During this period, there have been many heroes in Royal Blue and it doesn’t need me to give a list as we all have our favourites. Watching Alex Young in the early sixties counts for me as a privilege. Such a gentle twirling genius.
However, what footballers over the years make your hair stand on end? Who made you jump out of your seat and cheer at a simple movement? There were very few of them. People will point at Rodney Marsh, Stan Bowles and Paul Gascoigne. If you speak to Man City fans, who have been well provided for in the world-class player count, they still rave over Georgi Kinkladze. It’s the exciting unpredictability of a player that brings out the heart-thumping moments.
For me, it will always be Duncan McKenzie. His Everton career only spanned two seasons, between 1976 and 1978, and he made 48 appearances, scoring 14 goals. He was signed by Billy Bingham, who unfortunately was sacked a month later and replaced by the much-maligned Gordon Lee.
Lee never fancied McKenzie as a striker and preferred the more hard-working but less entertaining Jim Pearson. I did however see every one of Duncan’s games at Goodison Park and quite a few of the away games, including the Wembley appearances. He was wonderful to watch, an absolute gem who could do things with the ball that made you gasp out loud.
When his name is brought up, people speak about the Stoke City FA Cup game at Goodison Park in January 1977 as an example of his skills. There is a very brief YouTube clip of his famous dribble across the pitch, evading tackle after tackle. I was at that game and that clip doesn’t show a fraction of his contribution that day.
Apart from scoring the second goal, he mesmerised the Stoke defence who simply couldn’t get near him. After one piece of flicking artwork on the right wing, the whole of Bullens Road rose as a man to applaud him. A recording of the game was shown on ITV’s Sunday football show and the pundit for the programme was Tommy Smith (Liverpool player as a pundit? Shock horror!).
Man of the Match was clearly Duncan and an incredulous Gerald Sinstadt couldn’t believe it when Tommy Smith picked Andy King. He even asked him why not Duncan? Smith made some disparaging remark, either he didn’t like fancy pants players or calling him a clown, I can’t remember.
Duncan got his revenge on Smith in the FA Cup semi-final later that year when he ran rings around him, scoring one goal and laying on the other. The game is always remembered for the Clive Thomas decision to disallow what would have been the match-winning goal, filling Evertonians with ever-lasting anger.
I prefer to recall the efforts of Duncan McKenzie that day with a sublime performance of skill and beauty. I can still see one perfect moment, when the ball came at him, standing on the half-way line. Smith was hard up against his back. Duncan made a stamping movement on the ball, which ran up the front of his chest, over his head and away he went. Smith was still looking the other way...
That was what I meant by heart-thumping moments. Not seen anything like that since. Watching the blues over this period means of course seeing Royle, Latchford, Ball, Reed, Sheedy, Steven et al and, in more recent times, I cannot ignore Rooney. None of them have got me light-headed like Duncan did.
A postscript to this is that, in January 1979, my wife gave birth to our first son. Because of our surname (McDonald) she said it would be nice if we could keep the Scottish connection when choosing his first name. I suggested Duncan (she has no interest in football) and she said "What a great idea!" I couldn’t believe my luck.
He is often asked where his name comes from and he wearily tells people that his dad is an Everton fan. They forget to do the maths (he is 42) and assume it's Duncan Ferguson. You’d be surprised by the number of people who have never heard of the original.
The great man is 71 in June and, I believe still in demand as an after-dinner speaker. I last saw him in one of Goodison’s lounges, hosting pre-match entertainment. An early Happy Birthday from me, Duncan!
Reader Comments (70)
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1 Posted 25/03/2021 at 19:12:34
I'm now just as vocal but do always have that half a second pause I wish I had engaged back then haha
2 Posted 25/03/2021 at 19:18:05
3 Posted 25/03/2021 at 19:42:41
4 Posted 25/03/2021 at 19:47:45
5 Posted 25/03/2021 at 19:50:06
I have a more senior cousin who would absolutely agree with you on Duncan. My only question, and I don't mean to be provocative; was he a shining light in a relative dark period in the context of where we were late 70s? Similar to how I imagine some of the younger generation view Tim Cahill and Duncan Ferguson?
Anyway, to your question:
"However, what footballers over the years make your hair stand on end? Who made you jump out of your seat and cheer at a simple movement"?
