So, first question, on the Duncan issue where do you stand ? friend or foe!
I?m a journalist so it was quite difficult to get to know Duncan. Interestingly, the first dealing I ever had with him was when he was on loan and we played Portsmouth away in a midweek cup game, where he made his Everton debut (October 1994). After the game, the team was staying in the hotel for the rest of the week as we had Southampton away on the Saturday.
A few of the players were in the hotel bar having a few drinks, including Duncan, and I joined them. At that point, Duncan didn?t know I was a journalist so he was quite friendly! He?d picked up an ankle injury that night and was sat back in a chair with ice strapped to his ankle while enjoying a few pints. I asked him if he fancied staying at Goodison and he was adamant that he didn?t, it was just a loan spell and he was verrrrry much a Rangers player.
The other thing that stood out was Ian Snodin and David Burrows having a long-running banter session that got serious. They were having a go at each other about their respective performances at Fratton Park that night but when Burrows expressed surprise that Snods had got anywhere near the England team, Snodin lamped him and there was a fist-fight!
Ferguson was reclined with a pint and his ankle in ice, looking for all the world like an emperor holding court, and not the least bit perturbed by his two team mates scrapping.
So you?re saying that Duncan took a while to get settled in at Goodison, not love at first sight?
Duncan is a complex character and I think he needs to be loved and appreciated. I genuinely think that it was the reaction to his performance in the 2-0 derby win (November 1994) and the way the fans took to him that made him think there could be something special for him here. I think it was that that made him want to sign for the club on a permanent basis.
OK, what?s your take on his relationship with the various Everton mangers, three of them made him captain?
Howard Kendall ? There was a real mutual admiration. Kendall is a renowned man-manager and knew which buttons to press to get Duncan going? I guess the fact that both are quite social, very different to David Moyes, might help. It?s fair to say that Duncan played through the pain barrier to keep Everton up in the 97-98 season, playing for the fans and playing for Kendall. It?s interesting that I?ve seen Joe Royle telling a few anecdotes at sporting dinners where he teases Duncan?s sometimes lax approach in games and I always note Howard making faces as if to show real disagreement.
Walter Smith ? I think there was mutual respect. Walter was genuinely shocked at Duncan being sold to Newcastle. This had been rumbling for a couple of weeks and I first noticed that during a game against Forest away a couple of weeks earlier (September 1998), when Duncan scored two goals, he seemed to be making goodbye gestures to the fans. It seems as though Peter Johnson?s anxiety about the financial health of the club had prompted him to hawk Ferguson to other clubs and Duncan was less than happy.
The next thing is Walter Smith, Archie Knox plus wives are walking down the steps from the players? lounge after the Newcastle game in November 1998 (when Duncan was sold) to be greeted by Duncan asking ?Why didn?t you stand up for me, boss?? Smith and Knox expressed shock and surprise and asked him if he?d actually signed anything, Duncan said no but he?d shaken hands on it.
The first I knew was when I was getting text from fans after the game. I was actually in a pub in Formby with David Unsworth at the time and he was as shocked as anyone! The next day in the office, Lorraine Rogers aka Mrs Peter Johnson, called to insist that Walter Smith was fully aware of the Duncan sale. I can tell you that, when I put this to Walter, he was incandescent and wouldn?t let me leave until I?d heard him talk on speaker-phone to Johnson and get him to confirm his version of events. His rage told me I didn?t need to hear Johnson speak!
Walter was happy to have him back for his second spell, although I think Bill Kenwright and all his big-hearted romantic approach to the game played a big part as well.
David Moyes ? I?d say there was mutual suspicion here. Moyes has a version of a player and Duncan, for his fitness and attitudinal issues, isn?t it, but the size of his contract meant he had to face up to using him in the best way possible. There was obviously the big training ground bust-up. One Everton player was in the toilet at the time, which is above Moyes's office. He could hear the banging and shouting going on, when Duncan emerged he shouted that he?d told the boss ?a few home truths?...
