In February 1938, Everton’s Merseyside rivals, Liverpool FC made a brave bid to buy the legendary Dixie Dean.
A transfer that would have rocked the footballing world, it has been kept under wraps until very recently.
Dixie Dean is arguably one of the best footballers of all time, and certainly the best Everton player the team has ever seen.
So, the fact that Liverpool made an attempt to poach this cherished icon would have been huge news at the time.
The shocking information is contained in Everton’s official boardroom minutes, saved by Everton author and historian Dr David France and published on the Everton Collection website.
In the spring of 1938, Dixie Dean was approaching the end of the greatest goalscoring career in English football history.?In total, Dean scored 383 goals for Everton in 433 appearances, an exceptional strike-rate which includes 37 hat-tricks.
During the legendary 1927-28 season, Dixie memorably scored a record 60 league goals and Everton won the First Division title.
But by the 1937/8 season, he had played only 5 of Everton’s first 19 games of the season and it was reported that his relationship with?Everton Secretary Theo Kelly, soon to become the club?s first manager, was becoming increasingly tense.
Dixie Dean later described their relationship: “This chap Kelly had no time for the older lads, especially me, I just couldn?t get on with him.”
?He was Secretary but I didn?t care what he was. I knew what was happening. He wanted to get rid of me and also one or two other people who looked like being in with a chance of becoming manager one day.”
Liverpool Football Club had somehow caught wind of this growing disagreement, and in need of a goalscorer themselves,? they saw their opportunity to poach Dixie Dean.
On Tuesday 15th February 1938 it was recorded in just four lines of neatly scripted text, written by chairman Will Cuff, it said:
It is very unlikely that Dixie Dean was ever informed of this transfer request, so we will never know what he might have done.?But, the Dean family are certain that he would never have betrayed his team by moving to their biggest rivals.
However, if this request had been successful, it would have become the most controversial transfer of all time.
But Dixie’s time at Everton was drawing to a close.
On 8th March 1938, Blackburn Rovers made an enquiry about Dixie and were told that he had a minimum price of ?1,500.
A couple of days later, however, Dixie Dean made the shock transfer to officially become a Notts County player.
Stork reported on the 12th March: ?Followers of the Everton Football Club must have received a great shock when they opened their paper this morning and found that the famous Everton centre forward, W. R. (Dixie) Dean had been transferred to Notts County, the Third Division Southern team.
?The fact remains that Dean, the most talked of footballer in this decade, has left Everton, the team he has captained for many seasons. No player during my time has earned such praise as Dean. ?The best centre forward ever? was tagged to his name by all and sundry, and who could dispute the statement.
?There was not a greater personality in the game than Dean. Everywhere he went he was besieged, and his value to the clubs visited by Everton was known only to those who followed Everton.?
According to the boardroom minutes, Dixie Dean moved?to Notts County for ?2,000, in a move that seemed a sad and undignified end to an incredible career at Everton.
Later, Dean told of his reasons for leaving: “I didn?t want to leave Everton. But Kelly was the reason I did leave.
“Kelly started telling lies about me and things got worse. He wanted to have that manager?s job and definitely wanted to get rid of me. I could see that. So I had it out with him and decided to move on. He?d already rung up Notts County and their manager (Harry Parkes) came through and had a word with me. Once the papers had been signed Kelly went out without saying a word.?
After just three games of his Notts County career, Dixie needed ankle surgery and after three goals in only nine appearances, he moved across the Irish Sea to join the?Sligo Rovers.
The Irish welcomed him like the true hero he was.
Even after his sour parting with Everton, throughout his whole life, Dixie?s love of the blues never faded.
He had an amazing personality and was always known for his gentlemanly and polite manner. When he played for Everton, Dixie was the captain and spiritual leader of the team.
At Slingo Rovers, Dixie Dean was praised for his outstanding skill and love for the game. Whether his welcome would have been the same at Liverpool F.C, know one will ever know.
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