This Week: 35 Years Ago

“This month” would be a more accurate description, as it took four matches throughout January 1988 to separate Sheffield Wednesday and Everton in the FA Cup.

David Hardman 07/01/2023 8comments  |  Jump to last

“This month” would be a more accurate description, as it took four matches throughout January 1988 to separate Sheffield Wednesday and Everton in the FA Cup.

With replays set to be abolished altogether from 2024-25, this is a good time to look at this epic Third Round tie.

The first game was played on Saturday, 9 January at Hillsborough, with Peter Reid poking home an equaliser to cancel out Colin West’s opener and earn the first replay.

This took place at Goodison Park 4 days later. Lee Chapman headed Sheffield Wednesday in front, before Graeme Sharp equalised with a superb volley with just 15 minutes left. Extra time saw no further goals, and so another replay was required.

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It couldn’t take place the following week because Everton were involved in the League Cup Quarter Final, beating Man City 2-0 (the quarter finals taking place in January again this year is actually a nice throwback to those days, but I digress).

With the Fourth Round set to be played on Saturday, 30 January, this tie really needed to be settled, so the second replay took place on Monday, 25 January, at Goodison again, and another 1-1 draw, Trevor Steven the goal scorer this time.

Just two nights later, on Wednesday, 27 January, it was back to Hillsborough for the third replay, in which the tie would finally be settled... and how! Everton 5-0 up by half-time, a perfect hat-trick by Graeme Sharp (the left-footed effort a spectacular chip worthy of winning any match) complimented by cool finishes from Heath (who had a hand in most of the other goals) and Snodin. No further goals came in the second half. I imagine both sides would have been too worn out by then!

And less than 72 hours later, it was time for the Fourth Round against Middlesbrough. This one only took three matches to settle. And after all that, in true Everton style, they then lost to Liverpool at the first attempt in the Fifth Round.

Just for good measure, Everton also played Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough in the league on New Year's Day 1988, where they lost 0-1. It’s noticeable that most of Wednesday’s goals, including the decider in this game, came via crosses from the right, although this may be down to that area being Wednesday’s strength rather than Everton’s weakness.

Anyway, playing the same opponents five times in the same month has to be some kind of record. One that we won't see again. Bye-bye replays. It’s been nice knowing you.

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Reader Comments (8)

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Danny O’Neill
1 Posted 07/01/2023 at 14:37:09
I remember all of those fixtures, David. I was at all of them including what I remember being a very early start to catch the Amberline coach to Hillsborough on New Year's Day.

We had a similar Mexican dance-off with Middlesbrough in a different season but around the same period and I seem to remember Trevor Steven saving the day to force a replay.

Barry Hesketh
2 Posted 07/01/2023 at 14:54:11
Danny @1

It was the same season 1987-88 that we played Boro in those games. We played a dozen cup-ties at the beginning of 1988 prior to the end of February, including the games against Arsenal and Manchester City in the League Cup and the Simod Cup matches.

Only a few league games took place, four, I think, between 1 January and the end of February 1988.

Peter Mills
3 Posted 07/01/2023 at 17:12:05
I went to all the Sheffield Wednesday games. There were terrible delays on the road on the way to Glossop before the final match, we got in just before kick-off but others were still getting into the ground at half-time. They were not impressed to discover they had missed us scoring 5 goals.

We were excellent in the first half of that game, the 2nd half being notable only for the re-appearance after half-time of the great Paul Bracewell following his long injury.

Danny O’Neill
4 Posted 07/01/2023 at 17:25:12
I didn't do my research but didn't realise it was the same season, Barry!!
Darrel Pugh
5 Posted 07/01/2023 at 18:38:15
I was at the league game we lost 1-0. I think it was the first time we'd lost to them in 22 years.

1987-88 was a painful season (not compared to today!); it was the realisation that we were an ordinary team compared to previous standards. I also think in that 1-0 defeat Kevin Ratcliffe suffered an injury which effectively took away his pace.

All-in-all, 1987-88 was like Superman discovering kryptonite, we became an ordinary team.

Phil Hamer
6 Posted 08/01/2023 at 11:12:10
Darrel @5,

I have painful memories of 1987-88 too as it appeared we had fallen off a cliff. The two defeats directly after Christmas to Man Utd and Sheffield Wednesday were particularly hard to take as Liverpool blitzed everyone over Christmas and it was suddenly all over.

However, a dig back through the results makes me wonder whether the fall off the cliff was really that steep for Everton that season. The fact is that, after 28 games of 1987-88, we were only 2 points behind the 1986-87 season. And the goal difference was only 6 worse too. The one big difference was that Liverpool had found 20 extra points by that stage and seemed to be playing football from another planet.

Yes, from the end of February onwards, Everton did fade away badly but surely the fact they had already played a ridiculous 18 matches in the calendar year by that point (and Liverpool being 20 points ahead) could justify that falloff?

I recently watched a replay of Liverpool 2-0 Everton from 1987-88, the game Beardsley scored that brilliant volley. Painful to watch at the time, but I was incredulous to find now that Everton were the better team that day, and should really have won.

There were only two inspired Barnes & Beardsley moments between the sides. Peter Reid was outrageously good that day, best player on the park. And of course, Everton did win at Anfield a few days previously, and then again at Goodison in March.

All of which is to say, were Everton really that terrible in 1987-88? Was our opinion of their performance clouded by Liverpool's stratospheric rise, and did we really need to disrupt the team and buy four new players in the summer of 1988 when perhaps we could have just put all the money on two world class players to replace Peter Reid and Gary Stevens?

I'd love to hear more from those who were at all the games in 87-88 to see if the quality really did drop off so badly, as I was only a kid back then so couldn't appreciate the finer points of matches.

Peter Mills
7 Posted 08/01/2023 at 22:48:16
Phil#6, my take on that season is that it wasn’t a fall off the cliff, but the start of our decline.

Memory can play tricks but, as I recall, the new rs forward line scored a lot of goals. We were left with a declining squad, Howard Kendall having performed one of the greatest managerial feats ever to win us the league in 86/87 with a mixture of stars and “2nd division at bests” (I’m not sure there is any such thing). Also, I think Kevin Sheedy was absent a lot.

I suspect you are correct, signing 2 top class players in the summer of 1988 would have been better, Colin Harvey would always have wanted to coach the best footballers. But by that time, the best players were looking to play European football, in Italy or, believe it or not now, Scotland, because English teams couldn’t provide that. For reasons we all know.

Brian Murray
8 Posted 11/01/2023 at 16:48:37
Peter post 5 courtesy of amber line we got in at half time missed all the goals but still made up of course. They did offer the money back I remember.O was just as exited that night with brace well comeback off the bench. Sadly wasn’t to be for a great player

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