The 3-2 Roller-coaster
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What was Everton's most important game in the last 40 years?
No -- none of the above. It was no such grand or auspicious trophy-winning high.
It was without doubt the end-of-season league match on 7 May 1994. That perilous day will live like a nightmare in the minds of Evertonians who lived through it. Everton had reached the end of a most awful season. Kendall had finally left and Mike Walker had come in, but he had been powerless to stop the rot. Everton had sunken into 19th position in the new Premier League. Not only did the unthinkable threat of relegation loom large, -- it seemed to be a foregone conclusion!
Now relegation may mean little or nothing to other teams in the Premiership, for example,
But to Everton, a club steeped in history and tradition, relegation has become unthinkable:
For Everton, the fear is not only the shame of trips to Hull City or Grimsby Town: In the current era, departure from the Premier League carries with it a tremendous burden of lost stature and money-earning power that will only become more and more important as undeniable central features of today's modern game.
Here, in this unique collection, fans from all corners of the globe remember Everton's dramatic and heart-rending escape from the abyss of relegation on the last day of the 1993-94 season, at home to Wimbledon.
To set the scene, Wimbledon entered Goodison on a run of seven games undefeated, and with a reputation as spoilers who can be impossible to beat when you really need to. Not only that, owner Sam Hamman had promised the team a trip to Las Vegas if they could remain unbeaten until the end of the season.
The sense of impending doom at the possible end of an era was heightened by the gaping space at the Park End. There, the old 1906 stand -- the first double-decker at an English Football ground -- had been demolished to make way for a younger and more progressive edifice...
Was the same fate about to befall this great club...?
This was no Stag Party - Louise Kelly
I can't stand it! - Owen Edwards
Man-Hugger - Lol Scragg
Love lies bleeding - Guy McEvoy
A Day in RSA - Mike Bersiks
We'll win by Six! - Robbie Newton
Driving in my car - Geoff Williams
Lancaster Gateway - Mark Williams
Sushi Satsumi - Joe Banerjee
The Pain and The Glory - Roy-King Miaa
This is the BBC - Ruth Grimley
Der Rheinfartzer - Phil Bowker
Segers, Tyler, and Videotape - Stan Nuttall
Mediterranean in Blue - Louise Williams
Long Island Teapot - Mike Dudley
Hanging on the Telephone - Phil Bradley
Knowing you're a blue - Nick Plank
Champions!...Uh? - Richard Baker
Dying on Five-Live - Matt Traynor
Dogbolter - Mark the Ausie
One-Nil Thriller? - Richard Pike
The Last Word - Guy Jackson
I still break into a sweat thinking of this one. Rob had gone to a stag party along with a few other 'Evertonians' and I had no-one to go with -- so along I went to see his mum and dad and persuaded his mum to come with me. We got to Goodison at 12.00 and couldn't get in - tragedy! We even tried to get in with the Wombles fans.
Locked out with about 7500 people, being trampled by police horses, was not what I had come for. Unbelievably, we met up with one of the lads who was supposed to be at the stag party -- he just couldn't sit by and not support his beloved Everton.
We walked to the petrol station, opposite the car park, and while Frenchie went off to buy a radio, we waited as an RS fan drove past laughing -- and took great delight in telling us we were 2-0 down! How could this be? A man and his son (about 6 years old) walked past, the son was in tears as he had not got into the match. We told him the score, which only made matters worse.
Then there was hope. We heard a roar from Goodison and ambushed a guy in a car at the garage, so we could listen to his radio. The four of us stood in silence -- we had a penalty,-- who was going to take it? Nev, said the commentator.... no, looks like its Stuart... There was silence... it took an age... then there was the roof lifting roar and four people were seen to be running madly round the garage forecourt.
At this point, Frenchie came running up wildly with the radio. We all walked back to the park and stood in the trees/bushes at the park end. When the ball went towards the Gwladys St end we could sometimes see it. The radio would only work if I held it. I had to hold it to my ear and relay the commentary for the 100's of people who were all around.
Then it happened... we scored again! We could gather that much by the incredible noise from Goodison ..the atmosphere reached us in the park. But who had scored? Eventually, I realised that I had heard it correctly: Barry Horne! Although it took some time to persuade the others.
Out came the sheet listing the bottom of the league. We were desperately trying to work out what we needed, going on the updates of the other results. In the mean time, Barry had another very good shot, and then Stuart scored. But nerves were still frayed...
Then the final wistle went. A guy fell out of the tree in front of me and when I turned around there were 100's if not 1000's of people running out of the bushes. Most were crying, including us, and laughing and hugging everyone and everything in sight.
I had no voice for the rest of the weekend and went out and got blitzed at the Five-ways. I had only been following Everton since 1989 and this had been one of the most exciting days in that time, but I don't want to go through that again. That was the only home game I missed during the entire season. At first I was p***ed off that all the armchair fans had come out of the woodwork and stopped me from getting in... But on the other hand it was great to see all the fans come out for the boys when they most needed it. I am sure that is what made the difference. Louise
I'm sure EVERYONE remembers where they were and what they were doing when we beat Wimbledon 3-2 in THAT match. Here's my little tale:
I listened to the first half in our front room, staring out of the window at the people and cars passing by. I think my brother listened to most of that half with me too. When Anders handled, I just got the feeling it was all over, and when Ablett helped the ball into our net, I was just about ready to give up.
At half time, Graham Stuart's goal had given me some hope, but not much. So, desperate for a reminder of our past glories, I went upstairs and watched a video of us earlier that season instead of listening to the second half. It was Mike Walker's first home match in charge aganst Swindon Town.
Swindon were taken apart in a competent performance by Everton (though not especially brilliant, looking back at that video, when compared with these days of Dunc, Anders et al). It wasn't that great a game, but seeing those six goals fly in once again cheered me up as the tape ended and I prepared myself for the inevitable... I reached over to switch on the radio......
I could hear wild cheering, but still had little idea of what had just happened - I had turned the radio on at EXACTLY the time Graham Stuart saved our skin! I couldn't believe it when I first heard the new scoreline, and had to turn on Teletext to check.
I spent the last 9 minutes of the game sitting listening to the radio, trying to somehow give all my strength to the team, just begging them to hold on. When the final whistle went, I jumped up and cheered, and watched the scenes from Goodison as they showed the pictures live on Grandstand.
I'll always remember the pictures of the kid cheering with his Grandmother, and supporters kissing the centre spot. I can't remember if I knew then that we were safe, but I know Mark Stein will always have a special place in my heart for what he did to Sheffield United!
I only wish I could have been at that game - no doubt several Toffeenetters were there? I thought you might like to hear my little tale, even if it is pretty unbelievable (many people find my timing hard to credit!), but that's how it happened! Owen
I remember queing up outside the Glad for two hours from 12:00 and I was one of the last few in the ground. After finding a step to sit on, the first thing that struck me was the optimism amongst fellow fans -- an optimism that, I have to admit, I didn't share myself, considering our opposition.
The game kicked off and, in a half-hour that seemed like less than five minutes, Anders handballed for no apparent reason (the conversation after the penalty conversion went along the lines of 'the so-and-so has got a relegation clause in his contract ....blah... blah'), and Gary Tablet decided to score one of the strangest OG's I have ever had the misfortune to see (apart from Sandy Brown's on the telly :-).
Anyway, Anders redeemed himself with a blatant dive for our pen. Second half and we all felt a little more optimistic however if I remember, the other results weren't going too well for us.
THEN it happened ... Now, even this length of time after, I still can't believe that Bazza Horne scored a spectacular goal from what ??? 25 yards out! The guy can't pass the ball 25 yards, never mind shoot!!! When this rocket hit the net, I recall flying down about 10 rows of the Glad seats in mid-air and getting used as a crash mat for everyone who followed me -- but I didnt care!
