Dixie Dean – A legend among greats

DIXIE DEAN

A legend amongst the greats

What position in a football team excites you? Is it the goalkeeper, the centre half? The midfielder or winger? I think most people would answer the centre forward, the man who scores you the goals to win your aims in football. What if I told you we Evertonians had in our team the greatest centre forward the country has ever seen and ever will

If you ask any Evertonian who is the player that makes you proud to be associated with our great club I think there is only one name that will make your heart go whooooho, do I have to spell the great mans name out?

Well here it is WILLIAM RALPH DEAN affectionately known amongst the masses as ‘DIXIE’, to his close friends just Bill.

Every parent who has brought up their child as an Evertonian feverishly and proudly tells of the great mans exploits, he was that good.

Mr and Mrs Dean had been married for 15 years and lived in Birkenhead they had four girls at the time, but on the 22nd of January 1907 the boy they had hoped for was born. Christened William Ralph two names forgotten in later years but not the surname DEAN.

Dixie’s father was a train driver, his mother a housemaid both lived to reach ninety, quite an age at the time; I think their son’s exploits spurned them on. At the age of eleven young William went to Borstal! Voluntarily I must add as the school had better football facilities ,the sport he loved.

He got a job helping the local milkman whilst at school which entailed him getting up at 4am seven days a week lifting heavy milk churns which helped build his magnificent physique. William’s dad took him to see his favourite team across the Mersey just before the outbreak of World War One. His dad was an EVERTONIAN, the bond and love of our team was sealed forever.

As a school kid he was a sensation so good he was asked to play in adult teams ,he was football mad. So obsessed was he ,he once took his baby sister out for a walk in the pram by Bidston hill ,there he was invited to play in a game of football (the pram was a goalpost) they played till dusk. After the game he went home and but forgot the pram .He ran back to find his baby sister was safe and still asleep.

Young Dean left school at 14 to work as an apprentice boilermaker at his father’s employers Wirral Railway. He was spotted by Pensby and played for them until he was 16 then Tranmere persuaded him to sign for them. Dean said on one condition in that they supplied a new Kit for Pensby, they reneged later on that deal. Later on Dean thought the then secretary of Tranmere had no interest in him as a person but to exploit him and make money out of a transfer deal (how long has been PJ associated with Tranmere? Only joking Peter), Dixie was a man of principals and did not have time for people who did not.

The name ‘Dixie’ was given to Dean by the Tranmere fans because of his jet-black thick curly hair, not a racist call but a similarity to coloured people’s hair hence the name ‘Dixie’.

To be honest Mr Dean did not like the nickname, a bit like Bruce Springsteen not liking to be called ‘The Boss’, which he is.

Dean was paid £4 5shillings a week the normal pay for a third division professional player. But still allot of money compared to normal workers pay of the day. Dixie could play with two feet and had a remarkable heading ability rarely matched to this day. A third of all his goals scored were with his head. My dad said that Dixie could head a ball harder than most footballers could kick it. He had a neck on him like Mike Tyson and the strength of a bull. He was a good all rounder in sports, golf and at cricket he excelled in particular. At a later date he even played American baseball in close season in America. His speed was phenomenal and his reading of the game second to none he could dribble like a winger, the complete footballer.

Dixie played with only one ball quite literally. During his Tranmere days a Rochdale centre half kicked in the crown jewels and subsequently he was rushed to hospital for a small minor delicate operation .So you see Hitler wasn’t the only man as the song goes with one ‘Ball’. I don’t think the injury made a ball’s up of Dean’s career though, unlike Hitler’s.

Whilst at Tranmere young Dean’s reputation grew, he was a real star drawing a crowd wherever he played. Fifteen thousand people would go to Prenton to watch his goal scoring prowess, in his last season with Tranmere he scored 27 goals out of the whole total of 44. Many big first division teams came in to try and sign Dixie but there was only ever one club he wanted to play for, EVERTON FC.

Then Dixie’s dream came true , Tom McIntosh the then Everton secretary came to Deans house to ask him to sign for his boyhood club .Dixie was not in at the time. But when he found out from his mum who had called he ran like a demon to meet Mr McIntosh at the Woodside Hotel to discuss terms. Dixie did not hesitate he signed there and then for a kings Ransom at the time of £3000 . The Tranmere secretary promised Dean 10% of any signing fee, he got just £30, bloody hell Peter Johnson (our ex-chairman from Tranmere), must be well over a hundred. The 30 pieces of silver was given to his mum who in turn donated it to the local hospital, that was the type of people they were. But at least Dixie’s got his heartfelt boyhood wish he was going to play for his beloved Everton.

This is the bit that really hurts just now. At the time Everton ,the club, gained a reputation of applying grace and artistry to the game. A capacity to produce play of a very high standard. It was also said at the time we owe a great deal to Everton. No matter where they play, and no matter how badly placed in the league table they always manage to serve up football of the highest scientific order. Everton always worship at the shrine of craft and science and never do forget the standard of play they set out to achieve. Hence the nick name ‘THE SCHOOL OF SCIENCE’.

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That’s it I’m sending this to be nailed on the dressing doors of Bellfield and Goodison. Really I am.

