Next up in our tales of transfers past, we move to Goodison Park and a player who came with aÂ good reputation but failed to deliver, as MARK GODFREY explains.
It took some kind of player to haveÂ persuaded me not to choose Russian misfitÂ Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, woeful striker Brett Angell or the chicken-hearted Niclas Alexandersson as my worst Everton transfer flop. And don’t even get me started on Mark Pembridge, but Ian Wilson – once of Leicester City – has to be right up (or down?) there.
A left-sided or centralÂ midfielder – who, before moving to Filbert StreetÂ had learned his trade in the Highland League with Elgin City – 29-year-old Wilson was brought in for Â£300,000 in September 1987 by manager Colin Harvey as back up for the supremely talentedÂ Kevin Sheedy. As a then-current Scotland international, back whenÂ getting a cap north of the border was a huge achievement given the stiff competition for a call-up, the expectancy wasÂ that he would slot right into a title-challenging team (Everton were reigning EnglishÂ champions when he arrived) providing ammunition to the front line in theÂ battle for trophiesÂ with our lovable neighbours from Anfield.
However, myÂ memoriesÂ of him ofÂ are twofold: firstly heÂ looked – even to my young, 12-year-oldÂ eyes -Â way out of his depth. As a consequence, the other abiding recollection I have ofÂ his time on Merseyside is of my dad christening him Ian ‘Bloody’ Wilson on account of the amount of times he misplaced a pass or was caught somewhere he shouldn’t be, forcing Pater to spew forth streams of Anglo-SaxonÂ invective past my tender, innocent earsÂ in the direction of the balding Scotsman.
Perhaps myself and my old manÂ were being a bit unfair, given theÂ calibre of the man he was understudy to; Sheedy was a legend, with a left foot so deft he could probably peel an orange with it. And let’s not forget theÂ some of the othersÂ whose shadow he had to live inÂ – Peter Reid, Trevor Steven, Graeme Sharp and Neville Southall to name but a few.
TheÂ Â£300,000Â price tag, evenÂ for 1987, was relatively modest so it’s not as if Harvey bet the farm on Wilson being a roaring success, yet the merest mention ofÂ Wilson’s name isÂ stillÂ enough to set my nerves on edge. Dad turns 69 in November, his heart isn’t what it was; I dare not evenÂ utter his name in his presence.
After just 34 League games in the royal blue of EvertonÂ (and an appearance in the 1989 FA Cup final defeat to Liverpool) Wilson was jettisoned to Besiktas where he won the Turkish league and cup double in an even shorter stint.
Was Istanbul far enough away for you, Dad?