By the summer of 1994, at the age of 23, Duncan Ferguson appeared to have reached something of a crossroads in his career. Heralded as one of Scotland’s brightest young prospects, Ferguson drove his manager at Dundee United, Jim McLean, to distraction with his apparent lack of dedication. “I can’t keep him out of trouble,” he bemoaned regularly as Duncan became involved in some unsavoury altercations which necessitated regular appearances before the judiciary. The forward became a standard feature in the Scottish fanzine, The Absolute Game, whose cartoon covers depicted him as a layabout with a bottle of whisky in hand, appearing in front of a magistrate.
Yet Ferguson’s potential was frightening. In a declining United side, he scored 28 goals in 77 games, prompting Rangers to sign him for a British record fee of £4m in 1993 at the age of just 21. Frustratingly, his career in Glasgow never really took off.
During a league game in 1993, Ferguson appeared to have headbutted John McStay of Raith Rovers, an incident missed by match officials but caught on television. In a worrying precedent, the case was referred by the Strathclyde Police to the courts and he was charged with assault, receiving a three-month prison sentence pending an appeal. Unsurprisingly, his form suffered and he struggled to maintain his place in the side. The Scottish press seemed to derive pleasure in their continual demonising of the young man.
Meanwhile, despite manager Mike Walker’s best attempts, Everton narrowly escaped relegation at the end of the 1993/94 season. The new campaign showed no sign of improvement and the club languished at the bottom, scoring just seven goals in nine Premier League games. The need for a striker was obvious, especially as Walker, in all his wisdom, inexplicably decided to swap the previous season’s top scorer Tony Cottee for West Ham defender David Burrows.
On a fact-finding mission to Rangers to improve income streams, Everton chairman Peter Johnson concluded a loan deal with Rangers for both Ian Durrant and Ferguson to join Everton. Most Blues at the time believed Durrant to be an excellent choice but held deep reservations about Big Dunc. He certainly didn’t endear himself to supporters when he arrived at his unveiling sporting a bright red jacket, with the languid demeanour of a matchday scally. Durrant, however, had got the memo – he wore a blue.
In October 1994, Ferguson made his debut in a 1-0 defeat away to Crystal Palace. He didn’t score in his next four games and Walker was dismissed, allowing him to spend more time on his sunbed. Most Blues had concluded that Ferguson simply didn’t want to be at Everton after his uninspiring performances. Whilst he may have thought that his future lay with Rangers, despite all the positive noises from Ibrox, manager Walter Smith realised that his striker needed to escape from the goldfish bowl to fulfil his potential.
Everton appointed ex-club legend Joe Royle as manager at the start of November. The Toffees were anchored at the foot of the table with one win in 14 games, having accumulated a measly eight points. Relegation seemed a foregone conclusion and Liverpool were to visit Goodison on 24 November. The Gwladys Street faithful resigned themselves to a crushing defeat. If ever a club needed a hero to save their season, it was now.
Royle quickly appreciated what an asset Duncan could be. During training sessions, he noted that Ferguson’s aerial ability could cause defences problems given the right service. For the derby he recalled Andy Hinchcliffe to deliver those precision crosses. The pre-match analysis on Sky confirmed that a Liverpool victory would be the only logical outcome.
Few inside the ground knew that Ferguson was arrested for drink driving just two nights previously. Inexplicably, Everton accommodated him in the Moat House Hotel in the city centre with a multitude of temptations on his doorstep. At the time, a student in my Year 11 class completed her work experience there and regaled me with tales about this “mad Scotsman” who was having parties in his room every night.
He knew that he had let the club down and now needed to produce something exceptional on the pitch. Royle’s tactical changes saw a much-improved performance, although the Scotsman was struggling to impose himself on the game. Royle later admitted that he considered replacing him during the interval.
Just after half time, Neil Ruddock kicked him on the back of the legs “to show him who was boss.” It was like a red rag to a bull as suddenly Ferguson, incandescent with anger, wreaked havoc on the Liverpool defence. On 51 minutes, he rose majestically and bulleted a header just over the bar. Suddenly the crowd sensed an upset.
On 56 minutes, Hinchliffe delivered the perfect corner and Ferguson soared above Ruddock and David James to head the ball into the net and celebrated ecstatically in front of the Gwladys Street. He continued to torment the Reds defence, who simply couldn’t handle him, and with two minutes remaining, his challenge on the jittery James in goal led to Everton’s second from Paul Rideout. As he tried to leave the pitch, he was mobbed by jubilantly joyous Blues. Later that evening, he could be found in Kirkland’s Wine Bar celebrating with delirious Toffees.
Afterwards, Andy Gray stated on Sky: “I’ve said it all night, Duncan Ferguson has been a handful.” Joe Royle concurred: “Duncan went to war.” It was the display that transformed Everton’s season. Ferguson felt appreciated and loved. It was the night when Evertonians hailed a new hero. The club had been in the doldrums far too long, suddenly Big Dunc lifted the gloom.
Everton broke the British transfer record to make his loan signing permanent. The bigger the opposition, the more galvanised Ferguson appeared to be. The club shop was overwhelmed by the demand for Duncan t-shirts, which went flying off the shelves. A competition was held for fans to design a tattoo for him. By the end of the season, Everton avoided the drop and he was the proud owner of an FA Cup winners medal.