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When the young Dean first came to Everton, despite his massive fee, he was not a first choice player until he scored 7 goals in one reserve game and could not be overlooked any longer. Dixie made his debut for Everton against Arsenal in March 1925. In his first full season he scored 32 goals in 38 games .He was the first name on the team sheet after that!

Then we nearly lost our legend.

In June 1926 Dixie took his girlfriend out to North Wales on his motorcycle. Whilst driving along St Asaph road they were involved in an accident with a motor cycle combination with two men in .All but the girl was seriously injured . Dixie was told he would never play football again. Just 15 weeks later he proved the doctors wrong and was back playing football for his beloved Everton . Dean had a broken jaw and a fractured Skull. Metal plates were inserted to help mend the skull . But they were removed later destroying the myth of them still being in his head when he rose to power the ball in the back of the net with his head. But you can forget this if you want to keep up the mystic of the legend of Dixie.

Whilst recuperating in hospital he helped out transporting corpses to and from the mortuary. One day young Dean was found swinging from branch to branch in an apple tree collecting fresh ripe fruit for the hospital patients and staff .The passing doctor looked up at Dean and said if you can do that you can go back to training for the Blues. Dixie donned the Royal Blue again and played for the remainder of the season scoring 21 times in 27 games.

Then came that season 1927 -28.The highlight of Dixie’s whole career and yes you know why! This is were fantasy football first started ,but your whole pot was spent on just one player DIXIE DEAN. In all the history of football there can no story to match Dixie’s feats in that magical season.

In the first three games Dixie scored one goal in each .The second game was against newly promoted Boro who had George Camsell (who scored 59 goals in the second division which made him the record goal scoring holder) another great centre forward.

In the next six games Dixie scored 14 goals ,five in one match against Man Utd. After 13 games Everton scored 44 goals and Dixie 23 of them.

At the time there was an economic recession but Dixie’s exploits captivated not just the locals but the whole the sporting country. Everywhere Everton went gates would go up to see this genius of a man who was just twenty at the time. Over the Christmas period Everton travelled over one thousand miles by train playing four matches in a week. God and present players and managers moan about having to play three games in a week transported in luxury, and thousands a week and I don’t mean miles!

On the second of January Dixie’s record stood at 37 for the season ,just one short of equalling B.C.Freemans club record of 38 goals for Everton in a single season. By January the 7th Dixie had broken Freeman’s and the club record with two goals in the 3-1 defeat of Boro (with two players sent off, unheard of in those days) now onto the next record to be smashed.

The division one goal scoring record was 43 held by Blackburn’s Harper in the 1925- 26 season and there were still lots of games to play. Mr Dean went to annfield to equal that record scoring a hat trick. In those days Dixie use to send the reds goalkeeper, Elisha Scott, a package the night before a derby game containing a bottle of aspirin and a note “Get a good nights sleep- I’ll be there tomorrow” signed Bill Dean.

When Dixie scored at annfield he would turn to the kop and bow gracefully in a posture like a matador. He’s a God now in my eyes!

Dixie now had 43 goals with only 13 games left to play to get 17 more goals to smash Camsell’s record, it wasn’t going to be easy. Defences concentrated solely on Dixie, sometimes unfairly, he was the centre of attention all over the country. It must not be forgotten that Huddersfield at the time was going for the double .They boasted nine Internationals in their team. By mid March Everton trailed them by four points ( To the younger Evertonians it was only two points a win then )and Dixie hadn’t scored for four games! Only nine more league games to play and Dixie could only play in seven of them due to International call ups ,could he still do the impossible ? Seventeen goals in seven games. Nah no way, he couldn’t, could he?

On the 24th of March Dixie broke the division one record scoring two goals in a 2-2 draw with Derby (there the similarity ends with our woeful season at the time of writing this article first time round), a total of 45 goals.

Easter was kind to Everton they trailed Huddersfield by one point in the Championship, 60,000 at Goodison to see Everton beat Blackburn 4-2 with two more Dean goals. Everton drew with Bury on the Saturday with Dean scoring the only goal ,the total was 48 goals with just five games to play. But we were on top of the league on goal difference. The visit to Sheffield United saw Everton win 3-1 with two of his goals that makes it 50 goals from 35 games, fantastic, Gary Lineker eat your heart out!

But could Dixie get ten goals in the last four matches. The pressure was getting intense but not to Dixie who had ice-cold blood with a bit of sherry in it, his favourite tipple. Everything was taken in his stride, it was only a little over twelve months ago that he was not expected to live never mind making immortality.

The next game was mid week against Newcastle we won 3-0 and that Dean only scored a paltry one goal , loser ! How is he going to score nine goals in three games, surely its impossible? Villa at home next with the great centre forward ‘Pongo’ ,yes ‘Pongo’ Waring also a product of the Tranmere scouting system. I think we’ll have to buy that scouting book, that or get Tonto to find us some more gems. Football fans love their clubs finding diamonds within their youth ranks especially if they are local.

Dixie won the personal centre forwards war 2-1 with Everton overcoming Villa 4-2.

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So how is Dixie going to score seven goals in two games to become a living legend? Burnley away and Arsenal at home , both sell-outs before a gate opened .Oh and the Championship was still being contended .

Everton went to Turf Moor and stuffed Burnley 5-3 and guess who scored four bloody goals, yes him again Dixie .Believe it or not he was also injured in the game pulling a thigh muscle and becoming almost a passenger in the second half .There was no substitutes then or magic sponges .By the way where is our magic sponge this season is it hiding or just some of the players!