What?s your take on Duncan?s fitness issues and his willingness to go through the pain barrier?
Duncan had a supreme physique, a real good trainer who spent a lot of time in the gym boxing, doing weights. I?m told he still works out every day. A lot of the players would say that he was one of the ones who could run and run in pre-season ? a natural athlete.
The problem was that he picked up a lot of injuries by the way he played and that meant he was on the rough end of some tough tackling. I remember the challenge by Charlton?s Richard Rufus on his second Goodison debut (August 2000) as particularly dreadful. Those things catch up with you when you get older. I think you can see his bad tempered and aggressive approach on the field actually gets worse later in his career as his body starts to slow him down and stop him performing the way he wants.
So, can we solve the conundrum of why a guy with such pride and a close bond with the fans didn?t achieve the consistency of a great player?
I agree it?s shame. I remember one of his team mates saying exactly that to me after a goal Ferguson had scored in a derby game.
He certainly had plenty of self-confidence. I remember Daniel Amokachi struggling in training and Duncan saying, ?Hey, watch me, I?ll turn you into a £4M player!? and the time when Alan Shearer made his debut for Newcastle at Goodison as a £15M player, Duncan went around Bellefield all week breathing fire and singing ?Shearer?s gonna get it? to himself, which resulted in an absolutely awesome performance.
But there are stories like the time that Joe Royle tried to show him some videos of Christian Vieri?s movement and approach ? and Duncan looking totally into space?
I guess the drinking didn?t help?
I wouldn?t say that Duncan was a problem drinker, more of a binger than a daily drinker, like, say Gazza. I think even before the drink-driving arrest, 36 hours before the 2-0 derby win, he?d only had about three pints ? yeah, over the limit but not steaming.
And what on earth did those burglars think they were doing??
The first one was after a cup game at Watford. I was out in town being harangued by a group of Evertonians who were insisting that Duncan had a cocaine habit and was actually refused hospital treatment for an injury because of the amount of coke in his system. They were accusing me (and the press generally) of a cover-up.
They were so assertive that I put this to Walter Smith on the Monday. He laughed and told me that Duncan was THE most drug tested player at the club and had never come out positive... although alcohol content was a different matter. It was while in his office that Duncan came in to see Walter, hiding one side of his face, and then became clear he?d suffered this in the struggle.
Second time the break-in took place in an outhouse-type building on his property that was used for storage. It was the burglar?s bad luck that Duncan happened to be in the building at the time. The ensuing struggle left the burglar substantially worse off and I remember that Mrs Ferguson was very upset when the guy tried to bring a case against Duncan for excessive force, fearing that Duncan?s past record would count against him.
Do you think he misses us?
I don?t think Duncan will go back to Goodison while Moyes is in charge but I think he generally isn?t interested in coming back to England/Goodison. In fact he?s actually moved house over in Mallorca to be in an even more remote part of the island.
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1 Posted 25/11/2010 at 20:11:37
2 Posted 25/11/2010 at 21:05:46
The Rumble in the Jungle in Moyes's office with the quote "told him a few home truths" made me laugh, would have paid money to see that, as did singing "Shearer's gonna get it" in the build up to Shearer's first game for Newcastle.
The man is a legend in my eyes, a true blue player, like Cahill who would happily bleed for the Everton cause and fans without giving it a second thought.
Great article, enjoyed every bit of it.
3 Posted 25/11/2010 at 20:44:24
For the most part, the 1990s were a dark time for Everton fans. We regularly fought relegation and to me Duncan was one of the few bright lights in that dark decade.
There were some good players in the 1990s:
Neville Southall ? An Everton legend and kept goal for most of the 90s but arguably was past his best. He is more of an 80s legend.
Dave Watson ? Another Everton legend who will probably be best remembered for his efforts in the 80s.
Tony Cottee ? Arrived with a big reputation and scored some goals but too inconsistent.
Peter Beardsley ? Had a great couple of years and scored 20 goals in a season but he'll always be remembered as a Liverpool or Newcastle legend.