In October 1995, he became the first footballer to serve a jail term for on-pitch violence when he served a six-week sentence in the notorious Barlinnie Prison for the McStay incident. The injustice and futility of the draconian sentence rankled many outside of the game. Crucially, Everton succeeded in overturning a further 12-match suspension imposed by the Scottish FA.
Ferguson was touched by the support he received from the club hierarchy and the supporters and, when he returned to Goodison, a crowd of over 11,000 watched him play for the reserves.
Yet, problems of apparent indiscipline continued to plague him throughout his career. He shares the record for the highest number of Premier League red cards with Patrick Vieira, though there is a compelling case that with certain referees his reputation went before him, as demonstrated when Harrow schoolmaster David Ellary dismissed him for using “industrial language”. He also received a written admonishment from the FA after his winning goal against Manchester United in February 1995 for “excessive celebration”.
Ferguson displayed a passion for the club which has been sadly lacking in many of the monied mercenaries who have worn the shirt in recent times. Watching him in derbie – throwing Paul Ince to the ground or throttling Jason McAteer – was an exhilarating experience worth the admission price alone. In the 1990s, he played seven times against Liverpool and was never on the losing side.
The Scot never forgave his FA for their treatment and refused to play for the national team. Nevertheless, there was another side to Ferguson, the pigeon fancier who named one of them “Coisty” after Ally McCoist, his favourite player. He was a regular visitor to Alder Hey children’s hospital, making substantial donations without any publicity. He did his best to reduce crime in his area by hospitalising some unfortunate burglars who broke into this home.
Both Tony Adams and Steve Bruce named him as their most difficult opponent. On Match of the Day in April 1997, Alan Hansen admitted that he would not have been able to cope with him saying that he was “simply unplayable.”
Many never understood the adulation that Ferguson received but during Everton’s darkest days in the 1990s, he offered hope with his majestic displays. He was Everton’s top scorer in a poor side for two consecutive seasons, between 1996 and 1998, which enabled them to escape relegation by the narrowest of margins. His headed hat-trick against Bolton in December 1997 effectively kept Everton up and in turn sent the Trotters down.
Genuine cult heroes are hard to find these days but in a 48-hour period in November 1994, Ferguson was arrested for drink driving, had a girl waiting for him in his hotel room when he was released, scored his first goal for Everton in a derby match in front of the Street End, and spent the evening celebrating with fans in the city centre until the early hours. Needless to say, barring a miracle, we will never see the likes of him again. He’s the player who made watching Everton in the 90s worthwhile.
Reader Comments (88)
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1 Posted 13/09/2019 at 07:51:40
I remember being in the River end at Norwich, when a cross came into him from the right wing, I noticed there were only two defenders trying to mark him... I stood up and shouted GOAL before he even headed it. Needless to say it went in, and I was somewhat unpopular!
2 Posted 13/09/2019 at 08:35:31
At his best, he was “unplayable” if there was such a thing. Certainly unstoppable in the air. But they were few and far between and if anything showed unfulfilled potential and ultimately a career that never matched the talent.
Not even close to being a legend for me. Nil satis nisi optimum. How often did Duncan give his best?
3 Posted 13/09/2019 at 08:59:58
A little bit over the top in my opinion.
Duncan was a good player for us. He was unplayable on his day, which was one or two times a season generally. Half of the time though, he wasnt really bothered.
I think he scored around 70 goals for us in about 10 years, so hes not a legend in my eyes either. He was definitely a character and gave us something that we needed at the time. But I dont think he really fulfilled his potential. His movement wasnt good enough, and he was forever injured or suspended.
He gave us some great moments to look back on, but that was about it for me.
4 Posted 13/09/2019 at 09:52:35
Most people around me had chosen Man Utd, Liverpool or Blackburn. I wasn't sold on any of them. When I saw Ferguson's display against Liverpool, I could help but be drawn to Everton. I have supported the Blues since.
5 Posted 13/09/2019 at 10:02:39
In truth Duncan was a very limited striker. Too slow, not great at holding the ball up, not good enough in link up play and didn't have the striker's instinct so didnt score enough goals. Hampered by injury and seemed to only get "up" for the big matches. We should never have bought him back from Newcastle.
Grateful for the goals he scored against Liverpool and Man Utd - but didn't do enough week in week out for me.
6 Posted 13/09/2019 at 10:15:05
A player who regularly failed to turn up and put a performance in. When the cameras were on and he was playing Man Utd or Liverpool then he would show up. However away from home particularly, his form was atrocious and his attitude just as bad.
This was a player with huge ability, but with a weak mentality. He may have upset Razor Ruddock and Rio Ferdinand on a few occasions. But there were many occasions where he was made to look very average by very average players.
His discipline on the pitch was often terrible. Rather than play aggressively and maximise his physicality in a way that benefits the team, he went looking for trouble.
Andrei Kanchelskis has enough success vs Liverpool as Ferguson in my eyes. And he didn't throttle anybody.
I suppose when you are getting turned over every week then it is partial relief to have the side issue of an individual scrap to keep people entertained and show that the player ‘cares'. A lot of Evertonians seem to have placed a lot of value in this and therefore deem Ferguson a legend when in reality, he is anything but.
