The Two Biblical Davids of Everton ? namely the Cannonball Kid and Dr Everton ? we are indeed lucky to have such esteemed gentlemen and unquestionable Blue heroes associated with our great club.
Like all Evertonians, I was delighted to learn that Dave Hickson is to be awarded Liverpool?s prestigious civic title ? Citizen of Honour. Perhaps you missed the footnote in the press reports that Liverpool?s Freedom of the City Panel also voted unanimously to confer the same award upon David France.
"The Cannonball Kid", Dave Hickson
I know much more about Dr Everton. Our paths often cross during his excursions onto the US mainland from San Juan Island. This is a tranquil haven in Puget Sound, an inland sea stretching between Vancouver and Seattle, in America's Pacific Northwest, where the good Doctor spends his retirement masterminding incredible and imaginative schemes and promotions for Everton and Evertonians that go way beyond the Everton Collection, Hall of Fame, and other brilliant ideas.
Then some weeks ago, I was invited to read the first draft of his opus magnum an autobiographical account appropriately entitled ?Everton Crazy?. This is a truly remarkable story; it is inspirational and I must confess that I haven?t even got to the chapters which deal with his famous Everton initiatives. I won?t reveal any more about his other accomplishments in life but simply encourage you to buy this page-turner when it becomes available. He addresses the challenges involved in balancing the demands of family, work and Everton
"Dr Everton", David France
One of the things that impressed me about his words was his genuine humility. Many successful businessmen prefer to ignore their humble past but David France?s has never betrayed his roots nor his unstinting loyalty to his fellow Evertonians. One difference with the Cannonball Kid is that all of Dr Everton?s contributions were made off the pitch in the colours of Everton, Everton and Everton. He is a one-club man. Many of you may remember his three-word speech at the Blue Kipper Awards night: ?Kopites are Gobshites.? He said nothing more, nothing less.
Even though he never donned the famous royal blue jersey, David France is as important as those who have done so. Many years ago, he told me that the right combination of heritage and nostalgia will make us happy while we wait patiently for some silverware to celebrate. I was somewhat skeptical, being young and impatient? and of course, we are still waiting. Little did I know that he is one of those rare people with drive, charisma and single-mindedness to turn visions into reality. The hidden energy and quiet determination of this unassuming man from the terraced backstreets of Widnes know no bounds or limitations
Given his razor-sharp intellect, cleverly disguised by an unassuming manner, it is easy to see how anything he decides to do will be executed in style. During the past decade, he has been the driving force behind numerous initiatives like Gwladys Street?s Hall of Fame ? the first of its kind in the United Kingdom; the Everton Former-Players? Foundation ? the first of its kind in the world; the Founding Fathers of Merseyside Football ? the first recognition of its kind in the city; and of course the world-famous Everton Collection. Doesn?t this list make you proud to be a Blue? Personally, I find his accomplishments humbling beside my own feeble efforts in helping to provide this web service for the Everton family.
In addition, he has penned 15 Everton books, with another two in the pipeline. With these, he introduced the concept of oral history to football. I strongly recommend ?The Blue Book?, ?The Holy Trinity? (he refuses to accept any credit for christening our unrivalled triumvirate), ?Virgin Blues?, ?Everton Treasures?, ?Dr Everton?s Magnificent Obsession? and perhaps the most compelling of all, his incredible ode of undying admiration to ?Alex Young ? The Golden Vision?. The profits from all of these publications were donated to local charities.
Since then I have been in absolute awe of his devotion. Many other Blues have supported the club for 50-odd years and watched 800 first-team games, sometimes through their fingers. But no-one else can have traveled an incredible 2 million miles in support of Everton? A season-ticket holder for many years until his health deteriorated, I understand that he crossed the Atlantic dozens and dozens of times simply to comb the United Kingdom for jewels to add to his treasure chest of memorabilia. It?s no wonder he has called his book ?Everton Crazy?.
I bet that David was shocked when he heard about the award. Personally, I?m not surprised. At a time when greed is killing everything in its wake as it spreads across English football, fans have been alienated by parties who leech money from the game and perpetuate an environment of self-interest and self-importance. Men like David France are the human and compassionate face of modern-day football. Football needs men like him more than ever.
Conscious of the significant contributions that the City of Liverpool has made to the evolution and development of football as the world?s game, he secured the history of Merseyside football by compiling single-handedly (in the words of both Christie?s and Sotheby?s) the most complete and finest collection of football memorabilia in the world. Given its immense importance to the cultural and social fabric of all communities throughout the country, all supporters of the national game owe him a huge debt of thanks for his foresight.
