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Colm Kavanagh turns the spotlight on team captain, Duncan Ferguson,
and the story of a legend unfulfilled



It has been the Summer of Rooney.

We've all fanned the flames in our own ways, voicing our hopes and expectations for a chap who has just quit school to pursue a career playing the game we all love and follow passionately a precocious talent indeed.  Yes, that's right most of us have high hopes that a mere kid will be the catalyst to a change in fortune for a club the size of Everton.  

It's not that long ago though that we saw a team of kids wearing Aston Villa colours arrive at Goodison and hammer a team of Everton kids, including the prodigy Rooney.  So, as much as we'll all relish the sight of young Wayne Rooney bursting onto the Premiership stage and announcing himself to one and all, can I ask for a little perspective please?  He is still a kid!  Afford him some breathing space in the coming weeks: he has enough pressure being placed upon young shoulders.

Instead, let us turn our attention to a man much loved by many at Everton.  The idol of the terraces, some would have you call him.  The talismanic (sic) striker with the potential to terrorise many a Premiership defence.  The man who would be King: Mr Duncan Ferguson himself.

I do believe that the sands of time are wearing very thin now, Mr Ferguson, with your pitiful record of appearances for our Club.  Since the return of the Big Man (isn't hindsight wonderful?) we have never ever seen the lad enjoy a consistent run of games in the first team.  Unlucky?  I think not.  His track record is so poor that the joke has long since turned sour.  Rather expensive would you not think, considering our financial position over recent seasons?

I most certainly do not begrudge Duncan, or any other professional footballer, the wage he is offered.  That is a contract agreement between club and player.  What does annoy the absolute flipping life out of me regarding our "hero" is the fact that we've been supposedly dependant on a fit Duncan Ferguson to re-emerge as a force in the domestic game.  A fit Duncan Ferguson?  Ha ha ha!!  

Everton?  Newcastle?  Everton the first time around?  Glasgow Rangers?  Dundee United?  Has he ever been classified as being fully fit this fella?  That's a serious question.  What amazes me most is his ability to pass medicals when making big money moves from club to club.

There was once a chap who headed due south, from one big club to another from the hotbed of Scottish football in Glasgow to the divided football City of Liverpool.  He had a hunger about his play.  We took him collectively to our hearts in an instant a legend (or so they say) was born, aided as it was by a dream debut goal against that shower from across the park.  No finer way to endear yourself, Sir, to the Goodison faithful! 

Aye, the faithful that's exactly what we've remained through thinner and thinner...  We're quick these days to label players as being heroes.  We're possibly in danger of elevating young Rooney way before his time (he hasn't even played in the Premiership as of yet!) to such status that's the way of the modern football fan I suppose.  Particularly with the younger elements of the Everton support, Duncan has always enjoyed cult status; blind loyalty from fans that see no failings in the man or his game.  

Kevin Campbell, for example, may be forced into shuffling off a treatment table, to start upfront in the on-going battle for Premiership survival, carrying the scars from battle and with visible signs of being off the pace (naturally) he finds himself on the receiving end of fickle fans' venom.  Amazing really considering our standing in the game as supposedly knowledgeable fans.

Ironically, I agree with David Moyes's decision to persist with Duncan as choice of captain a canny decision in my book.  As we head into a new season with a spring in the step, we find our plans hindered yet again with the news that dear ol' Duncan will miss the first month (at least) with yet another injury.  His injury saga is comparable to poor Tottenham's record in the transfer market where they are forever almost buying this player and that player.  Almost that's a word that will sum up the career of Duncan Ferguson when he hangs up those blue boots...

At Everton, the one constant is that Duncan Ferguson is forever a few weeks away from full fitness.  Sorry, but I for one do not buy that any more.  It's been the party line now throughout his two spells at the Club.  Same old story at Newcastle.  Regardless of the facts behind the scenes at the time of Duncan's surprise departure from the Club back in 1998, we did manage to get a good price for him money badly needed to ease the debt suffocating the Club.  A fool and his money are easily parted goes the old saying.  Duncan went off to Newcastle, played a couple of games... and then became injured.  They dangled a carrot and we bought it.  What price now to offload a player who will never, ever realise this potential many pundits have often spoken of?  

Our problem, particularly with money no longer being as plentiful throughout the game, is that we are lumbered with the injury-prone talisman (sic).  Injury prone, wiling away time with specialist after specialist trying all sorts to eradicate his injury woes, what can he offer the team at present in his (permanent) state?  

As stated already, the decision (weird as it may appear on the surface) to make Duncan the club captain puts the ball firmly at his feet.  The onus is on Duncan to repay that faith placed in him, to regain fitness and return to lead the team from the front.  Will we ever really see that become reality?

Personally, I doubt it very much.  I'd love nothing better than to see Duncan prove us all wrong by reeling back the years.  Instead, I find it increasingly likely that we'll see the career of the present Everton captain mirror the career of a previous Everton captain, Mark Higgins, with injuries confining the player to the sidelines before the cruel reality hits and his services become surplus to requirements.

If that happens with Duncan Ferguson at some stage of this coming season, he can blame nobody but himself.  An Everton legend?  Well, in the words of David Bowie:

"We can be heroes... Just for one day"

Duncan, mate, you've had your day.

Colm Kavanagh
15 August 2002