He was known as the complete centre forward and was Everton’s leading goal scorer for five seasons in a row.
For a big man he was devastatingly quick over short distances – as opposition defenders often found out to their cost.
No, it’s not Ralph ‘Dixie’ Dean but another club legend who rewrote the history books for the Toffees in the 1970s – Bob Latchford.
The burly Brummy striker – all 6ft 1in of him – arrived in Merseyside in 1974 after scoring 68 goals in 160 league appearances for his home club Birmingham City.
He came from a footballing family as his brothers, Dave and Peter, were also professionals. Unlike Bob, they played very much at the other end of the pitch – they were both goalkeepers!
Peter was at West Bromwich Albion and then Celtic while Dave played for Birmingham. In March 1974, Dave suffered the rare fate of having his brother Bob score twice against him in a 4-1 league defeat by Everton.
Latchford moved to Everton for a then British record transfer fee of £350,000 in February 1974, and was welcomed by manager Billy Bingham and club chairman John Moores.
As part of the deal, long-serving midfielder and club icon Howard Kendall transferred to Birmingham along with left back Archie Styles.
Latchford scored his first league goal for the Toffees in the 2-1 away league defeat at Leicester City on March 2nd before netting his brace against Birmingham a week later.
He scored in his third successive league match in the 3-1 away defeat to Burnley. With the help of Latchford’s goals, Everton finished eighth in the First Division that season with 44 points.
The Toffees moved up to 4th place with 50 points in the 1974-5 season with Latchford again top-scoring with 19 goals in all competitions. He was top scorer the next season too with 13 goals as Everton finished 11th on 42 points.
A familiar pattern was emerging in the 1976-7 season with Latchford again top of the goal charts. He netted 25 in all competitions, including two in the protracted League Cup final against Aston Villa.
The match went to two replays. After a 0-0 draw at Wembley, the two clubs fought out a 1-1 stalemate in the first replay at Hillsborough and then the Toffees lost 3-2 in the second replay at Old Trafford. The other Everton scorer on the day was Mick Lyons.
The 1977 League Cup Final was the closest Latchford came to winning honours at Everton. In the same year, the Toffees were beaten 3-0 by local rivals Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final replay at Maine Road.
It was an eventful season for Everton off the pitch too. Manager Bingham was temporarily replaced by coach Steve Burtenshaw in January and then by new manager Gordon Lee at the start of February.
The season also saw Latchford bagging himself a £10,000 prize put up by a national newspaper for the first footballer to reach 30 goals. He achieved the target with ease, scoring 32 in all competitions.
Everton finished third in the First Division on 55 points, two behind Liverpool. Latchford also won the first of his 12 England caps in November 1977 in the 2-0 World Cup qualifier victory over Italy at Wembley.
Latchford notched up 20 goals in the 1978-9 season, memorably scoring five in the 8-0 thrashing of Wimbledon in an August League Cup match. The other three that day came from Martin Dobson.
The Toffees just missed relegation the following season, finishing in 19th position. Latchford scored 13 goals, but was overtaken by Brian Kidd on 17.
A highlight of the season for Latchford was the hat-trick scored against Leeds United in a league match at Goodison Park in November 1979.
Everton also reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, going out 2-1 to West Ham in a replay at Elland Road. Latchford scored the Toffees’ only goal in the 114th minute.
After a brief spell at Australian team Brisbane Lions in 1981, Latchford signed for Swansea City. The Welsh club were newly promoted to the First Division only four seasons after competing in Division Four.
True to form, Latchford scored an opening hat-trick in Swansea’s 5-1 demolition of Leeds United – their first ever match in the top flight.
Latchford went on to play for a variety of clubs, including Coventry City and Lincoln City, before hanging up his boots in 1987.
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