Former Latics manager Joe Royle has been honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the recent Northwest Football Awards. Joe made his debut for Everton aged 16 and also won a league title with them. When he returned as manager of the Toffees, he led them to win the FA Cup. Highly respected by Everton Chairman Bill Kenwright, he describes him as his 'brother' and said, “Brother Joe, they’re throwing a party for you and giving you an extraordinary and well-deserved lifetime achievement award. Joe, I am your biggest fan in the world. But I haven’t always been because I was there on that day, in Blackpool [in 1966], when Harry Catterick dropped Alex Young – our idol, the Golden Vision – to include a big 16-year-old in the team. Oh, we weren’t happy. But, like you always did, through your qualities of strength, goodness, courage, skill, everything anyone in football needs, we grew to love you. We really did.”
“We have shared so many memories. The last time we won the Cup, what a great day that was. Duncan [Ferguson] dancing on the table at the party in his kilt afterwards, singing C’mon you Blues! And, of course, your first game as manager – when we beat the Reds 2-0 and the big fella scored that wonderful goal. I have so many Joe Royle memories, so many personal memories… You know if you have Joe Royle by your side, you’re in for a good, good journey. Joe, you know I love you and I salute you. I wish you and the family the greatest night. Be proud, you deserve it – you deserve everything. You have never looked for fame, for gain, for personal plaudits – but you deserve them. I’m proud to know you, I’m proud to be your brother, I’m proud to be your friend. I salute you Joe Royle.”
Royle also won six England caps and ruled Boundary Park for 12 years where his achievements have been revered ever since. He took the team from the town of chimneys to a Wembley cup final for the first time in 1990 and then to the top flight in 1991, as well as the famous FA Cup semi-finals which will never be forgotten.