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Friday, 4 November 2011

Duncan Ferguson

Position: Centre Forward
Nationality: Scottish
Nickname: Big Dunc
Supported As Youngster: Rangers
Chant: Too Many!
Fact: The big man has a Everton tattoo on his arm!

Duncan Ferguson is an Everton legend, a Scottish former footballer who was notorious for his "hardman" image and nicknamed "Big Dunc".

Did You Know? Ferguson began his football career at Carse Thistle before being signed by Dundee United in 1990 on his first professional contract. He moved to Rangers in 1993 for a then British transfer record of £4 million!

He spent the remainder of his career in England with two spells at Everton (1994 to 1998 and 2000 to 2006) and Newcastle United between 1998 and 2000. Ferguson retired from football in 2006.

During his career, Ferguson won the FA Cup with Everton in 1995, competed in the qualifying stages of the UEFA Champions League in 2005, also with Everton, and participated in the UEFA Cup in 1999 with Newcastle and 2005 with Everton.

He was capped for Scotland seven times but made himself unavailable for selection in his national team due to a dispute with the Scottish Football Association. He has scored more goals than any other Scottish player in the FA Premier League.

Ferguson was noted for his aggressive and highly-competitive style of play, which resulted in nine red cards and a three month jail sentence following an on field assault of Raith Rovers John McStay in 1994.

Dundee United
Ferguson made his professional debut for Dundee United against Rangers at Ibrox Stadium on 10 November 1990. He scored one goal in the league that season against Dunfermline Athletic in March 1991.

He achieved greater impact in the Scottish Cup that season, scoring three goals in five matches and helping Dundee United to reach the final. Once there, they lost to Motherwell, 4–3 after extra time.

The following season saw him become a first team regular, with 41 appearances and 16 goals he became the clubs top scorer. His good form continued in 1992–93 with 33 appearances and 15 goals.

The form he displayed at Dundee United also saw him win a call up to the Scottish national team. Ferguson accrued four caps during 1992 and 1993, playing in three friendlies and one European Football Championship match. These outings yielded no goals for the striker.


Ferguson's form at Dundee United attracted the interest of several clubs. Walter Smith signed Ferguson for Rangers in July 1993, for a then British transfer record fee of £4 million. Smith had begun his managerial career at Dundee United under Jim McLean, just as Ferguson had begun his professional playing career. Soon after Smith left Dundee United to assist Graeme Souness at Rangers, where he eventually took over the managerial role in 1991. The paths of Ferguson and Smith were to cross numerous times from this point.

Ferguson made little impact at Rangers, coupling indifferent displays and persistent injury woes. He played twenty-three games and scored five goals. He was also played out of position by Smith, often as a left winger and on one occasion even as a left back in a match against Levski Sofia.

In the 1993–94 season, Ferguson played 16 games but only scored once, in a 4–0 defeat of Raith Rovers. It was in this game that Ferguson headbutted the visitors' John McStay in the south-west corner of the Ibrox pitch. Referee Kenny Clark and his linesmen missed the incident, hence Ferguson avoided a dismissal, but he was subsequently charged with assault and, as it was his fourth such conviction, he served three months in prison.

In contrast, season 1994–95 saw Ferguson start in fine form. Gary Pallister and David May of Manchester United endured a torrid time in a pre–season friendly. This was followed by a last–minute winner against Motherwell, from a Brian Laudrup assist on the first game of the season. Four days later, Ferguson scored a hat–trick in a 6–1 win over Arbroath. The next match saw Ferguson pressure a Partick Thistle player into scoring an own goal, leading to a 2–0 win for Rangers.

A Champions League qualifier against AEK Athens left Rangers 2–0 down after the first leg. Smith elected to play a partnership of Ferguson and Mark Hateley up front, in an effort to overcome the deficit. The two players were poorly suited to playing alongside each other; they often ended up competing for the same ball. Despite Ferguson having outscored Hateley in the first five games of the season, Smith decided to drop Ferguson in favour of Gordon Durie.


In October 1994, Everton were struggling under the management of Mike Walker and looking for options to reinvigorate their faltering season. The solution enacted was to take two Rangers players on loan–deal, Ian Durrant for one month and Ferguson for three.

The deal failed to secure Walker’s tenure, and saw the managerial role handed to Joe Royle in November. Royle decided to let Durrant return north to Rangers but then signed Ferguson permanently in a £4 million deal — making him Everton's record signing.

While still on loan, Ferguson contributed a goal in the 2–0 Merseyside derby victory at Goodison Park on 21 November 1994.

Ferguson also helped Everton progress to the semi–final stage of the 1995 FA Cup. Despite recovering from an injury at the time, he was given a substitute appearance in the final against Manchester United, a game that saw Everton victorious and provided Ferguson with the only honour of his career in a 1–0 result.

The subsequent, 1995–96 season was less successful for Ferguson. A persistent hernia problem caused him to be unavailable for large amounts of time.

From here, Ferguson continued to be the focal point of Everton’s attack. In 1996-97 he helped maintain the club’s top-flight status but also suffered another injury setback, this time requiring surgery on his knee. Howard Kendall returned to manage the club in 1997-98 and decided that season to reward Ferguson with the captaincy of the team. It was during this season that Ferguson removed himself from contention for the Scottish national team.

After Everton were almost relegated during the 1997-98 season, Kendall made way for Walter Smith, reuniting Ferguson with his Rangers manager. Smith maintained the strategy of bypassing the midfield and instead lofting the ball straight to Ferguson.

