Everton in the 1960s: two FA Cup finals in three seasons

everton 1960s fa cup finals

Success in football – as in life – can be both fluctuational and fleeting. While there have been a certain number of ‘Dynasties’ over the decades, (think Liverpool, 1973 to 1990, and Manchester United, 1993 to 2013), the majority of clubs undergo peaks and troughs. If a club is fortunate, it may well experience a ‘Golden Period’, in which success is fairly consistent over several years but then passes.

Examples here perhaps would include Tottenham Hotspur (1961-63), Leeds United (1968-75) Ipswich Town (1975-82) amongst others. A club may experience more than one such period, of course, with maybe Arsenal being a good example here with sustained success coming in the 1930s, 1970s, late 80s to early 90s, and late 90s to mid-2000s.

Another example of a club enjoying more than one such period would be Everton. By common consensus, the Toffees’ greatest spell came in the mid-1980s under the stewardship of Howard Kendall when four major trophies were won in as many seasons, but a generation earlier, Kendall was an integral part of a side that many consider to be the equal of their counterparts twenty years later.

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Everton took the league title in 1963 and again in 1970, and also reached the FA Cup Finals of 1966 and 1968 – successful in one and defeated in the other. In this article, we are going to have a look at these two finals in more depth.

1966 was a good year for Merseyside. In addition to John, Paul, George and Ringo’s ongoing escapades and triumphs, Liverpool were busy winning their second league title in three seasons while just falling short in Europe, by being defeated by Borrusia Dortmund in the final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Meanwhile, England were gearing up for the World Cup to be held on home soil that summer, and no less than eleven players from Liverpool or Everton were named in Alf Ramsey’s provisional 40-man squad, with one more being added later. Of the five Everton men named as being possibles for the final squad, Gordon West, Derek Temple, Fred Pickering, Brian Labone and Ray Wilson, only the latter would make the cut to the final 22 – and indeed, the starting 11 – but the others had the consolation of having been part of a successful cup-winning side that spring.

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A year on from Liverpool’s inaugural FA Cup success, their Merseyside rivals found themselves cast in the role of Merseyside’s Wembley representatives. Everton had previously won the cup in 1906 and 1933 and had been runners-up in 1893, 1897 and 1907, so this was far from being the club’s first rodeo.

In the final, Everton met Sheffield Wednesday with both sides having enjoyed eventful runs to the final. While Wednesday had been drawn away in every round (and won at the first time throughout), Everton had made the final without conceding a goal, and in doing so became the first club to achieve that particular feat for over 60 years.

Everton’s run to the final had included fairly straightforward 3-0 victories over Sunderland, Bedford Town and Coventry City, before meeting Manchester City in the last eight. City were a tougher nut to crack and two goalless draws ensued before Everton prevailed by a 2-0 scoreline in the second replay.

Waiting for them in the semi-finals were the ‘other’ team from Manchester in the form of Matt Busby’s Old Trafford outfit. A tight game at Burnden Park, Bolton, was settled by a late Colin Harvey goal – the only mark on the scoresheet.

Meanwhile, Sheffield Wednesday enjoyed away-day trips at Reading (3-2), Newcastle United (2-1), Huddersfield Town (2-1), and Blackburn Rovers (2-1) before overcoming Chelsea 2-0 at Villa Park.

The stage was then set for the final which was played in front of a packed 100,000 crowd on 14 May 1966.

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Everton lined up as; Gordon West, Tommy Wright, Ray Wilson, Jimmy Gabriel, Brian Labone, Brian Harris, Alex Scott, Mike Trebilcock, Alex Young, Colin Harvey and Derek Temple. The inclusion of Mike Trebilock amongst the Goodison ranks in place of the more experienced Fred Pickering was perhaps the biggest surprise, given that he had only appeared in the semi-final and seven previous league games for the Toffees that season, but his contribution would go on to prove significant, to say the least.

Meanwhile, Sheffield Wednesday’s starting eleven was; Ron Springett, Wilf Smith, Don Megson, Peter Eustace, Sam Ellis, Gerry Young, Graham Pugh, John Fantham, Jim McCalliog, David Ford and John Quinn.

The match would turn out to be one of the true Wembley cup final classics as the two ‘blues’ did battle on that North London afternoon, 57 years ago now.

