The sportsman’s evening hosted by Victoria Lodge No 4629 attracted 88 sports enthusiasts to Widnes Masonic Hall to be entertained by Joe Royle, former Everton and Manchester City player and manager, with some of the magical moments during his career. With everybody seated and eagerly awaiting the superb three course meal excellently prepared by the hall caters, Sugar and Spice Catering, all had to stand up, it was time for the stand-up bingo. It finally came down to the last two standing, Matt Baldwin, social secretary, then offered to split the winnings between each of the final two, “NO”, was the resounding cry. With the next number called there was one left standing, the lucky winner walked away with £100.
As soon as the meal was over Joe took to the floor and captivated his audience with very factual, humorous and interesting stories about his life in football. He was born in 1949 in Liverpool and at school he was an exceptional all round sportsman playing in the Liverpool Schoolboys team. Joe played his debut game for Everton at the age of 16 becoming the youngest player on record, a record he held until April 2005 when James Vaughan beat him by 10 days.
Joe was Everton’s top goal scorer for five seasons; his best season was 1969-70 when he scored 23 goals in the Championship winning side. In 1974 he moved to Manchester City under Tony Book where he helped them to win the League Cup in 1976. His next move was in 1982, taking over as manager of Oldham Athletic, taking them to the First Division in 1991. 12 years later he moved to Everton as manager and took them to FA Cup glory in his first season. Joe was named Everton Giant for 2004 for his successes as both a player and a manager. He left Everton in 1997 and after 11 months out of the game took charge of struggling Manchester City but could not save them from relegation to the Second Division that year, he did however lead them into the Premier League two years later.
At the end of his talk, Joe held a question and answer session and when asked what the thought about referees he replies, “I have a lot of respect for referees, both soccer and rugby”.
After the raffle, which made quite a lot of people very happy, a fantastic comedian by the name of Bobby Bender, who was Manchester comedian of the year in 2007, took to the floor and kept the audience in stiches with his stories, jokes and quick fire humour.
It was a very successful event, thanks to the magnificent support, with £734 being raised on the night for the two nominated charities, Halton Haven Hospice who care for people over 18 years of age with life-threatening illnesses and Valiant Gym Club, which is a club for people with disabilities over four years of age. The club has won many medals at the Special Olympics, national and international meetings. The social fund will top-up the money raised on the night so that each charity will receive £400.