Dean Day

By Les Roberts
Last updated : 22 January 2007

And, had he been alive today, he would have been celebrating his 100th birthday.

So let's have some history…

He was born in the North End of Birkenhead on January 22nd 1907, where a street near his childhood home, Deansway, has been named after him.

A football obsessed youngster, he took a place at a Birkenhead borstal instead of a regular school as it had better footballing facilities.

He left school at 14 to work as an apprentice boiler maker and signed for Pensby Football Club where he stayed for two years before signing for Tranmere Rovers.

Like a lot of us Birkenhead boys he was born a blue and he got his dream move from Tranmere to Everton in 1925.

He made his debut for the Blues in a match against Arsenal in March of that year and was good value for his £3,000 price tag as he netted 32 goals in 38 games during his first full season.

But a year later his career was nearly ended as he fractured his skull in a near-fatal motorcycle accident.

Doctors told him that he'd never play football again after he had metal plates inserted in his head, but he was back playing later on that season and scored 21 goals in 27 games.

And he confounded all the medical experts as his prodigious heading ability was unaffected by his injuries.

A third of all his Everton goals were scored with his head including, quite fittingly, his 60th in the glorious 1927/28 season.

To reach that milestone he had to score three against Arsenal at Goodison, which he did with 5 five minutes left on the clock.

It's a record that will never be bettered and quite why Dean's name isn't mentioned alongside other footballing legends like Pele is quite a mystery.

Well, actually it isn't, he played for Everton for a start…and he played for Everton pre-second World War, and football hadn't even been invented then!

Two years later and Everton were relegated but Dean refused to move from Gooison and helped the Blues win the Second Division title in 1931, the First Division title in 1932 and the FA Cup in 1933.

That famous FA Cup final against Man City was the first time that numbers were displayed on players' shirts and, as Everton were number 1 to 11 and City 12 to 22, Dean became the first player to wear the number nine shirt.

He truly was the first and greatest ever number nine.

And he never just set the template for future Everton number nines with his goalscoring ability as one anecdote from White Hart Lane testifies.

Dean was the last man to leave the pitch after a game at Tottenham and some irate Spurs fan was heard to have shouted “We'll get you yet, you black bastard!”.

Despite the attentions of a nearby policeman. Dean pushed the officer aside and planted one on the wannabe Oswald Moseley and sent him flying.

Dean played his last game for Everton in 1937 as he wore the shirt for 399th and final time in a match against Grimsby Town.

It was the final match of the 1936/37 season and Everton slumped to a disappointing 0-1 defeat at Blundell Park to finish the season in 17th position.

Dean finished that season as Everton's top scorer, as he had done in every season he was with the club and ended his Everton career on a total of 349 goals.

His overall scoring record was 0.94 goals per game, a figure that makes him officially the greatest goalscorer the game has ever seen.

His closest rival to that crown, Pele, only managed a meagre 0.93 goals per game over the course of his career!

After leaving Everton he went to play for Notts County but, dogged by injuries, he managed just nine appearances for the Magpies and scored three goals in the 1938/39 season.

He ended his career at Sligo Rovers of Ireland where he scored 11 goals in his 11 appearances.

He also ended his career without picking up a single booking and was never sent off.

He joined the army in 1940 and, after the war, he took over as landlord of the Dublin Packet pub in Chester, it's the one opposite the Catherdral and next to that horrible shopping arcade if you're ever in the area.

Dean's last match at Goodison was spent in the main stand as he watched Everton lose 1-2 to Liverpool.

He died of heart failure during the game on March 1st 1980.

One of the finest tributes to the great man came from Bill Shankly who said of Dean: “Those of us privileged to see Dean play, talk of him the way people talk about Beethoven, Shakespeare or Mozart, he was that good.”

But the final words go to Gerry Murphy, writer of The Ballad of Dixe Dean

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

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

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”

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
“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”

On the field he gave his best
He was always head and shoulders ‘bove the rest
And when he scored, how they roared
And they 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

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

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.

And if that didn't bring a lump to your throat then the words of the man himself should: "I always had the ambition to play for Everton as a boy. When I was at school we wore blue jerseys and on the night before a match I would sleep in mine because it meant so much. And I'd dream of playing in Everton blue. It was a dream that came true and I loved every minute."

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