Harry Cooke the then Everton trainer was much loved and respected by his players and he spent the whole week nursing Dixie at his home to help him through his injury so that Dixie could meet his destiny the following week. This story is getting too much.

Picture it now at Goodison 60,000 expectant Evertonians not just on Dixie’s Herculean task but the Championship at stake aswell. But wait one of the goals was reached before the Arsenal game kicked off! Huddersfield were beaten mid-week and Everton declared champions with the trophy now winging it’s way to Goodison to be presented to our captain at the time Cresswell after the biggest game in Dixie’s life and the lives of every living Evertonian then and football fans in general. Imagine what the great god Sky would have made of this event, box office dream stuff and of fat cat agents or what?

Talk all week was of the event to come, like a pilgrimage to a shrine people came from far and wide on boats, trains, trams, bikes, motorcars, motorbikes, planes and airships to see if the messiah would deliver. Over sixty thousand converts came to pay homage. I can remember Big Bad Bob needing to score against Chelsea for the thirty-goal mark to win the £10,000 on offer from the Express and feeling that I was there when ‘history’ was being made. We all celebrated that day as if it was a historic landmark. Bloody hell imagine the feeling of expectancy of seeing your hero score twice as many goals as the Latch .If I get a chance of going into Doctor Who’s time machine this game is top of the wish list .To walk out of the police box and join the queuing throngs outside Goodison waiting to gain entry to see if Dixie could gain immortality. Only problem would be what money could I use? I know I’d get one of those white fivers off my mate Barry Murray (he’s that tight he won’t part with any money old or new), and live like a king for the weekend until the doctor takes me back to the present day.

Three goals against no pushovers Arsenal, the world’s media and my Dad assemble in what could be real history in the making. Imagine the electric atmosphere generated by the great man running down the tunnel like some by gone Gladiator to put Arsenal to the sword (Russell Crow eat your heart out, this was the man) in the arena called Goodison .I bet there would have been enough electricity generated by that adoring crowd to match the power the Hoover Dam.

The game kicked off but Arsenal never read the script, they scored first, the matador of annfield saw the red of Arsenal now as a bull would. Dixie from the restart ran towards the Arsenal goal and struck a blow to the insolent bullish Arsenal, a thunderous twenty yarder was unleashed

and the 58th goal of this fantastic season was registered; it was also Everton’s 100th of this title winning campaign. . The crowd was expectant now that they would not be denied the right of “I was there”.

Midway through the first half Dixie was brought down in the box , penalty !Now who do you think should take it ?

The crowd bayed “Give it to Dixie”! This was his calling every where he played, even in Internationals. Dixie placed the ball on the penalty spot ,a silence of a graveyard descended. How many people turned and looked away or covered their eyes we’ll never know, but they were hugged by strangers as a long lost relative when Dixie delivere the record equalling goal.

The miracle was on, but so was Arsenal’s resilience to stop Dixie. It was also Charlie Buchan’s last match for the Gunners, a great stalwart in their defence. Charlie was determined Dixie was not to spoil his day, yer right. An own goal made the scores level at half time.

In the second half Arsenal played the off side trap (and copied it later on into the eighties and early nineties) to try and strangle Dixie’s birthright.

More clock watching must have been done by the crowd that second half than any bored school pupil ever has. The minutes ticked away like a man on death row, “come on Dixie”! All thoughts centred on the greatest centre forward we’ve ever seen to do mission impossible.

Just five minutes were left on the referee’s watch when Everton took a corner .An Alec Troupe special! Time stood still, then moved into freeze frame as Dixie leapt up like a salmon above the surrounding packed penalty area and headed the ball into the Arsenal net. The ticking bomb inside Goodison exploded, people in the city centre (and in Chester) knew Dixie had accomplished the impossible; the volume of noise was that great. All the pigeons and birds in Merseyside flew up into the air as one, as if just been shot at and blotted out the sun, John Wayne turned to a fellow Roman and said that truly he is the Messiah.

Oh what joy, an explosion of gratitude of being there and seeing the miracle happen, the game was held up for several minutes as Dixie was exhalted on high. Mission finally accomplished and immortality.

Oh the game finished 3-3 Arsenal sneaked a late goal whilst everyone was shaking hands with Dixie.

The Championship trophy was presented to this special Everton team. Never forget the fact that this side provided the ammunition for Dixie, without his surrounding team mates this achievement of scoring the sixty might never have been attained.

Dixie’s name was now on everyone’s lips, he was a celebrity. An agent from America came over to get Dixie to play over there. A fantastic offer of £150 and twenty pounds a week was baited to the great man. But Dixie said it was not about money “I don’t want to leave Everton at any price”. I can think of a couple of young past Everton strikers who should have a copy of this.

At end of this historic season Everton did a tour of Switzerland playing Basle, Berne , Zurich and Geneva winning all four games to packed stadiums .

Dixie scored five more goals making his personal tally to 100 for the season .At the end of the season supporters presented him with a silver plate inscribed with all the teams he scored his goals against (29 games in all) it was Dixie’s most cherished possession.

For the anoraks Dixie’ scoring record was as follows for that scintillating season, never to be repeated unless they change the rules.

