January 22nd is a special day in the history of Everton Football Club and every year Evertonians all over the world should raise a glass to celebrate that date. Because it was on this day back in 1907 that the greatest Evertonian there has ever been was born, a man who played for his boyhood club and made and smashed every goalscoring record there was and created some that will never be beaten.
Evertonians everywhere please raise a glass to the birth of the footballing legend that is William Ralph ‘Dixie' Dean.
Dixie's goal scoring record was and still is phenomenal but possibly the greatest goalscoring record he set was the sixty league goals he scored in one season way back in 1927-28. He achieved this incredible milestone in just 39 games. For anyone interested and for people who don't like to forget their history this is how he did it…
Before the 1927-28 season kicked off Everton must have been reflecting on the previous season which can only be described as poor. They finished one place above the relegated teams of Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion and had a goal difference of -26. For the twenty year old Dixie it was a mixed bag, netting 21 goals in 27 appearances and 36 goals in 36 appearances in all competitions. This was down on his previous season when he scored 32 league goals in 38 appearances. The season had been so poor that Everton went out and bought several players including the experienced 30 year old Warney Cresswell from Sunderland for £7,000, Jerry Kelly from Ayr United, Tony Weldon from Airdrie for £2,000, and England goalkeeper Ted Taylor from Huddersfield Town where he had already won three league titles in a row from 1923-24 season to 1925-26 season.
Everton needed to start the season strongly if they were not to have a repeat of the previous season. The positive news was the opening fixture was at home at Goodison Park and against Sheffield Wednesday, a team they had beaten in the previous fixture 2-1. As it turned out Everton thrashed Sheffield Wednesday 4-0 and Dixie got the final goal in the rout.
Their second match was away against newly promoted Middlesbrough and their goal machine George Camsell. Camsell had created the footballing record of 59 league goals in a single season the previous season. Camsell was at it again and Everton lost 4-2. For Dixie's part he scored one of Everton's goals. He followed this up in his next match with another goal in a 1-1 draw away to Bolton Wanderers.
On his second home match of the season Dixie scored two goals in a 5-2 victory over Birmingham. At home four days later Everton played Bolton Wanderers again and Dixie scored another single goal in another draw, this time 2-2. Although Everton didn't beat Bolton in either games Dixie was pleased with scoring a goal against them both home and away because their team was laden with internationals he admired.
Everton's next league match was away against the defending champions Newcastle United and Dixie wasted no time getting on the score sheet scoring in the first minute of the match. Just like the previous game against Bolton it ended all square at 2-2 with Dixie getting both goals. This was a marked improvement on the previous season when Newcastle thrashed Everton in the same fixture 7-3 which was the joint highest scoring match of that season.
Dixie was quick off the mark again in Everton's next match scoring in the fourth minute of the game, at home to Huddersfield Town. Like the previous two matches the game ended 2-2. Like the Newcastle game Dixie got the two goals.
Two goals in a match was becoming the norm for Dixie as he scored another two in Everton's next league match away to Tottenham Hotspur in a 3-1 win. A week later he blew Manchester United away with all five goals in a 5-2 win at Goodison Park. These goal feats meant that he had scored in every one of his first nine league games and totalled seventeen league goals in the process.
The next fixture was at Goodison Park and the first Merseyside derby of the season which ended all square at 1-1. Surprisingly it was the first time Dixie didn't find the back of the net. A further surprise followed in Everton's next fixture against West Ham United. Dixie had to miss the match because he was on international duty for England, a game were England lost 2-0 to Ireland. Everton on the other hand banged seven past West Ham United without reply in the biggest home win of the league that season.
Back from international duty Dixie wasted no time scoring a hat-trick away to Portsmouth in a 3-1 win and another hat-trick against Leicester in a 7-1 home win. For the first time that season Dixie scored consecutive hat-tricks. It was the second time in two home matches when Everton scored seven goals. The Portsmouth match must have given him something more to cheer about as he became the first person under 21 years of age to score a century of goals.
He added another two goals to his tally away to Derby County in a 3-0 win. That took him to eight goals in three matches. A 1-0 defeat to Sunderland at home in his next match was followed up with two goals away to Bury in a 3-2 win.
Another blank in a 0-0 game this time against Sheffield United was followed with his fourth hat-trick of the season in a 3-2 win away at Aston Villa. It must have come to a shock to the Everton supporters when Dixie didn't score in their next game at home to Burnley in a 4-1 win.
His next three games must seem incredible by today's fixture list. On Christmas Eve Everton travelled away to Arsenal and lost 3-2, Dixie scored one of the goals. Two days later on Boxing Day he scored two goals against Cardiff City at Goodison Park in a 2-1 win. This was followed with a blank the following day away, again to Cardiff City in a 2-0 defeat. That was three matches in four days. Travelling to London, back to Liverpool and then travelling down to South Wales the following day just seems incredible.
Four days later on New Year's Eve Dixie was at it again scoring the two goals in Everton's 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday. The two goals now meant Dixie had scored 35 goals in 22 league appearances that season.
The New Year began with two more goals this time in a 4-2 defeat away to Blackburn Rover's. Two goals was again the number for Dixie in his next match a 3-1 win at home to Middlesbrough. He had now scored two goals in three consecutive matches for the second time that season and overtook Everton's club record of 38 goals set by Bert Freeman in the 1908-09 season. However this was to be Everton's last league win for nearly three months.