This will be generational, so I say Kevin Sheedy. Repetition time for me, but forget the free kicks, forget how he slowed down the game in a cauldron of pressure to set up the 3rd and decisive goal against Bayern Munich. A simple moment of magic was his holding play with a Norwich defence in front of him, considering his options and then lobbing a deliberately scooped pass over the Norwich back line for the on-running Adrian Heath to get behind them and pounce. Genius; I won't steal Duncan's magic!
I'll throw in a total random and not very obvious one in the spirit of not being an 80s happy clapper. Peter Beardsley. Back to my shining light in dark times. A player who could do wonderful things with a football along with his movement and vision off it. Played in such a poor team he was always one step ahead of them. He didn't play poor passes, it was just the players around him were not able to read the game he was seeing.
6 Posted 25/03/2021 at 19:50:11
Jimmy 1, If I remember correctly the pitch was frozen in various areas and made the game a bit of a lottery. Cant say I heard your shrill voice though!
When Duncan (after being sold) returned to Goodison playing for Chelsea he received a fantastic ovation, the fans idolised him and rightly so. A very special talent.
7 Posted 25/03/2021 at 19:50:29
I particularly recall the game in which Clive Thomas disallowed the Hamilton goal, where McKenzie made Smith look a lumbering oaf. An incident that sticks out is a goal kick, the ball dropping toward the centre-circle, Smith marking McKenzie tightly. The ball falls toward the pair, McKenzie manages to trap the ball dead without it even hitting the ground, Smith lunges towards the ball that McKenzie has glued to his foot, McKenzie flicks it over his shoulder, turns, traps the ball again, and speeds off, leaving Smith flailing about in his wake. It was a beautiful and typical piece of play by McKenzie, who looked to be on a completely different level from the workmanlike and often foul-playing Smith.
Danny@5: I certainly dont recall the 70s being a ‘dark period, apart from Everton not winning any trophies. It was a fantastic decade, albeit one which is currently subject to a lot of false, naive and fashionable historical revisionist bullshit.
8 Posted 25/03/2021 at 19:54:45
9 Posted 25/03/2021 at 19:58:10
Much more importantly, Ill always remember his kindness to our family when he gave his services to a charity we established in the 90s. He was superb at at a couple of Sportmens Dinners we organised, even drafting in his pal the late Neil Midgeley, the referee, who was a magnificent as a Master of Ceremonies.
Happy birthday Duncan.
10 Posted 25/03/2021 at 20:01:19
But after a moment I did recognize him -- from his career-ending stint with my beloved Chicago Sting. He was only a bit past 30 then but clearly at the end of the road, albeit his dazzling skills were still in evidence. I still remember a goal he laid on for Karl-Heinz Granitza with a no-look flicked backheel past a surprised defender's head.
Our 2017 conversation was delightful -- what a charming, funny guy -- and we found out that during his time in Chicago he had lived walking distance from my family home.
Thanks for this,Tony.
11 Posted 25/03/2021 at 20:01:24
I agree, when you look at it we weren't a bad team and generally finished in high positions in the league with some great moments.
I suppose it was possibly akin to a modern day Manchester United not winning the league for almost a decade. Everton at the time had been relatively unsuccessful in comparison to the 60s so there was frustration amongst older supporters as I recall it (caveat young).
I remember being on the tube travelling away from Wembley in 1984 after the FA Cup and a more senior Evertonian crying to himself, singing / muttering "14 years" given that was the wait he'd had for a trophy. How we / the younger generation would crave that.
12 Posted 25/03/2021 at 20:04:02
13 Posted 25/03/2021 at 20:15:08
Duncan was a hugely talented showman...Smith however was a win at all cost merchant who played with several others of that ilk..One went on to win every trophy there was to win. The other had to be content with the eternal love of his fans.
Three things happened that day which will stay with me forever. One is Duncan leaving Smith for dead, one is that fucken awful decision from Clive Thomas..The other is the serious kicking me and about 50 other scousers (Half of that fifty were Kopites ) took from about a hundred angry locals in a betting shop in Moss side.. But thats a story for another time - Perhaps Casho can come back and explain why he came home without a scratch while everyone else looked like they had been in a road accident
Back to the OP
Marsh, Bowles, Kinkladze and Gazza.