7 Posted 13/09/2019 at 10:46:18
Duncan is a legendary figure but not because of his footballing achievements rather more for his notoriety mixed in with some stellar displays and of course his undoubted love for the club.
His spell in Barlinnie which whilst he was guilty of unpleasant violent behaviour was a real case of victimisation and adds to the legend. A rough, hard character from Scotland, in trouble on and off the pitch, unfairly jailed, tales of drinking etc, banned from driving – it's quite a list but you then have a sterile period of poor results and ordinary players and Duncan gave us hope.
The Derby mentioned above when he turned into a monster after Ruddock did him, the winner against Man Utd and as the article says he tended to turn up for the big games and not the smaller ones.
That said, the game I remember him for was Bolton. Kendall made him captain and you could see the pride bursting out of him when he led the team out. I was there in the main stand with my best mates from school, all of us turned 40 and a couple of our sons came along too.
That was the day he was unplayable – scored all three goals and dragged the team to a vital win. I'm not sure but weren't we two up and then pegged back to 2-2 before he headed the winner and Myhre made a marvellous airborne save?
So in a way never a legend but in other ways more of a legend than most in that we will be talking about him in twenty years time regardless of why.
8 Posted 13/09/2019 at 11:11:05
9 Posted 13/09/2019 at 11:13:43
He proved his loyalty to this family and he is most probably part of the family now.
As for Duncan being a legend on the field not for me, if he has no regrets about his football career Id be very surprised, hes intelligent enough to know he should have made much more of his career than he did, very much more.
10 Posted 13/09/2019 at 11:19:03
He was on probation for an assault and then headbutted somebody in front of thousands of people.
A headbutt, especially one delivered with such force, cannot under any circumstances be considered a part of the physical side of the game. This was a man assaulting another man during a football game.
12 Posted 13/09/2019 at 11:28:06
As other have mentioned above 9 times out of 10 Ferguson was MIA, injured or suffering yet another ban. I never got the cult of Duncan I just always saw a ticking time bomb who would show up for the cameras and then be utterly atrocious more often than not.
Yet this is the guy who's now coaching Kean and DCL.
I certainly hope payers of his type never cross our doors again. A cult player definitely but a legend? That's an insult to players who deserve to be called legends.
13 Posted 13/09/2019 at 11:28:15
I'm not defending what he did and I'm not saying jail was not a suitable punishment but apart from Duncan every other player since I started watching football in 1963 has got away with violence on the pitch – premeditated in many cases- and therefore he was singled out.
14 Posted 13/09/2019 at 11:45:16
15 Posted 13/09/2019 at 11:57:42
Clearly he posed a risk to people as when he was out-muscled by McStay and didn't like it, he headbutted him.
Should he have gone to Jail? If that's what the Scottish criminal justice system deems appropriate for any person in these circumstances, then it can't be considered unfair.
16 Posted 13/09/2019 at 12:20:46
He played just under 15,907 minutes in the 10 seasons he was here. That is 176 full games out of a possible 380 - so less than half.
He scored once every 265 minutes so around 1 every 3 games. Graham Sharp scored every 257 and Paul Rideout every 265. Radzinski and Andy Johnson every 268. Rooney, every 250 minutes. So his scoring record when he was on the pitch was there with our other strikers over the last 30 years. It is only the likes of Lineker, Lukaku and Yakubu who are in a different level for scoring.
Joe Royle once talked about somebody becoming a Legend before they became a great player. It might have been Duncan but I can't remember.
I think what he did do was "excite" us. An Andy Hinchcliffe cross and Duncan comes steaming in and bullets a header taking out defender and goalkeeper at the same time. It was those times that got us out of our seats that made him the "legend".
17 Posted 13/09/2019 at 12:21:42
I think people regard him fondly because he scored some memorable goals against Utd and the RS. And because if you look at our 3 most enjoyable seasons between 1994 and 2005, he was there. Those seasons being 94/95 (FA Cup), 02/03 (Moyes first season when we finished 7th) and 04/05 (4th).
For me, I regard him now much like I do James McFadden. Totally different players but both compelling although often frustrating options as the 12th man with an ability to score memorable goals.
18 Posted 13/09/2019 at 12:31:05
If football is about dedication, doing a good job, being reliable, a steady player to keep the wheels of the business moving, knowing your place, Duncan was never going to be it.
Its, not. It's about entertainment, fight, passion, flashes of brilliance, beating adversity, offering hope, anticipation, swagger, joy! Duncan was that.
19 Posted 13/09/2019 at 12:40:46
Tommy, justice according to the law can often be unfair.
Phil, awesome research!
20 Posted 13/09/2019 at 12:51:36
No chance fella, there is absolutely no backward movement just a forward movement with his whole body, basically the definition of getting in someone's face.
The fact that he butted a busy just prior was probably the reason why it was so high profile and he got jail time.
But as stated above, Cantona high kicked a fan then started to try and deck him with punches and gets a match ban only.
He is a Legend to me, simply because without him I don't see how we would have stayed in the Premier League, him and Campbell saved us when we really needed them.
Also a winner of an FA Cup medal when we were a truly shocking side.