Everton played nine league matches in this period in which they scored ten goals and conceded eighteen. In the nine league matches they drew five and lost four. For Dixie it wasn't all bad. From the ten goals Everton scored he scored six of them and three of them were against Liverpool away at Anfield in a game that Everton were winning 3-1 before the game ended 3-3. Dixie's three goals arrived in the first hour of the game. The match was Dixie's one hundredth appearance. It was during this period that he also celebrated his twenty-first birthday.
Dixie also scored three goals in the FA Cup, all away from home, one against Preston and two against Arsenal. On top of this Dixie missed a 0-0 draw against Portsmouth at Goodison Park because he was representing the Football League in a match against the Scottish League at Ibrox where he scored two goals in a 6-2 win.
Furthermore the last of the Everton winless league drought, the double he scored in a 2-2 draw against Derby County at Goodison Park, Dixie passed Ted Harper's league record total of 43 goals for Blackburn Rover's set two season's earlier.
Dixie missed his third league game of the season when he represented England in a match at Wembley were they were beaten by Scotland 5-1. Just like earlier in the season when Everton were without Dixie Everton won in his absence 2-0 away to Sunderland.
With seven league games left to play Dixie needed 15 goals to beat the record of 59 goals set by George Camsell the previous season. By now even the book makers were convinced it was impossible and were offering 10,000-1 odds on him reaching the landmark number of sixty.
Blackburn Rover's came to Goodison on April 6th and Dixie scored two in a 4-1 win. Incredibly Everton had to play the following day again at Goodison against Bury and drew 1-1, Dixie scored the Everton goal. A week later Dixie scored two in a 3-1 win away to Sheffield United. Four days later he scored one goal in a 3-0 win over reigning champions Newcastle United at Goodison Park. With three games left to play he still needed nine goals to overtake the record.
On the 21st April, on the penultimate home match of the season, Aston Villa came to Goodison Park and Dixie scored two goals in a 3-2 win. With two games to go Dixie needed seven goals. At this point he had scored ten goals in his last six league appearances.
Everton's last away match of the season saw them win 5-3 at Burnley and Dixie scored four goals before half time. But now more than ever it seemed impossible he would get the other three goals to reach sixty because he had to leave the field because he had pulled a muscle in his thigh.
Before the last game of the season Everton were declared the champions of the league but for Dixie he still needed three goals to break the record and he was still hungry for more goals. He wasn't the only one, in the week that led up to the final game of the season Everton's trainer Harry Cooke bandaged Dixie's leg with hot plaster and hot towels and even stayed at Dixie's home changing the plasters every two hours for three days in a row in the hope he would be fit enough to face Arsenal. When Arsenal came to visit Everton at Goodison Park on May 5th 1928 Dixie had already scored six hat-tricks and yet still needed another one to reach sixty league goals. With the pulled muscle in his thigh it was surely a goal too far.
In the last game of the 1927-28 season the newly crowned champions Everton went a goal down after only two minutes. A minute later the ground erupted as Dixie equalised from a corner from Ted Critchley. Two minutes after that Goodison Park went wild as Dixie scored his second of the day and equalled the record set by George Camsell. The goal came from the penalty spot after Dixie had been fouled. For the remaining match Everton's tactics were to hit everything up to Dixie in the hope he would score another one and break the record. With time ticking away, well into the final ten minutes of the game, Everton got a corner, Alex Troup stepped up to take it and floated a ball into a melee of players. With 82 minutes on the clock Dixie rose the highest and headed the ball into the Park End goal. The noise from the 60,000 crowd was like an earthquake.
In typical sportsmanship fashion of the game at that period the Arsenal goalkeeper congratulated Dixie by shaking his hand. Unusual for the period supporters invaded the pitch in the hope of shaking Dixie's hand. The pitch invasion was incredibly rare for the time. One over excited fan actual kissed Dixie to the amusement of the crowd while another one was thrown off the pitch by the referee.
Before the game ended Dixie believed he would be mobbed to death by the crowd in their joy for their hero and asked the referee if he could sneak off before the final whistle. The referee agreed and let Dixie sneak off the pitch and away from the raw euphoria. Dixie had achieved a dream — sixty league goals in a season.
For the record Dixie Dean scored in 29 of his 39 appearances, including 7 hat-tricks, four goals in one game and five goals in another game. Of his 60 league goals he scored 40 from shots and 20 from headers. He scored 29 goals in 14 appearances at Goodison Park and the other 31 goals in 15 away appearances. In an age when football was a very tough sport with hard tackling players throughout the league and mud soaked pitches often the playing surfaces of the day Dixie was never booked or sent off.
When William Ralph ‘Dixie' Dean finished his Everton career he had scored 349 league goals in 399 matches and another 28 goals in 32 appearances in the FA Cup, giving him an incredible 377 goals in 431 appearances for the team he supported as a boy and the only team he ever wanted to play for. Matched with his England international career of 18 goals in 16 matches and the spells he had starting firstly with Tranmere Rovers and finishing with Notts County he had scored an astonishing 425 goals in 489 appearances. He also scored 37 hat-tricks which is still a record. His statistics are truly incredible.
In top flight English football great players and goal scorers will come and go, some might even score more goals in their career than Dixie Dean but his record of 60 league goals in one league season will surely never be beaten or bettered. Dixie Dean, a legend and the greatest Toffee there as ever been. Let's raise another glass to the one and the only Dixie Dean!
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