Forty Years Ago — 1973-74: Match 23

Another First Division side who had a good home record and a relatively poor away record arrived at Goodison Park for the final game of 1973: Derby County, under the management of Dave Mackay, hoped to bolster their chances of qualifying for Europe if they could manage to win at Goodison Park, and repeat their performance of 1971-72 when they had beaten Everton (0-2). Both Everton and Derby County were level on points with Ipswich Town and a win for either side would help to enhance their challenge for the European places.

Dave Mackay had been appointed Derby County manager, following Brian Clough’s shock departure; it would have been a very difficult act to follow at the best of times, but Clough’s departure had disrupted Derby’s season and at one point it had threatened to wreck it, as Derby had failed to win many games in the immediate aftermath. Mackay had managed to put life back into their challenge for Europe, but Derby County may have had more of an impact on the title race if the transition had have been smoother, as it had only been 18 months since the club had been crowned Champions.

Since Derby County had beaten Everton at the Baseball Ground earlier in the season, they had registered wins at home against Liverpool (3-1), Southampton (6-2) Leicester City (2-1) and in their most recent game at the Baseball Ground, Tottenham Hotspur (2-0). Only QPR (1-2) had managed to defeat them on home turf and that had been at the height of the unrest caused by Clough’s departure.

On their travels, Derby had only managed to win at lowly Manchester United (1-0) and more recently at Newcastle United (2-0), whilst suffering two uncharacteristic heavy defeats at Ipswich Town (0-3) and Sheffield United (0-3), their exit to Second Division Sunderland from the League Cup had begun an unwanted sequence of three defeats by the same nil-three scoreline. The FA Cup holders, Sunderland, had dumped Derby (0-3) out of the League Cup, in a second replay at Roker Park, following two drawn matches, the first at the Baseball Ground (1-1) and the replay at Roker Park (2-2).

When Everton (1-2) had lost at the Baseball Ground earlier in the campaign, they had lost more than a football match as they had also lost their inspirational captain and playmaker, Howard Kendall, due to injury; although his replacement Dave Clements had done a good job, Kendall’s skills and experience had been missed for a large part of the season.

Musing on the ramifications of the 1973 fuel crisis and the possibility of petrol rationing in Britain, Everton Secretary Chris Hassell said that, although the Football League had decided to continue with the current fixture list, the situation had raised questions as to whether or not summer football and or Sunday fixtures had a part to play in the future of the game. It had been in Mr Hassell’s view, very difficult to assess whether or not those ideas would be a good solution for the game in general and he said it would be a case of waiting and seeing how the situation resolved itself, before finally making hard and fast decisions.

The Match: Everton managed to beat Derby County and record back to back home victories for the first time since beating West Ham and Burnley in October. Mike Buckley (48’) once again opened the scoring for the Blues early in the first-half and Joe Royle (68’) made a welcome return to the goal-scoring charts when he converted a penalty mid-way through the second-half, his first strike since he had scored against Wolves in September. Kevin Hector (87’) gave Derby County hope of salvaging a draw, but Everton held on and enhanced their chances of qualifying for a European spot.

Leeds United’s unbeaten run continued unabated although they had only drawn at struggling Birmingham City (1-1), Ipswich Town (0-2) had lost at relegation threatened Manchester United while Burnley (1-1) had been held at home by Wolverhampton Wanderers. After those results, Everton (27 pts) found themselves in 4th place behind Burnley (29 pts) and Liverpool (31 pts) while Leeds United (39 pts) were still in the driving seat for the title.

Manchester United’s victory meant they were now level on points with Birmingham (16 pts) but remained in the final relegation place.

1973-74 — First Division; Saturday, 29 December 1973
Derby County @ Goodison Park, Score: 2-1 (Buckley, Royle), Attendance: 37.429
Everton: Lawson; Darracott, Styles, Clements, Kenyon; Hurst, Bernard; Buckley, Lyons, Royle, Telfer.

