21st November 1994, Andy Hinchcliffe takes a corner. The perfectly arced ball sailed in at the exact trajectory to leave a 'what if' in the pit of 40,000 stomachs. Meanwhile, at its destination, a loanee Scotsman began a twisting leap that cut through the cold night air. The two were fixed on a constant bearing toward the same point. Their shared direction was about to change from curve and twist to sure and true. As the ball met the back of the net, Duncan Cowan Ferguson met Goodison Park.
In that single moment his permanent signing was a certainty. 'FERGUSON', '9' already adorned many a royal blue jersey. It was a moment of pure magic in a bleak period and sparked a new belief within the club; belief that 100% commitment and pride in wearing the Everton shirt could get you places. Not that Ferguson ever wanted for talent that is; great in the air, good eye for goal and tidy feet in a tight situation. He also showed imagination and no fear in some big games; never daunted by his opposition, any opponent, ego or reputation.
The passion he created was not just from performances alone but also a presence like no other player. He had a gladiatorial understanding of what the fans really wanted to see in their players; a menacing, unflinching, combative nature. Duncan Ferguson did not play football, he waged 90 minutes of war against all placed before him. Images of altercations on the pitch will never win trophies or put the ball in the back of the net but they can light a fire in a football ground. The flailing Paul Ince, flying through the air after being tossed aside like a dog's unwanted chew toy. Or maybe Sami Hyypia grounded and cowering, consumed by the knowledge he is less of a man than 'Big Dunc'.
The memories that endure are not just the much loved assaults against anyone stupid enough to test him. He scored some great goals in big games against the most hated and daunting of oppositions. They shine as examples of the talent that was hampered by battle scars and an unjust penance paid. The countless towering headers, the swivel and shot against Manchester United or indeed the swivel and shot against Liverpool. Even in the dark days of Geordie exile I couldn't help raise a smile when he turned and dispatched a world class half volley against none other than Manchester United.
Every Evertonian dreamed of a 1995 Ferguson cup final goal to crown a fantastic season against all odds. It wasn't to be, but seeing him get on the pitch despite not being fully fit was a fantastic moment. During his time at Everton he was the embodiment of the fans' passion and desire standing tall on the pitch; never contained, always talismanic.
Why is Duncan our hero? Because he's one of us.
Rocky Balbluer @johnsimms1878