Five goals in one game, four in another ,five hat tricks, fourteen doubles and eight singles.

The following season Dixie carried on where he left off scoring goals as if by order. In the fist two games he scored two hat-tricks but was plagued by injury that season due to the over zealous attention of defenders but still he went on to score 26 goals in 29 games maintaining his Everton career record of a goal a game average. 168 goals in 169 games to be precise. Later on it was revealed that the famous Madame Tussaud’s had made a wax model of Dixie, now that’s when you knew you had made it at the time .It stood next to the great cricketer Jack Hobbs later Knighted so why wasn’t Dixie for his achievements? We’ll never know. Is it too late ? Ask your local MP.

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Herbert Chapman the great Arsenal manager of the time came to Goodison to try and prise Dixie away with a blank cheque. Dixie was not interested and thankfully so was the board, who would have been hung by the crowd anyway. But it was not all rosy and after two more seasons’ the unbelievable happened, we were relegated! Dixie like all Evertonians was devastated he hadn’t played in many matches due to injury and couldn’t stop our decline. We licked or wounds and re-grouped and started in earnest to rectify the wrong that Everton was in the second division. We won our first four games to massive crowds in the division ,such was still the pulling power of Everton.

On November 8th Dixie broke another record at the age of just 23 he scored his 200th league goal in only 199 games. Everton beat Wolves 4-0, two goals by Dixie to set the record.

Everton went on to win the league in the 36th game out of 42 with a record of winning 28 games at the end of the season scoring 121 goals, 39 by the great man. At the end of the season Dixie had also scored his 200th league goal for Everton in just 198 appearances, wow. In the same season Everton reached the semi -final of the cup being beaten by WBA 0-1 at Old Trafford in front of 70,000 with 20,000 locked outside.

After just one season in the second division Everton came back to the first division with a bang! By the end of October, just listen to this, they had beaten the reds 3-1 at annfield (Dixie a hat-trick), Sheffield Utd 5-1 away, Sheff Wed 9-1 at home, battered Newcastle 8-1 and scored a total of 44 goals in 13 games, oh to be an Evertonian then .By the end of the year we had scored a total of 78 goals. In 32 games the team had passed the hundred mark and had 10 games left to pass Villas record of 128, unfortunately we only scored a further 15 to make the total of 116. But we had a little consolation prize in winning the league after our first season back in the top flight where we belong.

Something was missing in Dixie’s trophy cabinet, a FA cup winners medal, this was to be rectified in a glorious cup run in 1933.This was to be the hat-trick of success ,two successive league championships and a visit to the twin towers.

The third round tie was Leicester away, a 3-1 success with one for Dixie, then it was Bury at home same score, then Leeds beaten 2-0 at home Dean again scoring one. Then the sixth round draw gave us Luton at home a slippery one at the time they were in the third division and everyone knows about cup upsets (thank you again Lawrie Sanchez), we struggled through 6-0.

Westham Utd next in the semis at Wolves. Dixie was the captain of Everton now and had scored in every round up to now.

Westham fought hard but lost 2-1 and Everton were in the final with Man City the opponents. Both teams played in Blue but ours is royal, never the less the FA had two kits to be worn in the final one red the other white. And Dixie would never play in red so we wore white, the red flag to the bull in Dixie again, wasn’t our Dixie great eh?

For three weeks before the cup final the team refrained from drinking alcohol. Can there be a greater sacrifice of any man? Hmm maybe sex! Everton meant business. Dixie incentive win bonus was £30 in vouchers to be spent in nominated stores, what would the present players think of that?

The 1933 Cup final was also the first final to have numbers on their shirts 1-22 and guess who was handed the first number nine jersey, Dixie. How fitting it was that the greatest centre forward that Britain has ever seen was the first to wear the symbolic number nine .It was fate !The night before the big game the Everton team was tucked up in bed before twelve after a supper of tripe and onions. I know what Everton’s fiendish plot was now; they were to put the wind up City literally.

The Northern hordes descended down to Wembley in forty special trains to meet at Euston station in a cacophony of sound, banging drums, ukulele’s and banjo’s they were determined to have a great day out whatever the outcome. Now onward to Wembley joined by the fellow supporters who travelled down in charabangs (coach’s to our young fans and with no toilets!), and cars.

Before the match the Duke and Duchess of York (no not Fergie, the then Duchess was the Queen mum) were sat next to the mayor of Merseyside who proceeded to point out the names of the Everton players to the Royal members .The Duchess, when the mayor pointed to Dixie to say who he was, cut the helpful mayor down with the words “Even I know who Dixie is”! The match kicked off in a tremendous atmosphere Everton totally outclassed City and won in an entertaining match 3-0.

Of course Dixie scored in an effort reminiscent of Andy Gray’s against Watford at the same venue. The Queen mum presented Dixie, the captain, with the winner’s cup he gestured as if drinking from it to the masses of Evertonians, well they had not had a drink for three weeks I’ll bet they had a few that night and the next. When they recovered from what is commonly called a hang over the team boarded the train back to Merseyside on Monday to be greeted by scenes never before witnessed in football at Lime Street station .Over 50,000 were at the station alone to greet their hero’s .As the motorcade of horse drawn carriages made its way through the city centre

Dixie held the Cup up like an all conquering Caesar and his sceptre, like Jason with the fleece, Hercules with the Hydras head, Neptune with his Trident and Arthur holding up Excalabur. This was Dixie’s greatest moment, tears ran down his face he was the proudest Evertonian alive. All his childhood dreams of winning the cup had become a reality. As the chariot’s, I mean carriages moved towards Goodison over half a million people lined the streets throwing petals at their hero’s feet. There were 50,000 at Goodison alone to meet them at their journey’s end. Such an outburst of love and passion has never been seen since that magical day not even when the Pope visited Merseyside. Don’t forget we were in the middle of a recession and Dixie’s hero’s made the hard life experiences forgotten for just a little while.

The following season Dixie was still breaking more records than a one armed juggler in a music store. By September Dixie had scored his 300th goal in 310 games and he still only 26. But tragedy struck and Dixie would need an operation to remove two pieces of bone from his left ankle, he was out of action for months. I wonder if he asked for a transfer when he got back from long term injury like so many present players.

In the 1935 season Dixie was involved in a game widely perceived as the greatest game ever played the 4th round FA cup replay against Sunderland. Another huge Goodison crowd was present, 60, 000, to witness the event that would leave another lasting memory for life on the Evertonian lucky enough to get in. Dixie never scored unbelievably in this game but pulled all the strings. There was 15 minutes to go Everton were winning 3-1 but Sunderland fought back to equal the score and extra time ensued. Everton would score three more times and Sunderland one more .The whistle blew, Everton had won a thrilling tie that had everything, 6-4 was the final score.

This was a game talked about for generations afterwards; it was that great a game.

The hard tackling and physical demands were taking their toll on our Legend and in October of 1937 Dixie was to play his last match for Everton, his 399th league game, against Grimsby Town after scoring an incredible 383 Everton career goals .Why not wait till he played 1 more league game? This echo’s Tony Cottee’s departure from Goodison on 99 goals why not be left to leave after reaching a milestone goal tally for these great servants. I like round figures, like myself.

A young pretender named Lawton was being nursed at the time to take over from Dixie in fact they played together for a while. The lad was to be Everton’s next centre forward .I believe he never made too bad a job of it either.

Dixie was left in the reserves much to the dismay of his adoring subjects and there was uproar when he was sold to Notts County for £3000, ironically 13 years after he signed for the same fee. The same feeling of unbelief would be repeated when Bally left Everton. It was revealed later by Dixie that the then club secretary Theo Kelly drove Dixie out with his autocratic disagreeable attitude to him and the other senior players.

Dixie was constantly injured in his County career and later left to join Sligo Rovers in Ireland in January 1939 but really he left his heart at Goodison.

It was a sensational coup for the North West Irish team .When Dixie turned up for duty at the local railway station thousands gathered around just to get a glimpse and welcome the great man. Elvis and Ali all rolled into one had arrived in town.

Dixie played 11 games for Rovers and scored 11 goals to maintain his goal a game record. The great man scored five in one game in a 7-1 win a record individual goal scoring record for the proud Irish club.

But he could not win another cup winners medal when Waterford beat Rovers in the FAI cup final replay. Sadly his runners up medal was stolen from his hotel but years later a strange twist happened. When Dixie was invited over for Rovers 1978 Cup Final, a package was given to the greatest centreforward the game had ever seen and in it was his stolen medal! You see even thieves recognise and honour a genius.

Dixie returned to Birkenhead with his family just before War broke out and took up a job in the local Abattoir. In 1940 Dixie joined the army the Kings Regiment obviously Dixie played in games to entertain the troops and he had his Indian summer of accolades. After the War Dixie took over a pub in Chester ‘The Dublin Packett’ it became Chester’s biggest attraction for 15 years . I think it had something to do with the proprietor.

Many famous people would drop in to see our legend including the likes of Lester Piggott.

Then Mr Moores, the Everton chairman at the time, gave Dixie the call to come back to his real home on Merseyside and gave him a security job at Littlewoods. Fellow workers said Dixie was a quiet unassuming man; tell that to the defenders in the twenties and thirties. He did this for several years until he retired at 65 on a pension. The seemingly wrong doings of leaving Everton without a golden handshake was put right with a testimonial match held at Goodison in 1964, a game between the English players and Scottish players from the reds and Everton teams. Would anyone remember him that much to turn up? Well over forty thousand turned up for a player who last played for his team 26 years ago, what a tribute to the man. Over £10,000( a tidy sum then ), raised and put in trust for our special number nine. After his retirement he was often employed as an after dinner speaker. In 1974 his wife died suddenly of a heart attack, he then went to live with his daughter Barbara.

In 1976 Dixie was asked to present the footballer of the year trophy in London. Following his presentation to a player who played for Scunthorpe ,Southampton and Hamburg and later on managed England, Newcastle and Fulham, Dixie himself received a silver salver with the words inscribed ‘ To Dixie Dean .60 goals in a season, more than most teams score today’ ,that says it all.

In November 1976 Dixie had a thrombosis and an amputation of his right leg was the only alternative. Dixie would joke he had been in more theatres than Morecambe and Wise. He managed to get about in a wheel chair. Then in March 1980 a very sad day came not just for Evertonians but for true football fans around the world. In the main stand after watching his beloved Everton in a derby game our living legend died. Where else would he die I suppose .This mans life could not be scripted better by a Hollywood writer.

