Insider story of how Duncan Ferguson was sold to Newcastle without the knowledge of Everton manager Walter Smith.

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But for more than 30 years he has been writing for the Daily Post about Everton Football Club, then as Everton correspondent for Echo, and finally as chief sports journalist.

David Prentice is the head of sports for Echo.

In the first excerpt of his new book “A Grand Old Team To Report” Dave Prentice explains how Duncan Ferguson was sold to Newcastle with the knowledge of Everton manager Walter Smith

DUNCAN’S DEPARTURE

It includes relegation escapes and an FA Cup triumph in which David Moyes had to testify in a lawsuit with Wayne Rooney – he sat in the dock of a kangaroo court presided over by Tim Cahill while the entire first team sat in court. And today’s extract – the inside story of Duncan Ferguson’s controversial transfer to Newcastle.

It’s a journey that began when he sat on a guardrail in Goodison Park as a child 45 years ago. And he has now released it for print.
A Grand Old Team to Report will be published this week.

It was the headline of my commentary in Football Echo, written immediately after Duncan Ferguson’s transfer to Newcastle United – a sale that was made without the knowledge of his manager on the evening of Monday, November 23, 1998 – just four months after Walter Smith arrived as manager.

Even now the headline makes me wince a little: “Clumsy, clumsy and crass – that’s the verdict on Peter Johnson’s reign as Everton Chairman” was strong even by national newspaper standards, not to mention a local newspaper that is always trying to give more support.

But the circumstances were exceptional.

I learned of Duncan’s departure when he was standing at the bar of the Cross House Hotel in Formby shortly before 11 p.m. David Unsworth was standing opposite me when we had a quick pint after the game when Mark Denney – one of those well-connected fans who always seemed to know more about the inner workings of the club than many of its staff – called me.

If Walter had blissfully ignored the departure of the icon, he was not alone.

“Where are you?”, he freaked out.

“Uh, over a pint I submitted my report,” I replied defensively.

“Well, Duncan has been sold. Things are going haywire here. I’m standing on Goodison Road and I can see him in a window at the top. The fans are not happy.”

So I asked Unsy, “What do you know about Duncan being sold?”

Sometimes tips like that sound true. Most of the time they have less validity than a politician’s promise.

Before the game, Duncan, who was injured against Newcastle and not involved, would fortunately not have known about his upcoming move.

His manager did too.

“Nothing,” he said. “He never said a word when we saw him before the game”…

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