Joe Parkinson ? Was just beginning to look the real deal when injury ended his career.
Andrei Kanchelskis ? Had a great couple of seasons but that was it. Didn't play for Everton long enough.
Gary Speed ? Had a good couple of seasons but left a sour taste when he joined Newcastle.
Duncan played for Everton over 10 seasons. He made 260 appearances and scored 67 goals. Sure he should have scored more goals but don't forget he played in some of the worst Everton sides in history.
Duncan had the misfortune to play in teams with the likes of Barmby, Cadamarteri and Gemmill. Plus there were a couple of seasons there in which Duncan pretty much sat out due to injury and he went to jail for awhile too.
Imagine how many goals a fit Duncan could have scored in modern Everton sides who finish in the Top 5 and have creative players like Arteta and Pienaar.
Most of my memories of the 1990's are bad memories but there are a few highlights and most of them revolve around Big Duncan:
- His first goal for the club which just happened to be against Liverpool.
- Waiting for him to be released from jail. It was like a kid waiting for Christmas.
- His FA Cup celebration with the blue nose.
- I loved his stubborness, once he decided never to play for Scotland or talk to the press again he stuck to it for the rest of his career.
- I loved how he would win Man of the Match awards and never give an interview to Sky.
- His hat-trick against Bolton.
- The sadness when he was sold to Newcastle and the joy when he returned.
- Boasting about how tough he was when he beat up the burgulars.
- I can't remember the specific game but one time he completely destroyed Man Utd almost singlehandedly.
- People dont realise but he was a regular visitor to the kids in Alder Hay.
- Duncan always played his best against the big teams. I think I'm right in claiming Everton never lost to Liverpool with Duncan in the side. Is that right?
- The way he scored in the final minute of his final appearance with his very last touch of the ball.
4 Posted 25/11/2010 at 21:28:27
5 Posted 25/11/2010 at 21:54:01
I sometimes dream I am sent to Hell and when I get there I am tied to my old seat from the Bullens Road and forced to watch a compilation tape on loop of the many thousands of hopeless balls David Unsworth played up to "Big Dunc". It is only marginally more painful than the real life experience in the 1990s.
6 Posted 25/11/2010 at 21:50:03
He will always be a topic for debate though: the suspensions, injuries, goals record etc. Seems he was also a bit of a fortune teller cause he sussed Moyes out years ago by the sound of it.
"Here's a home truth, boss, you're a negative one-trick pony with no Plan B."
7 Posted 25/11/2010 at 22:15:07
8 Posted 25/11/2010 at 21:42:41
It was a bright, hot day as my father and I took to our season ticket seats in the Top Balcony.
Even though the press basically said we should not even bother turning up, we were quite confident (for Everton fans). The reason being that we knew something they didn't. Or something they had over-looked. That something was the fact that almost TWO years after we signed Duncan Ferguson this was THE season he was finally injury free, with no tribunals/court appearances to worry about and a full pre-season "under his belt". This was HIS time; he knew it, we kind of knew it and Alan Shearer was about see it up close and personal!
I was almost 15 years old and what I saw that day will live with me for the rest of my life. Big Dunc started pretty much as a lone striker with Graeme "Diamond" Stuart playing just behind him, almost like a Cahill role. From the first minute, we battered them. Duncan took on pretty much their entire back four on his own and slaughtered them. We were 2 up at half-time, he had made both of them. To this day, I have never seen one man occupy an entire defence on his own the way Dunc did that day. Especially the first half.
That day was the most optimistic of my Everton life (my first game was October 1990). As my dad and me were walking off the game I turned to him and said... "Dad, we are gonna be up near the top ALL season, challenging." Those were my exact words. We avoided relegation in the last week of the season (thanks to Blackburn beating Middlesbrough).
I picked a shit time to support Everton. My Dad was there in the 80s, with trophies, with respect and fear from other teams/fans. I was there in the 90s with derision from all the glory hunters at school. But I had Big Dunc. I had my childhood hero, I saw the man who gave me something that will always live with me. And one day, hopefully, I will have a son who loves our team just like I do and I will take him to see his hero.
