What If... Heysel Had Never Happened?

by , Sabotage Times | 21/04/2013

The disaster saw English teams banned from competing in Europe for five years and after Everton had recently won the 1985 first division title, it could have been so different for the Toffees had 39 fans not lost their lives that fateful May day.

© Sabotage Times
Article reproduced here in its original form or abridged for brevity.

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Ross Edwards
606 Posted 21/04/2013 at 16:12:58
Well, we would have won the European Cup in '86, Howie Kendall would have stayed, so would Lineker, and maybe we would have signed better players and employed better managers in the years afterwards.

We were never the same and we have suffered as a result.

Brian Cleveland
607 Posted 21/04/2013 at 16:17:59
Can't we sue Liverpool for loss of earnings?
Gavin Ramejkis
609 Posted 21/04/2013 at 16:18:41
Destroyed our chance at joining the European elite, JFT39 really winds that shower up no end too, how many years until they even acknowledged it?
Steven Telford
611 Posted 21/04/2013 at 16:21:50
It was deeply unfair to ban every English club, typical of Uefa, I bet if it was a another major European country, the whole country would not have been banned.

Ray Roche
613 Posted 21/04/2013 at 16:27:11
Steven Telford, I believe Thatcher ordered all English clubs to be denied the chance to play in Europe regardless of what UEFA would have decided.
Andrew Ellams
615 Posted 21/04/2013 at 16:27:29
Liverpool had the chance to fall on their own swords and take a longer ban on their own. They said no so everybody got stuffed.
Ross Edwards
616 Posted 21/04/2013 at 16:33:37
Maybe the RS didn't acknowledge it for years because their fans were mostly responsible.
Ray Roche
618 Posted 21/04/2013 at 16:40:11
Andrew Ellams, Liverpool decided to pull out of the European competitions before they were ordered out. Unfortunately, Thatcher demanded off FA chairman, Bert Millichip, that all English football clubs should pull out of Europe before they were thrown out.
Steve Cotton
621 Posted 21/04/2013 at 16:46:41
I seem to remember all British clubs being withdrawn, this was later appealed by the Scottish clubs... for whatever reason, we didnt even appeal to the decision.

These days, if, for any bizarre reason, all English teams got banned, then the chance of appeal for non-guilty parties would have been 100% — so we should have appealed then.

The RS caused it but we compounded our own demise....

Tony Marsh
633 Posted 21/04/2013 at 17:04:54
If Heysel had never happened, I reckon the Shite would've gotten even better than they were. Even back then in the 80s, when we had our best ever side, we couldn't beat them when it mattered.
John Hughes
703 Posted 21/04/2013 at 18:39:26
As far as that lot are concerned it didn't happen did it? Airbrushed from their history - makes me sick the double standards that prevail throughout their horrible, horrible , shitty club.
Patrick Murphy
715 Posted 21/04/2013 at 18:44:34
I don't think it was a ban per se but the English FA decided not to enter any clubs into the European competitions , although UEFA would have probably banned them anyway, What I disliked the most was how our national media bent over backwards to support their entry into the CL when they won in Instanbul,, I'm not sure but I think England have a game on the 29th May this year, it would be appropriate for them to have a minutes silence in honour of those who lost their lives at Heysel.

Tony I don't think I agree with what you say as our team was the team who had qualified for the European Cup and were more than capable of winning it, who knows who we may have been able to sign with the promise of European Cup football. Also would they have been able to stomach us playing in what they regard as their competition, it would have had been a big blow to their morale and they probably wouldn't have ended up winning the double.
It's all history now of course, but at least we have our dignity.

