An evening with Duncan Mckenzie

by   |   07/12/2018  24 Comments  [Jump to last]

I attended this event last night at a bar in Nottingham where I live. He was great, really funny and entertaining. He did talk a lot about Forest (given where we were) but also Everton.

A few snippets:

  • A joke about Rooney's education (or lack thereof).
  • He's still very slim; I could not believe how slight he was really.
  • When he spoke about Everton, it was obvious how much he'd loved it. He said how long he had worked there, and only left as had had "fallen out" with someone. Anyone know who this was?
  • I did manage to ask him for his favourite memory – it was a bittersweet one: the Clive Thomas semi-final.

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Dave Williams
1 Posted 08/12/2018 at 11:03:42
I have met him a few times at sportsman's dinners and in the lounges at Everton. No doubt we are his team and his speeches are hilarious. He does a very good Clough impersonation and he oozes charisma.

I haven't seen him at a game for ages which is explained by him having fallen out with someone – no idea who or why.

He had sublime skill and knew how to score goals – he could have done much better in his playing career with more application but he was a true maverick and marvellously entertaining on his day.

Alan J Thompson
2 Posted 08/12/2018 at 14:23:01
If memory serves, he and Bruce Rioch were signed the same day by Billy Bang-bang who was sacked a week later.
Alan J Thompson
3 Posted 08/12/2018 at 14:24:18
Sorry, meant to add; "Duncan McMagic is Kenzie".
Brian Murray
4 Posted 08/12/2018 at 14:55:19
Yes, Duncan and Rioch signed the same day. Duncan was a very talented footballer. Rioch was brilliant at Derby with a famous hard shot. Never seen it at Goodison.
Dave Abrahams
5 Posted 08/12/2018 at 15:08:41
Seems obvious, to me, he fell out with Gordon Lee. Lee didn't like his style of football and made that very plain.

He was signed the same day as Bruce Rioch, a Friday, and we lost 4-2 the next day at Coventry.

I think he married Archie Styles's sister and lived in Liverpool for many years. I saw him at a funeral in St Mathews last year for a well known Everton fan.

Stan Schofield
6 Posted 08/12/2018 at 15:40:04
Putting aside the injustice of that Clive Thomas semi-final, I remember McKenzie making Tommy Smith look every inch the thug and cart horse he was.

Smith could hardly get near him, and there was one particular memorable bit where we had a goal kick, and the ball was dropping towards the centre spot where McKenzie was marked by Smith. McKenzie trapped the ball before it hit the ground, flicked it up over his shoulder, turned gracefully, and sped off leaving Smith flailing around. It was wonderful.

I thought McKenzie was a fantastic player, incredibly entertaining, and I seem to recall he fell out of favour when Gordon Lee took over. McKenzie was no doubt a bit 'too fancy' for Lee's brand of football.

Jay Wood

7 Posted 08/12/2018 at 15:40:48
Dave, I may be wrong but I read Tim's post as meaning Duncan fell out with someone more recently and that's why he is no longer seen at Goodison on match day.

Not sure if Mr Magic was ever an official 'ambassador' as an ex-player at the club to do the meet and greet thing other former players are tasked with.

His style of football and maverick personality was never going to be a good fit with Gordon Lee and that fallout 'twixt player and manager is common knowledge.

Gerard McKean
8 Posted 08/12/2018 at 16:05:27
That's how I read it, too, Jay #7. I don't know the specifics of this one but it's like everything else on the non-playing side of the club: toe the line, pay homage to the great and the good, or you're out.

Derek Mountfield and Kevin Ratcliffe are good examples of guys deemed to be too dangerous to be lounge hosts because they think for themselves. Whenever they are/were in a lounge, there was always a “minder” nearby to report back on anything they said.

Dave Abrahams
9 Posted 08/12/2018 at 16:18:02
Jay and Gerard, yes I think you are both right, I was referring to the first time he left as a player. My error.
Colin Glassar
10 Posted 08/12/2018 at 16:45:05
One of the greatest Everton players of all time, Tim! You've been touched by god. I've never forgiven Lurch for selling him.
Tim Taylor
11 Posted 08/12/2018 at 18:25:45
Cheers, guys. Yes, he was great on the evening, and a privilege to meet him.

I did mean more recently – sounded like he had some kind of role until then...

It's made me go look up some clips – fantastic. The one against Stoke where the commentator reckons the ref's blown just to give Stoke a chance!

Gerard McKean
12 Posted 08/12/2018 at 18:54:08
Interesting thread you started here, Tim.

I recall that incident described by Stan in the semi-final against Liverpool; Smith spent the whole game trying to nail Duncan but couldn't get near him. All the adjectives in the comments are valid but perhaps none more so than “maverick”. Duncan was and is his own man and Lee just couldn't cope with that.

I was devastated when he sold him and Duncan's Everton career had lasted only slightly more than a season's total of appearances. That's why I couldn't go with Colin”s assessment of him being one of the greatest Everton players ever.

Duncan, great player as he undoubtedly was, never stayed anywhere very long and I think is fondly remembered by fans of various clubs as an individual who lit up their teams for a short time.

I was very fortunate to have quite a few one-to-one conversations with Duncan as we both used to take our break during matches in the same place. It was an education for me listening to him talk about the game in progress.

He is also, as Tim says, a very funny bloke. For younger TW readers, if there are any(!), Duncan had some incredible party pieces like being able to jump over a parked car and throw a golf ball the length of a football pitch.

