With the welcome result coming for Everton on Saturday at Southampton it may have slipped under the radar that one of the Academy’s recent senior appointments, former player John Ebbrell, departed the club after a long, if fragmented, association with the Toffees.
It was first announced over the weekend that the 52-year-old would be joining up once again with former Blues Academy and Under 23 manager David Unsworth at National League (5th tier of English Football league) Oldham Athletic. He takes up the role of Assistant Manager there and is clearly a trusted lieutenant for Unsworth. It was first rumoured two weeks ago upon Unsworth’s own appointment that Ebbrell would join him but it took a little time to work out especially after the recent merry-go-round of appointments within Everton’s Academy.
For those supporters with memories of the teams of the 1990’s, John Ebbrell was one of the trio of midfielders along with Joe Parkinson and Barry Horne who were christened by then manager Joe Royle as the “Dogs of War”. Royle, the last manager to win silverware for the club with the FA Cup win 27 long years ago, was famous for his amusing quotes post-match. He once said of the Dogs of War that in a swirling wind one night a potato-crisp packet blew onto the pitch and all three Ebbrell, Parkinson and Horne had tried to tackle it.
Although slightly built, home-grown Ebbrell was a fearless player in the tackle who made over 250 appearances for the Blues as a central or wide midfielder and occasional right back.
That commitment shown by Ebbrell did contribute to an early retirement in early 1999 through injury, wear and tear and unsuccessful surgery to his ankle. He had been taken to Sheffield United by another ex-Blues legend, Howard Kendall, but only managed 45 minutes of football in two seasons before he ‘hung up his boots’.
His more recent association with Everton included a three-year period under ex-manager David Moyes as Chief Scout and then after a few seasons at nearby Tranmere Rovers he returned to Goodison Park in 2015 as an academy coach. He soon took over the Under-18s as manager before that long stint with Unsworth at Under-23 level which has unsurprisingly been rekindled 46 miles away in Lancashire. His most recent role with the Blues had been as Player Development Senior Coach but that lasted only three months.
Evertonians will wish him well, I would imagine that long association stretching back to 1981 when he signed as a schoolboy is now well and truly over but there are few with near 40-year club connections that slip away as quietly as this unassuming man from the Wirral.
So “Good luck Ebbo” and thank you from a supporter who remembers you well.