Ryan Sloan
722 Posted 21/04/2013 at 18:56:33
Steve Cotton,

I read recently we did appeal to Uefa but this was instantly rejected. I often wonder if the roles were reversed, that we would've been hounded out, had our League Title stripped, and made to play in Bosnia.
Gary Reeves
726 Posted 21/04/2013 at 18:57:46
Well,I was amazed to learn recently that we were actually entered into the Draw for the European Cup,and our First Round opponents received a bye! . .There's a pint in itif you know who we drew.
Patrick Murphy
728 Posted 21/04/2013 at 19:04:07
I'd never heard that before Gary, I thought it was all decided well before any draws were made. Let's see, knowing our luck in Europe - Milan, Munich or Real Madrid. I'll plump for the Hungarian team Steau Bucharest the eventual winners.
Will Leaf
744 Posted 21/04/2013 at 19:14:02
Draw would have been to a very useful Anderlecht side (Scifo, Lozano). Linfield may have been the easier draw.

If we'd have continued on with Anderlecht's draw: Bayern in the Quarter's; Steau Buchrest (won it) in Semi's; Barca in the Final.


Gary Reeves
762 Posted 21/04/2013 at 19:38:20
Yeh,you're right Will - was Anderlecht. I plotted our route to the final aswell,ha! . . Cancheck it out on Wikipedia.
Ian Smitham
843 Posted 21/04/2013 at 22:10:39
Sadness and respect to those affected.

For many of my age this tragedy is the root of all evil and the source of the demise of our club.

Am I a bitter blue? Yes and proud of it.


Danny Broderick
886 Posted 21/04/2013 at 23:24:35
Two things from me. I can't accept that this was the cause of our demise because:

There is absolutely no guarantee we were going to win the European Cup the following year, like I have seen some suggest. The best team rarely wins that competition – Chelsea are the current holders for instance, and I don't think Man Utd or Liverpool were the best teams in Europe when they won it. So while we had a good team, who knows how we would have fared?

Secondly, and more importantly, we were still a major force in English football after this. We won the league in 87. We were then making major signings, smashing the transfer record, and beating Arsenal to Cottee for example.

The truth is, our management and signings after 87 weren't good enough, on or off the pitch. We got left behind. Other clubs moved forward on and off the pitch – mainly Man Utd and Arsenal.
Some can say this is all down to Heysel, but for me it is more because Neil McDonald, Stuart McCall, Pat Nevin, Mike Milligan etc weren't good enough. We bought very few gems after this, and got no investment. This is where things started going wrong for Everton.

Mark Roberts
902 Posted 21/04/2013 at 23:34:26
I've got no doubt that the ban / withdrawal from Europe had an impact on our demise post-87 but some poor decisions by the management at the time contributed just as much.

I think Kendall would have left us in 86 had we won the league and cup double, probably for Barca ahead of El Tel but, once Venables got the job, he decided to stay for another year in the hope of regaining the title which he did manage to achieve before departing. However, in my opinion, the rot set in during that season.

I know we won the league but Kendall was signing what I call 'elastoplast' players who were going to help him achieve that goal but, because he knew he would be leaving, he was not signing players who were going to put pressure on the established clique. Power, Clarke & Langley all filled in and contributed but for me weren't progressive signings.

The two progressive signings at that time were Dave Watson and Ian Snodin. I know Dave Watson was a great servant to EFC but did we really need to replace Mountfield at that time, who still had plenty of years ahead of him? I'm afraid Ian Snodin as a center mid was a bit of a let-down for me although, before his bad hamstring injury, he was looking like a very good right back.

With another title on his CV, Howard Kendall was off to pastures new and Colin Harvey took over. His first mistake that summer was not signing anyone, believing that he had taken over a squad that had won the league and would therefore be in the mix again. But Reidy's hair dye was fooling nobody and the unfortunate Bracewell was never going to be the same player again.

Meanwhile, the Red Shite decided on a bit of an overhaul with Beardsley, Barnes and Co; we managed to acquire the services of Ian Wilson a couple of weeks into the season. Another example of the policy of signing players who could cover for the established eleven but offered no threat to any of them long term – hence the realisation that the squad needed a major overhaul the following summer when Nevin, McDonald, Cottee & McCall arrived.

Although we were a half-decent team, the momentum had gone and a young, strong Arsenal team had arrived to challenge those who can't be mentioned. Ironically, a few years later, a certain Mr Daglish made the same mistake and allowed his squad to age and lose the edge.

