Dave Hickson

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Dave Hickson
Personal information
Full name David Hickson
Date of birth (1929-10-30)30 October 1929
Place of birth Salford, England
Date of death 8 July 2013(2013-07-08) (aged 83)
Youth career
Ellesmere Port Town
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1948–1955 Everton 139 (63)
1955 Aston Villa 12 (1)
1955–1957 Huddersfield Town 54 (28)
1957–1959 Everton 86 (32)
1959–1961 Liverpool 60 (37)
1961 Cambridge City ? (?)
1961–1962 Bury 8 (0)
1962–1963 Tranmere Rovers 45 (21)
Teams managed
1963–1964 Ballymena United
1967 Ballymena United
1968 Bangor
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

David Hickson (30 October 1929 – 8 July 2013) was an English professional footballer who played for Everton, Aston Villa, Huddersfield Town, Liverpool, Cambridge City, Bury & Tranmere Rovers

Club career

Hickson started his football career as a teenager with non-league Ellesmere Port Town, where his robust style and keen eye for goal were noticed by the Everton manager Cliff Britton. He signed for the Toffees in 1948, but serving his stint of National Service delayed his debut for another three years. During this period he played for the Cheshire Army Cadets team, and it was with them that he was coached by the Everton legend Dixie Dean. It is fairly safe to assume that Dave developed the physical side of his game in this period. Hickson made his debut for Everton in September 1951 against Leeds United, with the Blues in Division Two for only the second season in their history. Hickson was soon a regular fixture in the Everton side.

Perhaps the defining moment in Dave's career came in Everton's 1952–53 FA Cup run. The Blues were still in Division Two, and the cup was to provide some well needed excitement for the Goodison Park faithful. Home wins against Ipswich Town and Nottingham Forest put Everton into the fifth round, where they were drawn with Manchester United.

A feverish crowd of 77,920 packed Goodison Park on 14 February 1953 expectant of a thrilling encounter, and they would not be disappointed. United had the better of early exchanges and as expected took the lead just before the half hour. Everton were lifted just minutes later, when Tommy Eglinton nipped in to score an equaliser lifting the crowd and inspiring Everton. Just before half time, Hickson launched himself headlong in amongst flying boots and emerged with a huge gash above one eyebrow. Hickson was led off down the tunnel, with the crowd fully expecting Everton to play the remainder with 10 men, as substitutes were not yet permitted. Hickson had other ideas. He emerged from the tunnel in the second half, greeted by a huge ovation from the crowd, with a row of freshly applied stitches holding the wound together. Minutes later Hickson applied the finish that would end up as the winning goal, and the crowd went wild. Hickson then headed against the post and opened the wound again, and the blood began to pour in torrents, but still he soldiered on, ignoring pleas from both the referee and his captain to leave the field. At the final whistle, his blond hair now red, and his shirt the same colour as the United ones, he left the field to an ovation probably never bettered at Goodison.

Hickson was also the match-winner in the quarter final against Aston Villa, with a thunderbolt shot from the edge of the box, after starting the move himself behind the halfway line. An epic year for cup ties this, as Everton next faced Bolton Wanderers at Maine Road. Hickson again received a head injury in this game, and was forced to retire with 15 minutes of the game to go. This was not until he'd scored a goal in an improbable comeback from 4-0 down at half time. The final score was 4-3, with Bolton going on to be defeated by the same score against Blackpool in the "Matthews final".

Everton soon returned to Division One, as Hickson's haul of 25 goals in the 1953-54 season helped them gain promotion to the top flight. After just one season back in the top flight with Everton, Hickson was sold to Aston Villa for £17,500. He never settled at Villa Park and played just 12 games in a brief stay.

He moved next to Huddersfield Town, where he spent a further two years. Although his record at Huddersfield was respectable, Hickson was not content and he was happy to return to Goodison for a second spell in 1957 for £7,500. At least the board made a tidy profit on these deals. Hickson's second spell was not as productive as his first, but his passion & determination remained, and the Goodison Park faithful still worshipped him. When Everton sold him to their Merseyside derby rivals Liverpool in 1959, there was much dissent.

Hickson was undoubtably revered at Everton, but equally despised by the red half of the city. Supporters of the Reds, then struggling in Division Two, would soon be appeased. Hickson scored twice on his Liverpool debut at Anfield, watched by a crowd 15,000 higher than the average that season. Days later Liverpool had a new manager, Bill Shankly. He was instantly impressed by Hickson's style and used him effectively. His return of 21 goals in 27 games that season almost took Liverpool back to the top flight. Another near promotion the following year and a return of 16 goals in 33 would see the end of Hickson's stint with Liverpool. Dave was now nearing 32 and had to make way for Shankly's new signings.

Hickson moved on, via non league Cambridge City, to Bury for a short spell, playing just a handful of games. He headed back to Merseyside in the twilight of his career, with a productive last couple of league seasons at Tranmere Rovers. He was Rovers' leading scorer in the 1962/63 season with 23 goals, at the age of 34. Dave continued after this outside the Football League, playing for Ellesmere Port Town and Ballymena United (player/manager for both), and as a player at Winsford and Northwich Victoria.

It is often said of Hickson that he is the only player to have played "for all three Merseyside clubs". This is wrong for several reasons: two other players, John Heydon and Frank Mitchell, also played for all three of Everton, Liverpool and Tranmere Rovers. But New Brighton were Football League members from 1923–51 and Bill Lacey and Neil McBain played for all three of Everton, Liverpool and New Brighton. In addition, John Whitehead played for Liverpool, Everton and also for Bootle in their one year as a league team (1892/93), before they were replaced in Division 2 by Liverpool.

Playing style

His physical approach as centre forward, coupled with his determination soon made him a crowd favourite. Off the pitch, Hickson was a different man, quiet and unassuming, but the Dave Hickson that pulled on a Blue shirt and entered battle every Saturday afternoon was an aggressive character, no quarter given or asked. This aggression would lead to several run-ins with officials, and three sendings-off during his career, but that was his style & the fans loved it. A youthful Hickson with his striking appearance, fully quiffed up with a shock of blonde hair, as was the style of the day, was one of the few things to get excited about on the terraces of Goodison Park. Dave Hickson soon forged a productive partnership with John Willie Parker, with Hickson being the target man. Although his reputation as an aerial threat was well known, Hickson was also a difficult opponent with the ball on the floor, and could produce a powerful shot, which earned him the nickname Cannonball Kid.

Death

On 8 July 2013, Hickson died after a short illness, at the age of 83.[1] His funeral service was held on 25 July 2013 at Liverpool Cathedral.

References

  1. ^ Huddersfield Town

External links

  • Everton FC Profile
  • Aston Villa player database profile
  • LFCHistory.net profile
  • Legends Feature from barmyarmyuk Blog
  • Dave Hickson on IMDb
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