Football is a funny thing. Complete strangers give you some of the most memorable moments of your life. And Big Dunc gave my generation more than one! For all his faults, he made me proud to be an Evertonian during some dark days! I also saw Brett Angell play... See what I mean.
9 Posted 25/11/2010 at 23:10:26
10 Posted 26/11/2010 at 02:01:03
I want to read that book that was pulled from the shelves last minute!
Is it true hes married to John Parrott's daughter? I'm 99.9% sure it is. John Parrott's a blue too as JP used to sit near me in the main stand. Not sure if he still sits there, he must do.
11 Posted 26/11/2010 at 02:53:54
We should remember he played in some of the worst Everton teams of all time. What Duncan did was play like a fan and that's why so many of us adored him.
Charlie, I think it was John Parrott's sister he married...
12 Posted 26/11/2010 at 07:16:09
13 Posted 26/11/2010 at 08:12:38
14 Posted 26/11/2010 at 09:15:43
The start of the article says he was a Rangers man; he definitely became an Everton man.
15 Posted 26/11/2010 at 09:47:02
I witnessed first-hand Duncan training at Bellefield after everyone else had finished; his training routine was more akin to a boxers, he was extremely fit. A good way to appreciate Duncan's play was although the hoofball was played to him a lot, he also made many of them into good passes by simply getting on the end of them.
A great testament to Duncan was by Sir Bobby Robson who said his best striker pairing was Duncan and Alan Shearer stating Shearer learned so much about centre-forward play from Duncan.
16 Posted 26/11/2010 at 09:46:18
Legend to me. Loved the big man. He brought some smiles to my face in some very tough times. OK, so he didn't always play within the rules of the game, but that's what made him such a competitor.
I often wonder how different some Evertonions perspective of Dunc may have been if Collina had have allowed THAT goal to stand at Villarreal.
17 Posted 26/11/2010 at 10:16:00
18 Posted 26/11/2010 at 10:26:07
I also did most of my growing up in the 90s (started supporting in 87, so had at least one season of being a glory supporter) and one of the few bright spots was Big Dunc. I remember, growing up in London, all my Spurs mates harping on about what a rock Big Sol was, and then one game Dunc literally lifted him with one arm and floored him. Or his and Rideout's goals against the RS when we were bottom, Royle's first game in charge I think.
Just thinking about the guy brings a smile to my face, and if I am ever in a bad mood, a good ol' rendition of "Duncan, Duncan Ferguson..." gets me right back up there.
Why? I have no idea. Worrying (with a wife and 3 kids)? Probably. But that is why the guy will always be an absolute legend.
19 Posted 26/11/2010 at 10:50:51
I was born in 82 and was was too young to really appreciate the good times of the 80s. Duncan was one of the few bright spots I had growing up; don't get me wrong, he had his faults and sometimes I wonder "what if" with him but he is and always will be a legend!
The Newcastle games was one of the most dominant perfromances I have ever seen from any player. His first goal in the derby, Utd in 95 and the shirt swirling celebration, Utd away when he scored 2, Utd at home when he bullied their defence and wrapped up 4th place, all the sending-offs, one of the best headed goals ever at Highbury, doing Paul Ince then getting fouled and throwing Ince on the floor (check out on YouTube), making Richard Gough look a fool on International duty, the look on Jimmy Bullard's face after Dunc floored Scharner at Wigan and the Steffan Freund strangulation.
Thanks for the memories Big Man!
20 Posted 26/11/2010 at 11:15:39
I'm fairly sure Duncan's wife is John Parrot's wife's sister.
21 Posted 26/11/2010 at 11:14:24
22 Posted 26/11/2010 at 11:37:59
23 Posted 26/11/2010 at 10:08:24
For that, I say thank you Big Dunc. A legend in MY time.
24 Posted 26/11/2010 at 12:17:18
Dunc will never be a legend on a par with the likes of Ball, Dean and the likes but in his day he was the best we had and at times you just couldn't beat him, he gave me plenty to hold my head up about in some dark days as a blue.
