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v Chelsea

Saturday 30 August K.O. 17:30

Dave Hickson

Dave Hickson

Millennium Giant - 1950-1959

The 1950s was the decade which unleashed rock 'n' roll on an unsuspecting world.

With his towering blond quiff, rumbustious playing style and engaging personality Dave Hickson was Everton's very own equivalent of a rock 'n' roll star.

A swashbuckling centre-forward ready to give blood for the royal blue cause - which he did, frequently - he grabbed the affection and imagination of the Everton supporters like few other players have, before or since.

The 1950s were a lacklustre period for Everton Football Club, but Hickson constantly provided a charismatic cocktail of goals, unswerving commitment and occasional scrapes with opponents and officials.

He had the finest possible mentor as a young player - the incomparable Dixie Dean - who coached him when he played for Cheshire Army Cadets.

His raw potential soon became obvious and, like so many famous Blues before him, the young striker was discovered by Blues' boss Cliff Britton playing non-league football in Ellesmere Port.

He was taken to Everton in 1948, but had his career put on temporary hold by the call of National Service.

He was first called to the Royal Blue colours in September 1951 at Leeds United - incidentally the last time Everton won a League match at Elland Road! - soon cemented a permanent place in the first team and in 1953 established his place in Everton folklore.

Stats and Honours
Everton Appearances: 243
Everton Goals: 111
Everton Honours: Division Two runner-up 1953/54

The Blues were enduring one of only four-ever seasons outside the top division in 1952-53, when they embarked upon a stirring FA Cup run.

After home wins over Ipswich Town and Nottingham Forest, mighty Manchester United were drawn to visit Goodison Park in the fifth round.

Predictably the visitors took the lead, before Tommy Eglington snatched an equaliser - and Hickson made his bid for Everton immortality.

In the days before substitutes were allowed, Hickson typically threw his blond quiff in amongst flying boots and emerged with a wicked gash over his eyebrow.

He left the pitch to have the injury stitched - and 10 team-mates and 50,000 supporters gloomily accepted that Everton would be a man down for the remainder of the match.

They reckoned without Hickson's unfailing courage.

An ear-splitting roar greeted his return to the fray - with five stitches hastily inserted in the wound - and minutes later he scored the match-winner.

As if to confirm his warrior's stature, he re-opened the wound in a heading duel, resisted pleas by team-mates and referee to leave the field again, and eventually retired after 90 minutes to a hero's ovation.

He scored a spectacular match-winner in the quarter-final, too, against Aston Villa - before the Blues' brave bid for Wembley glory ended in a seven goal thriller in Manchester against Bolton Wanderers.

A star had been born during that rousing run, however, and the following season Hickson hammered 25 league goals in the successful promotion campaign.

After one season back in the top flight, Cliff Britton sold Hickson to Aston Villa, but the player could never settle away from Goodison.

A spell at Huddersfield was similarly short-lived and he returned to his spiritual home in August 1957.

The goals weren't quite as free-flowing second time around - but there was still a riotous outcry when he was allowed to leave Everton again two years later.

The problem was his next port of call - Liverpool Football Club!

The deal sparked outrage amongst Everton and Liverpool supporters alike - until he scored on his Anfield debut to silence one section of the doubters.

He later went on to play for Tranmere Rovers (he remains the only professional footballer ever to have played for all three Merseyside clubs) but there was never any doubt where his heart truly laid.

Indeed, after leaving his job with Ellesmere Port Council in the mid-1990s, the Cannonball Kid returned to Goodison Park to work as a tour guide and matchday lounge host.

It was a role to which he committed himself right up until his passing, aged 83, in July 2013.

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