At fever pitch, we willed the ball into the net. And it was Stuart who finally did it (do you honestly think Segers went for that ball?????). Anyway, we won and the scenes at the Street End will live with me forever ... I don't think I've ever hugged so many men in my life !!!!!
And that ... was my memory of that fine day .... Lol
It had been a strangely non-Everton season for me up to that point. I'd only managed to get down to about 3 home games. The previous season I'd been exiled in Israel and then I'd come home, started at University, and (like you do when your at uni) fallen in love. My passion through my absence had, I'm ashamed to say, waned a bit (for Everton that is; -- my passion for the girlfiend was fine!).
But on the Friday night I'd had a row with her and was feeling a bit down. I flicked on teletext and looked at the League table. Suddenly, the gravity of the situation struck me. I became convinced that this was happening to my first True Love - Everton - because I'd stopped caring. Somehow, by just me not being there to add my voice to the chants, the team had lost its spirit. I had to go to this match!
Feeling guilty about the row, the girlfreind begrudgingly agreed to come with me. We arrived at Goodison at about 12:00 and could not believe the queues. I wanted to be in the Gwladys as normal but suspected we wouldn't get in, so we tagged on the end of the Top Balcony queue and hoped for the best. At 2:55 we finally got in, finding some seats just as Z-Cars blurted out. I'd never actually sat in the top balcony before and remember trying to work out if the dizziness was to due to nerves or vertigo.
As soon as the game kicked off, I felt instantly regretful that I'd brought the other half with me. "Why did he pass to him?" she would ask as Anders gave the ball away. "That's a penalty!" she exclaimed audibly as he hand-balled it. "You've had it now." as Abllett commited hari cari. I felt intense shame that I had deprived a fellow blue of a seat by bringing her along. The relationship was becoming strained, to say the least!
A lifeline was thrown when Stuart scored the penalty, but the mood at halftime was grim.
The second half is a dream-like memory. I remember pent-up anger; I remember thinking for a long chunk that none of the players seemed to care, that no-one wanted to win. That no-one on the field could be a true Evertonian else they wouldn't be letting this happen. Then it all changed. One of those crazy moments that change your life. A ball found Horne thirty yards out, he controlled it on his thigh to take it past a man and then unexpectedly he swung his boot at it, even more unexpectedly it was a perfect connection. The ball curled into the top corner.... Bedlam! Hope? Faith.
The winner was as ridiculous as the equaliser was sublime. Stuart got a foot to it and Segers just seemed to lie down as it bobbled past. They all count. I remember I didn't jump up and down. I just stood up straight with both arms in the air and let the most enourmous "YES!" I've ever mustered come out.
I must have been in that position, saying that one word for about 15 seconds. The only other thing I was aware of at that time was that even the girlfriend (who thinks footy ridiculous) was jumping up and down and going mental. She was growing on me again.
The final whistle triggered on orgy of hugging strangers all bonded by collective overwhelming relief. We were all aware that we had seen a true miracle. What had occured would be written in history and one day we will bore our grandchildren with the tale of what we'd just seen. I didn't walk out of Goodison - I floated.
The day took on an even weirder slant on the way home when the girl did her best to ruin it all again by announcing she was wracked with guilt because she'd two-timed me. Had she told me at any other time, I would proably have hit deep depression for weeks, but I was too happy to care, when we got back I just told her to "go away and let me party". And party I did, the whole goddam night, till I reached a drunken comatosis.
Ever since that game, I sit in the top balcony by choice -- it now has a spiritual significance. I've hardly missed a home game, fearful of what will happen if my faith ever strays again.
I'll forever associate that day with a certain young lady and with the restoration of proper priorities in my life. I will forever be grateful for the Friday-night row which was the catalyst to me going and having the chance to witness history. I will forever hope I never have to go through that again! Guy
I woke up that morning in a cold sweat and moped around the house the until after lunch, occasionaly going back to my league table in the local paper until I knew every combination -- win, lose or draw -- for all bottom 6 teams. This depressed me even further as sickeningly the message was drummed home: my beloved Everton team, which had been playing piss-poor footy all season, had to win against our bogey team: Wimbledon.
I went to play a bit of footy with my mates at 2pm and it took my mind off the impending doom. It even brightened my day as I (of the little skill) scored a hatrick, and I took this as a good omen. Afterwards, I walked to my mate's house with a feeling of disaster increasing as kickoff time got near (in South Africa, we get English soccer live, but on a pay channel which I don't have. So I went to my RS-supporting mate's house to watch the match).
The game had hardly started before that ridiculous Limpar handball and penalty. Then the Ablett own goal was like a kick in the crotch. I felt sick and wanted to cry. I was cursing Limpar, Ablett, Walker and Wimbledon and my mate had the good sense to say nothing as I think I would have taken a swing at him.
Then came Limpar's dive and the commentators started criticising the penalty award. This made me more livid but mostly filled me with a sense of extreme fear. But Stuart scored it and I started smoking my friend's mom's Camels as my mood of extreme tension was lit up by some small hope.
Wimbledon dominated the next period and the TV was replaying a missed Holdsworth header when suddenly it cut back to show a ball flash into the net off the upright. What! Barriorne had scored and I let out a bellow which brought the police to the door (literally -- this is the gospel truth!).
After my mate had convinced the coppers that no one was being murdered, he came back to find me gibbering like a madman, praying in front of his TV for deliverance from the pit of relegation, which had seemed a certainty mere minutes before.
The final period of the game passed by as if I were in a daze. Surely Blackburn had to beat useless Ipswich now and we were safe... surely?
The last minutes went by as a succesion of images rather than a continuous record of the game. First, there was the net bulging as, incredibly, Segers missed what seemed a routine save. Then the scenes of jubilation -- Blues storming onto the pitch, kissing Stuart, jumping on top of one another.
I was in heaven. What a feeling of euphoria! I don't think I stopped trembling until 15 minutes after the game. One of the best (and worst) days of my entire life, and one which I don't want to see happen again as long as I live. Mike
I got to Goodison at about 11:45, sat outside for a bit, then went in, waiting for three hours before the match started. The atmosphere was great, even more so considering the length of time there was before kick off. Nothing could be better, we were going to win 6-0, and cruise through survival...
Two hours before kick off, and already there were about 15-20,000 people in the three-sided ground, with people already on the main road behind the Park End (Walton Lane). I sat back, flicked through the programme, went for a soothing piss, bought a nice but somewhat tastless Coke, and relaxed in my seat in the Lower Gwladys Street.
One hour before kick off, and Nev came out to rapturous applause, with Kearton and Steven Reeves. I sat back, looked up at the magnificent Top Balcony (and strained my neck in the process), and suddenly thought to myself:
"Oh my God, next year there is a possibility that Grimbsy could be here to view such a magnificent piece of stone, plastic and metal work".
Suddenly, I began to get very worried and detested the prospect of dismal attendances similar to Howard Kendall's days second time around.
Barry Horne was next out, and I heard somebody say a few rows back: "I bet Barry scores a blinder today". And how! I laughed my tits off at the thought of Barry Horne scoring, never mind it being a "blinder".
Next out was Graham I think (not too sure) and then most of the team came out to play around for a bit. They all looked a bit nervous, especially Ablett who could have done with a tablet (sorry, awful rhyme I know), and that showed during the game.
With about an hour to go before kick-off, the ground was full except for the Wimbledon section, where there were about 2,000 spare seats, -- silly considering there were thousands locked out.
