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Everton Past-Player Profile

Born Wrexham, 1 November 1963
Height 5' - 10" (178 cm)
Joined Everton from Southampton, 14 March 2000 (Free)
Signed by Walter Smith
Debut v Coventry City (a), 15 March 2000
Final v Southampton (h), 14 October 2000
Left Everton to join Blackburn Rovers in October 2000 (Free)
Nicknames Sparky
Honours Welsh International 72 Apps; 16 goals; 4 FA Cups
 Seasons  Club  Apps  Gls
1978-1986 Manchester United 85(4) + 29(3) 37 + 10
1986-1988 Barcelona 28 4
1987-1988 Bayern Munich (on loan) 18 6
1988-1995 Manchester United 251(5) + 93(2) 82 + 33
1995-1998 Chelsea 88(7) + 21(7) 25 + 14
1998-2000 Southampton 52(2) + 7(0) 2 + 0

  • Used to score goals with relish
  • Holds the ball up better than most
  • Slimmer than Neville Southall
  • Always wanted to play for Everton
  • Er... getting a bit old???
  • May have forgotten how to score
  • Already a manager!
  • Arrived with Nine yellow cards!
Walter Smith assured Evertonians that Mark Hughes, at 36, would be capable of playing as well as he had at any stage of his glittering career.  Well, this was the fourth time Everton had tried to sign Sparky, and finally, they got lucky.  

Mark Hughes, in the twilight of his career, came to Everton in the Spring of 2000 ostensibly to act as cover for the injured strike-force, Kevin Campbell and Francis Jeffers.  Youth, as we know, is not the answer for Walter Smith, so players like Cadamarteri and the almost completely untried Phil Jevons continued to be overlooked as Smith elected for aging experience instead.

It was never likely that he would get very many goals given his dismal record at Southampton but: 

  1. Hughes was another consummate pro who would provide dressing room leadership and a ton of expertise that should have improved players like KC, JMM, FJ, PJ & DC
  2. Apart from his goals, the main thing KC gives us is the ability to retain possession & link play Sparky was once the best in the business at this and was still better than average in that respect as shown by his ability to play a holding midfield role respectably well (at least as well as Collins!)
  3. He was excellent at holding up the ball, and the choice and timing of his passes was nearly always right. 

Could Everton have found another alternative for next to nothing?  There simply weren't many obvious candidates around who would clearly have been better than Hughes or would have provided some of these positive intangibles.  Cottee or Wright might have provided a few more goals but neither of them have the fierce commitment, discipline and fighting spirit that Walt wanted to become a hallmark of the squad.

It almost made sense... and Sparky did his best to win over a highly skeptical Goodison crowd, with Man-of-the-Match performances against Liverpool and Leeds United.  But there can be no doubt that he was too slow for the Premiership, which probably explains why he scored so few goals.  And there was much hype about a 15,000-a-week salary... more like 7,000 apparently!

Sparky did manage to score one goal for Everton, against Watford.  And he managed to hold the ball up like no other... in fact that's all he did: hold the ball up.  When this laboured ploy had finally run its course, the ageing Hughes was allowed to leave on a free transfer to Blackburn Rovers.  Not one of Walter Smith's greatest signings...

Season Squad
1999-2k 26 9 (-) 1 - (-) - 9 (-) 1
2000-01 23 6 (3) - 1 (-) - 7 (3) -

Totals: 15 (3) 1 1 (-) - 16 (3) 1

Last updated: 01 December 2008