Famous old-timers: Alex Latta

December 27, 1924
In many old photographic groups of the Everton team of the nineties there will be seen a forward line that was famous. The right wing of the line will include a keen-eyed smiling profile of a man in early youth. The sharp well-moulded features will show a strong chin, a broad forehead, and keen, clear eyes, with a mouth firm set, with every indication of will-power and strength. The body is sturdily built, the chest broad, the arms and limbs strong and well-formed. The picture will be Alex Latta.

Alex Latta, Everton (Lloyd’s Weekly News: October 30, 1892):

Beside him will be a boyish well set up figure, with strong limbs, a countenance full of grim determination, and yet brimming over with the joy of youth, and kicking ahead for the next conquest. That will be Joe Brady, the inside right. In the same group, behind the pair, will be found familiar features of Mr. Dan Kirkwood, the right half-back of those days, and later associated with the club as director, and now responsible in other official directions. This wing, for three players formed a working entity, Latta, Brady, and Kirkwood, formed in themselves one of the most perfect examples of wing and half-back play that any club has ever produced.

Used as they were to playing continuously together, they understood one another’s play and capacity to a nicety, and the understanding between them was so perfect, that once the trio were in motion –towards goal –it was hard to say where the half back play finished and the forward work began. At need either of the three came half-back to defend, at used all three were forwards, and shots of deadly accuracy; at need all three were the perfect blend of combined play and inter-play, so that the opposing forwards had to vow they had to play against six forwards and four half backs.

This was combination; some of our present-day critics tell us it is a lost art! But always when players are left together long enough to appreciate one another’s style and limitations always there will grow and develop that same understanding that we call combination, and that in Everton’s famous right wing trio led to such brilliant play and sterling results. Mr. Kirkwood is still playing an active part in club direction, and no one could tell better than he of that wonderful team work of those three players; and probably no one could better appraise the sound work put in to make that wing play by Alec Latta, who had come to Everton from Dumbarton Athletic.

In his prime, and pride of playing youth Alec Latta was a fine taking figure on the field. He had a long stride for his medium height, and in action he ran with a high stepping gait, and was sharp to turn, and sharper still to swung across a lofty centre at unexpected angles. Today we lament the fault of some players who must trap or steady a ball before they shoot or centre. Latta could take the ball in his stride and with instant decision either swing it across to Chadwick or Geary in the centre, or sent it lofting for a deadly drop in the actual goal mouth. When the play served though, he dearly loved to outdistance the pursuit, and take the ball down almost on to the corner flag appearing almost to have lost control, and then, when hands were being raised for a goal kick, there would suddenly come a swerve of the body to the right and an unexpected lift of the ball to bring it soaring again into the deadly breach of the goal. And at corner kicks, too! What a deadly centre was Alec! And true he would place his shot, rarely did he waste it with a miskick or a badly-placed effort, unless the wind or a sudden ball hampered true marksmanship.

Fred Geary at centre and Chadwick and Milward on the left wings were always in the “offing” when Alec Latta got going. Certain they were that one of the three of them would be in the picture before the run was over. If Latta did not pass direct to them, he would about and they would be there to attend to the effort, be it either misdirected or thrown clear by the goalkeeper. What a loss to first class League football when brilliant Dan Kirkwood had the knee injury that put him out of first class play, practically for the remainder of his career. A benefit, one might say, to the management control of clubs, and giving his fellow players the benefit of his long experience as their Councillor. But what a loss to the better class of good football. That game with the Liverpool Caledonians robbed football of a grand player. Latta and Brady were great chums.

Once playing a match at Birmingham Latta was unlucky enough to receive a blow on the head during the game that brought on concussion. He was carried from the field unconscious, and Everton finished the match with ten men. The doctor in attendance advised leaving the injured player behind, Birmingham over night; it was less dangerous than attempting to bring him back to Liverpool. The Everton secretary and some of the directors offered to stay behind to look after Latta, as he was exceedingly popular with everybody, but Brady would not hear of anyone staying behind but himself. Latta was “his pal,” and he had the right, and no one else “mind you,” to see him “come to,” for poor Latta was still unconscious, twelve hours after the injury. When Latta slowly filtered back to consciousness in the early hour’s of a Sunday morning he found himself in strange surroundings –he was in a silent ward of some strange institution, carefully wrapped up in bed, with his head almost completely bandaged, and amid strange odours of tinctures and liniments.

Somewhere in the dimness were whispered voices one of, which was strangely familiar. As his eyes got accustomed to his dim light he made sure he was in heaven, for there was a white-robed figure close at hand. But the throbbing brain at last made out another figure, and heard a very familiar voice. “Ah tell yer that lad lying there is one of the greatest wonders of the world as an outsider.” D’you mean to tell me you never hear of Alec Latta, of Dumbarton. And than Alec Latta regained his scattered wits, and listened to his crony Brady, expounding his (Latta’s) virtues as a footballer to a wondering and very impressed hospital nurse. For that was the figure in white that to Latta’s distorted brain had seemed one of his waiting angles. And that’s the sort of pals were the footballers of these days. Latta worked long at his trade as a yacht builder at Hoylake, and in after years was said to have made more than good when football days were over. Everton still holds cheery memory’s of his brilliant outsiders.
(Liverpool Echo: December 27, 1924)

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