Reviving the Premier League players you forgot existed…
Everton’s signing of American striker Joe-Max Moore in November 1999 provoked one particular burning question among Toffees fans at the time: “Joe What?“
Britain, let alone Merseyside, wasn’t quite ready for the double-barrelled Christian name in those last flickering embers of the 20th century, and nobody knew quite what to make of it.
Was it Joe Max-Moore, the son of Miss Moore and the less plausible ‘Mr Max’? Or could it, they wondered, be Joe Maxmoor? Or possibly even Jomax Moore? He was a foreigner after all.
But no. The Oklahoma-born USA international strutted onto these shores with the mind-blowing combo - never-seen-again, never-seen-since - of Joe hyphen Max.
That might have been the most exciting thing about Moore, a 28-year-old free transfer whose signing hardly heralded a bright new dawn at Goodison Park, but it wasn’t. The most exciting thing about him, by far, was that he could score goals. Lots of them.
"It was mad - he had like eight touches and scored from five of them in five straight games,” recalled one fan on the Grand Old Team Everton website, while another concurred that “for the first few games he basically scored with every touch”.
“We needed a foreigner nobody had heard of and he was our man,” beamed another.
Moore’s purple patch consisted of six goals in a dazzling seven-match spell spanning January and February 2000. The son of a wealthy US businessman had come from nowhere, specifically a team called New England Revolution, to emerge as one of the Premier League’s stars of the new millennium.
“Joe-Max Moore, he scores goals galore,” sang the Everton fans, who by now were largely comfortable with the whole double-barrelled first name arrangement. They also devised an even better song, not appropriate for repetition here, in which Posh Spice expresses a preference for Moore over her husband David Beckham.
But much like Beckham’s career at Man Utd and the Spice Girls’ 90s chart success, this was as good as it got. Joe-Max’s early goalscoring heroics could not be sustained. He netted two more goals that season - both against Watford - and the following campaign he bagged none at all. “I expected nothing from him, and that was sort of what we got,” said one Evertonian in summary.
Joe-Max scored just twice in his third Premier League season, including a spectacular volley against Leeds that gave Toffees fans a last fleeting glimpse of his talent, before suffering a serious knee injury in the 2002 World Cup that ultimately led to his contract being cancelled by Everton in December 2002.
Moore returned to New England but his knee never fully recovered and he retired two years later to become an entrepreneur, a loosely defined role which has variously seen him brokering mortgages and promoting energy drinks.
He remains the USA’s sixth top goalscorer of all time, which sounds impressive until you realise he’s one place below Jozy Altidore.
But despite the fizzling out of his Goodison career, Moore is still remembered fondly, with supporters describing a “tireless runner” who always worked hard for the team.
“He went with the best wishes of Evertonians with not many having a bad word to say about him,” one fan concluded.
And that could have been the last we heard of Joe-Maxes on Merseyside, except for a story which surfaced at the height of Moore’s prolific spell that a fan had called his baby daughter Jo-Max Maureen. She’d be about 15 years old now, probably long enough to tire of the question, “Jo What?”, but it’s nice to imagine that she still insists on the hyphen.