Thirty Years Ago — 1983-84: Match 23

Seven days after their FA Cup victory at the Victoria Ground, Everton returned to the same venue this time for a First Division fixture against Stoke City. Having won their opening two fixtures of 1984, Everton were keen to extend that run, whilst Stoke City were hopeful of revenge, thereby boosting their chances of retaining their place in the top division.

At the start of the match with Everton, Stoke City (16 pts) had occupied next-to-bottom position in the top flight having played half of their First Division fixtures. Four teams appeared to be scrapping for survival as Birmingham City (19 pts) lay two places above Stoke and 6 pts adrift of Leicester City (25 pts) who had beaten Stoke (0-1), in the Potters’ most recent league game. Notts County (19 pts) and Wolves (14 pts) were the other sides that were fearful for their First Division futures.

Stoke City had won only three First Division fixtures all season and all of them had been at home. WBA (3-1), West Ham United (3-1) and Norwich City (2-0) had been the only sides to have left the Victoria Ground empty-handed. In the League Cup Stoke had beaten Peterborough (2-1) on aggregate, and Huddersfield Town (2-0) following a draw (0-0) at the Victoria Ground but Sheffield Wednesday (0-1) had ended Stoke City’s League Cup ambitions

Given Stoke City’s situation and their lack of top flight wins, it had been an unenviable task that had befallen their recently appointed manager Bill Asprey who had taken over from Richie Barker in December 1983, although he had overseen a victory and a draw from the four league games that his side had played during his tenure.

Despite the FA Cup triumph the previous week, the Victoria Ground, had been a tough place for Everton to gain points from in recent years, as they had lost their previous two First Division fixtures at the venue, in 1982-83 a single goal from Mark Chamberlain had defeated Everton (0-1) despite having finished the game with tem-men following George Berry’s red card and in 1981-82, Stoke City (3-1) had triumphed as a young Lee Chapman had scored twice and Paul Maguire had added the other whilst Joe McBride had scored the consolation goal for the Toffees. Everton’s last league victory against Stoke City (3-2) at the Victoria Ground had come in September 1979 when goals from Andy King, John Bailey and an unfortunate own goal from Sammy Irvine had won the points for the Blues.

The Match: Adrian Heath (46’) opened the scoring at the Victoria Ground but Everton failed to repeat their cup heroics from the previous week, however, his goal helped the Toffees’ secure a hard-earned point as Phil Heath (70’) equalised for Stoke City midway through the second-half. Howard Kendall was pleased with the point from this game but had been slightly irked that his side hadn’t held on for the win as it had been sloppy defending which led to Phil Heath’s equaliser although Mr Kendall admitted that perhaps a draw was a fair result.

In the grand scheme of things, the draw had not done much for either side but, as Everton were away from home, they wouldn’t have been too disappointed with the score. Stoke City, however, wouldn’t have been too pleased that Wolves (1-0) had gained a shock win at Anfield, or that Birmingham City had also shocked West Ham United (3-0) at St Andrews; however there had been some consolation for Stoke as Notts County had been humbled by Leicester City (2-5) at Meadow Lane.

Those results meant that there had now been a 3-pt gap between Birmingham (22 pts) and Notts County (19 pts) as Stoke (17 pts) and Wolves (17 pts) occupied the bottom two positions. Manchester United (43 pts) had drawn with QPR (1-1) the previous evening and had therefore cut Liverpool’s lead to 2 pts at the top.

[*As far as I know Adrian and Phil Heath are not related but according to one source I read, Phil’s middle name is “Adrian”, but surely that’s improbable isn’t it?]

1983-84 — First Division; Saturday, 14 January 1984
Stoke City @ Victoria Ground, Score: 1-1 (Heath), Attendance: 7,945
Everton: Southall; Richardson, Bailey, Ratcliffe, Mountfield; Reid, Irvine; Heath, Sharp, Gray, Sheedy. Unused Sub: King.

