Joe Peacock’s career dovetailed two of the most incredible goalscoring achievements in football history. In May 1927 he left Everton to join Middlesbrough, who had just lifted the Second Division Championship. Their success had come on the back of centre forward George Camsell’s 59 league goals. Yet the record some believed would last forever existed only for one season. At Goodison Peacock’s former team-mate Dixie Dean plundered 60 goals in 1927/28. Peacock ended the campaign relegated with his new club.
Peacock joined Everton as an amateur from Atherton Town of the Lancashire Combination following the end of the First World War. Nominally a wing back, he would fulfil a number of roles for the Everton first team, including full back and centre forward. Indeed some of his first appearances for Everton during the 1919/20 season came leading the Everton forward line. ‘The play of Peacock as centre forward was frequently promising though he occasionally appeared lost at the critical moment,’ reported the Liverpool Courier of Everton’s ‘experiment’ during a 1-1 draw with Sheffield United.
In autumn 1920 he was given a further run at centre forward and rewarded the Everton selectors with a hat-trick in the visit to Derby. ‘Everton came out of their scoring shell and Peacock’s three goals showed the value of giving a junior a trial as compared with scouring the country with bags of gold,’ reported the Football Echo. ‘I believe it is true to state that Everton were prepared to pay quite a number of thousands of pounds for the right man and while they were angling for men whose clubs would not part company force of circumstances made them turn to Peacock, with happy results.’
By mid-October Everton were top but Peacock had added no further goals. He shifted to half back, then wing half and would remain there for the bulk of his Everton days. The player ‘acquitted himself very creditably in the right half position’ according to one report, ‘and it was evident that his abilities lie more in this direction than as leader of attack’.
Everton in this period were talented underachievers. They narrowly avoided relegation in 1921/22 but the board spent heavily and they played great football to finish fifth and seventh over the following two campaigns. Defence, however, was regarded as the soft underbelly of the Everton team and Peacock would fall victim to the directors’ chopping and changing to find the right formula.
He moved to Middlesbrough for £500 in 1927 and while success was elusive at Ayresome Park his own performances were rewarded with England recognition in 1929. Following spells with Sheffield Wednesday and Clapton Orient he moved to Sweden in a player-coaching role in 1933. Later in his career he served as Wrexham trainer.