EVERTON have traditionally looked north of the border for striking talent – and more specifically to West Glasgow to bolster their striking options. From pre-War wonder kid Torry Gillick to current hero Nikica Jelavic, Ibrox has been a profitable source of goalscorers for the Blues. They will hope that Steven Naismith can follow in the footsteps of Duncan Ferguson, Alex Scott and co.
HAILED as a 19-year-old “Wonder Boy” Everton broke their transfer record just before Christmas 1935 to land a thrilling Glasgow Rangers winger who had scored 17 goals in 17 games for the Ibrox club.
Gillick cost £8,000, and in an example of the kind of horse-trading that surrounded player transfers then, the teenager knew nothing about the deal until it was completed!
The Liverpool ECHO reported: “Until yesterday Gillick did not know that Everton desired his transfer. Both Everton and Rangers agreed that there should be no mention of the club or the player until, the transfer was completed. Everton made an offer for Gillick, terms were agreed upon by the clubs, and yesterday Mr Theo Kelly, the acting secretary of the Everton club, went to Glasgow to complete the deal.”
Fortunately Gillick was not unhappy to make the switch.
A wiry winger, a natural entertainer and an exhilarating sight in full flight, Gillick helped maintain the tradition of top-class Scottish players at Goodison when he won a League Championship medal in 1939.
Described as: “A dangerous raider, two-footed, and a rare shot” he scored nine goals in 23 appearances in his first season.
The following campaign he increased that tally to 16 and in 1938/39 helped the Blues to the title, scoring the final goal of the glorious campaign against Aston Villa – and getting knocked clean out at the same time!
Like many players of that era his peak years were wiped out by the Second World War and he returned to Rangers in November 1945, after a 133-match Everton career in which he scored 44 goals.
IF there was an award for Everton’s greatest Scottish import, the skilful, ball-playing Stevenson would be somewhere near the top.
An Irish international when he signed in February 1934, the Liverpool Post and Mercury reported: “Stevenson is a player Everton have tried to secure for some time, but when arrangements were almost completed recently the player decided that he wanted to stay in Glasgow, however he changed his mind.”
Everton were delighted he did.
He made his debut at Highbury against Arsenal and helped Dixie Dean and co. secure a first league double for two seasons.
“A delightful positional player, a shrewd schemer and a fine marksman with either foot,” he went on to enjoy a 15-year career with the Blues, not bad for a player who was initially reluctant to move south. He was a league champion in 1939 and scored 90 goals in 271 games, joining forces with Jackie Coulter to tear many a defence to shreds.
ALEX ‘CHICO’ SCOTT
EVERTON had to spend big again in February 1963 to land the signature of Rangers’ right winger Alex Scott.
They were successful, but only after one of the fiercest transfer battles of the decade, with double-winning Tottenham also chasing him.
Harry Catterick was the winner, as he so often was in his transfer dealings, but had to spend £40,000.
Nevertheless it was money well spent.
Scott won a title winner’s medal in his first season and was an integral member of the 1966 FA Cup-winning team.
He made 176 appearances in four-and-a-half years at Goodison, scoring 26 goals, before returning north of the border to Hibernian in 1967.
AFTER several seasons of a ‘midget gem’ strike-force at Goodison, Evertonians were crying out for a traditional target-man to accompany diminutive strikers Tony Cottee, Peter Beardsley and another Rangers old boy, Mo Johnston.
When the five feet 11 inch Paul Rideout was unveiled, a £500,000 signing from Rangers, reaction was underwhelming, but Rideout proved his critics wrong.
A clever, skilful leader of the line – he even played one match in central midfield against Tottenham, and was excellent – he really began to flourish as part of Joe Royle’s RAF strikeforce of Rideout and Ferguson.
Top scorer in 1994/95, his final goal of the campaign was the header which defeated Manchester United and brought the FA Cup to Goodison.
He ended his Goodison career with 40 goals in 140 appearances, but bare statistics can’t detail his value to the Blues.
HE cost Everton £1.5m from Glasgow Rangers in the summer of 1991, and was allowed to leave on a free transfer two years later.
But Johnston, no stranger to transfer deals, was reluctant to leave.
His record of 10 goals in 39 appearances suggests Howard Kendall’s gamble didn’t pay off, but two of those strikes came in derby matches and another in a 3-0 win at Old Trafford.
Johnston’s best days were undoubtedly behind him, but he was never a complete flop at Goodison.
THE big man divided opinion like few players before or since at Goodison.
He joined Everton from Glasgow Rangers, initially on-loan, and then in a permanent club record £4m deal in 1994.
For some supporters, he was the Tartan talisman who could do no wrong – a footballing braveheart who regularly turned it on against Liverpool and Manchester United, and a player who loved the club so much he had a crest tattooed on his shoulder.
To others, he was an expensive liability with a long injury list and a short fuse, a player who loved himself more than the team, a player who could have been a legend, but lacked the motivation.
But there was no doubt he could never be ignored.
He scored 72 goals 273 appearances in two separate spells with the club, the first bizarrely curtailed when he was sold behind the manager’s back to Newcastle.
Those may not be the stats of a goalscoring legend.
But statistics cannot conjure up the sensation of seeing him dab on the Braveheart warpaint and go to war.
In full cry, he was an inspiring sight.
And while those days were far less frequent in his second spell at the club, he turned back the clock in 2004/05 and gave a younger generation of Evertonians a glimpse at what their dads had been going on about.
His performance against Manchester United on April 20 was inspirational and helped guide Everton into a Champions League place, and the goal he headed into the Gwladys Street net a reminder of what he used to do more regularly – and what Blues fans hope Steve Naismith will provide this season.