Finally, he also came out in favour of KEIOC unlike many of the shameful player statements at the time. I remember biting my lip when he missed that final pen only to get the rebound as I desperately wanted him not to be the only Number 9 we have ever had not to score in a season.
25 Posted 26/11/2010 at 12:31:17
Tim comes close but Dunc's pure physical presence scared the living poop out of the opposition!
26 Posted 26/11/2010 at 12:42:23
Corner comes in, Ferguson gets in front of 'the best defender in the world' to nod home what would be the winner. The noise still makes the hairs stand up. One of most memorable nights at Goodison thanks to the The Big Man. What a guy
27 Posted 26/11/2010 at 12:57:29
28 Posted 26/11/2010 at 12:31:12
Dunc was a Champion in Everton teams that were full of journeymen, he could play it on the deck or in the air put the fear of god into Liverpool, Man Utd and the like.
Had an Everton tattoo; put Moyes in his place.
Not a legend? Wake up.
29 Posted 26/11/2010 at 13:38:25
I'm pretty sure he was undefeated in his first spell against Liverpool but not his second. I seem to remember he got the first goal in the McAllister derby but we ended up losing 3-2. I've still never forgiven Alexandersson and Paul Gerard for that goal!
Moyes may have his critics, me included, but thank God we don't rely on players like Alexandersson and Paul Gerard these days!
30 Posted 26/11/2010 at 13:50:12
31 Posted 26/11/2010 at 13:34:12
Back to thread I am slightly dissapointed that it was not love at first sight from Big Dunc's perspective ? I am undecided as to whether he is a legend or not mostly because I hardly ever saw him live ? I don't get to GP as often as I would like to and whenever I did he was either injured or suspended ? I know he couldn't help the injuries but the suspensions?
Not in same league as Bally or for that matter Paul Bracewell ? most underestimated Everton 'legend' in my opinion.
32 Posted 26/11/2010 at 14:58:13
Great player? ? could have been, a near miss... Legend? ? yes, in the fact that he cared for the club and its fans, and understood how important beating teams like the RS, Manure etc really was to the faithful.
33 Posted 26/11/2010 at 15:28:43
34 Posted 26/11/2010 at 16:34:49
I know the stats don't really back that up, but anyone who watched him play will understand.
He could take on a whole team on his own and is the closet player I have ever seen that matched the fervour, passion and commitment of the fans. He was the ultimate Evertonian.
'Legend' is something that probably ought to be reserved for a very select few such as Dixie, Bally and Big Nev.
But Duncan was definitely the 'greatest'...
35 Posted 26/11/2010 at 16:38:40
36 Posted 26/11/2010 at 17:26:47
"I don?t think Duncan will go back to Goodison while Moyes is in charge." Hmmm... Does that saddle Big Dunc with an "anti-Moyes" agenda?
Kinda significant, don't you think, that we're having discussions on other threads about (a) the inability of current Everton strikers to score goals, and (b) the evidence that strikers coming to Everton generally start their Goodison careers well, but that their goal-scoring prowess eventually starts to suffer and they just go down hill.
I wonder if you can see any connection? Or is it just a so-called "anti-Moyes agenda" with no substance?
Certainly looks like Big Dunc had some issues with Moyes that are strong enough to keep him well away... Who knows what it was about but it must surely have had something to do with the way Big Dunc played the game.
37 Posted 26/11/2010 at 18:18:00
His scoring record doesn't mean that he is not an Everton Legend. How many games did he inspire a win with his appettite on the pitch.
In his last season he never started a game, he kept coming off the bench to put in some magical performances. The game away in Norwich was an amazing performance, so was his performance off the bench, brilliant header goal and assist...and away in Villareal.
38 Posted 26/11/2010 at 19:03:55
The way Moyes managed Dunc through to the end of his career was probably as good as Dunc could have ever asked for considering the amount of times he let Moyes, his teamates and by extension us down on the pitch, and allegedly off it. To a man of undoubted principles this is not acceptable. That he wont come back while Moyes is in charge reflects worse on Dunc than Moyes.