ToffeeWeb lobbied long and hard for the club to embrace his collection. Our determination was exceeded only by his unswerving commitment to transfer it to an Everton charity. Despite receiving offers from private investors, Dr France donated the priceless official minute-books and transferred the other treasures at a heavily discounted price, some $1.2 million below market value. By the end of this year, they will illuminate the new Everton Museum, the city?s new state-of-the-art museum and the Central Library and possibly the National Football Musem in Manchester. I think it?s fair to say that the Everton Collection of sacred artefacts was amassed by one of football?s high priests. It should be ranked with the other great national collections of the Twentieth Century. Some claim that they belong in the British Museum.
David France was the first person to recognise the chronic medical needs of former-footballers and to develop an ongoing system in order to do something about it. Back in 1999, he conceived of and founded the Everton Former-Players? Foundation, dedicated to alleviating the medical and other hardships of former-footballers. The benefactors are pre-Premier League players ? many of whom, under the restrictions of maximum wage control, received little more than the average working wage during the limited term of their playing careers.
Upon retirement, many suffered chronic injuries that they were required to nurse through the remainder of their lives. With the support of the Professional Footballer?s Association and the generosity of our beloved club and our fellow Blues, Dr France?s brainchild has raised funds, around £1 million to date, and provided grants for hip replacements, knee replacements and other surgical procedures to individuals who were unable to help themselves and may not otherwise have received such life-altering treatment.
At the time of the charity?s registration, it was the first of its type in the world. Subsequently it has been embraced as Uefa?s model and replicated by Barcelona, Real Madrid and other leading football clubs. European football is indebted to David France for his vision. He refers to it as simply another Everton first to add to the long list of Everton firsts. But doesn?t it make you proud that his trail-blazing initiative has changed the lives of many men who were unable to help themselves and brought distinction to the image of the club overseas? I suppose his real legacy is the men who can walk pain-free.
Now I realise that I may be biased. Besides Jimmy Gabriel, David France is my nearest Everton neighbour and I have never been reluctant to wax lyrical about his contributions in the past. But just in case you don?t believe me, I?ve extracted a few independent quotes about him from the internet.
Andy Burnham, the former UK Minister of Culture: ?Thanks to David France, the story of the heart and soul of our club has been brought together. We all owe him a huge debt of thanks for the passion and the meticulousness with which he has prepared this wonderful collection.?
Bill Kenwright: ?On behalf of all Evertonians, I would like to express our collective gratitude to David France for his foresight in acquiring these rarities and for his patience during the fund-raising period.?
Christopher Harris of EPLtalk.com, the prestigious US website: ?If you need proof that kindness still exists in football, look no further than David France and Everton Football Club.?
Janet Dugdale of the National Museums Liverpool: ?The collection has been amassed with a single-minded sense of purpose and intellectual rigour to which many museums aspire.?
Graham Budd of Sotheby?s: ?The collection offers an extraordinary record of the evolution of British football and of the city of Liverpool. It has no match anywhere.?
If he had made similar contributions to a more fashionable club, he would have received the national recognition that his dedication deserves. Nevertheless, I expect that this prestigious civic award will not go unnoticed by others. In the meantime, there is no greater recognition than feedback from his fellow Evertonians. I expect that he will make the trip across the Atlantic for the West Ham game. So if you bump into Dave Hickson or David France in Goodison Road, don?t hesitate to stop and thank them for their biblical contributions to our beloved club. I echo the words of Joe Anderson, Leader of Liverpool City Council: "Both men have contributed a huge amount to this city and their charity work has made a real difference to the lives of many people across the region. They are unsung heroes who deserve to be recognized for the wonderful work they do."
I understand that both of their names will be inscribed into a magnificent plaque in Liverpool Town Hall. Generations of Scousers will point to the plaque and say Hickson ? he was the one with hair, France ? he was Everton crazy. Dave Hickson has been recognised by the club with a lounge named after him. Hopefully, Bill Kenwright, who to his credit has been a generous supporter of his initiatives, is aware that David France deserves something similar ? perhaps the name of the great doctor should also live on at Goodison with a David France Gallery in the new Everton museum.
The Two Biblical Davids of Everton ? Dave Hickson and David France ? two of the city?s favourite sons, two massive Blues, two Citizens of Honour and two more reasons to be proud that you are an Evertonian.
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1 Posted 19/01/2011 at 03:29:26
2 Posted 19/01/2011 at 03:46:25
3 Posted 19/01/2011 at 08:04:19
Many have got them for less.
Who do we write to?
4 Posted 19/01/2011 at 09:48:00
Well done David from all of us and enjoy your day, fully deserved.
5 Posted 19/01/2011 at 09:50:49
I saw Dave Hickson play when I was a boy and in all honesty don't have much of a memory of it apart from the shock of blond hair. I met him when my daughter and I did the stadium tour several years ago now, a genuinely lovely man with a great love for, and knowledge of, the club.
