The club record signing of Welsh international inside forward Aubrey Powell was supposed to revitalise Everton’s torpid start to football’s post-war era. Signed from Leeds United for £11,000 in August 1948, Powell’s arrival captured the imagination of Evertonians, who were disappointed after two dismal seasons.
In arriving at Goodison as a 30-year-old, Powell had already overcome significant adversity in getting so far. He was overlooked as a teenager by his local club, Swansea Town, and instead played as an amateur for Lower Cwmtrych. In 1935 he was spotted by Leeds and quickly made a breakthrough to their first team. But after suffering an horrific leg break in 1937 he was told by doctors that he would never play again.
Powell was an exception among his contemporaries in that the outbreak of war in 1939 worked to his advantage. He worked as a PT instructor and built up strength in his injured leg, eventually making a complete recovery. In 1946 he belatedly made his Wales debut.
Evertonians’ expectations were fulfilled on Powell’s debut, a 3-3 thriller against Newcastle, which he marked with a goal. But in Everton’s second game of the 1948/49 season – a dismal 4-0 defeat at Portsmouth – he was injured and thereafter struggled for form.
A month after he joined, Cliff Britton succeeded Theo Kelly as manager and Powell never seemed to gain his full confidence. Billy Higgins and Peter Corr often kept him out of the side, even though he was a regular for Wales. It was a situation which shared parallels with T.G. Jones, who frequently struggled to get a game for Everton despite captaining his country.
In the summer of 1950 Powell refused the new terms offered him by Everton. A swap move for Sheffield United’s Jimmy Hagan was rejected by the Yorkshire club, but hearing he was available Birmingham City revived their long-standing interest in Powell and signed him for £7300. The move was nevertheless ill-fated, and a year later he was forced to quit the game because of severe arthritis.