Duncan Cowan Ferguson (born 27 December 1971) is Scottish football player and coach. He began his professional career at Dundee United in 1990. He moved to Rangers in 1993 for a then British transfer record of £4 million. He spent the remainder of his career in England with two spells at Everton (1994 to 1998 and 2000 to 2006) and Newcastle United between 1998 and 2000. Ferguson retired from football in 2006.
During his career, Ferguson won the FA Cup with Everton in 1995, competed in the qualifying stages of the UEFA Champions League in 2005, also with Everton, and participated in the UEFA Cup in 1999 with Newcastle and 2005 with Everton. He was capped for Scotland seven times but made himself unavailable for selection for the national team due to a dispute with the Scottish Football Association. He has scored more goals than any other Scottish player in the FA Premier League.
Ferguson was noted for his aggressive and highly competitive style of play which resulted in nine red cards and a three-month prison sentence following an on-field assault of Raith Rovers’ John McStay in 1994. Eight of those cards were in the Premier League, where he holds the joint-record for dismissals along with Patrick Viera and Richard Dunne. He was nicknamed “Big Dunc” and “Duncan Disorderly”.
Born in Stirling, Ferguson played for the juvenile side Carse Thistle. Dundee United signed him as a schoolboy and he went on to win the BP Youth Cup in 1990. Later that year Ferguson made his professional debut for Dundee United against Rangers at Ibrox Stadium on 10 November 1990. His first goal was an extra time winner against East Fife in the Scottish Cup on 29 January 1991.
The following season saw him become a first team regular, with 41 appearances and 16 goals he became the club’s top scorer. His good form continued in 1992–93 with 33 appearances and 15 goals. The form he displayed at Dundee United also saw him win a call up to the Scottish national team.
In a 4–0 defeat of Raith Rovers, Ferguson headbutted the visitors’ John McStay in the south-west corner of the Ibrox pitch. Referee Kenny Clark spotted the incident and booked Ferguson but he was then subsequently charged with assault and, as it was his fourth such conviction, he received a three-month prison sentence in 1995, by which time he had left the club.
Ferguson scored a last–minute winner against Motherwell, from a Brian Laudrup assist on the first game of the season. Four days later, Ferguson scored a hat–trick in a 6–1 win over Arbroath.
In October 1994, Everton were struggling under the management of Mike Walker and looking for options to reinvigorate their faltering season. The solution enacted was to take two Rangers players on loan–deal, Ian Durrant for one month and Ferguson for three. Ferguson’s move to Everton was later made permanent by Walker’s successor Joe Royle, and Ferguson played a key role in not only saving Everton from relegation, but also helping them win the FA Cup.
The subsequent, 1995–96 season was less successful for Ferguson. A persistent hernia problem caused him to be unavailable for large amounts of time, as did his brief spell in prison during the first half of the season.
On 28 December 1997, Ferguson scored a hat-trick against Bolton Wanderers in a 3–2 victory, the first time that a hat-trick of headers had been scored in the Premier League. Everton finished the season surviving relegation only on goal difference.
Ferguson was controversially sold to Newcastle United for a fee of £8 million in November 1998. The deal was done to sell Ferguson by the Everton chairman, Peter Johnson, without the knowledge of Walter Smith. Ferguson wrote a 2-page goodbye letter in the club magazine to fans, stating his sadness at leaving and that he would never forget them.
Upon bringing Ferguson to Newcastle, team manager Ruud Gullit was swiftly rewarded. Ferguson scored twice on his debut against Wimbledon in the Premier League. The final result was a 3–1 victory to Newcastle and the tantalising prospect of Ferguson and Alan Shearer forming a formidable strike partnership.
Though it was not to be; Ferguson again found himself struck down by injury and appeared only seven times for Newcastle during the 1998–99 season. He did however make a substitute appearance in the 1999 FA Cup Final. His extended absence lasted from late December until April and curbed the early promise of his Tyneside career. Likewise, the first half of 1999–2000 brought more misfortune for Ferguson.
Injury would once again hinder Ferguson’s career and he was unable to participate in the final seven league matches of the season. These injury woes made his position at Newcastle untenable and he was eventually sold back to Everton by Bobby Robson for £3.75 million; almost half the price he was bought for from Everton two seasons earlier. His final appearance came in the FA Cup semi-final defeat to eventual winners Chelsea.
