If ever there was a player whose plight epitomised Joe Royle’s preference for the workmanlike over the mercurial it was Vinny Samways. Signed by his predecessor, Mike Walker, in August 1994 for a hefty £2.1million, on his arrival Samways was seen as a playmaker who befitted the finest traditions of the school of science.
Slight, intelligent and with a sharp eye for a cutting pass, Samways had lifted the FA Cup with Tottenham in 1991. But his career had plateaued and he had fallen out of favour at White Hart Lane by the time of his move north. In an Everton shirt he showed glimpses of a talent that had once earned him comparisons with Glenn Hoddle, his illustrious predecessor in the Tottenham midfield. But he lacked the guile to turn around Everton’s worst ever start to the season. With better players, the feeling was that he might have excelled.
Joe Royle, however, didn’t see it that way, and after becoming Everton manager in November 1994, barely used Samways – no matter how thin his other midfield resources appeared. Even as he tamed his ‘dogs of war’ and introduced a more expansive brand of football there was no way in for the playmaker.
Samways started the 1995/96 season in memorable fashion, scoring the lobbed goal that won Everton the Charity Shield. But this was a mere cameo in a blue shirt, and after loan moves to Wolves and Birmingham City failed to earn him a permanent move, he joined Las Palmas. In Spain, the footballing climate was more conducive to Samways’ undoubted talents and the midfielder finally thrived.