To summarise, the Euro ban probably initiated the steady decline but a lack of vision and bad management decisions in my opinion contributed a lot more.

Patrick Murphy
905 Posted 22/04/2013 at 01:41:45
We weren't exactly a cash rich club even then, so a European ban had a bigger impact on us then Man U and Liverpool who had already established themselves with the media and sponsors. The European Cup would have opened the door for Everton and perhaps the next couple of seasons wouldn't have seen us make such signings. It might not have worked out that way, but after waiting 15 years to see a team that could take on all-comers it lost momentum at a crucial time.
Ross Edwards
000 Posted 22/04/2013 at 13:27:54
Barca in those days were not the team of today. They had Terry Vegetables in charge and not many big players. We would have battered them.

Everything would have been different if Maggie wouldn't have poked her broomstick in it.

Ste Traverse
072 Posted 22/04/2013 at 19:44:27
The ban had a huge detrimental effect on our club, of that there is no doubt, but while the RS were busy acquiring the likes of Barnes, Beardsley and Aldridge, we were bringing in the Ian Wilsons and Neil McDonalds of this world.

Our player recruitment left a lot to be desired in the years after we last won the title and that contributed to our downfall.

I still don't why Kendall left for Athletico Bilbao though. Had it been a top European side then fair enough...but them???

Gavin Ramejkis
078 Posted 22/04/2013 at 20:14:08
Ste, Kendall thought he was off to Barca with Lineker, when that job fell through he ended up at Bilbao, he also ended up waking up pissed up on a beach over there
Barry Rathbone
080 Posted 22/04/2013 at 20:04:39
Never bought this, pure supposition what would have happened if Kendal had stayed AND it was the same for everyone.

To fall a little from being top dogs might be excusable but the decline to present day non-entities is nothing short of neglect.

In hindsight Kendal's miraculous period just disguised the amateur night antics going on behind the scenes antics alive and well to this day.

Barry Curran
107 Posted 22/04/2013 at 23:09:30
Maggie couldn't ban Everton. We had a right to European entry as we had won the Cup Winners Cup therefor would have a right to defend that trophy even if the FA refused to sanction. Uefa were the only ones who stopped us entering into Euro competition.
Dennis Stevens
109 Posted 22/04/2013 at 23:21:48
A well run club would have continued to be successful domestically & been a tip club stil when the ban was lifted & at the start of the premier league. Yes, the ban hurt - but it doesn't excuse almost 30 years of underachievement.
Gareth Fieldstead
110 Posted 22/04/2013 at 22:49:33
Well out Ross, I remember playing Real in the August of 87 as current champions and getting smashed 6-1. Friendly or not there was nothing to suggest we would have won the European cup with Kendalls brand of route one with Lineker. Also Patrick, we had the same funds as Liverpool and more than Man Utd.

I remember reading an article by Linekers former agent who laughed at his suggestion that he only wanted to sign for Everton in 85. According to his agent he wanted to sign for Utd but they couldn't afford him. Look at the attendances against us and others from the late 80s until they won the league in 93, it was regularly in the 20 thousands. They were skint.

As Mark pointed out, it was the appointment of Harvey as manager and his numerous awful buys and a bunch of players who thought they were bigger than the club who undermined Harvey and his signings that did the damage. Lineker was the last of Kendalls top class signings. We didn't sign another player of that quality until Beardsley who sadly was on another planet skill wise to his teammates.

As for Heysel, numerous fans were charged and imprisoned. Numerous Belgian officials also served prison terms for an awful stadium, lack of segregation, poor ticketing and the lack of medical intervention. I was not there but people I know who we're including Evertonians state there was little actual violence, there was a panic and a crush, a panic caused initially by Italian hooligans. Liverpool had raised there concerns about the stadium, five weeks before the game took place.

Anybody who needs education about this just watch Requiem for a Final. There are Juventus fans on that who acknowledge there fans behaved worse than Liverpool on that tragic night. We were our own worse enemies post Heysel, it's not like Liverpool lost theire manager or top players, but we did and they were replaced by shite, end of.

