December 17, 1977
Remember the name Howard Gayle. He could be another Steve Heighway for Liverpool. That’s what the officials of the Liverpool Sunday League are saying, anyway, Howie, from Toxteth, was plucked from Bedford in the Second Division of the amateur league, where he played last season, to play in Liverpool Reserves.
In his short spell at Anfield, Gayle has done enough to show he can become a real force. In a recent Central League game he cracked in two great goals. But this week he saw the other side of professional soccer when he found himself struggling in training with an uncomfortable injury. Howie hopes to shake this off quickly and he received a time bonus when the Reserves game at Preston was postponed to-day due to Preston’s FA Cup-tie with Wrexham.
His supporters are hoping that he will follow a long line of successes. Former Sunday League players include Liverpool’s Jimmy Case, David Fairclough and Sammy Lee; Mike Lyons, David Jones and Neil Robinson at Everton; Denis Mortimer and John Gidman of Aston Villa; Billy Ashcroft, of Middlesbrough, and, earlier still, Roy McFarland, of Derby.
Gayle, 19, a winger, has played for games for Liverpool Reserves, after signing a 12 month contract. Coach Roy Evans says: “He’s done very well so far, but it’s early days yet. There’s still an awful lot to learn. But he’s made a bit of an impression.
“He plays on either flank and there is no doubt about his ability. He has skill, pace and control. He has not been out of his depth in this standard of football and has started off on the right foot.
“Time will tell whether or not he makes it. You have to see whether he can do it every week, for a long period, before we can make any decision. Only one in thousands come out and really make the grade. Jimmy Case is a prime example. It’s up to Howie now to prove he has a chance.”
Gordon Brown, secretary of the Liverpool Sunday League, has no doubt about Gayle’s ability.
“There is only one person who can stop him playing for England in two years’ time, and that’s Howie Gayle,” he said bluntly.
“He has the potential, that’s for sure. He has skill and control and is even faster than Steve Heighway. I would say he has more control than Heighway had at the same age. He has natural attributes and is very competitive. The rest is up to him.”
Sunday League officials hope that Gayle will be another success to follow in the footsteps of players who have made the grade since the days of Jimmy Dugdale, who joined Birmingham in the mid-Fifties.
Said Gordon: “Every year there has been at least two or three players from the Sunday League at 18 or over, who have reached high levels of the profession.
“I have two players now in our youth team who will make it next season – a centre forward and a centre half …”
(Source: Liverpool Echo: December 17, 1977; via http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) © 2018 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited