9 from the number 9...part 5

Last updated : 19 May 2006 By Les Roberts

When Dunc joined us in 1994 he had the prospect of a prison sentence hanging over him.

He had already been charged with assault on three occasions before he head butted John McStay during a match between Rangers and Raith Rovers. Although McStay did not press charges, the local plod decided to and so it came to pass that the big fella became the first player to be sent to prison for an incident that occurred on the field of play!

He was sentenced to three months in Scotland's Barlinnie prison, of which he served 44 days in 1995. To make matters worse, the Scottish FA then slapped a 12-match ban on him, as if to show that they had washed their hands of him!

But it was a different story at Everton. In the short time he had been there he had already become something of a cult figure, sort of like Andy van der Meyde has, to a lesser degree, this season, and everyone involved with the club backed him.

He received countless letters of support from Evertonians, Joe Royle visited him in prison and the club successfully argued that the ban imposed by the Scottish FA was not enforceable in England.

When he was released from Barlinnie he was given a heroes welcome from Evertonians everywhere. 10,000 fans even turned up at Goodison to watch his first match after his release. It was a midweek reserve match! All of this feting of Ferguson riled some sections of the national press who couldn't wait to have a dig at us and Ferguson.

Funnily enough, a hack at the Daily Mail recently said that football will miss Ferguson like ‘a fly misses a
swat' (surely, if anything, the swat misses the fly!) but then lamented the loss of a legend as Shearer hung up his boots for good. The only difference between the two players, as far as I can see, is that Shearer got away with everything and Ferguson nothing.

Was Ferguson's head butt on John McStay really worse than Shearer's volley on Neil Lennon's head? Alright, Ferguson got sent down largely as a result of his previous convictions but Shearer was completely cleared of any wrong doing by an FA disciplinary committee! He didn't even get a three match ban!

But we didn't care what anyone else thought, he was a hero to us when we never really had much to shout about. His attitude towards everyone outside of the club very much reflected our own ‘we don't care what the red sh*te say' philosophy and he was a focus for all of us.

His time in prison is nothing to be proud of and I am in no way glorifying it, but it all went to make the man an Everton legend!