Wednesday settled far quicker than their Merseyside counterparts but even so, it was still a shock when the Hillsborough side took the lead after just four minutes. A speculative  McCalliog effort was cruelly deflected by Wilson past West in goal and Wednesday were in the lead. It was a lead they held comfortably throughout the rest of the first half, and, indeed, Wednesday could have added to their lead as Everton looked out of sorts throughout the opening 45 minutes.

Early in the second half, Young went close for Everton when he saw a fierce shot pushed against the post by Springett in the Wednesday goal. If Everton were unlucky here, then on 57 minutes they were doubly so when Wednesday doubled their lead through Ford.

2-0 down with fractionally over half an hour to play and Everton were in desperate trouble. Needing to get back into the game as quickly as possible, Everton pushed forward and when Temple won a header in the Wednesday box, Trebilock acted quickest to slam home from twelve yards and hoist Everton back into the game.

Everton’s tails were up now, and just five minutes later they were back to all square as Trebilock scored again, smashing home from the edge of the penalty area after Ellis (the future Blackpool ‘legend’ – another story altogether, there) failed to clear his lines properly following an Everton free kick.

On 74 minutes, Everton were in dreamland and their recovery was complete as Temple broke through the Wednesday defence and ran 30 metres before smashing past Springett for the winning goal. Everton had done it; they had come from two goals down to win in normal time – an achievement that hasn’t been repeated since in an FA Cup Final.

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The 1966 final was also notable for Everton fan, Eddie Kavanagh’s, famous one-man pitch invasion upon Everton’s equalising goal, and the presence of the Everton-supporting Paul McCartney in the crowd, accompanied by his songwriting partner, the supposedly football-apathetic John Lennon.

Two years later and McCartney was back at Wembley (sans Lennon) to see his beloved Toffees take on West Bromwich Albion.

Everton had once again reached Wembley very much on the back of a stout defence. They were not quite able to replicate their feat two years earlier of keeping a clean sheet in every round, but the goal they conceded in a 3-1 quarter-final victory at Leicester was to be the only blemish on an otherwise spotless record.

Other results included a single-goal victory at home to Southport in the third round, 2-0 victories away to Carlisle United and at home to Tranmere Rovers in rounds four and five, and a 1-0 victory over Leeds United in the semi-final at Old Trafford.

Lining up at Wembley on 18 May 1968 in their change kit of yellow shirts and socks with royal blue shorts, Everton came face-to-face with a West Bromwich side also adorned in their away kit of white shirts and shorts with red socks. West Brom had overcome Colchester United in the third round 4-0 after a 1-1 away draw; Southampton 3-2 away from home in the fourth round, also after a replay; Portsmouth away (2-1) in round 5; and Liverpool after two replays in the last eight. The semi-final had seen a big day for England’s second city as West Brom met Birmingham City at Villa Park. A 2-0 victory saw the Baggies through to Wembley.

The teams lined up as;

Everton – Gordon West, Tommy Wright, Ray Wilson, Howard Kendall, Brian Labone, Colin Harvey, Jimmy Husband, Alan Ball, Joe Royle, John Hurst, Johnny Morrissey with Roger Keny as the substitute.

While West Bromwich kicked off as; John Osborne, Doug Fraser, Graham Williams, Tony Brown, John Talbut, John Kaye, Graham Lovett, Ian Collard, Jeff Astle, Bobby Hope and Clive Clark. Dennis Clarke was the substitute.

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Unlike the final two years earlier, the Wembley crowd was not treated to a classic. In fact, a dirge-like battle ensued with the sides pretty much cancelling each other out in the 90 minutes. Despite the creativity of Everton’s so-called, ‘Holy Trinity’ midfield comprising Kendall, Harvey and Ball, the Toffees were unable to create very much. One of Everton’s best chances in normal time fell to Royal whose header was cleared off the line by West Bromwich’s Kaye, but their golden opportunity to regain the cup came in the 86th minute when Husband somehow failed to convert a cross from Morrissey despite being no more than six yards out.

After just three minutes of extra time, West Brom made the all-important breakthrough when Astle smashed home what would prove to be the only goal of the game. His initial shot was charged down by future Everton manager Harvey, but Astle was able to adjust his footing to slam in the rebound.

So, alas it was for Everton (and Sir Macca) to return to Merseyside empty-handed, but within two years the Blues would have reason to rejoice once again as the First Division title was secured. West Bromwich Albion, on the other hand, have failed to win a major trophy, or even appear in another FA Cup Final, since those heady days of 1968.

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