21 Posted 13/09/2019 at 13:32:16
I totally sympathise with both extremes of view when it comes to Ferguson. On the one hand, he was the bright light in a team that produced many dark days of football and he was at times absolutely 'unplayable'; the two goal haul at Old Trafford the season after the cup win, the derbies, the towering header at Highbury that crowned the introduction to MOTD, so imperious was his leap.
Then there are the darker memories of self-destruction; needless red cards such as after throttling Stefan Freund, losing a header to Dennis Wise who even had the temerity to rub it in with a cheeky wink, something that should never have happened in a month of Sundays. The red cards say a lot.
But I don't think it is fair to call him a 'limited footballer', perhaps 'footballer of limited effectiveness' would be fairer. His excellent skill and touch for the proverbial big man were often on display; the turn and volley against Wimbledon, the neat turns and finishes first against Utd then the near carbon-copy against the RS. I think even on his Newcastle debut he scored a blinding volley.
For all the reasons stated in previous posts, he doesn't quite make legendary status for me either - yet whilst it is certainly tempting to blame his lifestyle for him being frequently sidelined through injury, I recall that very late into his career he discovered some rare genetic condition that at least prompted a change in diet in an attempt to increase his longevity, I can't quite recall the details.
Off the pitch, I will always remember an anecdote from a Scottish friend and Rangers fan who thought the world of him. As a young nipper he had waited hours in the cold to catch a few autographs from his team after training. Last out was Ferguson, who asked the 'wee man' how he proposed to get home and then drove my mate to his house to get him out of the cold Glaswegian air.
It was for thoughtful gestures such as this that I think most fans remember Ferguson with such fondness, however entertaining or otherwise his antics could be.
22 Posted 13/09/2019 at 13:53:47
I'm of an age that Duncan was a big hero of mine. Anyone who was a teenager when Duncan arrived loved him and his goals, as someone put above, he was the bright light in those dark times. If he brought his A game, then we could beat anyone. He gave you hope that it would be the day and we'd win. And when we did win he gave you hope that he'd find some consistency and we'd climb the table. But, ultimately, he let me down too often and his halo lost it's shine for me.
That Bolton game was a perfect example of Duncan Ferguson. He was made captain for the first time by Howard Kendall. And I recall my conversation at half-time. Why does it take the armband for him to perform like that? And then after 60 minutes he was done. He could barely walk he was so tired. Hands on hips "blowing for tugs". The guy was clearly unfit, which is ludicrous for a professional. That game was the most Duncan ever ran, and clearly he was only fit enough to do so for 60 minutes. So what did he do in training all week?
He was a man who promised much, but ultimately delivered little and left me feeling very let down by what should have been. Sure he might "love the blues", and I don't deny that, but I would like to think someone who truly loved the blues would give a lot more to the cause.
23 Posted 13/09/2019 at 14:07:19
As for the footballer, again some revisionist notions about his record. In the time he played for us, we were mostly extremely poor. Who else up front was tearing it up for us? Campbell sure, contributed hugely. But who else? Madar, Bakayoko, Spencer, Jeffers? Nah behave! In what were very barren years for us, I think his record stands up.
Sure, compare him to today's ultimate professional and clean living guys... he falls down. Yet he has contributed to some long-lasting memories which the crop of the last decade have got nowhere near achieving.
24 Posted 13/09/2019 at 14:19:34
First, his football ability. Rightly recognized as being virtually unplayable in the air, focusing on his height and prodigious leap only ignores what he was capable of with the ball at his feet. He was much more technically gifted than many acknowledge.
Against that, during his playing days, you have to question his dedication and commitment to training, keeping himself fit and delivering consistently on the pitch.
Now he had his moments. He was our talisman in some very dark days. I can understand perfectly how, for a certain generation, he is afforded cult 'legend' status.
Even some of his red cards - undermining the team on the day - were so memorable that you can only laugh at them. His jail sentence was extremely harsh. Much, MUCH worse has been committed on the football field in full view of the all-seeing TV eye. Perversely, the way Everton stood by him at the time, cemented even further the bonds with the player and fans.
It would appear the man has greatly mellowed with the passing of the years. He himself recognizes he should have achieved more with the talents he had.
But worthy of the moniker Everton legend? Not for me. He wouldn't get into my top 4-5 Everton teams down the ages. But I still have a fondness for many of the moments he did give us and even though I've never met him, I do like Duncan the man.
25 Posted 13/09/2019 at 14:54:34
Players' importance and status sometimes seem to be elevated with time and I think that's happened in this instance, IMO. Legend? No.
Unforgettable character? Most certainly.
26 Posted 13/09/2019 at 15:10:34
What most would agree is that he was someone whom the fans found as a focal point, to rally for, especially during 10 plus years in the doldrums.
Many would agree that he didn't play to his fullest potential. What I think gets overlooked was that the main cause of his injuries (calf) was down to a sciatic nerve in his back. And that was only diagnosed late in his career.
Quite a fair bit was written about how he played through the pain barrier, and being in constant pain, I can imagine that it affects anyone's overall approach towards the game.
I agree that his knockdown was often not picked up by a fellow teammate, though it's arguable who should be faulted for that, ie, players who can anticipate the second ball, or do we expect the target man to always knock it down accurately to their teammates.
He has no small skill, and is able to control the ball quite well for a player of his size. This is actually acknowledged by many players, teammates and opposition.