You put our boy in the company of some of the games great est showmen there Tony. You are right to do so. He belongs there
14 Posted 25/03/2021 at 20:23:32
The rs players were getting off their coach at the motel, so my pal decided it was a good idea to wind down the window and bellow out the “Duncan McKenzie is magic” song. To be fair, the players laughed. Apart from Tommy Smith, who came running at us!
The lights turned green and the old van went from 0-60 in a manner I thought was impossible.
15 Posted 25/03/2021 at 20:30:34
Would have been nice if the picture has shown him in and Everton shirt rather than that of Chelsea .
16 Posted 25/03/2021 at 20:32:24
17 Posted 25/03/2021 at 20:41:51
18 Posted 25/03/2021 at 21:20:15
On the "D" of the penalty box amidst a maelstrom of players and with his back to goal he got his heel UNDERNEATH a ball momentarily resting atop the grass. His "backheel" looped over the defenders dropping perfectly for someone to run onto and score.
Nobody moved, time stopped. Players, supporters, police horses all gasped in unison creating a pressure differential sucking the mersey up 6ft.
Now, as years have passed my rational side understands much of this is impossible in particular the idea you can get your heel underneath a static football and lift it in the air . but I saw it, I really did.
We loved him because he was the last of the mohicans when Alan Ball left NSNO left but for a fleeting moment the magic man brought it back. We've had nothing like him since
19 Posted 25/03/2021 at 21:40:57
20 Posted 25/03/2021 at 21:47:49
I was in the boys pen, next to Bill, and Duncan gave us a wink and a sly grin before trotting over to Lurch and high-fiving him.
Who else was at that game? After that he became the stuff of legend. A living deity in my book!
21 Posted 25/03/2021 at 21:53:56
Ive had a few good footy debates over the years with Duncan about EFC, then, now and the game in general. Top player and sportsman.
All considered, I dont think the aura and atmosphere of those days at Goodison, can be be brought back, its got close but it set a template of what could be achieved and with a bit more luck...
But hopefully BMD, will provide the platform to bring them days back.
Chips in the newspaper, the slow walk home, stench of Higsons, the bookies Time waits for no one..
To beat Palace now is the must do.
22 Posted 25/03/2021 at 22:31:33
Given the talk of decent league finishes bar the last season (19th & 4 points off the drop) and some exciting cup runs playing decent football along the way at times, are the Gordon Lee years comparable with the more recent Martinez reign?
3rd and 4th in the late 70s when only winning the league got you into Europe's top competition was on a par with today's 5th to 8th finish? Martinez got us to 2 semi finals in one season.
I think that's probably where I speak earlier on behalf of my father's frustration of that era (not mine - too young to talk with qualification). Him being an Evertonian who judged everything by his beloved 60s blues. I was swayed by that rather than my own view so would be interested.
23 Posted 25/03/2021 at 22:35:17
I'm envious having never met the great man myself.
Would love to hear his views on the skillsets, or lack of, in present day football. I presume he squirms when footballers seem incapable of basic control and passing with habitual miscues and stumbles 5 yds out
24 Posted 25/03/2021 at 23:15:49
25 Posted 26/03/2021 at 02:11:23
I thought he was unlucky, with a Roger Kenyon own goal in the first replay of the 77 League cup final replay finishing 1all, followed by a last gasp winner in the 2nd replay, after a mix up by the Everton defence, to allow Little to slot the ball home, followed by the f a cup semi final, where again he had a final taken away with the disallowed Hamilton goal.
If that was tough, we then had the f a cup semi final replay in 1980 against West Ham, with Frank Lampard senior scoring probs his only ever goal, scruffy goal as well to deny Everton an f a cup final again.
He signed Graeme Sharp and wanted Ian Rush as the forward line, but Everton would only let Lee sign one of the two, so he bought Sharp.
Was a strange one letting both McKenzie and Dave Thomas to leave, but overall, I thought Lee did a great job until his last season at Everton.
Should have kept hold of both McKenzie and Thomas though.
To be honest, I was more annoyed when Kendall came in, and sold Bob Latchford.
26 Posted 26/03/2021 at 07:02:54
Winning the FA Cup was still a very big deal, and while the League Cup was a lesser trophy you wouldnt have thought so if you had been at Burnden Park for the semi-final, or Hillsborough and Old Trafford for the final replays - they were big nights.