Ste Traverse
112 Posted 22/04/2013 at 23:36:03
To be fair Gareth the side which was battered by Real Madrid was not exactly our first choice line up.

You are right about Man Utd's gates in the late 80s though. I remember being at Old Trafford for a 2-1 win in the days when we used to regulary win there the week before the 1989 FA Cup final and the official crowd was just over 26,000 which included around 3-4,000 Blues.

Patrick Murphy
114 Posted 22/04/2013 at 23:45:20
Gareth I don't know where you're getting your information from but according to official FL attendances this is Man U's average for the period you mention.

1985-86 46,321
1986-87 40,625
1987-88 39,216
1988-89 36,847
1989-90 39,077
1990-91 43,242
1991-92 44,985
1992-93 35,573
1993-94 44,244 whilst Everton's average attendances courtesy of this site are as follows
1985-86 32,227 (3)
1986-87 32,935 (3)
1987-88 27,771 (4)
1988-89 27,765 (4)
1989-90 26,820 (7)
1990-91 25,028 (9)
1991-92 23,148 (10)

But hey it probably didn't affect us as much as I thought it was our own fault and we really shouldn't dwell on our neighbour misadventures now should we, I wonder if they would have taken it so meekly if it had been us who got them banned?

Colin Glassar
115 Posted 23/04/2013 at 00:03:10
Plus shit board of directors over the last 20-30 years hasn't helped us.
Gareth Fieldstead
121 Posted 23/04/2013 at 01:24:09
Sure Patrick but still well off capacity attendances for a club paying the highest wages back then. I was pointing out attendances when they played us at OT in that period, I remember 89 and 91 when it was 20,000. My other point was Utd couldn't afford Lineker in 85 for a mere 850,000 plus his wages, hardly a massive amount for a club of there size.

What I cannot stand is so called supporters taking the moral high ground when tragedies have occurred. I would suggest it wouldn't have mattered what English side played Juventus that night, in that environment there would have been the same sad situation. I have no idea how old you are but I cannot remember a single away game that year when there wasn't violence.

Reading our very own toy soldier Mr Nicholls was very proud of the fact that Everton were deemed by many as topping the list of the hooligan charts, supported no less by Cass Pennant, we were hardly angels. Every club was at it. Personally I was threatened and chased! From most away grounds that season. Some of our support sound like Utd at times, and how often did they use to routinely demolish whatever city they were in in the 70s and 80s?

Patrick Murphy
122 Posted 23/04/2013 at 02:22:13
I was a regular match goer from about 1976 to the early 90s and of course there were problems with regards to violence, I personally was never involved but then again the people I went with followed the team for the football and only the football - as well as a few drinks at the many hostelries we frequented.

I travelled the length and breadth of this country with Everton , the people I went with used to go by car or by coach if there was enough of us, but we never used organised transport and never used British Rail so I might have missed most of what was happening as regards violence.

I'm not sure that you are correct in your assertion that it would have happened to any English team in that situation but I will concede that LFC had been given a hard time in Rome the previous year and that possibly fueled some of the shocking incidents that took place. I am not a so-called supporter and I am not taking any high ground morally or otherwise , I'm just expressing a view. I don't even know who Mr Nichols is, I've never heard of him, but if he didn't play for us then I'm not particularly interested in his exploits, the same goes for Cass Pennant.

The 1989 game was indeed a very low attendance it was played between the Hillsborough disaster and the cup final and there were 26,722 Everton won 2-1 and Sharp got both.
The week prior to the Cup Final Everton played West Ham at Goodison and just under 22,000 turned up followed by 17,826 against Derby County on the Monday.

The next lowest crowd I can see is for the opening PL season which I think was the first home game for United where 31,901 attended to watch Everton win 3-0 bob the pole Beardsley and Maurice Johhnston scoring, but I think that had more to do with ground redevelopment than anything else.

Gareth Fieldstead
124 Posted 23/04/2013 at 03:25:15
Sorry Patrick I have no intention of arguing with you and you certainly started going away games before me and it must have been divine intervention that you avoided trouble so well. I am surprised Barnes travel carried on providing coaches for football because just replacing the windows alone must have cost a fortune. I was talking about the so called reformed hooligan who wrote about his past experiences with Everton.

