In November 1989, the Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish called his friend and former Scotland colleague Graeme Sharp to say that he’d booked him into a private clinic for a cartilage operation. A confused Sharp told him there was nothing wrong with his cartilage. ‘There will be, Sharpy, there will be,’ came the droll reply. ‘You’ve just signed Peter Beagrie, so you’ll be in the box, out the box, in the box, out the box.’
Bought for £750,000 from Stoke City, Beagrie was a winger of undoubted but maddeningly mercurial talents prone to gross over-elaboration. Dalglish’s joke referred to his habit, frequently witnessed in an Everton shirt, of beating his man, checking and trying to beat him again. By his own account the new signing ‘infuriated’ Sharp.
Yet Beagrie could also be a thrilling player, a throwback to the great wideman of the sepia-toned days of Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney and Alec Troup. Possessing dash, control and a sharp turn of pace, he would lull defenders in before suddenly changing direction and darting past them. His knack of nicking the ball away just as a defender thought he was about to win it delighted the alarmingly diminished crowds that attended Goodison in the early 1990s. And when goals came they were celebrated in exuberant fashion: Beagrie was an early exponent of the extravagant back-flipping celebration more commonly seen in recent years.
His early days at Everton were replete with disappointment and Beagrie cut an erratic, isolated figure, often left to cameo run-outs from the substitute’s bench. Indeed it took 30 games for Evertonians to witness his famous somersault goal celebration. By the summer of 1991, when he infamously crashed a moped through the glass doors of a Spanish hotel lobby while on a pre-season tour, it seemed inevitable that Beagrie’s Everton career would end. A loan spell at Sunderland followed, but he was recalled to help lift the torpor that increasingly consumed the club.
Finally assured of a first-team place, Beagrie became one of the few bright lights in a succession of dull Everton teams. With the departure of Peter Beardsley to Newcastle in 1993, he was the club’s most creative player and responded magnificently in the early months of the 1993/94 season when, despite the team’s struggles, he always displayed class and guile. Given this form it seemed surprising that Mike Walker accepted a £1.1million bid from Manchester City on transfer-deadline day in March 1994, although with Anders Limpar set to arrive his absence was less keenly felt.
Beagrie returned for a loan spell at the tail-end of the 1997/98 season – an indicator of the paucity of resources left to Howard Kendall in his third spell as manager. He performed reasonably, inspiring a home win against high-flying Leeds United that may ultimately have kept Everton up. He subsequently made a Premiership return with Bradford City before playing out his career in the lower leagues, turning out for Grimsby and Scunthorpe past his 40th birthday. Now retired from playing, he is a popular television pundit.