Ken Birch’s football career was defined by one of the great episodes of Welsh football history.
In 1962, Bangor City of the Cheshire League (managed by Everton legend T. G. Jones) were drawn against Italian giants Napoli in the preliminary round of the European Cup Winner’s Cup. Captained by Birch, they recorded an improbable 2-0 win at their tiny Farrar Road Stadium, Birch scoring the second goal from the penalty spot. In Naples they fell three goals behind when, with five minutes remaining, Birch launched a long throw-in into the Napoli penalty area. It caused havoc and in the melee Bangor scored to bring the scores to 3-1 on the night, 3-3 on aggregate.
Alas, this was an era before away goals counted double. The match went to a replay at Highbury and Napoli edged through 2-1 winners. But Birch had made his way into football lore.
This was a great epilogue to a career spent on the fringes of professional football. The wing half was signed by Everton as a teenager in September 1950 and was engaged on the Goodison ground staff on wages of £6 per week. His career was interrupted by national service and he had to wait until April 1956 before making his first-team debut, in a 1-1 draw at Sheffield United. He was a regular through the 1956/57 season, but lost his place to Ken Rea the following campaign and in March 1958 a £6000 bid was accepted from Southampton.
Birch spent just 15 months at The Dell before dropping into non-league football with Chelmsford City and, in August 1960, Bangor City. He subsequently played out his career as player-manager of Benoni in South Africa.