To the sceptics of the great mans exploits and how would he fare today?

I will say this; the ball Dixie headed and kicked was made in leather stitched up with a lace protruding, as it got wet it got heavier and more difficult to control. The present day players would not kick such a ball let alone head it, if they did they would want extra money for the headaches ensued and have to go to the hairdressers more often. Defenders of the day were more physically contacting and players given less protection those days by the referee . Conditions of pitches were far worse and treatment of injuries dated. My dad who saw Dixie score that magical 60th goal says to me that Dixie could head a ball harder than most players could kick it.

Also remember the hobnail boots they played in, not the kid goat type leather soft stuff of today. With ‘predator’ ribbing.

If a midfielder from Portugal, (Figo), can command £40million how much would Dixie be worth now?

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Some titbits

The sixtieth goal was scored in the Park End it wasn’t sucked in as that famous Bayern night in the Gwladys Street End but dragged in by hysteria and thought power. Sixty thousand Uri Geller’s willed it in.

At the height of his golscoring the marking was getting ridiculous so much so Dixie ran off the field during play; his marker asked where he was going Dixie replied “For a pee, you coming or what”?

Dixie use to practice heading the ball with a young upstart Tommy Lawton using ……..a medicine ball!

Strange that Tommy also went on to play for Notts County after leaving Everton.

Dixie despite all the attention of past Rotweiller like defenders was never booked or sent off .A remarkable achievement from a remarkable man.

In his heyday Dixie Dean’s greatest rival was, naturally, the Liverpool

goalkeeper of the time, one Elisha Cook. The two men locked horns in the great Merseyside derbies for many years and it has to be said that Elisha, while a great keeper was punished by the unfailing accuracy of Dixie’s head and left foot many times. He feared his encounters with Dixie Dean more than any other centre forward of the time.

One day Dixie was out shopping in Liverpool city centre with his wife when he spotted Elisha on the other side of the road, also leisurely shopping with his own wife. A look of mild fear spread across Elisha’s face as he registered his greatest adversary. As Dixie nodded to greet him, Elisha unlocked himself from his wife’s arm and dived instinctively and acrobatically into the road. Remember that our centreforward used to send Elisha headache tablets before the derby games.

Dixie didn’t like fuss but when the Pathe News, a popular feature in cinemas at the time for news( there was no telly then ,never mind the great god Sky), wanted to film him they said they would have to put powder on his face to take the shine away Dixie said “I’ll put a shine on your face mate! If you put powder on my bloody face ”.

Before a match Dixie would have only a glass of sherry mixed with two raw eggs. I’m sending that magic potion to Goodison as well.

After a game at Spurs Dixie was the last to walk off and a fan shouted to him “We’ll get you yet, you black bastard! ” a policeman overheard this but was pushed aside by Dixie saying “It’s alright officer I’ll handle this” Dixie jumped over to the fan and punched him sending him flying.

The policeman who saw the incident winked at Dixie and said “that was a beauty Dixie and of course I never saw it officially”cockney police are dead helpful at times.

Dixie once scored a total of 18 goals in nine consecutive games.

Dixie would walk into his favourite pubs around Walton and Scotland Rd and buy all the old folk a drink, a bit like Duncan Ferguson really.

Dixie got married to a girl called Ethel Fossard in the summer of 1931 spent their honeymoon on a tour of the racetracks around Britain. They had three sons and a daughter. He nickname his daughter ‘Nina’ after a game in which we beat Southport 9-1.

Sadly none of the lads took up football. They rented a house off Everton not far from Goodison, can you see a superstar today doing that! How times have changed ,you often heard of footballers at the time going the game in the same transport and making the fans present the talk of the pubs and schools weeks later telling the tale of their famous co-passenger. Football fans identified a hell of a lot more with their hero’s then ,their wages were not even ten times the working mans wage. Now it’s a hundreds times for average players. A lot of our footballers once they make it big have what I call the Michael Jackson syndrome .They are not in the real world!

In the 1932-33 season Everton played Chelsea in a game that at half time the players just turned around and kicked off again due to fading light. There were no floodlights then. Everton won that game 7-2 Dixie scored four with his head.

Dixie Dean is the only English player ever known to walk off after a England v Scotland game to a standing ovation at Hampden, he was that good.

In 1927 the great American baseball player of the time, Babe Ruth, whilst in London asked to meet Dixie to just to shake his hand. Such was the attraction of the great man. It was an interesting fact that Babe Ruth had just accomplished a mirror like score line of sixty home runs in a season, thought also never to be beaten at the time.

Whilst on a end of season tour in Nazi Germany, Dixie seeing all that was wrong under this tyranny refused to salute Adolf Hitler (as I said earlier, one ball was all that Dixie had in common with Adolf) and told his team mates to do the same .The first sporting team ever to do so, Everton champs again in the cause for Europe’s freedom

When the Legend fell to ill health best wishes were sent to him from all over the world. Some would be addressed simply ‘to Dixie Dean England ’and they would find there way to their destination .Everybody knew who Dixie was, not at least the Post Office, as famous as Father Christmas was Dixie.

While we cast our minds back again to Dixie all we have had is some small memorabilia of the great man and a function room named after him. Six years ago another great Evertonian saved our club and one of the first things he set out to do was to make Dixie’s home a better looking venue to visit .The shrine that is Goodison Park was starting to look like the wreck of the Titanic and looking tired. It’s smiling again now even it is for a short while till we hopefully re-build or move. But something was missing and Bill Kenwright and his board have delivered it now and that is a fitting statue of the greatest scoring Evertonian ever and a player who helped made this club a household name throughout the land.

Bill and his board paid the biggest fee at Christie’s for a FA cup winners medal at the time, £17,500, because it was Dixie’s. Before the auction Bill said to me “Don’t worry Ian, Dixie’s medal is going nowhere but home”

Dixie has passed away many years now but it has taken till today’s board to come along for a fitting statue to be made, I thank them for this great gesture. If we move ,as I say, then Dixie’s statue can come too with all our memories. Don’t forget this isn’t the first time we have moved, but true there are many many more memories attached to Goodison than our previous home. I don’t think Dixie and his mates in heaven will want us left behind in this ever-demanding business that sadly is football now.

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Inscriptions around the great mans statue

When a fellow Evertonian dies we always say they will be playing with Dixie now in heaven, no finer a tribute to the man .As I say a true legend and a gentleman to boot. There will never be another footballer like William Ralph Dixie Dean, a one off in life’s hall of fame. The statue is just a token to the great mans memory always synominous of when we think of our great club. What a player and what a man. He’ll be embarrassed now in heaven when he sees his statue and the club he loved so dearly as a kid. So when you get down heartened about our present state of play in periods close your eyes and think of the time when we had Dixie .No other football fan except an Evertonian can get that feeling of pride in what he accomplished and the type of man he was .Smile when you think of Dixie and a special part of this great man’s story is that he was one of us, an Evertonian!

For the record this is what Dixie achieved, it’s phenomenal he was truly a goal machine.

60 league goals in one season 1927-28

100 goals scored in 1927-28

100league goals before he was 21

200 league goals in 199 games at 23 years old

300 league goals in 310 games

379 league goals in 437 games

349 league goals for one beloved club Everton

37 hat-tricks in his career

200 goals for Everton in 198 games

More than 20 league goals for nine consecutive seasons

More than 30 league goals in four seasons

Averaged 0.94 goals a game

473 goals in 502 matches

16 International caps scoring 18 goals

Who tell me will ever hold a candle to the above. Id like to thank the skills of Tom Murphy ,the sculptor , who has honed our hero in Bronze in the famous pose were Dixie runs onto the pitch with the ball under his arm before that Arsenal game that made him a true legend . Sadly not many people remember the name of Camsell who scored 59 goals in the second division I must add because of Dixie. On Friday May 4 Th 2001 I was there with my dad to witness fittingly the anniversary of Dixie scoring the magical sixty 73 years ago (actually it’s May 5th but were away at Chelsea) with the unveiling of his statue.

The pride felt for Dixie bringing together the generations

One of our fiercest foes of the past from across the park (who was welcomed and forgiven in his later days at Goodison), Bill Shankly said of the great man.

“Dixie was the greatest centre forward there will ever be. His record of goal scoring is the most amazing thing under the sun .He belongs in the company of the supremely great like Beethoven, Shakespeare and Rembrandt.”

At Dixie’s funeral Shankly added tongue in cheek.

‘I know this is a sad occasion, but I think that Dixie would be amazed to know that even in death he could draw a bigger crowd to Goodison than Everton on a Saturday afternoon’

Dixie on Liverpool:

“There was nothing like quietening that Kop. When you stuck a goal in there it all went quiet, apart from a bit of choice language aimed in your direction! Scoring there was a delight to me. I just used to turn round to the crowd and bow three times to them”

“Everton have always been noted for going out on the pitch to play football. We got called the school of science quite rightly. The other lot, the Reds…. well they were a gang of butchers! …. they should have been working in an abattoir. McNab, McKinlay, the Wadsworths. God bless my soul. They’d kick an old woman”

Dixie on the record:

“People ask me if that 60-goal record will ever be beaten. I think it will. But there’s only one man who’ll do it. That’s that feller who walks on the water. I think he’s about the only one.”

Dixie to George Best on escalating players’ earnings:

“When I was playing I couldn’t afford a pair of boots never mind boutiques”

Alex Young on Dixie:

“Dixie was unique. A legend. An icon. The superlatives rain upon him and rightly so because his feats still seem unbelievable. I feel privileged and honoured to be one of the players to have pulled on that Everton No.9 jersey and followed in the footsteps of a football giant.”

Dixie with Joe Mercer

Some nice pieces I’ve found immortalising our shinning star

The Ballad of Dixie Dean © Gerry Murphy 1980

I On the Banks of the river Mersey It is morning in the streets There’s a boy in a football jersey Playing music with his feet He is bound for greater glory Than the North End has ever seen Generations will tell the story Of the legendary Dixie Dean

II He’s a child of the dockside In the age of the First World War He is a railway worker’s boy child In the days when they had nothing at all He is the hunter in that frozen field In pursuit of a leather case ball Little does he know he is going to be The greatest of them all

Chorus The children sing “Good old Billy Dean You are the greatest centre-forward ever seen How they say it is a pleasure to have been To see you play You are the legend of sixty goals In one league season all told The king of St. Domingo Road And Liverpool Bay”

IV Well he started out at Tranmere And “Dixie” became his name From the ‘pool, Birkenhead And all over Lancashire In their thousands they came He was the Goodison Park gladiator He was working class royalty And as the man strode up to take the F.A. Cup in 1933 The children sang

Chorus “Good old Dixie Dean…… You are the greatest centre-forward ever seen How they say it is a pleasure to have been To see you play You are the legend of sixty goals In one league season all told The king of St. Domingo Road And Liverpool Bay”

Middle On the field he gave his best He was always head and shoulders ‘bove the rest And when he scored, how they roared And the yelled for more To meet a cross how he leapt And the ball would more than likely hit the net And when he died, grown men cried to see such a brave one die

V So on the banks of the river Mersey We may be mourning in the street Still the boys in their football jerseys Play their music with their feet They are bound for greater glory In the ranks of our football teams You can bet they will all know the story Of the legendary “Dixie” Dean

Chorus So goodbye Dixie Dean, You are the greatest centre-forward ever seen How they say it is a pleasure to have been To see you play You are the legend of sixty goals In one league season all told The king of St. Domingo Road The best of all time so goodbye You’ll never fade away.

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From local writer John Davies

Dear dear Dixie Dean

King of the thirties soccer scene

All-time goalscorer supreme:

Boy that must have made you scream.

Lauded in Goodison’s sacred halls

Your pictures are on all its walls

Your footwork meant you took some falls

We also know it took some balls

They say you had a plate in your head

From a bike accident you might have been dead

Still loads of your goals were headers they said

We’re glad you wore blue and never red

Fearless Dixie through every debacle

You wouldn’t let defenders raise a hackle

You never would pull out of a tackle

Despite the effect it could have on your tackle

Dixie’s records stretch footy knowledge

Blues’ bets on him they’d never hedge

To honour him I’ll eat, I pledge

A fitting meal – meat and one veg.

From Keith Armstrong, poet.

Dixie Dean – ‘Footballer To The Queen’

A leg

you swung and shook and balanced on;

a muscled lever

that launched you

up above the crowds,

like a fresh salmon

leaping for the net,

was hacked off

this afternoon;

severed,

bleeding goals from yesterday.

Away

from the floodlights,

on the sooty terraces

of retirement,

the careful surgeons

knifed

through,

with a bullet-head,

the baggy and square

defenders of our time.

Now

they are pickling

the lonely leg,

the explosive boot,

its ankle-pad,

its foot

swollen with kicks.

Bottling it up

for the boardroom scene,

labelled:

DIXIE DEAN – ‘FOOTBALLER TO THE QUEEN’

From an unknown fan;

“A long time ago when I was a lad,

Folk spoke of a genius Everton had,

The greatest goal scorer the world’s ever seen,

Who went by the name of William Ralph Dean.

This man was so lethal with the flick of his head,

He’d leave goalies flat out as if they were dead,

This working class hero was humble and poor,

He never bragged of the goals that he scored,

No flashy clothes, and no trendy car,

He’d drink with the fans in the Gwladys Street bar,

He never cared much for money or fame,

He just loved the Blues and the footballing game.

Though I was too young to have seen Dixie play,

His feats are remembered and talked of today.

I grew up an urchin down old Scotty Road,

No shoes on my feet, and a small, snotty nose,

We kicked cans on the cobbles each kid with one dream,

One day we’d be legend’s, just like Dixie Dean.”

Dixie Dean trophy shield

It is inscribed:

‘Presented to William Ralph Dean (Everton and England) by The Everton F.C. Supporters Federation Club. To Commemorate his Football League Goal Scoring Record of 60 League Goals. Season 1927-1928’

The smaller medallions on the shield represent the matches that Dixie scored goals at that season. Each one is individually engraved with the team played, an H or A for a Home or Away match and the number of goals Dixie scored. (You can also see an arrow which someone, presumably a proud Evertonian has added which points to the game against Liverpool Football Club!).

I hope that I have done Dixie some justice in this short article, a small insight to this giant amongst men. Oh for a Dixie now!

When Everton play Preston pre-season these days I go into the Football museum and watch Dixie play on some old Pathe news reel .I get mesmerised and watch him over and over again .I don’t think I’ve seen the start of any of the Preston games because of the old film of Dixie.

I would like to dedicate this article to my Dad, William Macdonald another Bill my other hero, who like I say seen history being made when Dixie scored the 60th goal. It’s because of my dad that I write such things about Everton and care so much, he introduced me to these roller coaster fortunes of the club way back in the late sixties when I was just a small child. If Joe Royle , Alex Young ,Bob Latchford and Graham Sharp , all of whom I seen play, were not half as good as Dixie then he must have been some player .And he was!

Yours sincerely Ian Macdonald EISA

Ps Since I first wrote part of this article a few years ago Wayne Rooney (our hopes of another Dixie) has left without a fight and a look back. Geoffrey Dean, Dixie’s son, has died and most important of all to me personally my father William Macdonald has passed away .Thank you Dad for introducing me to the Everton extended family

“Footballer, Gentleman, Evertonian.”

A fanatical Evertonians tribute to Dixie in North Merseyside, I hope he does not mind me showing this great Blues passion of ‘Our Dixie’

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