Twenty Years Ago — 1993-94: Match 23

Another local derby with Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park for an Everton side short on confidence was the next fixture of the busy festive season; not an easy task for any Premier League club, but for Everton in their current predicament, hardly a fixture of choice. Blackburn Rovers under the tutelage of Kenny Dalglish had designs of rejoining the elite of the English game after decades of living in the wilderness. Jack Walker’s money and the manager’s vast experience had been seen by Rovers’ supporters as a dream ticket and they must have relished the opportunity to mix it with the big boys – Rovers’ fortunes had seemed to be destined for success in stark comparison to Everton FC who it appeared had been falling deeper into the mire with each passing day.

Blackburn Rover’s may well have had to wait a little longer to obtain the ultimate domestic prize, but their campaign had shown a side who had the desire and the players capable of managing a sustained bid for that prize. Despite winning three successive league games in December and leaving Old Trafford with a point on Boxing Day 1993, Blackburn Rovers had still found themselves 14 pts adrift of Manchester United. But, despite the fact that the title had in all probability had been out of reach, there had been the small matter of European qualification to aim for and Blackburn Rovers were in a healthy position just a point behind Leeds United with a game in hand. Shooting Stars, a feature that recalled Blackburn’s former players, on this occasion had featured Fred Pickering – who had also starred for Everton in the 1960s.

The article reported how Fred had started out as a Left Back for Rovers and within a short period of time had been switched to Centre-Forward by his then manager Jack Marshall. The switch had been so successful that Fred had hit 23 goals in 36 appearances for Rover’s in the 1962-63 campaign. The following season Fred had once again hit the goal trail and he had scored 23 goals in 34 appearances, before Everton manager Harry Catterick decided to spend £85,000 on him in March 1964.

Fred’s move to Everton had caused consternation and uproar amongst the Rovers’ faithful and the article inferred that despite the amount of money that they had received for Fred’s services Blackburn Rovers had never really replaced him in their side and some people argued that it had been the catalyst for Rover’s decline in the following decade. Although Fred Pickering had returned to Rover’s in 1971, via Birmingham and Blackpool, his second spell at the club had coincided with a difficult period for the club and Fred hadn’t managed to rescue the situation as Rover’s had been relegated to the third tier of English Football. In a tribute to Fred the author said.

“In full flow, in his prime, Pickering had been a fearsome sight for opposition defenders… His partnership with McEvoy was the perfect striking combination, Smash and Grab at their very best."
The author concluded his article by saying:
“Perhaps the only surprise was that no-one spotted the potential centre-forward lurking inside the full-back earlier. Fred’s game wasn’t about frills but about putting the ball in the net and, at that time in the early Sixties, few did it better."

Fred Pickering bagged a hat-trick on his debut at Goodison in a six-one victory over Nottingham Forest and according to Everton, The Essential History scored a total of 70 goals in 115 appearances for Everton, 56 of his league goals had been scored in 97 appearances.

Two former Everton players had been in the Blackburn Rover’s squad for the latest encounter at Ewood Park, Mike Newell and Bobby Mimms, while former Everton managers, Howard Kendall, Gordon Lee and Johnny Carey had all plied their trade at Blackburn Rovers before eventually taking over the reins at Goodison Park.

The Match: Another defeat for Everton at Blackburn Rovers, courtesy of an Alan Shearer first-half double (24’, 42’). Another Premier League fixture without a goal and with no obvious signs of a new manager being appointed to address the situation, Evertonians must have pondered what exactly they had done to deserve this situation. It had only been seven years since their club had been Champions of England, but what they had witnessed in the previous four to six weeks had begun to feel like their club had started to fall apart at the seams.

1993-94 — Premier League; Wednesday, 29 December 1993
Blackburn Rovers @ Ewood Park, Score: 0-2, Attendance: 21.642
Everton: Southall; Jackson, Snodin, Ablett, Hinchcliffe; Ward, Horne, Ebbrell; Beagrie, Unsworth (Warzycha), Cottee. Unused Subs: Kearton, Holmes.

