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Blue Dragon: The Roy Vernon Story


    ‘an excellent insight into a complex character’ — David Prentice, The Liverpool Echo

    Hardback. Pages: 276. Size: 210mm x 145mm. ISBN: 978-1-9162784-0-0. Publication: November 2019. 

    Roy Vernon was one of the most deadly strikers in English football's golden era. His goals helped take Wales to the World Cup finals, Blackburn Rovers to promotion to the First Division and Everton to league championship glory. Later in his career, at Stoke City, he was part of Tony Waddington's resurgent 1960s team.

    But Vernon was more than just a great player. He was a maverick, a smoker and a joker, who defied his managers off the pitch and delighted them on it. Now, 50 years after his retirement from a game he gave so much to, award-nominated author Rob Sawyer and acclaimed Everton historian David France have told his story in full for the first time.

    Drawing upon Vernon's own unpublished memoir, scores of interviews with friends, family, teammates and opponents, the authors produce a vivid portrait of a man who wowed millions of fans and terrorised hundreds of opponents.

    Initially brought to life as a crowdfunding project and published as a limited edition of 1000 books, Blue Dragon is the definitive study of one of British Football's forgotten heroes.


    Rob Sawyer is a fourth generation Evertonian. His great-grandfather, William Sawyer, was a director and secretary of the club. Rob is a popular columnist for ToffeeWeb - the independent Everton website - and an active member of the EFC Heritage Society. He has authored two other books: Harry Catterick: The Untold Story of a Football Great, and The Prince of Centre-Halves - The Life of Tommy 'T.G' Jones, which was released in 2017. The latter was shortlisted in the Sports Book Awards 2018 in the biography category.

    Throughout his childhood on Merseyside and the past 42 years in North America, David France has been besotted with Everton Football Club. To date, he has travelled over 2,000,000 miles to support his beloved club and introduce trailblazing initiatives. In addition to producing a small library of 17 Everton Books, he formed the Hall of Fame, established the EFC Heritage Society, registered the Everton Former Players' Foundation and combed the globe to assemble the world's finest collection of football memorabilia, now known as The Everton Collection. Hailed as 'Doctor Everton', he was awarded an OBE for services to football in the United Kingdom and Europe.

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    1. Meaty Biography of a Giant of a Thin Man  star rating

      Posted by Paul Owens on 30th Nov 2019

      In the 1960s, on his critically-acclaimed album Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan penned a beautiful song about a wafer-thin enigma with a Welsh-sounding name. "Something is happening here and you don't know what it is, do you, Mr Jones?" Over 50 years later wordsmiths Rob Sawyer and David France have come together to write an equally beautiful ballad of sorts of their own about Everton's Welsh enigmatic thin man from that decade. Something was certainly happening on Merseyside at the start of the 1960s, and Royston Vernon was a key figure in bringing overdue success to Goodison Park.

      Written in the same informative, no-nonsense style of Sawyer's books on Harry Catterick and TG Jones, Blue Dragon, through the use of the player's hitherto unpublished memoir notes and interviews with over 100 teammates and supporters, details Vernon's playing career, from his time at Blackburn Rovers to his end in non-league football, with most of the book concerned with the Welshman's 5 years wearing the blue of Everton. The key figures of the time are discussed in great detail here, with "Taffy's" affection for Johnny Carey coming through clearly, likewise his respect for Catterick, even though the two of them did not always see eye to eye.

      On a personal note, the book helps to fill a gap in my Everton and wider-football knowledge (Alex Young and Gordon West apart, the 62/63 title-winning side is one I knew little about in comparison to the team of 69/70, and I knew even less about the NPSL scene and British clubs fulfilling fixture obligations under different team names in the US). It has also got me interested in finding out more about the events of the early 1960s at the Old Lady, such as the Albert Dunlop drug allegations and Tony Kay saga, areas I hope Gavin Buckland's Money Can't Buy Us Love will cover in more detail.

      Blue Dragon is an excellent book about an important Evertonian. Thank you Rob and David.

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