Ferguson was sold to Newcastle for £7 million in late 1998.

Newcastle United

Upon bringing Ferguson to Newcastle, team manager Ruud Gullit was swiftly rewarded. Ferguson scored twice on his debut against Wimbledon in the Premier League. The final result was a 3–1 victory to Newcastle and the tantalising prospect of Ferguson and Alan Shearer forming a formidable strike partnership.

Though it was not to be; Ferguson again found himself struck down by injury and appeared only seven times for Newcastle during the 1998–99 season. He did however make a substitute appearance in the 1999 FA Cup Final.

His extended absence lasted from late December until April and curbed the early promise of his Tyneside career. Likewise, the first half of 1999–2000 brought more misfortune for Ferguson.

Injury would once again hinder Ferguson’s career and he was unable to participate in the final seven league matches of the season. These injury woes made his position at Newcastle untenable and he was eventually sold back to Everton by Bobby Robson for £3.75 million; almost half the price he was bought for from Everton two seasons earlier.

His final appearance came in the FA Cup semi-final defeat to eventual winners Chelsea.

Return To Everton
 Ferguson’s return to Goodison Park brought no change to his injury problems. Just two games into his second spell at Everton, he was injured. Regardless, he managed to participate in 13 Premier League games during the 2000–01 season and provided a crucial six goals in that time. This was enough to justify the return and once again keep Everton from relegation, though 16th place was their lowest under Walter Smith and fears were rife that 2001–02 would see Everton relegated.

The next two seasons were largely anonymous for Ferguson with the player battling to recover from his sciatica and rediscover his best form, hardly helped by his advancing years. Once in his early thirties and participating in the 2003–04 season, Ferguson again started to add value to the Everton team but he was eclipsed by the emergence of Wayne Rooney.

During the 2004–05 season, manager David Moyes began to utilise Ferguson effectively as a substitute. The striker’s contribution from the bench was pivotal in Everton’s campaign that season and his tally of five league goals helped lift Everton to a fourth–placed finish. A particular highlight was his match–winning goal against Manchester United, reminiscent of ten years prior when Ferguson scored against the same team to give Everton victory. The intervening period had seen Manchester United unbeaten by Everton in the league. By this stage, Wayne Rooney had been sold to Manchester United, but Everton had still managed to finish fourth in the final table - their highest yet in the Premier League and their highest finish overall in 17 years.

The 2005–06 season saw Ferguson regain the number 9 shirt - the number he has tattooed inside the Everton crest on his left upper arm. However, the 2005-2006 season was somewhat less fruitful for Ferguson with goals proving elusive and frustration dominating his displays, the latter factor reaching a head when Ferguson inadvertently headed the ball into his own net during Everton's 1-0 home defeat to Portsmouth in September 2005, a result which briefly dropped the team to the foot of the table.

Ferguson’s low point of the 2005–06 season was his sending off against Wigan Athletic for violent conduct. His confrontation with Paul Scharner and subsequent fracas with Pascal Chimbonda resulted in a total match–ban of seven games and saw Ferguson’s Premier League red–card count reach eight, equalling Patrick Vieira’s record. Scharner later claimed that he had sworn at Ferguson in his native language and that the Everton man's punch "was a nice punch".

On 7 May 2006, against West Bromwich Albion at Goodison Park, Ferguson was named captain in the game that marked the end of his Everton career. His 90th minute penalty kick was saved by Tomasz Kuszczak, but he subsequently scored from the rebound, netting his final goal for the club. Towards the end of his career he got a reputation as the hardman of the English game.

Burglary Attempt
In 2001, Ferguson was the victim of a burglary attempt by two men at his then home in Rufford. Ferguson confronted the pair and was able to detain one of them who subsequently spent three days in hospital. The second man managed to flee but was eventually caught. Both men were sentenced to fifteen months imprisonment for their actions.

Ferguson has had four convictions for assault - two arising from taxi–rank scuffles, one an altercation with a fisherman in an Anstruther pub and the most infamous: his on–field headbutt on Raith Rovers defender John McStay in 1994 while playing for Rangers, which resulted in a three month prison sentence.

The first incident led to a £125 fine for butting a policeman, while the second resulted in a £200 fine for punching and kicking a supporter on crutches. He had been put on a year's probation for the third offence.

Charity Work And Pigeons
 Ferguson has visited sick children at Alder Hey Children's Hospital and was a popular figure on his visits there. He would even go out of his way to visit sick children at their home.

Duncan Ferguson is obsessed with racing, homing pigeons. Now, a few years ago when Duncan Ferguson went from Everton to Newcastle United (for £7.5 million), he took his racing pigeons with him.

Keep Everton In Our City And Return To Everton To Coach!

Ferguson has pledged his support to the "Keep Everton in Our City" campaign, making a rare public statement: “ During my time at Everton, Goodison Park came to feel like a second home, with the supporters of the club, and the people of the city becoming a second family to me. If you were to take Everton out of the City, I firmly believe the club could no longer call itself the ‘People’s Club’ and I give my whole-hearted support to the campaign to keep Everton in the City."

In October 2011 Ferguson joined former club Everton, coaching the youth teams in an unofficial capacity, as he prepared to take his coaching qualifications. Not formally an employee, he is currently assisting Alan Irvine, the club's academy manager.

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