Ten Years Ago — 2003-04: Match 23

David Moyes’s side travelled the short distance across Stanley Park to take on Liverpool at Anfield. In the game at Goodison earlier in the season Everton had lost to Liverpool (0-3) in what David Moyes thought had been a flattering scoreline for the Reds and so his side would have been well motivated to seek revenge for that defeat.

Everton had only left Anfield with maximum points on two occasions since the Premier League had begun, the most recent being in September 1999, when Kevin Campbell (04’) had scored the winning goal in a game which had seen red cards for Everton’s Francis Jeffers and Liverpool’s Westerveld and Gerrard. (Everton: Gerrard; Dunne, Weir, Gough, Ball; Xavier, Hutchison, Collins, Barmby; Jeffers, Campbell.

Everton’s first victory over Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League had arrived in November 1995, when Joe Royle’s Everton had beaten Liverpool (2-1) thanks to a brace from Andrei Kanchelskis who had found the net in the 53rd and 68th minutes of the game. Robbie Fowler (89’) scored a late goal, but the Toffees held on to win. (Everton: Southall; Jackson, Watson, Short, Ablett (Unsworth); Kanchelskis, Parkinson, Ebbrell, Limpar, Stuart, Rideout.

To be fair, it hadn’t only been in the era of the Premier League that Everton had struggled to take maximum points at Anfield. Since the Reds had gained promotion to the First Division in 1961-62, Everton had only won at Anfield on four other occasions. The first of which had been a startling victory in September 1964 when Everton beat Liverpool, the reigning champions, (4-0), Derek Temple had put the ball into the Liverpool net in the first minute, Fred Pickering (35’) doubled the lead ten minutes before half-time and Colin Harvey (41’) made it three, before Johnny Morrissey (77’) completed the scoring late in the second-half to ensure a fantastic victory for the Toffees. Everton: Rankin; Harris, Brown; Gabriel, Labone, Stevens; Scott, Harvey, Pickering, Temple, Morrissey.

During Everton’s march to the Title in the 1969-70 campaign, Everton had beaten Liverpool (2-0) in March 1970, Joe Royle and Alan Whittle scored the goals which had sent the Evertonians home happy. Once again in October 1984, on the way to becoming Champions, Everton had won for the first time in 14 years at Anfield when Graeme Sharp (48’) had scored a spectacular goal in the victory over reigning champions, Liverpool (1-0).

The last occasion that Everton had beaten Liverpool in a Division One fixture had arrived in February 1986 when Kevin Ratcliffe (73’) scored one of his two league goals and Gary Lineker (78’) scored another, five minutes later, which sealed the points as Everton beat Liverpool (2-0), but it had not enabled Everton to retain their League Title. Everton also left Anfield with a point on 16 other occasions since Liverpool returned to the top flight.

The Match: David Moyes was less than happy with the performance of match referee Mr Steve Bennett who he believed had failed to give the correct decisions to Everton on two occasions, a handball decision and a trip on Tomasz Radzinski; however, Nigel Martyn had been hailed by the press for his Man of the Match performance, as he had produced fine saves from Steven Gerrard’s and Dieter Hamann’s full-blooded drives. Wayne Rooney had very nearly scored one of the goals of the season when he had twisted and dribbled his way towards the Anfield Road goal, but ultimately he had lost his composure and had blazed his shot over the bar. David Moyes still awaited his first victory over the local rivals since he had joined Everton; however, he had yet to taste defeat at Anfield as both of the matches when he had been the Everton manager ended in goalless draws.

Everton’s point from Anfield meant that the Toffees remained in 14th position in the league but they had opened up a gap of five points over third-from-bottom Leicester City.

2003-04 — Premier League; Saturday, 31 January 2004
Liverpool @ Anfield, Score: 0-0, Attendance: 44,056
Everton: Martyn; Hibbert, Stubbs, Pistone, Naysmith; Rooney (Watson), Nyarko (Carsley), Gravesen, Kilbane; Ferguson, Radzinski (Jeffers). Unused Subs: Simonsen, Clarke.

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