The winter of 1976/77 was a strange time for us. Billy Bingham was struggling, but it looked like he would survive after a November 3-0 win at Old Trafford in the League Cup quarter final. That was a shady night to be a visiting supporter, but a great performance. We then signed Bruce Rioch and Duncan, before sacking Bingham, a curious move.
We played some magnificent football over the next couple of seasons, with Bob Latchford scoring plenty of goals, and excellent players like Martin Dobson, Andy King and Dave Thomas providing great entertainment. The teams were well organised as well but, perversely, given that Gordon Lee was perceived as dour, our problems lay in defence, where we settled for competence. David Lawson and George Wood could do a job, but they werent exactly Shilton, Clemence or Jennings. At centre half we had the likes of an ageing and injured Roger Kenyon, Mick Lyons, Billy Wright. We sold Ken McNaught who went on to great things at Villa. Mark Higgins became a very good player, but at this time he was young. When we eventually did sign some class in the shape of Colin Todd who was coming towards the end of his career, we often played him at right back.
I wouldnt compare it to the Martinez era. I feel we were just a couple of top class defenders away from being winners in the late 70s.
I know you werent making a direct comparison between Duncan McKenzie and Tim Cahill, but if you ever wanted two polar-opposite footballers, there you have them. If you could marry Duncans skill with Tims work rate, ability and desire to win, you would have the perfect player.
27 Posted 26/03/2021 at 07:11:00
I've seen better players in an Everton shirt, but the title of this article is perfect. McKenzie is second only to Alex Young as a magician, a player who by sheer skill and chutzpah can raise the game. These are the players who excite and inspire us and as we grow older their memory stays with us.
There may have been better players, even more effective players, Collins, Kay, Labone, Wilson, Ball, Harvey, Latchford, Reid, even Sheedy, but players like Young and McKenzie are the magicians.
I had the good fortune on a fan day to have McKenzie as the player on our table, he was fascinating and intelligent, especially his memories of Clough and was fairly diplomatic about Lee.
28 Posted 26/03/2021 at 08:07:13
McKenzie was my favourite, I can still remember him going across the pitch against Stoke in that cup tie, which put the crowd into a brilliant mood. Balance and skill, just one player it took to light up the stadium, and I couldnt wait to get home and practice, on a day when Duncan McKenzie really was magic!
29 Posted 26/03/2021 at 08:42:42
Duncan was eager to impress the Leeds Fans at his first game at Elland Road, making a great effort the retrieve the ball on the midfield line on the right wing.
Clough on the line said 'What are you doing here Sunny Jim? ' He was a great Clough mimic.
Great Player and Goal scorer.
30 Posted 26/03/2021 at 09:56:29
Met him at a sportsmans evening in Rotherham in the late 80s and had a chat about the Toffees. He is a true gent and he loved the club.
One of the most talented forwards I think we have ever had. Just think what our attack would have been like if both Duncs had played together in the same team!!!!!
On a point of Clive Thomas he came to a company that I worked for in the mid 2000s as financial director. He was new so was doing the rounds and came to our factory. I was fairly senior at the time but I told my boss I didnt want too shake hands with him so was banned from the meeting. Never regretted it at all and my boss was OK when he found out why even though he was a rugby player.
31 Posted 26/03/2021 at 10:11:13
32 Posted 26/03/2021 at 10:20:10
When he retired from professional football (I think he owned a florists shop) he turned out at least for one season for the Bay Horse, a pub team in Ashton. They played in a higher division than my team in the Warrington Sunday League. Sadly, we never got drawn against them!
33 Posted 26/03/2021 at 10:22:18
Good lord no, I wasn't making comparisons as players, more as icons of their time. I appreciate they were very different types of player.
Although living in Germany at the time, and with no access to any kind of TV footage of English football, I was made well aware of the skills of Duncan McKenzie, I just didn't get to see him often.
34 Posted 26/03/2021 at 10:32:50
35 Posted 26/03/2021 at 10:46:23
36 Posted 26/03/2021 at 11:02:22
37 Posted 26/03/2021 at 12:48:46
38 Posted 26/03/2021 at 13:07:54
Skill, style and swagger.
