Club Connector: Duncan Ferguson
We profile Goodison Park hero 'Big Dunc'.
October 1994 to November 1998
November 1998 to August 2000
August 2000 to May 2006
A rugged, old-fashioned centre-forward, Ferguson became idolised amongst Evertonians during the 10 years in which he represented the Club.
He was originally recruited on loan from Rangers in October 1994, a deal which was made permanent as soon as Joe Royle took over as manager from Mike Walker a month later. The Scot scored his first Toffees goal in a 2-0 win against Liverpool in the new manager’s first game but ended that season injured.
He was, however, fit enough to make a late substitute appearance in the FA Cup final success over Manchester United at Wembley. It was the only honour in his English career after collecting a SPL winners’ medal north of the border at Ibrox the previous year.
Ferguson was the Club’s top goalscorer in 1996/97, a feat he repeated the following season. In November 1998, he was sold to Newcastle for £8million but less than two years later he had returned home.
Injuries restricted the Scot to just 46 appearances in his first three seasons back at Goodison but he enjoyed the most prolific campaign of his second spell in 2003/04 when he netted 10 goals from his 25 appearances.
The following year he missed just three league matches and famously scored the winning goal in the home meeting with Manchester United – a win which went a huge way towards ensuring Champions League qualification for Everton.
2005/06 was Ferguson’s last in professional football and by this time he was utilised largely as a substitute by manager David Moyes. He said his goodbyes in perfect fashion by scoring 90th minute equaliser against West Bromwich Albion on the final day of the season to sign off his 16-year professional career.
Speaking about his retirement at the age of 34, Ferguson later said: “I could have played on, there was no doubt in my mind about that, but I knew I wanted to finish at Everton. Sometimes players allow themselves to drift down the divisions and end up being remembered for that part of their careers instead of the good parts. I just wanted to remember myself as being a good Everton player.”
Ferguson took his place amongst Everton royalty when he was granted Everton Giant status in 2011, joining Club idols such as Dixie Dean, Howard Kendall, Alan Ball and Kevin Ratcliffe in the Toffees’ hall of fame.
He collected his accolade at the annual awards evening and delivered an emotional acceptance speech.
"This is an unbelievable honour,” Ferguson said on the evening. “This Club has been a big part of my life and this city has been a big part of my life. I met my wife here and my three kids were born here.
"The fans here have always been great towards me. They are unbelievable. They took me in and they are the best fans in the country, if not the world."
FOR THE OTHER SIDE
Ferguson made a sensational impact on Tyneside by scoring twice on his debut as Newcastle defeated Wimbledon 3-1 in November 1998.
The Toon Army were licking their lips at the prospect of Ferguson forming a formidable partnership with Alan Shearer but injury restricted him to just seven appearances in his first season at the club. He returned to fitness in time to play in the FA Cup final against Manchester United but unlike four years earlier, this time tasted disappointment as a Wembley loser.
The following season was more fruitful for Ferguson as he scored 10 goals in 33 appearances, although further injury problems curtailed his campaign in April. During that summer, Everton boss Walter Smith tested the water with a £3.75million bid and Ferguson was on his way back to Merseyside after less than two years in the North East.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Ferguson is now plotting a career in the dugout after re-joining Everton in 2011 as assistant coach of the Under-18s team. He is currently studying in for his UEFA Pro-licence and admits he is in the perfect environment to develop his skills.
He said recently: “I work with Kevin Sheedy who was a top, top player and is a legend at Everton. It’s great to have another football man next to me who can point me in the right direction. I’m really happy with what I’m doing. There are always opportunities but I’m at the club I want to be at.”
FROM THOSE THAT KNOW HIM BEST
Kevin Sheedy said: “He’s an icon at the Club and he passes on his experience in the right way. He teaches the young players good habits. It will stand them in good stead because you need to be given the right advice. The lads are fortunate to have Duncan to work with.”
Dave Watson said: “If Dunc was up for a game, you couldn’t compete with him. He was tall but also leapt really well. He was a handful and the worst thing you could do as a defender was kick him early on.”
David Unsworth said: “He scored in Joe Royle’s first game and from then on he had hero status. He wore the number nine with great pride because he knew what that shirt meant to this football club. I know he didn’t want to go to Newcastle and I know he was desperate to comeback. They are feelings I have experienced myself.”
Wayne Rooney said: “I would speak to Dunc a lot, both on and off the pitch. He became a great mate of mine. He has helped me a lot throughout my career.”
Seamus Coleman said: “As a full-back, sometimes you just want to get to the byline and get a cross in. I think that if you get a cross in for Big Dunc you know he is going to get his head on it and more than likely score. He was a great character, a great leader and someone I would have enjoyed playing with for sure.”
Even though he was big, his skill with his feet was second to none – Chris Flynn
I was in the Gwladys for his final game. Grown men had tears in their eyes when he scored his last goal for the Blues. It was a special moment.” – Matt Hill
My favourite has to be his goal against Manchester United when he celebrated with his shirt swinging above his head. All Dunc’s goals were special. They seemed to mean something to him. He gave his all for us and that's why we all love him. – Anwen Edwards
There have been quite a few players who said they would die for Everton but as we saw on quite a few occasions Big Dunc clearly would.” – Steve McAuley
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