Return to Everton
Ferguson’s low point of the 2005–06 season was his sending off against Wigan Athletic for violent conduct. His confrontation with Paul Scharner and subsequent fracas with Pascal Chimbonda resulted in a seven match ban and saw his Premier League red–card count reach eight, equalling Patrick Vieira’s record. Scharner later claimed that he had sworn at Ferguson in his native language and that the Everton man’s punch “was a nice punch”.
On 7 May 2006, against West Bromwich Albion at Goodison Park, Ferguson was named captain in the game that marked the end of his Everton career. His 90th-minute penalty kick was saved by Tomasz Kuszczak, but he subsequently scored from the rebound, netting his final goal for the club. Ferguson was not given a new Everton deal and retired, moving his family to Mallorca and spurning advances from a number of clubs.
Ferguson played for Everton in a testimonial match in his honour on 2 August 2015.
Having spent five years in Majorca following his retirement from playing, Ferguson contacted his former manager at Everton, David Moyes. Ferguson apologised to Moyes for not shaking his hand when he left the club in 2005. The pair resolved their differences and Ferguson asked if he could work with the Everton academy students at Finch Farm.
Initially Ferguson was a voluntary worker at the academy, working for fellow Glaswegian Alan Irvine, a former mentor of his from his playing career. Although Ferguson remains disappointed with the Scottish FA for what he sees as a lack of support following his sentencing in 1995, he enrolled on a nine-day Scottish FA organised coaching course in Largs, Scotland to earn a UEFA B-Licence. In May 2012, he returned to Largs to achieve a UEFA A licence and in January 2013 he enrolled on a further course and is working towards a UEFA Pro-Licence. In February 2014 Ferguson was promoted to the first team coaching staff at Everton. His first game in the role was a home game against West Ham United on 1 March 2014.
In May 2013, former Everton manager Howard Kendall stated that Duncan Ferguson should be considered for the Everton managerial position following David Moyes’ imminent exit.
Burglary attempts at his homes
In 2001 two burglars broke into Ferguson’s home in Rufford, between Liverpool and Preston, at night. Ferguson confronted them and was able to detain one of them who subsequently spent three days in hospital. The second man managed to flee but was eventually caught. Both men were sentenced to fifteen months’ imprisonment for their actions.
Two years later Ferguson caught another burglar in his home in Formby; the burglar attacked Ferguson, who retaliated; the burglar, who was hospitalised, alleged that Ferguson had assaulted him, but this was dismissed by police.
Convictions for physical altercations
Ferguson has had four convictions for assault – two arising from taxi–rank scuffles, one an altercation with a fisherman in an Anstruther pub and, the most infamous, his on–field headbutt on Raith Rovers defender John McStay in 1994 while playing for Rangers, which resulted in a rare conviction for an on-the-field incident.
The first incident led to a £100 fine for headbutting a policeman (he was fined a further £25 for a Breach of the Peace), while the second resulted in a £200 fine for punching and kicking a supporter on crutches. He was sentenced to a year’s probation for the third offence. For the 1994 on-the-field headbutting of the opposition’s footballer, he received and served a three-month jail term for assault.
Ferguson’s troubles with the law and his imprisonment inspired Finnish composer Osmo Tapio Räihälä to write a symphonic poem as a “musical portrait” of Ferguson, titled Barlinnie Nine, presumably a reference to HM Prison Barlinnie where Ferguson served his sentence.
Ferguson has pledged his support to the “Keep Everton in Our City” campaign, making a rare public statement:
“During my time at Everton, Goodison Park came to feel like a second home, with the supporters of the club, and the people of the city becoming a second family to me. If you were to take Everton out of the city, I firmly believe the club could no longer call itself the ‘People’s Club’ and I give my whole-hearted support to the campaign to keep Everton in the city.”
|Club performance||League||Cup||League Cup||Continental||Total|
|Scotland||League||Scottish Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|1990-91||Dundee United||Premier Division||9||1||5||3||0||0||–||14||4|
|England||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|1998–99||Newcastle United||Premier League||7||2||2||0||–||–||9||2|