A quick text message to the old man gives his thoughts "Lee was too conservative, Martinez not conservative enough. There's the difference".
Dads Dad - my granddad - favourite ever player was the Vision.
My favourite is probably the best little Spaniard we know but I don't think he'll go down in Everton folklore as much as Duncan and Alex.
I don't regret being born an Evertonian, but feel it could have happened during a better era!
39 Posted 26/03/2021 at 13:55:42
I remember seeing The Big Match repeats decades ago and the team from this era was enjoyable to watch.
McKenzie must have had a profound effect on those watching at the time as he only played for us for 18 months and I can only think of Andy Gray when it comes to a player so revered who had such a short spell at the club.
Reading up about him, prior to us he was part of the whole Damned United saga. He had an interesting career, Minis and all.
40 Posted 26/03/2021 at 15:30:21
I notice no-one mentioned Kanchelskis, he was one that would get you off your seat, but of course not in the same league as Duncan. He must have been infuriating to manage and play alongside as he was indeed damned greedy, the amount of times he just couldn't be arsed (or possibly nursing a hangover), it seemed he just wanted to dribble past people sometimes with no interest in setting Latchford up with a tap-in.
But what a talent, as good as George Best but doesn't get the same accolades.
41 Posted 26/03/2021 at 17:12:38
42 Posted 26/03/2021 at 18:10:57
For a short time, he and his missus had a fruit and veg shop on Robson Street at the top of our street in Everton too, so seeing him there, always friendly and approachable,just made him more of an icon.
44 Posted 26/03/2021 at 19:36:23
Kanchelski was direct, paced and had an eye for goal. But exciting to watch in a different context to those who have commented with authority on McKenzie.
45 Posted 26/03/2021 at 19:44:57
I think that's the yellow away kit of the 1977-78 season. There's a bit of YouTube footage of Everton from that season including a 5-0 win away at QPR wearing that kit and I'm pretty sure Duncan was playing. He may have scored along with Big Bob who got 4 on his own!
I used to go to school up on Breckfield Road in the late '70s and Duncan was often spotted at his wife's florist a little further up the road. Always had the time for the young fans who would go there to try and spot him rather than any of the floral displays put together by his missus!
My favourite Duncan moment was a goal at the Gwladys Street end against Leeds. A glorious chip from the 18-yard line when surrounded by half the Leeds side.
The '70s often are much maligned by Everton fans when in truth it was probably a decade of two halves(!). Early '70s transition after the break up of the 1970 side, followed by a really good side from 1976-79 who were probably a player or two and a bit of luck short of winning trophies. Any team boasting the likes of King, Dobson, Thomas, Latchford, Pejic and others shouldn't have ended up winning nothing
46 Posted 26/03/2021 at 20:09:02
Although Shilton won more honours than Jennings, I thought Pat was the better of two great ‘keepers. We actually signed Pat later on but he never turned out for the Blues.
47 Posted 26/03/2021 at 21:53:46
I agree, I thought Jennings was the better. Often a keeper will look better if they have a better defence in front of them. Different generation, but I never rated David Seaman. He was good, but his status elevated from being fortunate enough to play in front of one of the most tight-arsed defences I've witnessed. In my lifetime however, I don't think you beat Schmeichel Mark 1. And that is someone who witnessed the 3 mentioned about and our very own Neville Southall.
We digress. I just found that interesting.
48 Posted 26/03/2021 at 22:18:13
Banks third (he was superb).
49 Posted 26/03/2021 at 23:10:38
Fast forward to a couple of years back and I am on a train from Preston sat opposite a bloke who I know from somewhere, but can't work out where I know him from, you know when you know someones face but can't work out where you know them from...
It was only when he got off at Wigan that I worked out where I knew him from, it was Duncan McKenzie!
50 Posted 27/03/2021 at 01:11:25
For me, Neville Southall was the finest goalkeeper I saw, in fact, the finest ever Everton player, from 1974 onwards, but that is just my own personal opinion.
51 Posted 27/03/2021 at 08:19:45
52 Posted 27/03/2021 at 08:39:29
53 Posted 27/03/2021 at 08:56:26
54 Posted 27/03/2021 at 13:43:38
55 Posted 27/03/2021 at 16:19:21
56 Posted 27/03/2021 at 17:26:57
Entertainer Martin? In football? Who's ever heard of that!
