I was off sick from work and flicking through the channels when I came across the LFC Station. It was showing a repeat of a Merseyside Derby from the Nineties. Leading the line for Everton was Walsall’s very own Brett Angell.
It never worked out for Brett at Everton, in fact if you ask any Evertonian, he would probably be considered one of the worst players in their history. It is not difficult to tell why, he was painfully slow, with the turning circle of a tank. He did have one gift though, he could head a ball.
Brett’s heading prowess was evident in the opening game of the 00/01 season, away at Rotherham. Trailing 2- 0, we came back to win 3-2 thanks to an own goal and two goals from Angell. He headed one in from a few yards with the opposition defenders bouncing off him, then scored with another header from close to the goal and it was his sheer presence in the box that caused the own goal.
Although he only scored one goal in the Premier League he was prolific at Stockport and because of this and the two goals against Rotherham, I fully expected him to score loads that season. This never quite happened and he never really won the Walsall fans over. This may have been because in a team of great skill (for Walsall) players like Matias, Hall, Bukran, Leitao and Byfield showed up his lack of technical prowess.
At one away game when we lost at Oxford, Brett missed an easy header from a few yards out. He responded to a shout from the crowd telling him to ‘F*** off’ by sarcastically applauding and shouting back ‘that’s really helping, thanks’. Shortly after this, we got Goodman in and the pecking order of strikers changed to Leitao, Goodman, Byfield, Angell. A young Karl Hawley was only sixth choice behind Gary Birch, oh for that choice now!
With the play-offs position already sorted, we sent out a weakened team away to Northampton and Brett promptly scored a hat- trick. I heard a report from someone who overheard two Walsall fans talking about Brett’s performance that day and one said to the other ‘but what else did he do all afternoon?’
He never figured in the play- offs and Sir Ray made it clear he wasn’t in his plans for the next season. He did come back briefly though, due to injuries and players losing form, and scored one of the best goals I have ever seen at Bescot, against Grimsby. With the ball played up to him on his own and fully 35 yards out he had three choices. Hold the ball up, dribble past the defenders, or welly it. He chose to welly it and hit a dipping half – volley into the top corner of the net.(Edit: I have just tracked down this goal on YouTube and it turns out that my memory of it is not quite right. It is still a good goal though, judge for yourself).
After that, he faded away from Walsall. Last time I heard anything about him, he was allegedly stacking shelves in a supermarket before moving on to a coaching role in New Zealand. I could make some sort of joke out of this but I won’t, as I have too much respect for him as a player. For his goals at Rotherham, for answering a loud mouth fan back and for the cracker against Grimsby I will always like him, despite him being underrated and unloved by many Walsall fans.