We kicked off, and all was going well until Wimbledon got a penalty. Anders was still thinking that he was at Arsenal and raised his hand appealing for offside when, quite clearly, it wasn't, as there were Everton defenders and Wimbledon attackers behind him. Silly man.
Holdsworth stepped up, slotted it to Nev's right, and for a split second, the ground was about to erupt, but the ball just squirmed past Nev and into the net, 1-0. I was still convinced at this point that we'd win the game, only now it would be 7-1, and not 6-0 as Mystic Me had earlier predicted.
Then Unsy and Watty got in a muddle after the ref gave a silly free-kick, and Ablett showed how nervous he was by missing a bouncing ball that my mum could have controlled and volleyed away. The ball was in the onion bag for a second time, 2-0. At this point, I new we weren't going to win, and I began to get tears in my eyes <fx: Ahh! How sweet!>, as did many people around me and my mates, well, my mate. There was no way back now..., and No, I didn't think that the game would now end 8-2. I thought it would end, erm, I dunno actually. I just new we'd get beat.
Then "some little Swedish twat" (quote fat bloke behind) stormed down the left wing, got a corner, and from it, dived better than Adrian Moorhouse ever did, and won a penalty. I turned round to that fat bloke, and said: "Who's a twat now?", and he said: "Whoever misses this bloody penalty."
Bobby Stuart stepped up and cooly placed the ball in the back of the net, to a massive roar of approval: 1-2. We would draw 2-2 I thought at that time. We were still going down at half time, but everyone in the Street End was optimistic about the forthcoming three quarters of an hour.
The second half started well. Bobby Stuart had a chance saved, as did Rideout, and it began to look as though it just wasn't our day, or our year in fact.
Then the Dons broke away and Holdsworth was unmarked at the back post, he headed it goalwards, it seemed to take an age as the Gwladys Street held it's collective breath, and somehow, as my heart began to race faster than Linford Christie runs, the hero, Bobby Stuart, was there on the line to block the header, with what seemed his hand, but which was later confirmed by TV as his shoulder. We breathed again...
Then Bazza picked up the ball somewhat clumsily, and just twatted the living daylights out of it. It flew into the top of the goal past the lunging Segers, and hence, 2-2. I've never experienced such delight. The vision of the ball flying past the goalkeeper after a shot by an Everton player from fully 35 yards out, and from Barry Horne to boot, was an awesome and pleasurable sight.
Suddenly, the game was there for the taking as Wimbledon began to wobble. The bloke before the game was right. I was shocked. He should have put a bet on, he'd have got great odds with it being Barry Horne. Odds of at least 100-1, I reckon! I began to sense that we could win, as did everyone else. Then Ebbrell was replaced by Barlow, and I sighed.
Limpar then picked up the ball (not like he did in the first half, though), dummied, then played a ball inside to someone. Bobby Stuart passed to Cottee, but the defender cut it out and then, as Stuart challenged for the ball, it sort of just rolled past Segers and into the net. I stood there for a moment, and thought that someone was seriously taking the piss, and that the ref must have blown for a foul, but everybody else continued to celebrate (even Segers who apparently picked up a lot of money for that good act - dead giveaway by cheering don't you think? Not... Not!)
Then, after that brief moment's pause, I went absoloutely mental, jumping on anything that could support my flimsy weight, which narrows it down to everything but a two week old baby. In the process I obtained a cut lip, but it was the first time I was ever delighted to injure myself. And as they say, the rest is history. Actually 'the rest' is the bit I can't remember. The bit after the match and that evening. Seems to have just disappeared from my memory. Robbie
I met Ruth, a South African girl, or rather she met me, about the time Everton appointed Mike Walker as manager, following Howard Kendall's resignation.. I had grave reservations about this appointment. Mike Walker in his first managerial appointment had ran Norwich City for only eighteen months, taking a relegation threatened club to top six notoriety.
His limited pedigree certainly was not good enough for a club such as Everton - only eighteen months experience. But he was now the new leader.
I hoped my reservations were unfounded.
As the weeks rolled on towards the season's end, Everton went into a free-fall dive down the Premiership. Were these the same players who topped the table by winning the opening three matches? They couldn't do anything right. Was this a transitional phase of differing approaches to play between the squad and the new manager? Everton were dominating some matches, being virtually camped out in the opponents half, but could not score and let in simple goals. The players would obviously get it right after a few matches with the new manager, wouldn't they?
Throughout this period, I was in contact by telephone with my brother, a season-ticket holder in the Main Stand for the past sixteen years. He was constantly saying:
"They are facing relegation in the face with this guy. He is not good enough He hasn't got a clue! He is playing players out of their natural positions, with no idea of tactics."
I would remonstrate that he must be removed before it's too late. The logical conclusion to our concerns was that if Everton were manager-less they would most certainly be relegated. Mike Walker had to stay at least until the end of the season in order for them to have any hope of survival.
After a week or so I found that Ruth had an amazing capability to consume copious amounts of alcohol. Not being a big drinker myself - although very fond of very fine and, to my dismay, at times very expensive red wines - I found it amazing that someone of such small stature could consume such large volumes of fermented grape juice. She obviously kept the South African wine industry afloat single-handed.
After constantly slinging this long haired blond bimbo over my shoulders to put her to bed, Ruth's novelty was beginning to recede rapidly. She isn't a bimbo in the popular sense; she is a lawyer, which I suppose is one and the same thing.
To compound my failing affection for this confused and sorry female, she said she was probably a Manchester United fan. I enquired why? Apparently she used to see this team a lot on the TV in South Africa, wearing "cute little red shirts". Murdoch - Manchester United - TV influencing the silly, gullible and naive, obviously of which Ruth was all three. Show it to them long enough and they will suck it in and love it.
Delectable Ruth's charm wanes as Everton nose-dive to the lower divisions.
The point at which I realised that Everton were in perilous danger was Saturday, 30th April. I was in a pub in London with Ruth. Were else would Ruth be? After preoccupation regarding the score at Leeds all afternoon, where Everton were playing, at 4:45pm, I persuaded the manger to tune the Teletext to the football results.
I stared at the screen: there it was, Leeds United 3 Everton 0.
Apart from a miracle, relegation now appeared inevitable. The free-fall was not being arrested. I slowly said to Ruth "Everton have just been beaten by Leeds, they may be relegated." To my surprise she commiserated. What does she know? I asked myself. She doesn't know how I feel, she hasn't got a clue how I feel, she doesn't understand. Everton don't play in lower divisions, this is alien to the metabolism of thousands of Evertonians. She only knows about rugby and football players in "cute little red shirts."
After about ten minutes Ruth said, "John, stop staring at that screen, it's not going to change." I stared for about another 30 seconds hoping that it just might. It didn't. In the coming weeks the talking point even among some of the Americans in the local pub was the certainty of Everton, the club which has graced the top flight for more seasons than any other club, being relegated.
The crucial fixture was obviously the last match of the season, versus Wimbledon, the team with best current form in the Premiership, at home - at least it was at home. Of all the clubs involved in the crucial relegation battle, Everton had the worst recent form. Even if Everton won they could still go down if all the other relegation-fighting teams win. They can't all win? I thought, they can't all win? Most of them are playing away. Or can they? When teams have their backs against the walls their strengths and will surface. A draw would be sufficient, but others would have to loose. A win is paramount to be near certain of survival.
My brother told me he could not obtain any ticket for the match. He usually furnishes me with tickets for all the big matches, even cup finals. He said, "Get up here and start queuing at 11:30 or you will not get in!" I inwardly tore my loyalties apart.
Should I be there or should I keep away?
If Everton were relegated, could I cope with it? Rightly or wrongly, I concluded "No!" - I will not be there. Listening to the match on BBC 5 Live by myself was the only alternative. I wanted no one else around. I made sure Ruth was not in my place that afternoon. After all, I was beginning to believe it was all her fault.