Nevertheless, it is probably true that he wasn't as dedicated to the game, and only came to realisation towards the end of his career, that he could have done better.
27 Posted 13/09/2019 at 15:31:39
28 Posted 13/09/2019 at 15:46:44
29 Posted 13/09/2019 at 15:54:35
But as for Duncan, he was a good player that came when we couldn't attract any decent players but as for being worthy of his status as a special player, not for me.
30 Posted 13/09/2019 at 16:24:28
How the SFA and judicial system treated him was at the time, the finest advert for any young Scot wanting to live without the threat of injustice from old boys networks and corrupt institutions to upsticks and leave the country.
Fast forward to the end, I love him for the 2 goals away at Forest in 1998 ( A game I was lucky to get out alive from the Forest end) and then to the grand finale, A winner away at Norwich and the goal v Man United that gave us the belief we could finish 4th that year. The Champions League qualifier was clearly his last hurrah, he knew it, we knew it, Collina blew it.
31 Posted 13/09/2019 at 16:56:59
Not one of the posts so far has mentioned the amount of charity work he would do. How he would pop into the Wilmslow after a game and buy all Evertonians a pint. How he was so genuine to his own principles of not taking shit from anyone including the SFA and some wannabe hard cases like Ince and Ruddock.
Tommy, I don't know what age you are but I have yet to see you post anything positive about any player or the club. Get a life man. Nobody is perfect but some people should be appreciated for their contribution to life.
Duncan will always be remembered fondly by me and I grew up on Alex Young, Roy Vernon and big Joe so I have seen some great players in my lifetime.
32 Posted 13/09/2019 at 17:10:56
As for his career, on his day he was unplayable. superb in the air, and a very good first touch on the ground... but 'what's seldom is wonderful', we didn't see enough of it. Sadly he was too lazy, a lot of his injuries were probably due to his fitness regime, or lack of it.
33 Posted 13/09/2019 at 17:27:32
34 Posted 13/09/2019 at 17:27:47
Which made so much of his career with us a disappointment- we knew he was capable of producing more than he usually did. Some of his bookings and sendings-off also seemed dubious, the famous one at Leicester occurring in a fairly tame game. It almost seemed pre-meditated.
I have also heard stories of his great generosity, and it may be that behind the scenes he dispenses some wisdom to the younger players.
So, a mixed bag. A good Everton character rather than a legend.
35 Posted 13/09/2019 at 17:49:30
36 Posted 13/09/2019 at 19:11:24
There are a few references above to him not being arsed in some games and quite correct too in my opinion, but I can't recall true legends like Bally, Brian Labone, Reidy not being arsed - ever. I've nothing against Big Dunc but maybe he just came around at a time when we we're looking for a character to lead the line, and let's face it we Blues often have a thing about our big centre forward.
On reflection, that last sentence wasn't very well constructed but I think you know what I mean!
37 Posted 13/09/2019 at 19:28:04
38 Posted 13/09/2019 at 19:42:06
Mine is Dunc! Hero and legend in my eyes despite lots of logical reasons why not!
Probably my age!! Teenager in the 90s!
39 Posted 13/09/2019 at 19:52:18
Most would also agree he was a very good player and a shining light in dark times. It's just he simply doesn't deserve "Legend" status and to be at the level of Dixie Dean, Alans Ball and Young, Howard Kendall, Neville Southall, and other true legends. Perhaps "Icon" would be a better term as he was a standout player of the 90s (alongside Kanchelskis and Southall).
40 Posted 13/09/2019 at 20:21:29
For me, nowhere near a legend, great header of a ball and didn't have a bad left foot but he had just as many faults as he had good things about his game.
41 Posted 13/09/2019 at 20:25:42
What I particularly remember about him was the weight he would put on his passes. So few footballers even at the top level do it as naturally as he did, he reminded me of Rooney in that respect.
42 Posted 13/09/2019 at 20:43:09
I know you're right and I'm pretty level headed except when talking about Big Dunc!! Haha!
43 Posted 13/09/2019 at 21:00:03
To younger blues it might be Duncan and fair play. I have often said that I hoped that my views were not too entrenched to change.
Big Dunc, Everton legend to some. I guess the man would settle for that. Who wouldn't?
44 Posted 13/09/2019 at 21:20:49
45 Posted 13/09/2019 at 21:55:08
I would prefer to be in a team of Fergusons than a team of cowards like Shearer.
46 Posted 13/09/2019 at 21:55:36
Reid, Cahill, Hibbert, Southall… I could go on. But Duncan — ffs get real. No doubt he loves the club but he was and still is making a good living off it.
47 Posted 13/09/2019 at 22:03:02
Maybe at the front of a queue in a chippy perhaps.
48 Posted 13/09/2019 at 22:14:32
To me he was neither a legend nor a character, but an embarrassment. When invited to meet him on my first visit to Goodison, I politely declined. Perhaps if I had grown up with the club, I would feel differently.
And if in fact he has become a fine coach and a great what-not-to-do example to the young players at Everton, full credit to him. But on the question of his playing career, I'm with Tommy and Daniel A. He's one I prefer to forget.
49 Posted 13/09/2019 at 22:27:38
That guy would fearlessly stick his head in anywhere if he had a chance to score. Fought through bad injuries. Never shirked or backed down. Always stepped up in the big games.
