Everton’s history books are dominated by Dixie Dean’s incredible records, anecdotes and stories of his super-human goal scoring talent.
Everyone has heard of the hat tricks scored, how he would mingle with supporters when he caught the bus to matches, how he expertly nodded in his sixtieth goal of the 1927/8 season under the huge pressure of the Goodison crowd and the horrific motorcycle accident he suffered that could have resulted in the end of his career.
However, perhaps less documented, is the fascinating tale of how Dixie Dean defied Adolf Hitler and the Nazis during a post-season tour of Germany in 1932.
It was May 1932 and despite having only scored a single goal in their last four games of the season, Everton won the league by two points from Arsenal.
A couple of days later, the team took the train from Liverpool Lime Street to London Euston and then sailed from?Parkeston Quay, Harwich, to the Hook of Holland and travelled by rail to Hanover.
In 1932 Germany,?Hitler was beginning to gain support amongst the many Germans suffering from the great depression, he had steered a party with a membership of 60 in 1920 to one of the most powerful in the land by the time Everton came to visit in 1932.
It wasn?t until 1933 and Hitler?s appointment as chancellor that the Nazis really began to exert their horrendous policies, but it was still clear in the years previous that they were growing and a frighteningly totalitarian force in the country.
Everton F.C were on a six-game post-season tour of Germany, which began in Hanover and would take in fixtures at Dresden, Breslau (now in Poland), Berlin, N?rnberg and Cologne.
The six games were to take place over a period of just fifteen days, a tough ask for Everton?s 17-man squad.
Everton won two, drew three and lost one of the fixtures, yet the most significant aspect of the tour was a political statement of defiance rather than any of the footballing exhibitions.
When the team arrived in Germany, they were under?orders from Hitler?s men to give the Nazi salute prior to kick-off in Hanover, but Dixie Dean and the Everton team refused.
The team then travelled to the next game in Dresden, where spectators included Joachim von Ribbentrop and Hermann G?ring.?Von Ribbentrop was a confidant of Hitler and G?ring was the founder of the Gestapo, Nazi Germany?s secret police force. They were two of the most powerful and feared men around and yet Dixie and Everton did not salute.
It has also been reported that prior to kick off, the?Nazis tried to trick the team into training with the wrong ball. However, Dixie noticed and quickly told them:
“We play with a size five ball, not four – that’s a children’s garden ball.”
Even as pressures mounted, Dixie Dean was adamant his team would never perform the Nazi salute and throughout the tour they never buckled.
Everton left Germany and returned home to the delight of their fans, proud that their team and hero Dixie Dean had shown such courage and defiance.
It is still remembered that Dixie Dean and Everton defied Hitler during that tour, showing real strength of character and political statement that made their fans proud and still does to this day.
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