The atmosphere and sheer volume of noise at Goodison Park that afternoon was clearly coming across on the radio. No sooner had the match begun, and Anders Limpar handled in the penalty area for no apparent reason. Wimbledon scored from the penalty spot. Near depression set in. There is a whole match still to go, I convinced myself to be optimistic.
It appeared not too long after that Gary Ablett deflected the ball into his own net. That was it, relegation. I turned off the stereo and walked around the kitchen and outside onto the landing. I thought they will probably be promoted next season, after all Mike Walker had about fourteen million pounds to spend. If ever a club should not go down it's one with that amount of money to add quality to the Premiership, but these strange things happen.
What was I thinking about, the game is not over yet. I reluctantly switched the stereo back on and about fifteen seconds later the crowd roared, my stomach seemed to rise into my rib cage. Alan Green, the commentator, with his distinct Northern Irish accent, said "Everton have a penalty, Limpar was fouled in the penalty area." I recall Bryan Hamilton and Alan Green saying that Limpar appeared to dive, but may have been fouled anyway. Stuart ran up to take the penalty kick and the almighty roar coming from the two speakers said the rest.
"YEEEESSSSS!" I screamed.
A draw was now possible. Luckily, I have a high ceiling or I might have punched holes in it. The state of play so far was that Limpar had given away a goal, Ablett had deflected one in his own goal and that Limpar cancelled out his gift to Wimbledon. Wimbledon were lucky to have two and Everton were exerting pressure.
Half time came, but the situation with the other games was not to Everton's favour - none were losing. Why weren't second placed Blackburn Rovers beating Ipswich at home? I telephoned my mother in Liverpool. The first words she uttered were, "Everton are getting beat," "I know," I said. There were about ten of her grand children all around her ranging from toddlers to eleven year olds - all listening to the match on the radio.
The second half started. Everton were the better team, I assumed, listening to Alan Green's and Bryan Hamilton's commentaries and the roar of the crowd as Everton advanced. Or was I wanting to assume this? Nevertheless, Everton were fighting for their lives and there was a serious game on. Wimbledon still appeared dangerous on the break though - and they break well. Everton cleared a Wimbledon break off the line - a whole flock of butterflies swarmed around my stomach.
Then Barry Horne of all people scored from about thirty yards.
The commentary "saying a goal" and the crowd's roar appeared simultaneously. Another "YEEEESSSSS!" screeched out, I hit the light fitting with my arm as my arms went somewhere. "That's it - we are back in it", I shouted to myself. The situation now was that Ipswich Town had to loose if Everton draw. Why aren't Blackburn Rovers beating Ipswich Town at home for God's sake, it's still 0-0. The commentators were not too sure of the other results and the mathematical situation - I was!
The game recommenced. The feedback from the crowd via the two speakers was that Everton were constantly pressing. Wimbledon were still menacing on the break, Alan and Bryan would inform. I recall that Everton were somewhere near the edge of Wimbledon's penalty area. It appeared that my speakers were popping as the crowd roared around my living room. The commentator simultaneously said something like "The roofs blown off!" as apparently Stuart hit a not too strong shot that bobbled past Hans Segers. I stood up both arms in the air and screeched something.
My stomach was somewhere near my mouth, I was in knots, I didn't know it but tears were running down my cheeks. What was I doing here, I should be there. I should be with all of them. Why did I opt not to go? I must be mad. Internal emotional conflicts needed resolving, but not now, the match hasn't finished yet. The crowd was still roaring for at least a full minute after the goal.
Back to the torture of trying to listen.
I recall the remaining minutes finished with Everton the stronger team. When Wimbledon attacked, my heart would sink, "Oh God, please do not allow them to score!" Relief as the Everton defence arrested the attack, with the roar of the crowd echoing off my living room walls. At last, the final whistle.
Relief instantly followed by concern. None of the other key relegation-fighting teams were behind in their matches according to the Teletext, and that's sometimes a few minutes behind the play. Everton can still go down if they all win. I simultaneously flicked the TV remote from Teletext to TV. and the portable telephone button to instantly call my mother.
The BBC had flashed over live to Goodison Park to witness the emotional crowd scenes as they all spilled onto the pitch with joy and relief. It was an amazing sight. What is etched in my mind is the image of one man running in the crowd with a toddler on one arm and raising his other with a clinched fist. What proudly flashed through my mind was that only Evertonians would do that, what a bunch. At the same time in one ear I heard my mother say excitedly "Everton have won!" In the background, there was pandemonium with all the children screaming and going wild. I remember her saying "They are all jumping up and down."
I knew Everton were still not safe.
All the other teams could have snatched winning goals in the dying minutes. Are the crowd celebrations at Goodison Park premature? The BBC flashed over to Stamford Bridge. The commentator said "Sheffield United are relegated". Then total relief. The images were of the Sheffield United players trotting off the pitch, not appearing dejected as relegated teams do. They learned of their fate in the dressing room.
Chelsea had scored in the dying seconds to clinch victory, after being second best for most of the game, and sent Sheffield United to Division One. I don't know what I said to my mother but I told her I would speak to her later and put the telephone down. Now I could relax and allow myself to stabilise and wonder why that situation was ever allowed to happen in the first place.
One week later I ended it with Ruth - the wine bills were horrific too. Afterwards, she would occasionally do strange things like.. screech at me when meeting in pubs and in the street. Which I though was not nice as I have only ever been nice to Ruth. She is now back in sunny South Africa - best place for her!
Three weeks after that awful day I met my present girlfriend, Cheryl, from Zimbabwe. She has blond hair too, but shorter and curly, and certainly no bimbo. We went to the semi-final against Tottenham and the final against Manchester United together. She is an Evertonian. Since she came along, Everton have improved enormously. I can't help wondering if that free-fall to the brink of relegation was all Ruth's fault. It must have been Ruth's fault. Who else's could it be?
Like all serious Evertonians, my wife (from Dorset but a willing convert) and I had been keeping a close and nervous watch on the other results; I was optimistic that we would survive by beating the Wombles, no matter what happened anywhere else.
Living in Essex, I don't get to too many home games but I knew I had to try and be there for this one. So I duly set off about 9.30 or so, alone in the car, not daring to think that I might not even get in to the match. Stopping off at some services or other in the Midlands, I was suddenly completely surrounded by more Port Vale fans than I knew existed, wearing their replica kits and everything. (Found out later that they had a crucial promotion game on).
Listening to Radio 5 on the way, I remember the game was one of the main talking points of the day, with Bryan Hamilton the guest. He was stressing what a tragedy it would be for such a great club etc, etc and as I got nearer to Merseyside the momentousness of the occasion became clearer and I started to get more and more nervous.
One particular interview on the day was with an Everton fan driving up from Poole in Dorset, also without a ticket (Did he get in? I never found out). Again, the knowledge that the faithful were coming from all corners added to the emotional charge of the day. There were the usual hold-ups on the M6 and I didn't get to Liverpool till gone 2 oclock. I briefly called in at my parents then set off to Goodison in the car, by then knowing there was virtually no chance of getting in.
I found a parking space in a quiet street about a quarter of a mile away and headed for the ground, seeing all the time people walking the other way. It was about 2 minutes to three by now. I must have walked round the ground 3 times trying to find a turnstile open, but there weren't even any queues. It was strangely quiet and deserted once the game kicked off, as the police kept everyone without a ticket away.
I was still wandering around when I heard from a policeman that "Limpar's handled, it's a penalty to them". Then a few minutes later I heard their second had gone in, "f***ing two-nil to them!" So it was frantically back to the car to listen to the radio. Unbelievably, it was true: 2-0 down in the most crucial game I could remember (a supporter since '66).