Exemplary for his charity work and outspoken advocacy about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in footballers. No lack of courage there.
50 Posted 13/09/2019 at 22:48:46
As a 40-year-old now (15 then) that season was unbelievable but the icon without doubt was Duncan Ferguson – he was a class above. I even snuck into a hotel party with team straight after the 95 FA Cup Final and he was great then - as to be fair were Stuart and Limpar (Limpar was taking the mick a lot out of Stuart for missing the sitter in the game!)
The 95-96 season didn't he start on fire and score two crackers against Man Utd away. He was just class.
Against Liverpool – they would shit themselves with him in the team – better beat them not just through skill but sheer will power & personality.
Bolton – everybody's commented but does everybody not remember when Moyes came in – we were on our knees, just been humbled by Middlesbrough in cup, and he was immense once Moyes came in and Big Dunc was instrumental in keeping us up, scoring vital goals and winning us many points.
When we came 4th – it was that game at home against Man Utd which to my mind was decisive. That's the one that stands out more than any other to me. Man U were a real top team but Ferguson rolled back years and literally terrified their whole back line, most notably “hard man” Ferdinand who didn't want to know and shit himself and Tim Howard was perplexed at how somebody could get away with bodychecking him when trying to start an attack! Even in short period of Champions League qualifiers - he turned a hopeless cause around at great team away in Villarreal - inexplicably ruled out by bent ref/UEFA - again Ferguson at the centre of a vital part of our club history - that game is legendary as too is Ferguson.
Other notable items - yes his sending offs - sometimes so frustrating but sometimes hilarious - punching some Wigan player in ribs and dropping him - grabbing that shit Freund by throat at Filbert St and nearly popping the guys' eyes out.
Others writing him off as a legend as didn't always turn up, being unprofessional at times fair enough. However, writing him off as a legend as not good enough unlike Ball, Labone, Southall I think are missing the point. It's not down to how good you are.
To me, can't remember anybody else that gave me such fabulous memories in our last 25 year average period. Sorry liked people like Jagielka, Baines, Arteta but legend - none of them for me / Ferguson was a legend and yes he could definitely play. Almost all the top legendary games we he had in last 25 years all include Ferguson. The fact that may be an indictment on how shit we have been does not change the fact he is undoubtedly a legend.
Oh and finally to challenge view that would we put up with a player like him now - another legendary point about him - despite horrific injuries - he never once got a trainer on pitch in all his time with us - not once. Personally o find that amazing particularly when comparing it with pansy cry baby sissies we have on pitch diving around faking injuries nowadays
51 Posted 13/09/2019 at 23:11:48
52 Posted 13/09/2019 at 23:35:14
I also feel lucky to have witnessed a little bit of the Duncan magic at first hand on a couple of occasions. Living in Notts, I used to dread the annual stick I would get from Forest fans at school following the regular defeat at the City Ground. Duncan, however, put paid to all those memories.
Sat in a supposely 'neutral' section of the main stand, I witness Duncan tear into Forest to the disdain of the Forest fans around me.
A brilliant low drive into the corner, followed by a wonderful diving header left me delirious, jumping for joy. Only to be told by a reds fan to stop it. My reply was "But I'm completely neutral." This was followed swiftly by "You will be in a minute!"
Duncan was a legend as a player and a man. I wrote to him whilst he was serving his prison sentence and was astonished to receive a reply from him a couple of months later. He loves the club and the fans and, speaking for the majority I believe, we love him too. Thank you, Duncan, for helping to make the ‘90s Everton a team worth watching.
53 Posted 13/09/2019 at 23:39:57
What a ridiculous comment from #45
54 Posted 13/09/2019 at 00:00:26
Anyone remember a Man Utd game where hardman Roy Keane ever turned up being a hardman while Ferguson was playing? Nope – me neither. Soft lad Keane shit himself every time against Ferguson.
Ferguson struck fear into every opposition whether he played well or not. The Dogs of War team with Royle was my favourite I've witnessed (I was 8 last time we won the league). It was the team not to be messed with and Ferguson carried that on.
Ferguson unfortunately played in the wrong era. We'd have loved him in his prime in the same team as Arteta, Pienaar and Cahill in their prime, sadly he was surrounded by Blomqvist, Alexandersson and Simon Davies!!!!
How we'd love him back for derby games now. It wouldn't be knives to a gunfight with him back in the team.
To me, he is the only player since Watson and Southall (possibly with the addition of Cahill) who truly deserves to be called a legend of the club.
And finally, how many coaches do you see who started out coaching for free like Ferguson did. He never demanded a wage for coaching, instead he learnt his trade for nothing at the club he loves.
55 Posted 13/09/2019 at 00:03:38
56 Posted 14/09/2019 at 00:13:38
57 Posted 14/09/2019 at 00:13:38
He was loyal to fat Sam, not quite loyal enough to fall on his sword along side him. Hang in there, legend, this club still owes you.
58 Posted 14/09/2019 at 00:20:03
He really does divide opinion. Kevin, as an afterthought to my last post, I get your point.
