I was delighted to receive an invitation to attend the book launch of the posthumous autobiography of The Cannonball Kid himself, one Dave Hickson. The launch was held at the excellent, quirky pub Bridewell's just off Hanover Street in Liverpool city centre.

James Corbett had invited along some of Dave's team mates from the 1950s era, including Jimmy Harris and Derek Temple. Though I didn't manage to catch a few words with these magnificent Everton stalwarts, it was great to be in their company and to see them in such great health.

James Corbett welcomed everybody and spoke warmly of Dave and how much he enjoyed speaking with Dave in writing the book. Dave's family have insisted all royalties from the book (The Cannonball Kid) are to be donated to Dave's two favourite charities – the Everton Former Players Foundation and the Lilly Centre. Representatives from both charities also spoke some lovely words about Dave Hickson.

It was Reverend Harry Ross who stole the show however when speaking about the time he spent with Dave over the years. "Dave adored Everton" he said. "He would do anything for the club. He loved Everton. The club meant everything to him.

"When he had his heart attack in 2007 I went to visit him and when I saw him he said to me: 'Can you ask Bill (Kenwright) if I still have my job?' 'Of course you still have your job,' I told him, but that wasn't enough for Dave. He made me go back and ask Bill Kenwright. That's how much he cared about Everton."

If that wasn't heartwarming enough, Harry Ross nearly bought a tear to my eye with his tale of visiting Dave in his final days. "I got a call from the hospice in Chester to tell me that he was close to dying and I went to see him. I called Bill Kenwright who was so upset. Bill asked me to say something to Dave and so I bent forward and whispered in his ear: 'Thank you, Cannonball Kid.'"

It was a lovely book launch and it was amazing to be in the presence of such highly esteemed colleagues of Dave Hickson. The book itself is a superb read. What fascinates me most is how it captures what it was like playing football back then: the conditions, the pay, the contracts, the atmosphere at the grounds. It is all captured brilliantly and draws fascinating comparisons with the modern era.

It was a great start to the day... improved by the subsequent beating of Aston Villa in the afternoon, of course.

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Reader Comments (16)

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Dick Fearon
1 Posted 19/10/2014 at 21:44:26
At those times when skill is not enough, a leader is needed to show the way. Natural-born street fighters, Joe Royle, Mick Lyons, Duncan Ferguson, Tim Cahill and Davy Hickson may not have been blessed with sublime talent yet they were the beating heart of our club.

I raise my glass to those fellows whose blood sweat and tears kept alive the hopes and dreams of thousands.

Peter Mills
2 Posted 19/10/2014 at 22:10:09
Paul, I posted a comment on a different thread to express what a privilege it was to be there amongst such greats.

We are lucky to support such a club, no matter what happens on the pitch or in the boardroom.

Mike Childs
3 Posted 19/10/2014 at 23:45:04
As one from The States possibly spoiled by instant gratification, I always rag on Bill for his cheapness but I must applaud him for being there at the end showing the true spirit of the best football club in the world!
Ajay Gopal
4 Posted 20/10/2014 at 11:01:17
I feel blessed to support this football club, although never have I (yet) set foot inside Goodison Park! I am looking forward to the day...
Ajay Gopal
5 Posted 20/10/2014 at 11:04:33
Oh, and thank you, Paul, for this wonderful post.
Chris Jones [Burton]
6 Posted 20/10/2014 at 12:53:12
Blessed is right Ajay. Let's hope you are blessed further by being able to step into the temple of our footballing souls at the earliest opportunity.
Norman Merrill
7 Posted 20/10/2014 at 14:16:26
Fine words, Dick Fearon, I met Dave many times, one time will remain with me for ever.

My sister's boy died suddenly, age 33, leaving three sons who although living in Hampshire were Blues. I took them along to Goodison Park, for the tour that Dave used to lead, showing them the dressing rooms etc. They loved it, and Dave made it extra special, with his warm welcome.

It's always sad when we lose someone close; I'm sure all Evertonians felt that way when he passed away.

Peter Laing
8 Posted 20/10/2014 at 17:40:20
I had the pleasure to meet Dave on a couple of occasions, both at Goodison in the lounges and more memorably in the Winslow Hotel after a couple of derby wins against the old enemy.

The last time that I met Dave was in the Winslow after our last derby win at Goodison, Cahill and Arteta netting to seal a 2-0 win. Dave took over the microphone from the DJ and gave all those present a rousing speech which made the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

In an age when the word 'legend' is often used inappropriately, Dave Hickson was much more than that; he bled blue blood and epitomized why we are a grand old team to play for and a grand old team to support.

Tommy Davis
9 Posted 20/10/2014 at 21:14:29
Brilliant stuff, Paul T, thank you & also the other posters, for some great tales, which indeed make the hairs stand up on yer neck!

I never did meet Davey Hickson, although my brother did, who said he was as 'hard as nails', which is quite something coming from a former scrapper himself!

As Evertonians, we are indeed blessed to have been born and NOT manufactured into this great club... I will indeed die as an Evertonian & with a smile on my face, as I think of all the wonderful times that I have had & to think of the Cannonball Kid & W R Dean etc!

Rick Tarleton
10 Posted 21/10/2014 at 14:38:54
Hickson was my first Everton hero: he scored three (Parker scored four) against Plymouth in the promotion season (53-54), but it was Hickson whose flamboyant style captured my imagination. I really enjoyed Corbett's book and felt it captured the essence of the footballer and the man.

I've repeated this story a few times, but I asked Dave Hickson and Alex Parker for their autographs in Horton's Cafe in New Brighton. They were there with their wives/girlfriends on a Sunday afternoon and they were so nice to a 12-year-old fan.

I treasure that moment as much as meeting Dixie Dean, who my dad knew, in "the Dublin Packet". Footballers then were part of the community, not elite millionaires.

I cried when Hickson signed for Liverpool, I couldn't believe it.

Dave Abrahams
11 Posted 21/10/2014 at 19:33:58
Rick Tarleton

Davie only scored two versus Plymouth. YouÂ’re right: Parker scored four; Lindsay (pen) and Lello scored the others in an 8-4 victory.

Everton scored 20 goals in three matches: 6 versus Brentford and 6 versus Derby County and 8 versus Plymouth. I think the three games were consecutive.

Teddy Draper
12 Posted 22/10/2014 at 07:41:22
I have had the pleasure of seeing Dave play many times, as a boy, and young man. I wish those of you who never had that experience could have seen him: fast, rough, tough and gave his all, as if every game was his last. Thank you David Hickson, one of a kind.

Rick Tarleton
13 Posted 22/10/2014 at 11:19:54
Thanks, Dave, but it was Hickson who became my hero as a seven-year-old.
Dave Abrahams
14 Posted 22/10/2014 at 11:28:18

You couldnÂ’t have picked a better man.

Garry Corgan
15 Posted 22/10/2014 at 23:06:42
I wonder if the club will ever produce legends in the same vein as those of yesteryear...

I never met Dave Hickson, but did happen across him at Goodison in his later years. I could do nothing but tug my dad's coat excitedly saying, "Dad! Dad! That's Dave Hickson. That's Dave Hickson that is! Stood right there!" In the presence of greatness I felt like a kid but was actually 25 at the time...

Paul Roderick
16 Posted 24/10/2014 at 12:55:56

I believe you and my dad are cousins - my dad is Barry Roderick.

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