My utter despair and disbelief were compounded as I watched some kids playing football in their salmon and blue replica shirts, apparently unaware of, or maybe resigned to, what was happening only a quarter of a mile away. I felt a bit better once the penalty had gone in. Then at half time, I went down to the ground again to see if anyone had gone home and they had opened the gates -- pathetic or what?
At that point, because of the other results, I think we were definitely going down: this was the absolute rock bottom of my Everton-supporting career. Now, -- even more disappointed that I wasn't going to see the second half, -- I reluctantly drove back home, where at least I could share my sorrows with my Dad (sympathetic RS supporter). Not being a terribly emotional type himself though, unlike me, I felt a bit awkward being there in such a state but that didn't stop me jumping out of my chair practically in tears of joy when Bazza Horne got the equaliser.
Was it shortly after that there was a goal in one of the other relegation games which meant we still needed the three points? Or were we safe with the draw? I can't remember the details, but I remember thinking "We're safe if it stays like this!"
Then, when Stuart got the winner, I was just barely able to talk for the sheer joy and relief. I think my Dad has written me off as a total headcase ever since but, What the hell? Then I rang the missus and we just bawled our eyes out over the phone.
Later, on Match of the Day, I relived the whole thing again despite knowing the outcome. "What a day!" as they say. Geoff
I think there are two types of Everton supporters: Firstly, those who were born to families of Blues and brought up as such and secondly those, who become Everton fans by some strange accident.
Well, if you come from for example, Finland as I do, it is very uncommon to belong to the first group - in fact I believe my own kids belong to the first generation of brought-up-to-be-Evertonians over here.
I kinda liked Everton as a boy in the seventies (I'm 32 now) and somehow Bob Latchford became my favourite player. When I saw on TV Everton beat Coventry 6-0 with Bob getting a hat-trick on 26 November 1977 there was never any turning back for me. Coincidentally, I've got a mate who became a Blue at the same time for the same reason, and we didn't know each other then.
My thesis has always been this:
especially if you became a Blue during those horror years of L*******l domination.
That's why I also think that, for an Everton fan, surviving the dreadful spring of 1994 and specifically the Wimbledon match, compares with the trauma of any young person who is forced to go away to war and manages to survive.
After we lost 3-0 at Norwich in March, with a performance so poor it's impossible to describe without breaking the Tofffeenet rules, I knew we were in deep trouble. As we all remember, things just got worse. The occasional points from games against West Ham and fellow strugglers, Oldham, didn't help much.
The worst terror scenario for me was for Everton be put up against the wall in the last game, especially because it was against Wimbledon. They had beaten Blackburn, ManU and Liverpool during their fantastic spring run and had taken six wins from seven games, so they were easily the form side of the league.
I watched the game on TV and after just three minutes, there was some incident that the Finnish commentator thought would lead to an Everton free-kick. You can guess my scare when the ball was taken to the penalty spot. Later on, even from TV I could see directly that the ball was going well wide when Ablett (may he rest in peace) turned it into our net.
During the first half the co-commentator on TV had wondered how Finnish Evertonians are taking this - and to make everything worse he mentioned me by my name!. Fortunately, our penalty saved the half and gave us some hope for the second half.
Time seemed to pass by and the match wasn't going anywhere. I was soaked with cold sweat and I had thoughts of forming crisis groups for fellow Evertonians. Then suddenly, when the TV were showing replays of Wimbledon corner, Bazza Horne gives us the lifeline. I remember him walking stone-faced and the other Everton players piling on him and trying to hug his head off. Christ, I loved the man like I had never loved before!
The rest of the game was spent just sighing and waiting for the news of Blackburn scoring at home against Ipswich. That would have saved us at that moment but the score never came. I had sent me missus and the kids out as I didn't want anybody to see my humiliation. Not even them.
Then it came, Diamond Stuart's half-tackle half-shot totally baffles Segers and the ball was in the net. I started yelling, singing and shouting so madly that my neighbour, who was laying a garden floor, came and started thumping my backdoor and asked: "Did Everton score?" As I couldn't say anything understandable, he said: "Wait, I'll fetch the champagne."
When the final whistle went and I saw the scenes of explosive celebration on the Goodison Park turf, the telephone started ringing and everybody wanted to call me and say how relieved they were. They were not only Everton supporters but other people who knew me and were aware of how important this was to me.
It took a few months to fully understand what I (and all Evertonians everywhere) had gone through. The scenes from Goodison proved that nobody wanted us to ever be in the same situation ever again. The trauma was so deep and painful that it took all summer to recover.
That really made me think just how important being an Evertonian is to me, not just as a hobby or passion but as a part my personality. I've often pondered what Everton really are to me (read: to us Evertonians). As individuals, we love Everton but the love is mutual only collectively.
Anyway I think that Everton FC has a responsibility to its supporters not to take us into situations like that of May '94. We, the fans, promise our support in sunshine and storm and Everton will have to respond in the way we deserve. Luckily, the days when Mike Walker was the manager and Dr David Marsh the chairman are gone. They weren't ready to stand up for their responsibility in the way that Johnson and Royle are. In many ways, Joe Royle is just one of us. For the same reasons, I believe Gary Speed will be giving more than his all for the Everton's sake.
The Wimbledon match didn't change my life but it reminded me of how fragile an individual is when one clings to an institution like Everton. Thanks for reading. Osmo
I had only gone to a couple of games that season, notably the games where we got knocked out of both cup competitions. I'd gone with a mate from Uni who'd never been to Goodison before, and had never seen Everton win (jinxed or what!?). Having parked my high quality Ford Cortina half a mile from the ground, we trekked in almost complete silence to Goodison.
We couldn't believe the queues, and having not got there until 12.45, stood no chance of getting in. We just wandered hopelessly around the ground - I don't know why - we had given up hope of getting tickets.
We were still wandering when in the 2nd minute I heard that we'd given away a penalty. I kicked the lamppost by the bus-shelter at the Park End so hard that my foot hurt. I could see the Wimbledon fans from where I was standing and knew we'd lost a goal by their reaction.
Kerry and I went into Stanley Park to see if we could see from up a tree, but we couldn't. After about 15 minutes we decided to drive back to Lancaster and listen to the match on the radio.
As we were walking up past Stanley Park we heard 2 roars. Some blokes came past in a taxi shouting "2-1 lads! 2-1!". From the double roar and their euphoria we assumed we'd scored two in quick succession. We legged it back to the trees, where we ascertained that the score was indeed now 2-1, only no-one pointed out that it was 2-1 to Wimbledon until half-time!
Dejected again, we decided to head back to Lancaster. I'll never forget that car journey as long as I live. In the previous hour and a half, I'd been through every emotion imaginable, from hope to frustration, to despair, to hope, to ecstatic joy, then back to despair. The game sounded scrappy and between us, the only utterances were "we're going down mate" and "c'mon Everton".
Then it happened....just as I was coming to the roundabout at the end of the M58, a bolt from the blue. Out of absolutely nothing, Barry Horne fires a missile of a shot into the top corner and a red (I know, I'm suitably ashamed) Cortina (I know, I'm suitably ashamed again) went careering across several lanes as I lost control of myself, and very nearly the car. We went ballistic for a minute or so and then the atmosphere returned to quiet contemplation. The commentator was making us even tenser.
In the end, it didn't matter how the last one went in. All that mattered was that it did. What any non-football-supporting motorists must have made of the actions of two young men in a red Ford Cortina on the M6 is something that I still wonder today. I'm sure that seeing a driver doing 80-ish in the fast lane while shaking both fists in the air and yelling his head off does not exactly inspire confidence.
