In our latest ‘On This Day’ segment, we have two momentous events with both happening on the same day, August 27th 2009.
2009 - Sylvain Distin joins Everton
Manchester City’s protracted chase for central defender Joleon Lescott finally came to an end earlier in the summer of 2009 with the Blues finally agreeing to sell the player for a massive £22 million (at the time). With that ‘windfall’ in hand, Bill Kenwright and David Moyes went shopping, and one of their shrewdest buys was Sylvain Distin for a paltry £5m on a three-year deal.
The central defender went on to become one of the defensive cornerstones for the Blues alongside club captain Phil Jagielka for years after that, turning in solid performance after another as the Toffees continued to overachieve under Moyes.
The Frenchman was prone to the rare mistake, and unfortunately the biggest one of them all came at the biggest stage, a Merseyside Derby FA Cup semifinal at Wembley. His disastrous back pass allowed Luis Suarez to nip in and score in a 2-1 loss and Distin had to take to Twitter to apologize to the fans and was still the Everton players’ Player of the Year that season.
He would go on to sign one-year-extensions with the club until he finally left in 2015, having made 210 appearances for the Toffees, scoring 5 goals and picking up 4 assists in that time.
2009 - Tony Hibbert receives his only straight red card
Tony Hibbert was a faithful servant to the club for two decades (counting his time with the youth side as well), making his name as a no-nonsense, no-frills fullback who manfully policed the right touchline during that time.
The Blues had qualified for the Europa League after their fifth-placed finish the previous campaign in the Premier League, starting off in the playoff round where they took on Czech side Sigma Olomouc. The Blues had easily dispatched them 4-0 at Goodison Park with braces from Louis Saha and Jack Rodwell and the return leg on August 27th was more of a formality.
The task got a bit more difficult when after just six minutes 19-year-old striker Jakub Petr wove his way through the defence and Hibbert had to go sliding in on the edge of the box to stop the player from getting 1-on-1 on Tim Howard. The referee had no hesitation in showing Hibbert the only straight red card of his career, with his only other red card coming after he picked up two bookings within an hour against Liverpool in 2007.
The freekick came to nothing with Sigma hitting the bar before Steven Pienaar put the Blues ahead. An equalizer followed but the game ended 1-1 and Everton went into the group stages proper of the tournament. Their adventure in Europe finally came to an end in February in the Round of 32 at the hands of Sporting Club Portugal. A late penalty allowed the Portuguese side to pull one back in a 2-1 win for the Toffees, and then three goals in the last 25 minutes in the return leg sent the Blues crashing out.
Hibbo would go on to retire an Evertonian, having played his entire career for the Blues, scoring just the one goal from a freekick in his testimonial. The fans, who had always believed in the credo “Hibbo Scores, We Riot” made sure the 4-1 preseason friendly win against AEK Athens was going to memorialized forever.