Everton is a Football Club in mourning following the passing of one its favourite sons – Dave Hickson.
Dave was one of the most popular players to have worn the Royal Blue jersey and he passed away on 8 July after a short illness.
Dave was 83-years old when he died and he was still a regular at Goodison Park last season.
An Everton star of the 1950s, he had two spells at Goodison and is also the only man to have played for all three Merseyside clubs, having had spells at Liverpool and Tranmere Rovers.
But his love affair was with Everton and he remained associated with the Club after retiring, taking stadium tours and appearing in lounges on matchdays.
As a player, his iconic blond quiff, whole-hearted playing style and engaging personality made Hickson a fans' favourite.
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 somewhat lacklustre period for Everton 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 and soon cemented a permanent place in the first team and in 1953 established his place in Everton folklore.
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 thrilling seven-goal defeat 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 but there has never been any doubt where his heart lies.
So strong were his connections with the Club that he celebrated both his 75th and 80th birthdays at Goodison Park by which time he was already an official Everton Giant after being one of the original inductees in 2000.
For his 75th he was invited onto the pitch to celebrate with the thousands of adoring Evertonians and for his 80th, Everton Chairman Bill Kenwright, who always rates Dave as his favourite ever player, presented him with a specially commissioned photo album chronicling his career.
Hickson's 80th birthday also saw a lounge at Goodison renamed in his honour.
There had also been anguish at his spiritual home though when Dave suffered a heart attack shortly before Everton beat Sunderland 7-1 in November 2007.
Typically, though, he made a strong recovery and by the following February was back working at Goodison and fit enough to receive the Liverpool Echo Special Personality award, one of only four men to ever receive the accolade.
Personal tragedy struck in November 2010 when his beloved wife Pat passed away but Dave soldiered on and took comfort from his place in the Everton family.
He bravely fought his last illness but this was one fight that the ‘Cannonball Kid’ just couldn’t win.
His place in the Everton Hall of Fame was long since assured though and amongst the many, many things he will be remembered for is his famous statement that summed up his feelings for his football club.
“I would have died for Everton. I would have broken every other bone in my body for any other club I played for but I would have died for this club."