The rest of the journey was a duet of tuneless but VERY loud Everton songs. I went back to the girlfriend's to tell her that I was going out to drink champagne and she'd see me when Match of the Day was on. I ended up pissed but it didn't make me feel any better - nothing could have done. In a strange way, it was just as good as the Cup Final. I think that to appreciate glory, you've got to understand dejection. That's why Man Utd "fans" are so blase about their success. Mark
The whole season had been one spent ringing home (from Japan!) late on a Saturday night or early Sunday morning (or worse still reading it in print on Monday morning in the Japan Times) and finding we'd lost again. But THAT Saturday, I wasn't going to wait. I called my sister at half-time to find we were losing. Another "Oh shit!" to add to the many of that season and the thought of the DROP just made me feel even sicker.
The next phone call was at around 4.40 British time, or thereabouts, and my sister who -- it has to be said -- is not too clued up on these matters, informed me that the game was over and we'd drawn 2-2. She'd been reading the scoreline on Teletext and, as we all know, Teletext has a bit of a time lag.
"Are you sure the match is finished?"
"I think so."
I put the phone down and contemplated life in the 2nd Division. Oh God no! The enormity of the situation would take months to truly hit me, but I thought I'd better call again and get some more details. My opening line to my sister, and I still remember them as vividly as if they were spoken a few moments ago,
"I know we're down, but what are the other scores?"
She replied, "No, no you're not! They're showing it on Grandstand and all the players are jumping up and down and hugging each other!"
"But I thought we drew?"
"No, you won 3-2."
The whole of the next week, I went around repeating the hallowed word: "SAFE" to myself.
If it wasn't for the fact that I pretty much only had scorelines to keep me going before Toffeenet, I think that day would be remembered more for the feeling of impending doom. As it is, I feel good about it now. Like everyone else, I NEVER want to go through that again. But we did, and we lived to tell the tale.
Every now and then, I take a look at my 1994 Business Diary for 7 May, where it says: "EVERTON - Safe!". It never fails to make me happy. Joe
Has anyone seen the video "The Pain and The Glory"? Why bother? We all experienced it on THAT day in spring 1994.
From Norway, I had avidly followed the sports segments on Sky News, with their special reports from all stadia where those who were involved in the relgation battle were playing that day. I remember especially Brian Labone being interviewed on the pitch during the report at 1.20 pm (all times UK). What surprised me was how full the ground was, nearly two hours before kickoff!
The final few minutes before kick-off approached with mounting anxiety. To be honest, I reckoned we would go down. After all, to say our form prior to the match was awful was an understatement!
I carefully tuned into the BBC World Service, which of course faded in and out at inopportune moments. When they announced that Wimbledon had taken the lead through a penalty, due to Anders swinging a right hook at the ball, I thought we were finished. During that season, Wimbledon had WON every game were they scored first.
When the news filtered through that Ablett had toe-poked the ball into the wrong net, I turned the radio off by the simple expediency of opening the bedroom window -- the radio reception was slightly better upstairs -- and slinging the bloody thing as far as I could! Needless to say, reception was seriously impaired after that.
With no radio to torment me, I had only Sky News to turn to. At the 3.20 spot there was an update on the standings in all Premiership matches; we were still 2-0 down. At the end of the segment came a little ray of hope, "We have just heard from Goodison Park... Everton have pulled a goal back!"
The next fifty minutes were spent in a state of fretful agony. I rang all my mates, but none of them had heard any more news. Finally the Sky News sports section at 4.20 came on. A rundown of the standings showed that we were still trailing by the solitary goal, and the standings in the other games were not encouraging. At the end of the segment came more joyous news, "News just in from Goodison Park, Everton have equalised!" Obviously they didn't say who scored, but who cares? "OK lads," I said confidently, "scrape at least one point, Blackburn will do the biz on Ipswich, no probs." (I'm the born optimist yo u see.)
The final fifteen minutes were pure unadultrated torture. No news to be gleaned anywhere. Had we scraped the point? Had Ipswich lost to Blackburn? What about Chelsea/Sheffield Utd? Why do I do this to myself? I should be doing something less stressful, like test-driving a Formula 1 car blindfolded or clog dancing in a snake pit... anything to ease the maddening suspense.
Finally, the results started ticking in on the teletext (Norwegian). What did I see? EVERTON 3, Wimbledon 2 ! We had WON, WON, WON! I roared with delight, jumped in the air and slammed my fist into the table as hard as I could. the last I should not have done, the table couldn't take it and promptly collapsed!! My daughter, who was 5 at the time, was sitting on the floor playing with her dolls and burst into tears after being shocked when daddy went bananas.
I sang, I danced, I threw open the verandah door and roared out the news to all and sundry -- my neighbours had realised by now that I had more than a passing interest in football. The phone was in use virtually non-stop for the next few hours, either friends (and a foe) were ringing to congratulate, or I was ringing the news to anyone who would listen, including a few wrong numbers. I rang home to Liverpool and spoke to my brothers, two of whom had been at the match. They informed me that when the final whistle went the tidal wave of emotion that emanated from the crowd was the most powerful they had ever experienced.
I sat down later and watched the sports special on Sky. What was Anders thinking of? The ball was on the way out of the danger area. Ablett's intentions, whilst obvious, were obviously light-years ahead of his 'skills'. Luckily the result went in our favour and the rest, as they say, is history. I must admit, however, that even today I still get chills when I think of THAT game.
I was still a student in 1994 and I was spending my Saturday's helping on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire's Saturday sports special programme. For weeks before the match, I had been getting more and more stick about Everton's prospects and, when I arrived at the station on the Saturday morning, I was offered a box of Kleenex in preparation.
We ran a sports quiz during the first half of the football and I kept score on this occasion so I was in the studio itself. Within minutes of starting the quiz, a RS fan let me know through the glass that we were one down. There was a break in the quiz when the second went in and he tried to sound sympathetic saying "Relax, it's all over now". Despite the terrible situation and the fact that all the other results seemed to be going against us, I still had a stupidly optimistic feeling, which strengthened after our first goal had gone in.
By half-time I was feeling so sick, I wanted to run off home and listen to the radio by myself ... but duty called. My job during the second half was to start writing up the headlines and to keep the presenter informed of score changes. I had this computer and when goals went in anywhere in the country it would come up as a SCOREFLASH. Every time one of these came up I just had to keep hoping that it was good news for us and yet carry on keeping across all the matches.
As you can imagine, I was in absolute agony until the second and third goals went in, when I could have kissed the computer screen. Instead of writing a headline to break any Evertonians heart -- about us losing, or going down despite a plucky comeback -- I had the pleasure of writing one about our great escape.
With a couple of seconds to go, the RS supporter said that Wimbledon had equalised and it took me a couple of minutes to check that this was in fact a typically heinous lie. When the final whistle went, I had no-one to celebrate with but I still got a mention on-air from the presenter who made a comment about an Evertonian dancing with joy around the studio. I have never felt so happy in my life. Ruth
For most of the season, I had been working in Germany. Working abroad is great fun but the only way to follow your team is through the media and, if I remember rightly, Sky only came on-line in Europe about half way through that season, so there was no real action to watch - any news was whatever you could get from the Sunday papers. Also, the Germans don't (or didn't) follow English footy that much, so nobody at work really cared one way or the other that I supported Everton and that we were in deep scheisse.
Then, about two months before the end of the season, I got a new job in Ireland. The difference couldn't 've been more dramatic. From complete indifference and me worrying on my own in splendid isolation, to being surrounded by Liverpool and ManU fans all slagging me off 24 hours a day and making my life hell. Then, for my new job I had to go, coincidentally, to Germany for a week -- the week prior to the match.