Obviously it is just opinion but I think the same scenario in that decrepit stadium with anyone from Utd, Millwall, West Ham, Chelsea even us would have resulted in deaths, as Phil Scratton pointed out in Hillsborough, Heysel was the inevitable outcome of footballs neglect. I honestly think Heysel was waiting to happen, my only surprise was that it involved Liverpool who had previously had such a good record.

Ian Smitham
566 Posted 24/04/2013 at 23:07:58
Patrick #122, the game at OT, one of the most one sided games I have ever been to. Laugh, as they were leaving two United fans said I should be sat with the EFC fans From that day till this I will never hear a bad word about Bob, he ran them ragged, aside from that, we were almost not at the game, the pitch was lop sided. We used a few Get out of jails that night.

Still, it will not top the 2-2 game when my fave player was Captain, Sir Alec's moaning about Southall's time wasting will remain with me for ever.

Last, if I may, the 1-1 game when Sheedy missed the pen. I was getting a kicking off two United fans, when Sheeds missed I turned round launched my best punch at one then ran like hell, did not stop till I got home back in Sale.

Patrick Murphy
569 Posted 24/04/2013 at 23:32:16
Was at the Mountfield (1-1) game when he scored I was in the Stretford End and had to keep quiet and then clamber out over some mud-bank at the top right of that end, but the best one - probably cos I was young - was the 3-0 demolition when King and Dobson scored.

I didn't mind OT but I used to dislike going to Maine Road, that was a terrible place especially when they moved the coaches and you had miles to walk before getting back safely.

Stu Smith
609 Posted 25/04/2013 at 09:08:27
I am too young to remember the 80s team and have only seen footage of how a side they were. However, Iv always had a question re Liverpool that Iv never really dare asked and with the recent stuff with hillsboro its still nagging at me.
First all I apologise if I upset someone I don't mean too and like I said I don't recall the 80s too well but...
Two of the major stadia disasters in my life time have involved liverpool fans. With regards to heysel from what Iv read rs fans knocked a wall onto juve fans?? Hillsboro was an fa cup semifinal(?) which (again Iv read) was all ticket(?) however, (again read) alot of rs fans turned up without a ticket. Now not saying the police are not to blame for what happened but liverpool have always pushed for what happened at hillsboro to be not blamed on their fans. What I don't understand is how can the rs fans not have part of the blame if hundreds turned upto a game with no ticket??? Surely the fans with no ticket have to carry part of the blame?
Ernie Baywood
707 Posted 25/04/2013 at 16:20:06
Completely common place to turn up hoping for a ticket. In an ideal world you don't have a stadium that squeezes people into a confined space and then you don't open a gate and let them all into a single pen.

You'll get some education on here but you'd be better off reading a few articles and maybe watching a few documentaries on YouTube.

Barry Rathbone
721 Posted 25/04/2013 at 16:33:30
Stu you ask the question that dare not be asked as Ernie says it was commonplace - probably since "big games" have been in existence fans turning up looking for "spares".

In my experience from the early 70s onwards "away" games were as much about pissed up misbehaviour as supporting your team.

Hillsbrough and Heysel were ticking timebombs on many counts and could have happened to any set of fans.

For what it's worth 2 liverpool fans I know at Hilsbrough never went to another game because they saw what happened outside and disagreed with the enquiry saying fans behaviour played no part.

The fact remains the authorities telling lies makes it all seem incidental.

Ian Hollingworth
754 Posted 25/04/2013 at 17:03:16
Stu (609) — risky question you pose; however, it is very valid and those of us who attended games back then know only too well what it was like.

I am sure there are many RS fans who were there and bunked in etc are carrying a heavy burden as I know I would be if roles reversed.

At the end of the day, lives were lost and that should not happen at a football match to anybody, anywhere.

Stu Smith
828 Posted 25/04/2013 at 23:20:21
They are fair comments guys thank you for enlightening me!

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