Today is the anniversary of Dixie Dean’s deadly dozen.
Eighty four years ago, the most prolific marksman in English football history became the first and only player to score in 12 consecutive Football League matches.
The incredible run between December 6 1930 and February 18 1931 saw Dean plunder an incredible 23 goals in Division Two matches.
Everton FC were playing outside the top flight for the first time having been relegated the previous spring just two years after Dean’s record-breaking 60 League goal haul had inspired them to the title.
Despite netting 25 times in 27 outings in 1929/30, the fact that Dean’s injuries saw him miss 15 games had ultimately proved costly for the Blues.
They were bouncing back in style though as they romped to the Division Two title – with the comeback followed up by winning the 1932 League Championship and 1933 FA Cup.
Dean’s record-breaking run of consecutive scoring began with four goals at home to Oldham Athletic in a thrilling 6-4 win on December 6.
A week later he was on target in a 5-2 reversal to Burnley at Turf Moor and followed this up with a brace to down Southampton 2-1 at Goodison on December 20.
Dean then struck the Blues opener in a 2-2 draw with Bury at Gigg Lane on Christmas Day. During this period, clubs would usually play the reverse fixture on Boxing Day but presumably given the distance travelled, Plymouth Argyle were handed a festive stinker by having to travel to Goodison on December 27 and were mauled 9-1 with Dean bagging four (now that must have felt like a long journey back to Devon).
Bury did come to Goodison on New Year’s Day with Dean on target in a 3-2 win before it was Everton’s turn to clock up the miles but they didn’t suffer from travel sickness as Dixie struck a double in a 5-2 victory at Swansea Town on January 3.
Dean had a rare off day as Plymouth were beaten again, 2-0 in an FA Cup third round tie at Home Park on January 10 before returning to the scoresheet on January 17 in the 2-1 win over promotion-rivals West Brom, who would also go up in second place alongside the Blues.
Another away tie in the FA Cup followed but this time Dean kept his eye in by striking four times as Crystal Palace were hit for six without reply in London on January 24 before he put the gloss on a 3-1 success at Port Vale two days later with the third goal.
Dean then set the ball rolling with the opener in the 4-2 win at home to Bradford City on January 31 before dishing out more capital punishment, this time on Charlton Athletic, as he grabbed a hat-trick in a 7-0 romp at The Valley on February 7.
Valentine’s Day was another FA Cup weekend and Dean kept things sweet with the last goal in a 5-3 win at home to Grimsby Town but it was the visit of Barnsley to Goodison four days later that saw him complete his 12-League game total as he bagged a brace in a 5-2 success – it’s a shame that on a Wednesday afternoon there were just 19,042 inside the ground to see it.
The final named after him – even though he lost
Dixie Dean 1939 FAI Cup final
This is the last competitive goal scored in a first class fixture by the legendary William Ralph Dean – and it came in a clash dubbed ‘The Dixie Dean Final.’
It was the FAI Cup final of 1939, it was scored for Sligo Rovers in front of a capacity 30,000 crowd, and it was a measure of the status of the legendary marksman that even though Shelbourne won the final after a replay, it was dubbed the Dixie Dean Final.
The image is published in Kevin Colreavy’s wonderful new history of the famous Irish club “Stories Of the Showgrounds” and is an historic picture.
Dean’s Sligo stay was the final act of his fantastic first class career – he later played twice for local non-league side Hurst before War broke out and effectively ended his competitive career – making that Cup Final goal his final first class strike.
Dean’s spell on the west coast of Ireland was a major news story at the time.
In a recent Sligo Weekender article, local councillor Declan Bree explained: “As a child that we had three large framed portraits in the house; one of the Sacred Heart, one of Saint Patrick and one of Dixie Dean.”
With Dixie Dean on a hot scoring run (nine goals in six games), Sligo were justifiable favourites going into the 1939 cup final.
But Shelbourne took the Bit O’Red to a replay, Sammy Smyth’s 80th minute goal cancelling out Dixie Dean’s 43rd minute effort.
The crowd- said to be well in excess of 40,000- is all the more impressive considering the train fare of five shillings would have been a considerable amount for fans coming up from the west at the time.
The replay, again held at Dalymount Park, took place on May 3, 1939. This was the only one of Dixie Dean’s eight matches in Ireland which he failed to score – perhaps down to the efforts of first-choice defender Tom Priestley who replaced Patrick Drain after Priestley, a Presbyterian, had refused to play the first match because it was on a Sunday.
Full-back William ‘Sacky’ Glen got the game’s only goal to claim Shels’ very first FAI Cup.
Dixie Dean went back to Liverpool without any medals, too.
Just after the match, his runners-up medal was allegedly stolen from his hotel room, but seven years later, in 1946, when Dean was licencee of the Dublin Packet in Chester, he received his medal in a parcel sent anonymously from Ireland.
STORIES OF THE SHOWGROUND is a Sligo Rovers Heritage Group project.
Formed in 2012 with the objective of promoting and preserving the club’s history and heritage, tts first project was to host an exhibition in Sligo Museum. Titled ‘Legends-Champions’, which attracted over 3,000 visitors.
The highlight was the visit of the family of Dixie Dean to see the special section devoted to the legendary forward.
The exhibition also included mementoes and artefacts of the various stages of the club’s history, from the occasional triumphs, the many challenging years, to the recent golden era.
The popularity of the exhibition highlighted the widespread local interest in the origins and history of Sligo Rovers.
If you wish to contact Sligo Rovers Heritage Group, or have any old photos, records or other mementoes that could be copied by the group, please email: email@example.com
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