I still had a couple of things to sort out in Nuremburg, where I used to live (my wife was still there for one thing!), so it was decided I would spend the weekend of the match in Nuremburg.
I will never forget the Saturday morning, driving down from Bonn where I'd been for the week. I was so nervous; my insides felt like they stretched from my knees up to my brain and they were in constant turmoil. I don't wish to be unnecessarily crude but putting it bluntly, I couldn't stop farting all day. I arrived in Nuremburg about 3 local time (an hour before KO) and had nothing to do except sit on the settee and wait for 5.30 when I would "stroll" to the Irish Pub and watch the results on Sky (my wife sat with me but with a clothes peg on her nose).
I remember the walk to the pub vividly; it was a beautiful summer's day and everyone looked happy and was going peacefully about their business. I just couldn't understand why people weren't straining to catch vague radio commentary and wandering round looking worried. It's really quite surreal when something is deeply distressing to you yet nobody else seems to know about it. Nobody understood except me.
When I finally made it to the pub I remember pausing outside and thinking "I could just turn round an walk away now. Nobody knows me. Nobody is going to take the piss here. I can put off the agony of relegation for another 18 hours till I get the Sunday papers", for I must admit I was sure we were going to go down. But, I took a deep breath and went in.
I didn't know how long I'd have to wait for the report to come on; I knew I'd just have to sit it out. I glanced up at the screen and there it was, in big white letters on a (darkish) blue background: "WIMBLEDON 2". Relegation!!
Why only the Dons score registered when the Everton score was on the same screen in equally large letters I've no idea but for a split second the nausea started to rise. Then I saw the "EVERTON 3" bit and just couldn't believe it. I leapt in the air with a yelp and there followed a lot of beer buying and kissing of strange Germans. And when a couple of guys at the bar told me that Everton had been 2 down it I didn't believe them. I was sure that we must've been coasting it at 3-0 up and then let them back into it. Nobody comes from 2-0 to beat Wimbledon -- Except us!
Well that's the story I'm going to tell my grand children anyway. Should get them to sleep if nothing else. I'm now in France and have met up here with Mike Walls who is also on Toffeenet. He's lent me the video of the game so I've seen it for myself now, and it still sends a shiver down the spine. It really is like watching a good illusionist who makes something happen that just doesn't seem possible.
I'm not very good at taking the pressure of occasions like that; someone mentioned that at 2-0 down they saw a 70-year old bloke walking away in tears. If I'd been there I'd have been leaving with him! Fair play to all of you who were there and stuck it out -- what a feeling! But never again. Phil
I saw the match at our local pub in Sunnyvale, California, since it was televised live to subscribed business establishments in the U.S. Although the place was full, there weren't many true Evertonians present. Quite a few RS supporters wishing us well ("We'll miss the Derby matches if you go down," etc.) but secretly hoping that Tranmere would replace us.
Anyway, I went through the trauma like other Toffeenetters -- not believing the state we had got ourselves into as a result of the first two Wimbledon goals. I remember at half-time one of the punters saying "How do you get to Grimsby?" -- nervous laughter from us Evertonians... The second half of course put everything right but the emotional roller coaster was something I really don't want to experience again. From agony to ecstasy, matched only by being at Wembley for the 1966 Cup Final when we were two goals down with half an hour left.
To clarify my ailing memory, I pulled out the video (taped from a later showing on U.S. TV Sports Channel). Besides reliving the game, what I find interesting is the commentary by Martin Tyler. Starts off with a view from Goodison Road of the Everton insignia on the main stand and the comment that "Everton, one of England's top football clubs, fighting relegation after 40 years in the top flight".
On to the match: Everton, with 1 win (at West Ham) in their last 10 games (lost 7), versus Wimbledon, the most in-form team in the country, with 7 wins and 2 draws in their last 9 games. The Everton team, by the way, for those who may have forgotten: Southall; Snodin, Watson, Unsworth, Ablett; Horne, Stuart, Ebbrell, Limpar; Rideout, Cottee (Subs: Barlow, Angell, Kearton). Cottee, incidentally, was the only Everton goalscorer during the previous nine games.
One noticeable thing is the large number of empty seats to the right of the team dugout considering that so many people didn't get in. After five minutes, Horne gives away a corner. Over it comes and, for reasons known only to Limpar, deliberate hand-ball. "Crazy" says Tyler, "What was he thinking of?" Nev guessed right and got his hand to Holdsworth's kick bu t couldn't stop it going in. Dire straights for Everton, "One of THE great clubs of the English game" comments Tyler...
Tyler then alludes to the fact that Everton won the first three games of the season and were top of the league for a spell. On to the second goal. Unsworth gives away a freekick which Barton takes. High into the box it goes... Watson and Unsworth go up for it and collide... the ball drops to Clarke... a half hit shot that Ablett, in attempting to hook clear, instead finds the back of the Everton net. Replay confirms the ball was going wide.
Twenty one minutes; 2-0 to Wimbledon, and "a dreadful afternoon so far for Everton Football Club," laments Tyler. "It's like trying to climb Mt. Everest in bare feet at the moment."
Twenty-five minutes: Limpar cuts inside, veers left, and down he goes under Fear's challenge. Penalty! -- although the replay "hints" at a dive! Up steps Stuart in front of the Park End construction site to send Hans Segers the wrong way.
Half-time: 2-1 Tyler - "The signs are not too good at Goodison Park. It all comes down to 45 minutes for Everton Football Club."
Immediately after the restart, Segers makes a brilliant save from a stinging shot by Stuart following his great solo run. (Anyone who thinks Segers "fixed" this match has to see this.)
Tyler, on Unsworth's creditable performance: "Where will his future lie; which division will he be playing in next year?" Later: "There's an unreal air about the day. So many of the supporters have never seen Everton in this kind of trouble before; not helped by the emptiness behind the goal; empty feelings also for Evertonians at the moment -- a very proud club as depicted by the banner behind the goal." (Everton FC: Pride Please)
Throw-in to Wimbledon, knocked back to Vinnie Jones... a deep cross to the far post... Southall's all at sea... a header from Holdsworth... chested off the line by Stuart as the keeper scrambles across to recover. Corner says the ref, much to the disgust of Nev and Diamond. Over it comes -- flicked on to the far post where Ebbrell heads clear from under the crossbar.
Replay and analysis... then a sudden switch to the other end to see a rocket shot entering the net. "It's 2-2!!" says Tyler. "Wimbledon, inches away from sending Everton down, dead and buried. Then Barry Horne's strike -- a humdinger maybe in the nick of time!" Fans on the pitch.
"They cannot count on the draw. There's a terrific tingle around Goodison; the team in desperate trouble -- much of it self-inflicted. One more goal you feel would do it for Everton. In many ways, its been a horrible afternoon for them and their fans; one they wouldn't want to go through willingly. But it all could have a happy ending. They're listening to their radios, they're looking at their watches -- the supporters hardly knowing where they are with so much going on."
The game continues. Tyler: "Still, we do not know the answer to the relegation conundrum. Everton -- still with work to do here. Ten minutes to go and if, at this moment, we were to call a halt to it, a draw would not be enough. They have to pile on the pressure and hope one or two things happen." Substitution: Barlow for Ebbrell.
"Nine minutes to go. Rideout to Limpar. Goes inside. Passes the ball to Stuart. Stuart to Cottee - it came quickly too him - Stuart....Yes! Yes! For Everton! They can see salvation! Astonishing scenes of celebration. Graham Stuart, who has hardly set the club alight since his move from Chelsea, has really come good on the big, big day. Now is the time to be in front."
