Monday, January 3 – 1972
Liverpool manager Bill Shankly yesterday marched into an FA disciplinary court to clear £220,000 Arsenal superstar Alan Ball – then stormed out accusing Everton of turning their backs on their former skipper.
Ball, Britain’s costliest player, was facing the disciplinary committee in Birmingham for his third booking of the season – all collected with Everton – but no one from Everton turned up to help defend him.
Said Shankly: “Arsenal have had to fight this case in the dark. I think it’s unbelievable that Everton left Ball and his new club stranded in this way.”
But Everton claimed they did not know Ball was appearing yesterday until they read it in the morning papers.
Chairman George Watts said: “The club received no notification of the hearing, neither were we approached by Arsenal on the matter. Had we been we would have been represented.”
Arsenal manager Bertie Mee conducted Ball’s appeal against the booking – handed out by Treorchy referee Clive Thomas for a foul on Ian Callaghan in the Liverpool – Everton clash in November.
Shankly and Callaghan spoke up for Ball, and the three-man commission took less than 30 minutes to decide not to record the booking. Then Shankly – who had earlier failed in a bid to clear Chris Lawler of a booking in the same match – slammed his Merseyside neighbours.
Shankly told me: “Ball got his booking when he was an Everton player, but they have washed their hands of the affair.
“The FA should have ordered them to be here today. Arsenal were left in the dark and last week they asked me to help by giving evidence.
“Callaghan was giving evidence for Ball anyway. Everton requested this some time ago and agreed that their player Garry Jones would speak for Chris Lawler.
“But Ball is transferred from Everton and what happens? Jones is not here to help defend Lawler and Everton are not here to represent Ball.
“I think it’s outrageous – after all we are all fighting the same battle.”
Ball slapped Shankly on the back after the hearing and walked away declaring “I’m all right.”
But disappointed referee Thomas said: “As far as referees are concerned, I don’t know where we are going.
“I wouldn’t have booked Ball if I hadn’t thought it necessary.
“I wonder whether the kind of verdict disillusions a lot of referees.”
(Daily Mail, 04-01-1972)