We’re On The March

A cracking article written by forum member, scratchnsurf….

What’s the next number in this sequence: 6, 33, 66, 84, 95?

Those of you aware of GOT’s somewhat chequered history when it comes to threads with a mathematical slant can breathe easily at this point. Had I put the full dates in, 1906, 1933, 1966, 1984 and 1995 then you almost certainly would have recognized the sequence, and the answer of course is that we don’t know – but we all want it to be 14, 2014 to be exact.

I love the FA Cup. Third round day is one of the highlights of the footballing year for me. Of course, it doesn’t have the intensity of a derby or the magical atmosphere of a mid week evening kick off but it’s a highlight for me because I always think we can win the Cup. During my somewhat brief ‘research’ for this piece I think I’ve figured out why this is (more of that later). So, is there was any reason why I should believe there is some sort of special relationship between Everton and the FA Cup? After all I’m not alone in this, I’m sure plenty of other Blues share my love of the FA Cup and my perhaps unrealistic optimism that we’re going to win it. So, I decided to have a very brief reconnoiter into our club’s past in the FA Cup, if you know your history and all that………

Having looked into it, it seems that actually, our overall record in the Cup is just so Everton. Essentially, we are pretty good at getting very close to winning it but then not actually winning it. We’ve made it to countless semi finals and hold the not very enviable record of having lost in more finals than any other team. You all know the script – the optimism building to fever pitch before being cruelly crushed. That’s Everton. But, having said that you’ll never win the Cup if you can’t get to the final, and as the record books show we do win it. Every now and again, we win it; it’s that hope that gets me – every time.

Everton first made the final in 1893 and wasted no time in setting about the task of becoming the team that has lost in more finals than any other.

By the time Jack Taylor lifted the Cup at Crystal Palace for the Blues in 1906, Everton had played in three finals, losing to Wolves and Villa before defeating Newcastle thanks to a Sandy Young goal. It had been fifteen years since the Blues had won the title and would be another nine before they did again but throughout that period Everton had a strong team regularly competing for honors in the league. The Blues held onto the Cup all the way until the final of the following season’s competition when they were beaten by The Wednesday. After two finals in two years, Evertonians had plenty of time to save up the train fair to that London for the next final.

The 1933 Cup final arrived following an amazing journey for Everton. Champions in 1928 and in 1932, the team had been relegated in between. The final itself provided the added significance of being the first time we had an Everton number 9, but most importantly of all it was the Blues lifting the Cup after defeating Manchester City, who would themselves win the Cup the following year, with goals from Stein, Dean and Dunn. Dean, who’d had a busy day what with picking the team, being the captain and scoring (they must have used his ball), led the team up to the Royal Box and collected the Cup from the Duke of York.

As any real football fan knows 1966 was a seminal year in English sporting history. Not only did Everton defeat Sheffield Wednesday to take home the Cup for the third time, they topped that by signing Alan Ball. We are now getting into the realms of events that some of you can remember and may even have been to. The 1966 final was a cracker, so long as you’re an Evertonian. Coming back from 2 goals down to win, the footage of Eddie Cavanagh, our most famous pitch invader, evading the police after Tebilcock’s equaliser is quite simply superb. Hopefully, he dined out on that for a while. This was Everton’s first final since the end of the war, I have been reliably informed that a few beers were drunk in celebration.

Everton made the final again in 1968, losing out by a solitary goal to West Brom. Their scorer, Jeff Astle, scored in every round of the competition. It was to be a long wait before Everton made the final again, but this time they developed a taste for it. Fast forward to 1984 and if you’re of a similar vintage to myself, you’ll know that watching Everton around this time was aceness itself. Being a kid at the time, I just assumed that Everton were always this good, which obviously made for some difficult times ahead but at the time it was boss. Over the next six years, we made the final four times including three years in a row. This period is undoubtedly the origin of my somewhat unrealistic optimism that we will win the Cup. Had I paid closer attention, I would have developed a more realistic belief that we could get to the final and then probably lose. On reflection, given how good that side was, perhaps we should be disappointed that they only actually won it once but at the time, if we didn’t win the Cup, we won something else instead. We were massive favourites to win the 1984 final, which we duly did. More than that though, lifting the Cup was just the start for that team.

Like Howard Kendall before him, our next Cup winning manager was Everton through and through. Joe Royle was an Everton centre forward, a number 9 in the tradition of Dean and Hickson who, like Kendall, had never won the Cup with Everton as player. His spell in charge of the club was all too brief, but his team played some fantastic football. Royle gave his players the belief that they could beat anyone and they did just that with anyone put in front of them during their Cup run in 1995. After spoiling everyone’s fun by beating Spurs in the semi final, we then avenged our final defeat ten years earlier by beating a highly fancied Manchester United side thanks to Paul Rideout’s goal. I can still remember the words I uttered at the time, “How the f*** did you miss thaYEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” The rest of the match mostly then consisted of Manchester United V Neville Southall. That game could have gone on for hours, they never would have scored past him.

With that, we reach the end of the sequence, but not the end of the story. 2009 gave us the chance to cement our hold on the record for most losing final appearances, to which we duly obliged. In terms of finals, 13 appearances; 5 wins and 8 losses is the record as it stands. As ever, come 3 o’clock on third round day I’ll be believing we can make it 6 wins, and why not? We have a great history in this competition; we have a home draw, a team playing well and a Cup winning manager.

And we’ll really shake them up, When we win the FA Cup…………

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