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Fans almost invariably love a trier like Mick Lyons nearly
as much as they do an entertainer like Duncan
McKenzie. While he was never the world's most gifted footballer, and
admitted as much himself, Lyons's wholehearted commitment to the Everton
cause won over all but the harshest of his critics.
The fact was, he knew no different than being committed to Everton. He was a local man, born in Liverpool, and spent much of his childhood on the terraces at Goodison Park. As one of the lucky few, his dreams of playing among his heroes came true, as he joined Everton and went through the junior ranks and into the reserves as a centre-forward.
The club also had David Johnson on their books in that position, and the progress of Johnson limited Lyons's opportunities and prompted his conversion into a centre-half. He was ideally built for either role tall and muscular, and despite his technical shortcomings played well enough in the middle of the Everton defence to gain England recognition, if only at U-23 and 'B' level.
His experience as a striker proved useful, though. Usually if Everton were a goal down he would go forward from defence and join the attack for the final ten minutes a tactic still known locally as "doing a Mick Lyons". He sometimes started the match there too, both Billy Bingham and Gordon Lee deploying him as an emergency centre-forward; and he even finished the 1973-74 season as leading scorer with nine goals.
As a central defender he was perhaps underestimated. Often he appeared to be beaten, yet somehow managed to find some way of thwarting his opponent with a despairing lunge. In the air he was incredibly competitive, and brave enough to dive in head-first among the flailing studs.
In 1982, though, he lost his first-team place to Billy Wright, and left in August that year for Sheffield Wednesday. After retiring from playing he became a coach, and served in that capacity under the ill-fated Colin Harvey reign in the late 1980's.
|Lge apps 364 (25), total 434 (26)|
|Lge gls 48, total 59|
This page © Richard Pike & Marko Poutiainen 1999.