Along with Bolton Wanderers’ George Dobson, in the summer of 1885 Alec Dick became Everton’s first professional footballer. The policy of paying the best players had gone on under the table for several years, and so that summer the Football Association sought to control what they had previously banned and sanctioned professionalism. Dick, who joined from Kilmarnock, and Dobson were a fine line of defence, although the latter would play much of his football for Everton further up the field.
Dick, wrote Thomas Keates in his history of the club, was ‘a daring, reckless full back’; according to him, ‘the two “D’s”, Dobson and Dick, proved to be a most formidable barrier to advancing forwards; their sensational kicking was an entertaining feature of matches.’ By the onset of the Football League in September 1888, Dick was still a mainstay of the Everton defence, partnering the cultured Nick Ross in Everton’s first league game against Accrington. Dick was a fine player with seemingly psychopathic tendencies. This saw him marked out by opponents and drew the animalistic tendencies of purportedly mild crowds.
WHEN EVERTON travelled to face Notts County in October 1888 things came to a dramatic head. The denizens of an unusually hostile crowd demanded, ‘Which is Dick?’ and marked him out for such epithets as ‘dog’ and ‘pig’. This clearly irked the Everton defender, who let out his frustration with a punch in the back of an opponent. In turn this increased the ire of the crowd and at the end of the game they invaded the pitch to attack the Everton man with sticks.
Dick was left with a ‘severe wound’ to the side of his head, according to a Nottingham newspaper. Police and Notts County players protected him in the club’s pavilion while his injuries were tended.
By all accounts Dick was the victim of what was termed ‘a cowardly outrage’. But instead of receiving sympathy, when he recovered from injuries which kept him out of Everton’s next two games, he was hauled before an FA disciplinary commission in Birmingham. There the FA’s honorary secretary Charles Alcock and the Bolton Wanderers secretary Fitzroy Norris banned the Everton player for eleven weeks.
THEIR RATIONALE for doing so has been lost to the sands of time, but was Alec Dick the victim of a stitch-up? Certainly Alcock was no fan of professional players, believing that playing for money debased the sport and produced such aggressive players as Alec Dick. And Norris had his own score to settle with Everton, after shenanigans in the previous year’s FA Cup saw a Bolton win over Everton overturned on a technicality and his club knocked out in the replayed match.
Dick played twice more for Everton after returning from his ban, but lost his place to Andrew Hannah for the 1889/90 season. Quite possibly he suffered serious injury, for while he was still on the Everton books he did not appear for the senior side, or seemingly the reserves either. He was awarded a benefit match against Darwen in March 1891, with the proceeds shared with George Farmer and the goalkeeper Charles Jolliffe. Thereafter he drifted into obscurity.