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William 'Dixie' Dean - the goal machine

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William Ralph Dean - 'Bill' to his family but 'Dixie' to everyone else - was a goal-scoring genius: a centre-forward who could score with either boot but was especially famous for his skill and courage in the air. Half of his phenomenal haul of goals were from headers.

He was the star of the Everton team in its glory years: the late 1920s and early 1930s, when, over a five-year period, they won the second division championship, two first division championships and the FA Cup

'Dixie' Dean running out                                           
Highs and lows
He created football history in the 1927-28 season, scoring more goals in a season than any other player before or since.But his career nearly ended in June, 1926. in his second season with Everton, when he was involved in a life-threatening motorcycle accident in North Wales. Dean suffered a broken jaw and fractured skull and was unconscious for 36 hours. Doctors told him he would never play football again. A metal plate was inserted to help mend the skull. (It was later removed, but the myth of its powering his headers remained.) Sixteen weeks later - in October 1926 - he scored his next goal, and in the remaining 27 games of the season he scored 21 times.

Finest moment
Without doubt Dean's finest moment came in the following season. With three matches to go and only 51 goals to his name, only the most committed fan would have believed that he could reach, let alone beat, the record of 59 goals set by Middlesbrough's George Camsell. But after hitting six goals in the next two games: two against Aston Villa and four against Burnley, he needed a hat-trick in the last match - against Arsenal - to take the record.

On May 5, 1928, supporters packed Everton's Goodison Park despite the fact that the First Division Championship was already in the bag to see Dixie's bid for a place in the record books. He scored in the first five minutes, then, mid-way through the first half, Everton were awarded a penalty.

Dean collected the ball, placed it and scored. With only eight minutes to go, the score at 2-all, and 60,000 people looking anxiously at the clock, it began to look as though Dixie wouldn't make it. Then Scottish international left winger Alec Troup sent in a corner. Grainy photographs show Dixie soaring above the Arsenal defence. When he came down, football history had been made. Even Arsenal's late equalizer couldn't dampen the spirits of the ecstatic Goodison Park crowd.

Those 60 goals in 39 matches, plus 40 scored in internationals, cup-ties and friendlies, brought his season total to an amazing 100 goals, a record tally that has stood for 80 years and is unlikely ever to be beaten. Dixie Dean scored almost 500 goals in his career before retiring to run a pub in Chester. The pub, the Dublin Packet, became a Mecca for Everton fans.

The man
He was one of the few strikers never to have been cautioned in his career. With his outstanding talent and a posse of clubs making blank-cheque offers, Dean might well have been a prima donna, but he remained a committed Evertonian and a loyal team-mate.

It is a measure of his popularity that when the club finally gave him a testimonial match 26 years aftter he had stopped playing for them - a crowd of almost 40,000 turned out. Dixie died in 1980 - appropriately, while watching The Blues play their historic rivals: Liverpool. At his funeral, huge crowds lined the city's streets in silent tribute.

What they said about Dixie
After the funeral, Bill Shankly, Liverpool manager, and football's king of the one-liners, remarked that Dixie Dean, dead, could draw a bigger crowd than today's Everton, live. In 2001, Dean's son, also named William Ralph, unveiled a bronze statue of Dean at the Park End of Goodison Park - the end at which he scored that 60th goal. The speech was short: 'he was as good a father as he was a footballer.'

Notoriously shy and laconic off the field, Dean's quotes are sparse. He is reputed to have said to an over-enthusiastic marker 'I'm going for a pee. You coming?'

Ted Jones is the author of A Literary Guide For Travellers (I.B.Tauris, London).

'Dixie' Dean Facts Machine
At the peak of his career, Dean's wage was eight pounds a week. When he transferred to Notts County in 1937, his transfer fee was the same as that for which he transferred from Tranmere Rovers 13 years earlier: £3,000.

A natural sportsman, Dean was a competent cricketer and golfer - and in the off-season played baseball with Liverpool Caledonians.

On a pre-World War II Everton tour of Germany, he refused to return the Nazi salute, insisting that the rest of the team did the same.

Dean was the first player ever to wear the number 9 when. numbered jerseys were introduced for the 1933 FA Cup Final. (Manchester City were numbered 11-22)

The series of postage stamps commemorating the 2000 European Cup featured a typical Dean header, and is captioned "Dixie Dean, 1907-1980".

Dean's pre-match 'refreshment' was a glass of sherry mixed with two raw eggs.

'Dixie' Dean Vital Stats
Born: 22 Jan, 1907. Birkenhead
Married: Ethel Fossard 1931
Children: Three sons and a daughter.
Died: 1 Mar, 1980, Everton

Goals scored:
60 league goals for Everton in 1927-28 season
349 league goals for Everton, including 37 hat-tricks
Average: 0.94 goals per game
18 goals in 16 games for England