By Alan Myers
It was good to see super Kevin Campbell join the Twitterati this week (@1kevincampbell). A player who made the term “instant impact” a mild description of the art as his introduction to the club could not be described as anything less than explosive, and perhaps more aptly: legendary!
I remember the day he arrived on loan from Trabzonspor in Turkey and to say we needed a striker was an understatement. We had a young Franny Jeffers who, whilst doing a commendable job, needed help and experience to bring out the huge potential he’d been showing. I remember Kevin arriving at Bellefield training ground, if my memory serves me correctly the same day as we signed Scott Gemmill, with minutes to go before the deadline. People doubted Walter Smith’s decision to bring in the former Arsenal and Nottingham Forest striker but those doubters were made to eat their words in dramatic fashion.
With 9 goals in just 8 appearances Super Kev saved us from what looked like a probable relegation at one point. Goals were a problem but we had a group of talented players: Dacourt, Barmby, Collins and Hutch were all top quality but goals were needed and urgently!
Two goals in his 3rd game (against Coventry) got Kevin off the mark and two more against Newcastle and then Charlton. He ended his purple patch with a hat-trick against West Ham in a 6-0 Goodison Park drubbing of the Londoners.
I recall, unlike now, we were cash- strapped at the time and getting the £3M fee to make the move permanent was looking difficult, as other clubs were circling after such a good showing on loan. However, Peter Johnson found the cash and Kevin finally arrived on a permanent deal that summer. It was a transfer which will live long in my memory!
The team had gone away to The Italian training base called “Choco,” which was a firm favourite of Walter Smith from his Rangers days. I recall Kevin had flown directly to the training base to join up with the squad and I was back home fielding all the questions from the media.
Most of the enquiries were easily dealt with by a simple statement announcing the signing, but I remember Radio 5 Live were insistent that we gave them something broadcast-able. The player, manager and even the chairman were all in Italy, but the reporter, who’s name I can’t just recall, was not for giving up, so to pacify him I agreed to record a bit on tape. I remember feeling a little bit weird and almost wrong, as it felt like I was talking as the manager about Kevin’s qualities and the importance of his signing – something I’d never really do normally.
Later that evening I was at home laying on the lounge floor doing some exercises with one of those “Super Abs” machines off QVC when the telephone rang. It was Walter Smith, who quite clearly had an audience. If I recall a couple of echo journalists and the rest of his backroom staff were in attendance listening in!
“Myers” he proclaimed, “I hear you’ve been waxing F&@%ing lyrical about our new striker on national radio?”
I replied sheepishly: “I had to Walter there was nobody else”.
He and his audience were loving every minute listening to me squirming on the other end of the telephone, I think it was their entertainment for the evening! A mixture of panic and embarrassment forced me into a display of dangerously aggressive response to Walter.
“Anyway, I’m doing my crunches, piss off” I recklessly screamed back!
The laughter became louder and I slammed the phone down. As the night went on it dawned on me what I’d just said to the Manager of the Club!
As it transpired, Kevin proved to be all that I’d described in glowing terms to the 5Live Reporter in the subsequent years, but more importantly for me he became a friend, an inspiration for many at the club and an Evertonian!
The day I left Everton (my first departure) we played Middlesbrough at Goodison, beating them 2-0. Kevin scored and, as promised, he did a “Big Al” celebration, that time was an extremely sad period for me when, as recently repeated, I gave up the best job in the world on principle!
That evening I sat watching Match of the Day with tears streaming down my face but with a huge smile as well thanks to Super Kev! I still have his shirt from the day, signed!
So for me Kevin Campbell is a legend in more ways than one and someone I’m honoured to follow on Twitter! I suggest you do too! #SuperKevputtheballinthe……..net!