Little known outside his native Scotland when Everton paid St Johnstone £100,000 for him in July 1974, Jim Pearson was one of a succession of forwards designated to share Everton’s goalscoring burden with Bob Latchford.
A Scottish youth, schoolboy and under-23 international, Pearson had also been selected to represent the Scottish League prior to joining Everton. A tall, rangy, somewhat gangly striker, invariably there were comparisons with another blond Scottish forward to have passed south to Goodison a generation earlier. But living up to the reputation of Alex Young was always going to be a tough call. Indeed, one writer said that Pearson was less the new ‘Golden Vision’ than the ‘Golden Toothpick’, ‘so spare and bony was his frame that his kit seemed to hang on him’.
Shortly after his arrival Joe Royle joined Manchester City and Pearson was given an extended run up front with Latchford. Alas, he never provided the sort of goal return necessary to justify his inclusion as an out-and-out striker. Often used from the bench or in unfamiliar wide roles, he was always a willing runner but never found the form to guarantee him a first-team place.
‘I wasn’t the type ever to be overawed and I settled in well,’ he told the Evertonian in 2001. ‘My problem was always the injuries I got throughout my career. They meant I didn’t really get a long run in the side, but for all that I do look back with pleasure on my time at Everton.’
A gregarious character, popular with his team-mates, in August 1978, still unable to guarantee a first-team place after four years at the club, Pearson sought a fresh start at Newcastle, whom he joined for £70,000. However, the injuries that had troubled him at Goodison became a plague at St James’s Park. Still in his mid-twenties, a persistent knee ligament injury brought an end to his professional career.
Pearson then turned to non-league football, taking on a variety of playing and managerial roles with Barrow, Gateshead, North Shields and Blyth Spartans. He also worked in a business development role with Nike and for a period, when Walter Smith was manager, served as Everton’s north-east scout. ‘When you’re an Evertonian, you stay an Evertonian as everyone knows, so it was great to be invited back and still be involved with such a great club,’ he said.