively too with one Billy Whitehurst. It was nothing to find ‘ Deep Heat’ spayed in your underpants or car tyres mysteriously flat! Later, during questions, Stan was asked how he coped with big Billy and he replied “I stood up to him and he backed off”. Probably a brave decision but it paid off!! There was, however, a great team spirit and they were promoted the following season. Stan contributed 14 goals during that great season – “not bad for a centre back” added our Chairman. Altogether, Stan played 113 games for The Tigers and scored 25 goals.
Asked for the players he played against, which ones stood out. George Best, Rodney Marsh & Bobby Moore were his answers. He then told a story from when Alan Ball was his manager at Blackpool. Ball had promised that if the team got a good result, playing away in the capital, he would set up for them to have a night out at a London nightclub. The players did their part and the manager kept his promise. Stan crawled into his London bed at around 3.00 am, exhausted, only for him to get a call on the phone – his manager telling him to report to his room immediately! With some fear and trepidation, Stan went and knocked on his manager’s door – only to find that Alan Ball had set up for him to meet his heroes! Bobby Moore, Rodney Marsh and Malcolm MacDonald, and it was just gone 3.00 am!
Stan was asked why, after he had finished playing, did he remain living in the Hull area. Once again he referred to how great the people were … and one in particular since he married a local girl.
He was asked about today’s football and admitted to not being a fan of the ‘playing from the back’ that we see so often now. He said that if his goalie had thrown the ball to him on the edge of the box he would immediately have hoofed it clear over Bunker’s Hill!
Asked about Keane Lewis-Potter he was clearly impressed but wish they would play him more down the middle than out wide. Speaking as a central defender he said that the last thing you want is someone with pace running at you.
He was asked about the present thinking about heading footballs. He admitted that if possible he had always left the heading options to his partner, Skip, whilst he preferred to bring the ball down with his chest. He thought that the current debate is far from complete.
Although the Boothferry Park pitch, in his days, was one of the best in the country he agreed that the modern pitches are ones he could only have ‘dreamed’ of playing on. “They are like carpets” he added.
A question was asked about Banter between players and the referees. He acknowledged that the days when players could share a conversation with the refs have gone. Today’s refs were being assessed at every moment and they really couldn’t afford to be drawn into chats and banter. Pity.
Finally, asked about the current team he said they were a young squad on a steep learning curve. There was clearly some talent but plenty of graft ahead too. So ended a fascinating conversation.
Earlier Barbara had updated members on the Outings with still a few places left on the trip to Wold Top Brewery (Nov. 18th). There were 4 places left for the ‘Silver Sharks’ visit to The Deep (Nov. 2nd) and people were asked to contact Allen if they were interested. The Chairman had encouraged people to come and take part in the Walking Football sessions on Monday and Thursday mornings. A no show of hands suggested that we were not ready to make a start to Walking Netball, at least for the time being. The meeting closed with the excitement of the Raffle with all the tickets drawn by Stan.