57 Posted 28/03/2021 at 17:30:33
An intelligent and charming man with some interesting views on current players. Maddeningly inconsistent on the pitch but that Stoke game showed him at his best. No one could cope with him. A true maverick who played with a smile on his face especially if the sun was on his back.
They dont make them like that any more!
58 Posted 29/03/2021 at 20:20:38
Lee's first couple of years were okay. We scored plenty of goals but also conceded a lot, too. Lee then went more defensive but the goals dried up.
I remember attending a Q&A event at the Supporters Club in City Road, hosted by Mick Lyons. In the dock was Gordon Lee and he was crucified.
Full marks to him for attending but the writing was on the wall and he was sacked not long afterwards.
59 Posted 30/03/2021 at 16:33:12
Real characters... unlike today, sadly. When they weren't in the boozer or the bookies... they were in Ms World!
60 Posted 01/04/2021 at 21:48:32
I cannot add to what is already written on him. But we were so very very close to finals under Gorden Lee. A fabulous team. It is a shame that Billy Bingham refused to pay £300k for Peter Shilton. It would have made a difference I´m sure.
As for selling Bruce. A good decision. I always got annoyed with him as he always seemed to stop playing after 75 minutes.
61 Posted 02/04/2021 at 04:22:41
Yes, as a young lad, I was at the presentation of the Manager of the Month in 1978 for Gordon Lee. My name, along with 39 others, was picked out of a hat (season ticket holders). I asked him why he preferred Pearson over McKenzie. He gave a waffle answer, much to the chuckling of the press and other Blues.
By the way, the pic of us all was all over the back pages of the Echo – if anyone has a copy please forward to me: email@example.com. The Evertonian magazine also did a "Where are they now?" fans piece – I somehow lost my family album with it in. Gutted!
62 Posted 02/04/2021 at 10:25:52
I didn't know they made the manager of the month award a bit more of an event back then, it must have been a great experience getting to sit on what must have been like a press conference.
Would you happen to know how that chant went then that compared Duncan Mac with Jimmy Pearson?
63 Posted 03/04/2021 at 00:30:06
I think it was with Gordon Lee being tee otal plus we was invited to watch some England game (I can't remember) – that's why he got the gallon made into miniatures. Still got mine signed and I ain't touched a drop of it.
As I say, it was later a feature in the Evertonian magazine. Any Blues who were there still got the newspaper cutting of it please get in touch. The football we played and 20 unbeaten – we should've easily won the league that year.
64 Posted 03/04/2021 at 00:32:21
65 Posted 03/04/2021 at 07:28:17
I've had a little look then at the possible date for the Echo, and I'd guess at the Manager of the Month award being for March 1978, as we had 4 wins and 2 draws in the league ending with a Latchford double at Old Trafford to win 2-1. So I'd guess that that would make the award presented and Echo cutting very early April 1978?
66 Posted 03/04/2021 at 10:43:01
And btw, I also agree that "Duncan Mackenzie is magic"! Brilliant skills and a great character.
67 Posted 03/04/2021 at 12:00:08
68 Posted 11/04/2021 at 23:41:42
We all know Gordon Lee let McKenzie go, but how different could it have been, if Everton had not messed up, not once, not twice but three times, before landing Gordon Lee.
It started off with Bobby Robson agreeing to a ten year contract, only for Sir John Moores to go public too soon, against Robsons wishes to let his club know first,, angering Robson and tearing his check up and walking away.
Then there was Brian Clough, who was all set to take the Everton job, only for Everton to bottle it, in Cloughs own words.
Then finally Tommy Doherty spoke to Everton to say Shankly had spoken to Doherty about the Everton job, and was very keen, on the Everton job, if the right approaches were made, and that he still had hunger to succeed at Everton, you guessed it, Everton failed to make an approach.
Leaving Everton to finally settle on Gordon Lee, our club can't half drop some right clangers, none more so to giving Nigel Martyn the best directions, to get to Leeds, after having an Interview at Peter Johnsons hamper warehouse.
69 Posted 11/04/2021 at 00:03:21
Who knows what cock-ups will come to light this century?...most of them come out eventually.
70 Posted 12/04/2021 at 00:38:07
71 Posted 12/04/2021 at 19:10:28
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