Alan Ball Passes Away
Alan Ball was the youngest member of the World Cup Winning squad of 1966 at the tender age of 21. He made his Blackpool debut at Anfield in a 2-1 victory in August 1962 - only 3 months after securing a professional contract with The Seasiders.
Despite him playing in a struggling Blackpool side, England manager Sir Alf Ramsey called him up for International duty and he made his debut in a 1-1 draw with Yugoslavia just three days shy of his 19th birthday.
In the World Cup Final himself, he produced a fantastic personal performance and supplied Geoff Hurst with his controversial 2nd goal - England's 3rd - and was also sprinting upfield, unmarked, screaming for a pass, as Hurst smashed the historic hat-trick goal into the net to prompt Kenneth Wolstenholme to mutter the immortal phrase 'Some people are on the pitch...they think it's all over...it is now'.
Following the World Cup, Ball attracted the attention of bigger clubs and was sold to Everton for the then record fee of £110,000 in August 1966. He also had spells at Arsenal and Southampton before returning to Blackpool as player-manager in 1980.
Unfortunately for Alan, his spell as 'Pool manager only lasted until the following February following a string of bad results, the sale of Tony Kellow - a fan-favourite at the seaside - and an outburst at the fans accusing them of not wanting the team to succeed as much as he did.
From Blackpool, he returned to Southampton to play alongside the likes of Kevin Keegan and Mick Channon. He left Southampton and joined Hong Kong side Eastern Athletic before returning to England and ending his playing career at Bristol Rovers in 1983 after playing 975 games in his career.
Ball then went on to have spells as manager at Portsmouth, Colchester (assistant), Stoke City, Exeter City, Southampton and Manchester City before returning to Portsmouth in 1998. He ended his managerial career in 1999 when his contract with the club was terminated after a financial crisis rocked the southern club thanks to their struggle against relegation from the First Division - which he miraculously saved them from in 1998.
On a personal level, Ball lost his wife to ovarian cancer in 2004 - at the age of 57 - after a 3-year battle against the disease. In 2005 he auctioned off his World Cup Winners' Medal and commemorative tournament cap to secure the financial future of his family. The medal fetched £140,000 - more than £15,000 more than Gordon Banks' medal raised. His cap also raised a tidy sum of £43,200 with the proceeds going to his three children and three grandchildren.
'I have three children and three grandchildren, and the most important thing for me is to make sure that they are looked after as well as possible. Winning the World Cup in 1966 will stay with me forever, but it is time to look to the future, not the past.'
He collapsed outside his home on 24th April 2007 while trying to start a bonfire.
He is the third Blackpool legend to die in 2007, after Jock Dodds and Syd Bevers passed away earlier in the year.
Ball will be sorely missed by his friends and family and his death has come as a shock to the entire footballing community with tributes coming from far and wide.
We would like to extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and friends and hope that Blackpool FC can make some sort of tribute fitting the man's greatness - starting with a minute's silence this Saturday prior to the Scunthorpe game.
Alan Ball - 1945-2007
Rest In Peace.