59 Posted 14/09/2019 at 00:23:00
60 Posted 14/09/2019 at 00:32:43
After January, he scored just a single league goal, albeit a brilliant one against Man Utd. But where were his goals in the run-in? Especially important considering that it wasn't until the Ipswich game in May that we were mathematically safe.
61 Posted 14/09/2019 at 02:49:35
62 Posted 14/09/2019 at 08:24:47
63 Posted 14/09/2019 at 09:18:59
64 Posted 14/09/2019 at 09:37:31
Duncan played his part that night, at the wake, bringing round trays of food and bottles of beer, just another guest paying his respect to a lovely lady and her family.
Duncan easy to like as a man, but sorry Dunc a great player at times but not a legend.
65 Posted 14/09/2019 at 10:52:28
In the summer of 2005 I was lucky enough to see an Everton pre-season training session.
I was astonished to see how superb an athlete Ferguson was. He outsprinted most and led the way in terms of the stamina and long distance running.
The issue with Ferguson was focus, attitude and motivation. The fact was he couldnt perform against the lesser teams unless he involved himself in a personal battle.
66 Posted 14/09/2019 at 11:20:26
67 Posted 14/09/2019 at 11:46:15
68 Posted 14/09/2019 at 11:53:47
Shearer was a phenomenal player.
There can be absolutely no dispute about that
70 Posted 14/09/2019 at 12:36:51
Joe Royal and the talismanic Ferguson did that. Whatever people think of his ability or private life the fact is thousands sang his name every week knowing that on his day we had a chance of beating anyone. No knives to a gunfight with Big Joe and Duncan leading the line.
71 Posted 14/09/2019 at 13:12:09
72 Posted 14/09/2019 at 13:26:28
I absolutely despised him & Newcastle. there was begrudging respect there in that tirade if you look hard enough. Seriously get a magnifying glass!
73 Posted 14/09/2019 at 14:41:34
Whilst he scored some great goals and galvanised against the RS and Manxs, on many occasions, its hard to justify in my view, the term “Legend”, as this is for me out of context.
He brought hope and belief and we are forever thankful, but Talisman, for me is more fitting of his playing days for EFC.
74 Posted 14/09/2019 at 18:16:32
Wasted talent? Definitely!
75 Posted 14/09/2019 at 19:33:08
76 Posted 14/09/2019 at 20:09:01
"Where were his goals during the (94-95) run-in?"
Wasn't he recovering from a hernia operation during that run-in? Even those who regard him as a legend wouldn't claim he could score from a hospital bed!
77 Posted 14/09/2019 at 20:19:08
Lukaku bettered that in 4 seasons; Salah will beat that in 2.5 seasons. Even strikers no-one talks about – like Alan Smith for Arsenal, David Hirst for Sheffield Wednesday – will have scored more.
Not a legend whatsoever (in my humble opinion).
78 Posted 14/09/2019 at 20:51:14
And you brought the L-word into it.
79 Posted 15/09/2019 at 04:10:48
Comments from people like Mike Gaynes... "I politely declined to meet him" just piss me off. (Who the hell are you?)
When it comes to "proud Evertonians" you will do well to meet one prouder than Duncan Ferguson.
How do you go to Goodison Park and "politely decline" to meet Duncan Ferguson?
80 Posted 15/09/2019 at 04:23:01
Well done, mate. That is a wholly accurate description of who Duncan Ferguson was and a certain "Legend" in my eyes! And I agree wholeheartedly with what you have said.
82 Posted 16/09/2019 at 10:39:04
Quite honestly, whenever I see his name anywhere the words just automatically remind me of one of the many things that is wrong with this club. Talisman during a very rough decade; maybe, but never a legend.
83 Posted 16/09/2019 at 16:24:04
Post another one please! We need a distraction.
84 Posted 17/09/2019 at 07:47:38
It was beautiful and beastly all at the same time.
I understand all the criticism of the man but to my generation (I had just turned 13 when we signed Dunc) he was the best we had and the best we'd ever seen (on his day).
The 1990s were dark times.
85 Posted 24/09/2019 at 02:27:08
Early match reports actually record a promising start. Ok, no goals, but a positive impact all the same, a focal point, dominant in the air, no slouch on the ground. Like Everton in that awful run, unlucky really. Playing better than the lack of goals or points might indicate. His debut was indeed Portsmouth away, with Coventry at home his league bow. Behind the scenes, talk was of a lively young lad who, with his pal Durrant, had an immediate positive impact on the dressing room. Durrant later spoke of the bitter disappointment he felt at not being kept on by Walker as the club's position was false, team spirit good in the circumstances and a change in fortunes imminent. Then came Joe Royle.
Ferguson was outstanding in the second half of that derby game. The catalyst in scoring THAT goal for our survival that season and our FA Cup win to boot. A few goals less, but one winners' medal more and no Everton appearances in the second tier, by comparison to swashbuckling, firebrand, no stranger to a dismissal but undoubted Everton legend the Cannonball Kid, may he rest in peace (doubt he is, I bet he's having an absolute ball bless him).
Duncan was brilliant that season in games versus Leeds (h), Chelsea (a), Palace (h) - when he had a goal wrongly chalked off because the referee refused to believe he could have out-jumped a Nigel Martyn's punch to flick the ball home. He would've had a hat-trick had it stood.
