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In Search of Duncan Ferguson The Life & Crimes of a Footballing Enigma By Alan Puttullo

Release date: 11th September, 2014
Publisher: Mainstream Publishing

List Price: £20
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Formed in 1868, Queens Park (motto: ’Play for Playing’s Sake’) are rightly credited with developing ‘the Scottish Game’, so-called because their footballing style concentrated on short passing, an alternative to the mazy dribble of their English counterparts.

Led by Charles Campbell, recognised as the first effective header of a football, so successful were Queens Park’s passing tactics, they would often play in a 2-2-6 formation.

Following the migration of Scottish players to England, where they could earn more money, this exciting, revolutionary strategy was adopted by northern clubs who benefited from the Scots’ tactical awareness.

More than a century after Queens Park were responsible for introducing passing to England’s northern clubs, Duncan Ferguson arrived at Goodison Park, initially on loan from Rangers. Ferguson’s style was the antithesis of that developed by Queens Park. In many respects, the big man, recently released from prison for head-butting an opponent, Ferguson had no right to fit in at Everton, home to football’s famed ‘school of science’, but the club accommodated his robust style and he grasped the opportunity with both hands before ultimately confirming one basic law of physics: opposites attract.

Everton fans, nurtured on outstandingly skilful Scots such as Alex Young, adored Ferguson’s aggressive manner and old-fashioned style which yielded 42 goals in 107 appearances during his first spell at the club.

He returned to Goodison in 2000 after a disappointingly sojurn at Newcastle, strengthening the mutual bond with Evertonians when he prevented a burglary at his Lancashire home in 2001. Tales of what he had done to one burglar, who spent three days in hospital after tangling with ‘Duncan Disorderly’, were legion. Everton fans loved the fact that this guy was a hard man off the pitch as well as on it.

Alan Puttullo has written a well-researched sporting biography which never attempts to add a retrospective gloss to Ferguson’s playing ability. He’s particularly good explaining why this ‘footballing enigma’ returned to Everton for a third time and why he holds ‘the People’s Club’ so dear to his heart. That’s love for you, I suppose.


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