I remember someone in the hierarchy at Everton asked him to desist selling photos of himself jumping over a mini. He was told he was a lounge host and not there to promote himself. The joke was the demand was from the fans and Duncan had to then sell the photo surreptitiously.

Tim Taylor
13 Posted 08/12/2018 at 19:02:25
Wow, Gerard – that's cool. You can just tell he's a smart and funny fella from the minute you see him... he's still flogging the photos!
Colin Glassar
14 Posted 08/12/2018 at 20:20:41
I don't agree, Gerard. Duncan was playing in an era of managerial Neanderthals who couldn't appreciate his talent. With one or two exceptions, the likes of Duncan, Curry, Hudson, Bowles, Worthington, Marsh etc... were marginalised by the old sergeant-major type managers.

Today, those players would grace any team in the world and yet, they only got a handful of England caps between them. What a waste of talent!

Paul Birmingham
15 Posted 08/12/2018 at 20:39:14
I always remember them trainers in the old days and getting a couple of superb goals in the Old Park End, on an icy day.. .Yep trainers as the pitch was iced.

Frankenstein, couldn't stomach his skill and spirit, and Duncan became folk lore too early, and went darn surf to The Bridge.

Duncan McKenzie, we all agreed was magic and still is.

Stan Schofield
16 Posted 09/12/2018 at 10:04:03
Colin @14: Yes, in Britain we don't seem to know how to manage unusual talent. I don't know whether this is also the case elsewhere, but it certainly seems to have stifled the England team over the last 50 years.
Tony Heron
17 Posted 09/12/2018 at 16:01:12
I seem to remember him being signed by Blackburn Rovers when they were in the old 2nd Division. They were struggling at the time and crowds were sparse.

Recalling this after he had retired, he said that he had been introduced to the crowd at 10 to 3, and by kick-off, he knew all their names!! Last I heard, he was living in Haydock.

Andy Crooks
18 Posted 09/12/2018 at 22:55:20
Colin,@ 14, I very much agree with your post. The players you mention were a million years ahead of their time. The managers were like elderly uncles and wore suits. Tony Waddington, Stan Cullis, Joe Harvey, Bob Stokoe, Ron Saunders, Joe Mercer. They didn't have a tracksuit between them.

Also, I was at Anfield with my dad when Keith Weller wore white tights. May I also add Charlie George, Peter Osgood and Dudley Tyler to your list.

Mike Gaynes
19 Posted 12/12/2018 at 00:14:01
I met him in April 2017 after the second of the Everton wins I saw at Goodison, and he was a delightful guy. I'd never actually seen him play in England, but remembered him from his brief career-closing sojourn with my hometown Chicago Sting back in the early '80s. We discovered in our conversation that he had lived about five minutes from my house.

I was surprised how youthful he looked — until I looked him up later and learned that his career had ended at just 32 years of age.

Lenny Kingman
20 Posted 14/12/2018 at 10:02:49
Tim, is McKenzie still smoking? Did you see him nip outside for a crafty fag at the intermission!

That was one of the things Lee was always carpeting him about. Heard them having conversations about the possible dire consequences of this habit in the 300/500 bars after games, or various club events I was working on.

Andy Meighan
21 Posted 14/12/2018 at 10:28:29
Fell out with someone? Obviously that's Uncle Cyril's favourite nephew...

As for Gordon, he once said "Give me a team of Mick Lyonses any day, than a team of Duncan Mckenzies." Although I was getting told not so long back by an ex-player that the screaming skull loved him as a fella – just wasn't a fan of his maverick style.

Getting back to Stan's story, the semi-final, I remember Smith being quoted in the Echo most of that week saying he's a circus act, etc and he'd do this and that to him. Yes, that worked, didn't it, beans-on-toast face. Another derby along with the other thousand where we were robbed.

Tim Taylor
22 Posted 16/12/2018 at 09:06:16
I didn't see him sneak out for a ciggie, but it wouldn't surprise me... he did disappear at half-time – indeed was a couple of minutes late at the start too, so could definitely have been having a crafty one.

He's definitely someone who brings out good memories in people, as you can tell from this thread.

George Stuart
23 Posted 27/12/2018 at 11:17:17
Loved the man. Funnily enough, I came upon this link in a circuitous way.

I chanced upon a video "Maradonas 50 greatest skills". In the first few, he did a Rabona (look it up) and trapped the ball with his arse.

"Phaw" I said, "I saw Alan Ball do both of those things when Maradona was in nappies." The rest I thought was just like watching Duncan (though I will admit Maradona was more aggressive).

I'll just relate two Duncan "moves":

The ball stops and you, the gun striker, runs past the motionless ball and the numpty defender goes with you and leaves the ball. You skip past the wrong-footed dolt. Duncan did that twice in the same move. Ran past the ball taking the defender with him, let him recover, then ran past the ball again, taking the defender with him again, before skipping off with the ball.

Second trick: He picks up the ball. Two defenders come on to him. They stop. He moves to go forward and they lunge forward, but its a faint, they both pull back at the same time leaving a huge gap. Duncan skips through the gap.

He should be skill training the kids.

Graham Mockford
24 Posted 27/12/2018 at 11:36:03
I played a round of golf with him in Scotland where he was the guest speaker at a supplier golf day a few years back.

He's still got the hump with Clive Thomas after all these years.

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