Garry Stanley never seemed to quite overcome the slow start to his Goodison career. Signed from Chelsea for £300,000 in the summer of 1979, a contractual tie with the NASL’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers meant he missed the opening weeks of the 1979/80 season. Underwhelming performances on his arrival saw Evertonians dub the midfielder ‘Jetlag’ Stanley. Later he ascribed a pelvic strain – a persistent injury that many players find difficult to remedy – as the underlying cause of his patchy form, but he never seemed to improve.
With his flowing locks, the strapping midlander had the look of the archetypal seventies footballer. At Chelsea he had garnered a reputation as a dynamic midfielder, capable of lung busting runs and with a keen eye for goal. In a team that finished the 1978/79 season rock bottom of the First Division, he was deemed one of Stamford Bridge’s most attractive and saleable assets.
Such potential went largely unrealised at Goodison in a stay that was memorable mostly for his sending off with Liverpool’s Terry McDermott in the October 1979 derby, following an uncharacteristic scrap. In doing so they became the first players to be dismissed in a Merseyside derby.
Despite his underwhelming displays Stanley remained optimistic about his chances at Goodison, and there were signs of a return to form in Autumn 1980 as Everton rose up the table. ‘Certainly I have not been disappointed at Everton,’ he professed to the matchday programme in November 1980. ‘The set up is first class, and while 1979/80 was a disappointing year, that’s forgotten now. What happens in 1980/81 is all that counts.’ Stanley felt sufficiently enamoured with the club to describe ‘signing on the dotted line for Everton’ as his ‘career highlight.’
Yet Howard Kendall did not share an appreciation of Stanley when he became manager in the summer of 1981. He found himself excluded from the first team and in October 1981 Everton accepted a £150,000 bid from Swansea City, where he played an important role in their initial successes in the First Division. Following their relegation in 1983 Stanley never returned to the top flight