Despite this and anything else we may or may not know he is my Dixie Dean, Alan Ball, Ratcliffe or whichever player any Evertonian can mention!
He made my school years bearable. Fucked the shite more than any player has bar Tim and made sure that there werent a side in the league who would come to Goodison and try and take the piss. My Hero!!
39 Posted 26/11/2010 at 19:10:15
He did on occasion really look 'up for it' but I always got the impression he wasn't really that keen on playing football at all and would rather have been fucking about with pigeons or in a bar somewhere.
Just an impression like.
Understand totally why he is adored by those who never saw Ball, Young, Sharpy, Reid, Sheeds etc
40 Posted 26/11/2010 at 19:13:46
I'll never forget it. It was all about passion. Appart from Tim Cahill, who at this point in time does passion for us fans?
41 Posted 26/11/2010 at 19:30:35
42 Posted 26/11/2010 at 19:35:13
Well I did. It's just a shame Dunc didn't play in the same team as some of them.
43 Posted 26/11/2010 at 19:50:59
Newcastle arrived with the world record signing and tipped to win the league, but Dunc slaughtered them all by himself, he was an absolute colossus that day.
A true legend who deserved to play with better players for Everton.
44 Posted 26/11/2010 at 19:50:37
While in Liverpool, or Freshfield rather, Duncan got into a friendship with a major gangster; it is quite common knowledge in a certain area of Liverpool that they had a serious fallout and Duncan to my knowledge has never been back, or if he has, it's been very low profile.
I watched the teams of the 70s, 80s etc, and they were fantastic but to me big Dunc is right up there with the best of them. The sight of him in a blue shirt made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. His control on the ground was excellent, we just didn't use it enough. I loved him and wished we still had him.
I think if Dunc had his way, he would be at every game, like the rest of us.
45 Posted 26/11/2010 at 21:01:32
One of the worst days of supporting the blues for me was when he got sold behind Mr. Disappointment's back ? will honestly say although 12 at the time I absolutely cried my eyes out... as a result when he can on as a sub for his 2nd debut against Charlton and scored twice was absolutely brilliant. :)
Brilliant player, brilliant man, took no shit, ran the top teams ragged and more importantly was a Blue through and through.
True legend (as Cahill is).
46 Posted 26/11/2010 at 21:17:33
47 Posted 26/11/2010 at 21:54:37
The article made me laugh a couple of times; particularly, the Burrows-Snodin bit. Great read.
48 Posted 26/11/2010 at 23:16:45
As has been stated in a few posts, his control was first class, as was his passing when people only thought of him for his aerial ability. Who could forget him grabbing a fan and kissing him after he scored up at Middlesboro in a League Cup tie... never saw that sort of thing before or since from any player!
He could be a bit lazy in some games but his performances in games that really mattered stood out. Remember his brilliant turn and shot from the edge of the box that thundered into the Liverpool net in '97 and a very similar goal at Old Trafford that same season. Liverpool and Man Utd were shit scared of him.
49 Posted 27/11/2010 at 05:18:31
Actually made me miss the 90's, my shining beacon in a horrible, horrible side.
50 Posted 27/11/2010 at 12:06:38
The story about the rumpus in Moyes's office in Bellefield is not quite true, Moyes was confronted by Ferguson and he was shocked when Moyes never backed down, in fact Moyes told him if he wanted to fight 'there's a big carpark outside'; Ferguson backed off.
Duncan's charitable work , especially for children, deserves an award of some description... A lovely man, he liked a drink, but so what? As a player he was too inconsistent throughout his career, not helped by his injuries but there were games when he never 'turned up'.
Personally I preferred the contribution to the team of Kevin Campbell as a player but then we all have our favourites don't we?
51 Posted 27/11/2010 at 13:53:19
I was under the impression he loved the sherbet more than he loved playing.
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