David France is awe inspiring. when you look at his CV and the disadvantages he started with, his achievements are immense. Add to that his single minded devotion to the Everton cause and selfless determination not to profit, as he almost certainly could have done, from his wonderful collection, then you have to love the guy.
The phrase "a class act" springs to mind because that's what he is and class is what he's shown our club has by highlighting our history in his collection of memorabilia and by making us the first club to set up a scheme to look after former heroes.
No other club can come close to rivaling that, and no other club has a more dedicated supporter in the complete sense of the word.
6 Posted 19/01/2011 at 10:14:29
Dave Hickson said he would break his bones for any team he played for but 'He would Die for Everton'
Dr David has left us something from the past that will live and gain in importance for as long as there is football.
I hope Dr Everton gets over for the West Ham game and actually goes into the ground to watch it!! Don't ever believe you only bring us 'bad luck' when you watch. Get in there, sit next to Bill and enjoy every minute then have a drink with 'The Cannonball Kid'.
Two truly great Evertonians together.
7 Posted 19/01/2011 at 12:20:24
I'm very sorry to see that this news (to the best of my knowledge) has not appeared on the Official Site ? and if/when it does, I hope the achievements of the two gentlemen appeared side by side, with France given equal footing to Hickson; not tucked away in some concluding paragraph.
Never mind talk of knighthoods, surely there is a place for Dr Everton in the Goodison Park boardroom? I'm sure meetings would be a lot more interesting with him around ? and who knows, perhaps we'd be a little bit more successful, both on and off the pitch.
8 Posted 19/01/2011 at 12:28:02
9 Posted 19/01/2011 at 13:09:31
Dave Hickson is a genuine Gentleman, and has served Everton well, both as a player and Ambassador on the Club Tours etc..
And as for David France, he is the Everton Maven. His achievements for the fans are second to none, and again a true Gentleman!
Enjoy your day, Guys... Richly Deserved
ps: I did spot an Article a few days ago, buried in the 'Articles' section, I think, on the Official Site... Hopefully they will acknowledge the achievement again on the main page soon?
10 Posted 19/01/2011 at 13:14:02
And yes some sort of 'Official' Honour would be a good Idea.
11 Posted 19/01/2011 at 13:37:52
12 Posted 19/01/2011 at 13:42:26
13 Posted 19/01/2011 at 14:14:01
One match a cuptie at Goodison he left the field with a cut eye, and returned to head the winner with a flying leap. His old partner, the late John Willie Parker, benefited from Dave's bravery, scoring 31 goals with Davey chipping in with 24, not bad for any partnership in a season.
Well done Both Davids, on being honoured.
14 Posted 19/01/2011 at 15:48:58
I believe the PM supports Villa so has probably never heard of either of these two Goodison heroes.
15 Posted 19/01/2011 at 16:59:17
16 Posted 19/01/2011 at 17:23:44
As for Dr David France ? I've said it on here before ? he is the ultimate Everton fan. Not just in a football sense ? but there cannot even be a sports fan anywere in the world that can say they have achieved what Doctor Everton has with that collection of memorabilia. It really is a staggering achievement of love and devotion for your team. I often giggle to myself as to what his wife has had to go through ? and I am sure she is a lovely person too (and patient!).
Let's hope the team really makes him even happier on Saturday ? like a 6 or 7 goal win..........
17 Posted 19/01/2011 at 18:00:44
I know you are in touch with Dr David now and again ? let him know that Vic and Anthony's still does a wonderful steak and if he is ever in Houston ? my treat.
Also, how about putting a picture in your site of the Doctor looking into that Boardroom Ledger... you know, on the Matchday Forum page, where once there was a smiling Moysie. That way all of us forum fans can be constantly reminded of what the "ultimate" Everton fan can achieve.
18 Posted 19/01/2011 at 20:52:07
19 Posted 20/01/2011 at 13:17:28
A great honour for him and for us, A true supporter represented a boardroom level
20 Posted 20/01/2011 at 17:12:48
21 Posted 21/01/2011 at 10:40:39
I have been lucky enough to read some of the draft and it is REALLY, REALLY enjoyable. Full of humorous anecdotes, personal achievements, personal tragedies, and loads and loads of Everton stories, it provides a fascinating insight into the Blue boy that became Dr Everton. I found myself chuckling away as he chronicled his Everton journey, one shared by many of us, of growing up and supporting Everton. However, it is unique in detailing how his Everton obsession was maintained throughout his adulthood in North America and how his success in the US business world funded his Everton addiction.
I wish I could write a testimonial with the refreshing candidness, biting wit and tingling depth of feeling used by David in his eloquent tome. He may not be a ?Golden Vision? or a ?Goodison God? but he is most certainly an Everton Maven ? generously leading the way, encouraging, supporting and nourishing our thirst for knowledge. Everton Crazy or not, David France is a guiding light to all who follow our great football club.
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