Club Connector: Dave Hickson
We profile the career of one of Merseyside's greatest sons.
We turn to The Cannonball Kid, Dave Hickson, for this week’s ‘Club Connector’.
Merseyside was rocked earlier this year with the sad news of the legend’s passing at the age of 83.
Despite the local rivalry, Hickson remains a favourite of football fans across the region, having featured for Everton, Liverpool and Tranmere Rovers throughout a distinguished and goal-laden career.
His spells on both sides of Stanley Park are put under the microscope here as we continue our build up to the weekend's visit of Liverpool...
1948-1955 and 1957-1959
LIFE IN BLUE
Hickson joined Everton from Ellesmere Port in 1948 but was made to wait a further three years for a debut after being called up for National Service.
He eventually made his Blues bow against Leeds United in September 1951 and quickly earned a fearsome reputation, notching 71 goals in 151 games during his first spell at the Club.
A second stint at Goodison came after two years away with Aston Villa and Huddersfield, and it proved to be another productive time for the no-nonsense forward as he plundered a further 40 goals in 90 games.
Despite going on to represent Liverpool and Tranmere Rovers later in his career, there is no doubt where Hickson’s heart remained.
After retiring from his job as a council worker, he even took up the role of tour guide and matchday lounge host with the Blues - a position he kept right up until the end of last season.
His love for Everton was unquestionable and his famous quote will forever ring around Goodison Park: “I’ve played for some great clubs. And I would have broken every bone in my body for them, but I would have died for Everton.”
BEST REMEMBERED FOR
The defining moment of Hickson's Everton career came during the FA Cup run of the 1952/53 season.
An astonishing 77,920 packed out Goodison Park to witness a fifth round tie against Manchester United, with the game finely balanced at 1-1 as half-time approached.
In typically committed fashion, Hickson hurled himself head first into a sea of flying boots and consequently emerged from the clash with a nasty gash on his forehead.
In the days where substitutions were not yet permitted, the sight of Hickson disappearing down the tunnel was a major cause for concern, as it looked as though Everton would be forced to play out the second half with 10 men.
However, minutes later Hickson re-emerged from the tunnel with a row of stitches precariously holding the gash together.
Not only did he continue - he also went on to score the eventual winner and book the Blues’ place in the quarter-final.
Hickson continued to put his body on the line and opened up the cut again after colliding with the post as he attempted to score a second in the closing stages.
But as blood poured from his head, he ignored requests to leave the field from the referee, his captain and his manager - further boosting his reputation as one of the game's toughest ever characters.
ACROSS THE PARK
The striker’s controversial £12,000 move across Stanley Park in 1959 was met with shock from Blues and Reds across the city.
Hickson was signed by then-manager Phil Taylor in the hope of firing Liverpool to promotion from the Second Division.
A surge in attendance meant 15,000 fans were inside Anfield to witness Hickson’s first game for his new side and he didn't disappoint – scoring a brace in a 2-1 win.
However, just one month later Taylor was sacked and it was Bill Shankly, who had worked with Hickson during his time at Huddersfield, who was to take over as manager.
Despite an eventual return of 21 goals in 27 games that season, the Reds fell short in their promotion bid and the subsequent signing of Ian St John saw Hickson eventually fall down the pecking order.
THOSE WHO KNEW HIM BEST
“He would finish every match covered in blood. Some of it even his own." - Joe Royle
"I was Dave's inside-forward and he was a very, very good footballer. I got a few goals as his partner as he would take the knocks for me to score the goals!" - Derek Temple
"I used to see him at the game all the time. They tell me he was as brave as a lion on the field and he gave everything he had every time he crossed the white line. And that’s why the Evertonians worshipped him." - Duncan Ferguson
"He could play football with the best of them and he could play the rough stuff if it needed to be played too." - Kenny Birch
"Dave was a very good player, he always got stuck in and was a trier who never gave up. Everton always meant so much to him." - John Sutherland
“An Everton legend and true gentleman. One of football's true greats” – John Suckley
“Dave Hickson is an Everton legend and a real gentleman, whose achievements on and off the field will never be forgotten.” – Brian Pierpoint
“Dave gave me and my mate many happy hours from the Gwladys Street. We never tired of watching a true Blue giving his all.” – Norman Elliott
“'Legend’ is used far too often these days but Dave Hickson is a true football legend.” – Bernie Millward
To read Dave Hickson's Everton Giant profile, click here.