I remember him swivelling to sweep a brilliantly weighted pass into Bugsy Burrows' path for the left back to drive inches wide as Everton ran riot, Duncan at the heart of everything - Norwich (h) in the FA Cup, rattling his goal in off the underside of the bar, Newcastle (h) in the FA Cup, does anyone have a recording of this game? I'm sure he hit a volley on the run from the left touchline, some 40+ yards out onto the roof of the Gwladys Street net.
Who said he contributed nothing to the cup run, by the way? Climbed off his sickbed to face Derby in the 3rd round, not bad for a lazy get. Man Utd (h) what a goal, what a celebration, Liverpool (a), all this at 23, with a prison sentence looming, two (in those days) enormous transfer fees hanging over him, plus the injuries which dogged his career and I can't believe were all lifestyle based.
At £4.4m he was our record signing, Chris Sutton at £5m was the British record, which Duncan had been when moving to Rangers. Beyond that debut season, sure, a lot went wrong for Duncan and a lot went wrong for Everton. He started 1996-97 like a man possessed, fit and raring to go for Newcastle (h), Man Utd (a), but within weeks I was at Selhurst Park for my 17th birthday to see Speed, Kanchelskis, Ferguson, etc turned over 4-0. We were lucky to get nil.
Key moments in the mess that was 97-98 include of course the Bolton hat-trick and a vintage battling display against Leeds (h). I remember him celebrating his or a Hutchison's goal like a man possessed, just bouncing for joy. He started well, established as captain for a month under Smith until my 18th birthday was ruined by his being sold. I was almost physically sick.
The moments he had in his time at Newcastle only further illustrated the precocious ability he possessed. The emotions when he returned were understandably mixed. Twitter would have been ablaze. I was at university in Bath and almost jumped on a train just to be there. I wish I had.
His second home debut goals against Charlton proved another false dawn and, again in the image of the creaking, ailing club around him and the pain he was obviously in, unable to leap quite as prodigiously as before. I remember the delight when he finally crashed home a couple of trademark headers some months, years even, into his second spell in ding-dongs at Norwich and home to Bolton. THAT goal against Utdd in April 2005, securing 4th.
A vintage display in a 4-0 hammering of Palace just days before where he didn't score, just held the Palace backline to account and made space for his aerial apprentice Tim Cahill and baby striker James Vaughan to take the accolades.
The Collina moment. The drama of the last-minute penalty rebound on his farewell appearance. The tears. Every moment he stuck it to them lot, or Man United. He was a cracking footballer. A talisman. Without him, I wonder where we would be right now...
He's on a par with Hickson for me. He could have achieved so much more, but the reasons why he didn't go far beyond lifestyle choices which many a player if his era made and got away with as has rightly been highlighted. Duncan Ferguson has lived with a media created cloud hanging over him since he was barely 20 years of age. Blend in the adulation us Evertonians, crying out for a hero as we were. Desperate for some hope, a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. He was brilliant.
To this day, he suffers scrutiny like few before him. Anyone reel off as many or more specific games, moments in games as I've mentioned above without turning to the record for players considered undisputed legends by our fanbase. Please. I'd be fascinated to hear about them, honestly.
Sure, he was flawed, like we are, Everton Football Club was in turmoil for much of his playing career regardless of his contribution or lack of, but he was ours. And on his day he truly was, yep, unplayable.
86 Posted 24/09/2019 at 14:37:39
Cult hero ? Without question.
Legend ? I suppose that depends on your point of view.
He was a very, very generous man away from the pitch ; he bought me a drink in the Retro on my 21st. A can of Hooch.
He was wearing a champagne bucket on his head at the time.
87 Posted 27/09/2019 at 14:16:39
The stand out colourful moments from a decade of drab mediocrity were almost all him. I think we should all be grateful.
88 Posted 28/09/2019 at 20:52:39
You can bet your life, had Duncan stayed at Rangers, he would not have got a prison sentence.
89 Posted 30/09/2019 at 14:30:30
The full 90 minutes with the original BBC commentary. Barry Davies and Trevor Brooking.
I watched it a couple of months ago, great game and the atmosphere was electric.
90 Posted 03/10/2019 at 20:07:45
He refused to take a penalty in a shootout with Sunderland in League Cup, when he was captain and our centre-forward. He held the club to ransom, when we hadn't a pot to piss in, Injured far too often, cultivated his hard man image at the expense of the club and teammates. He retired to Marbella, when he had money, but came back when he was busted, where else could he go.
He got a testimonial, when others deserved and merited one. Why did he get one? His goal scoring record was fucking abysmal, he has parasited from the club for far too long. His defenders say he does great PR work for the club. That is what he's getting paid for, to turn up at supporters houses and to pretend he actually fucking cares. If he had any money left he'd be back sunning his arse in sunny Spain. When a player can do what he could do versus RS or Man Utd but not scratch his bollox v the others, well then that's called cheating your employer.
'Legend'? — My fucking hole. Parasite and cheat, that's what I remember.
91 Posted 03/10/2019 at 20:48:17
Like Unsworth, Drunken Disorderly has never been employed by any other football club, and in his case not even Oldham Athletic have ever even tried to sign him. That's probably due to scores of players, having been subject to his "coaching", afterwards stating to subsequent clubs that he's fucking last.
As is his guardian, Kenwright.
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