Eighty-eight minutes. Tyler again: "Marvelous moments these. Who would have expected it. But what a way to do it!" The final whistle: " It's over! Everton have done all they could do for themselves and it looks like its enough!" Stan
Well, I was in Cyprus with my Dad. We managed to find a bar in the middle of nowhere. One of those with a clichéd English name, like the Red Rose or something, where the match was being shown live. You can watch Premiership matches live on Saturday in some countries, and we were dead chuffed to find that the Dog and Duck had the game on. We even got my Mum off her sunbed to come and watch. It was 100 degrees in the shade.
We got there early, anticipating a crowd. It was pretty full by kick-off, mostly EFC supporters. There was this bloke I particularly remember 'cos he had avery large EFC logo tattooed on his arm.
A load of "mates" of his arrived to "just stand there and watch us get relegated." Even when things looked really bleak, he was bravely retorting "Well, you'll be stood there a bloody long time."
At the end, he bought champagne and passed it around. Even my Mum got carried away and joined in the celebrations, although the effects of the sun may have played a part there too. Anyway, a good time was had by all. Lou
I started listening to the BBC World Service (I live on Long Island, NY, in the States) early on in the game. I was out in the backyard kicking a ball about with my son who was almost 4 at the time.
I couldn't believe it when we were one down almost immediately. When we went two down, I switched the radio off. I switched back on again just before half time to learn of the penalty, but then had to take my son to his soccer match.
I didn't get to switch the radio back on until his game was underway, which was maybe 20 minutes into the second half. There was no mention of the score for what seemed to be ages. Then the commentator let it slip that it was 2-2.
Next thing I know, the commentator says something about the roof being lifted off at Goodison. I was going bananas. All the parents standing around me where wondering why a grown man was standing listening to the radio with tears running down his face. I tried to explain it to them when I had calmed down a bit but I'm not sure they bought it.
As soon as I got back home, I was on the phone to my dad (an Upper Bullens season-ticket holder), who had just got home after the game, and all I could get out of him was: "FANTASTIC! FANTASTIC!!!.....".
It truly was! Both he and I were back on our food after that game!
Since I'm based in London and couldn't get up to the game, I was in a real quandry: I hate listening to games on the radio, and teletext isn't that much better. I came to a compromise: my parents listened to the game for me, and rang me up at various points during it.
I just paced around the house, and at various times just shouted for no reason 'Come ON, Blues!'. My wife kept very quiet...
When my parents rang me to say we'd won and we were staying up I just sat and cried in relief. It was a close call that I'd prefer not to relive, thanks very much. Phil
Wimbledon, many moons ago... Ah, the memories... I sat in the Gladwys St End with my bro and a mate:
Barry never scores and there it was; he saved us and I'll never forget the curly haired Welsh one for that. And he came precious close to doing it again not ten minutes later.
I was so happy at the end I wanted to cry; -- couldn't speak for two days after. At times like that, you know why you're an Evertonian. Nick
My memory of that day is probably somewhat different from most people's since I was celebrating winning the league...
Before anyone gets too confused, let me explain that I have supported Everton for many years despite living 200 miles away. As a teenager, the need for regular live football had led me to my local club -- Farnborough Town FC. On that fateful day, I was back there, watching Farnborough receive the trophy for winning the Beazer Homes League Premier Division and get promoted to the Vauxhall Conference.
My only means of getting the score from Goodision during the afternoon was through various radios dotted amongst the 600-strong crowd. I didn't really want to be where I was... but I also knew I didn't want to be at home, watching it on teletext and listening to Radio 5!
Anyway, the Farnborough game was awful, the league was won, and the opposition were in mid-table obscurity, so I must have looked like a buffoon dancing around for no apparent reason at 4.40 pm when we went 3-2 up. Word soon spread round the ground that I was an Everton fan and my behaviour was excused.
One thing that puzzles me is I can't remember for the life of me what I was doing visiting my parents in Farnborough that weekend, because I should have been back in Swansea, studying at the Uni... Richard
THAT game occurred during my finals at Loughborough Uni. There is no way I can even attempt to convey my emotions of that day. Radio 5 Live covered the game, but they were ghouls. Everything pointed to us being relegated. We knew we had to win, and I could not be there.
You know the stories, about RS fans being there to see us go down etc... But after Limpar's screw up, and tAblett's OG, let's just say I was depressed. And glad; I was on the 3rd floor, some halls had 22...
You probably listened to the commentary (if Everton take the lead, we're switching to Sheff Utd's game -- Alan Green), and you don't need me to tell you how it felt. We used to have evening meal at about 5pm in hall. I remember a Notts Forest fan coming round (when we were 1-2 down) and saying that relegation wasn't that bad. They'd already been promoted. What did they know? Matt
Me and another Toffeenetter (EVERTON1@aol.com) were in a hotel in Perth, Western Australia. Bad timing, I know, to be away on Australian adventure when the lads are playing the most important game for 40 years.
We couldn't stand not knowing.... so.... I made a phone call to my mother and asked her to put the handset next to the radio in her kitchen, with the volume on max. Radio City (sadly) commentary, then later 5 Live. I can't relate the full tale as already I'm getting that slightly sick feeling just thinking about how close we came to the drop.
Anyway, as history tells it, all worked out in the end. I celebrated with Cider and the next day something incredible from an Aussie pub called a "DOGBOLTER"..... By the way, the phone bill was seventy quid and worth every cent !! Mark
All this reminiscing over May 7th, 1994 has got me thinking. What a game! But that's the point; it was a great game to be involved in. Would we look back on it so fondly (I do actually remember it with great affection, while others seemingly gibber and shake at the very thought) if Everton had won 1-0 with a scrappy first-half poach by Cottee or Rideout?
A win would have kept Everton up; that's an opinion I held even before the game. If that win had come in a dour 1-0 affair, rather than the emotion-sapping, nerve-fraying, nail-biting roller-coaster three-goal comeback way it did, it wouldn't have been a billionth as memorable.
To take this theme further, the current (and surely future) success of the team is much more appreciated as a result of the dire underachievement of the late 80's and early 90's. Liverpool fans of my generation have been brought up on a constant diet of success, and surely this means that winning trophies they by now almost expect to win loses its gloss after a while.
You have to experience the lows to really appreciate the highs. Let's just be thankful the 1993/94 low didn't get any lower. Fergus
One final story on the Wimbledon game: Throughout that season I would often go to a friend's house (in London where I was living) to develop photos in his darkroom. My mate had a lodger, an 18 year old Everton fanatic, who looked up to me because, at my ripe old age, I'd been present at Goodison throughout the 1968-70 seasons (in the boys' pen, I hasten to add).
As things got worse and worse while the season wore on, he often asked me: "What are the chances of Everton going down?"
I would always reply that there are certain teams which will never get relegated, and Everton are one of them. As the final few weeks of the season loomed, this statement took on less and less conviction, but I carried on with it regardless. The lad seemed to believe me, and it cheered him up whenever I told him.
On the day of the Wimbledon game, I was in the darkroom as usual -- I couldn't bear even to listen to the game -- and at one point I went downstairs for a cup of tea. My friend's lodger was in the lounge, in full Everton strip, listening to the radio. "We're 2-0 down" he said. He had been crying. I did my usual thing of telling him not to worry, that we would score three before the end of the game, and that he should go for a walk and forget about it. Secretly I was wondering how I would face him again after relegation.
After a while, I packed up in the darkroom and drove home, not even daring to listen to the radio. By the time I got home, I was, if anything, less concerned with Everton's fate than with what I would say to my young friend. I'd already mentally composed some sort of excuse when I went into my front room, took a deep breath and switched on the TV...
The irony of all this is that afterwards the lad thought I had some sort of ESP about the match, when in reality I'd been convinced that we were for the drop...
As a postscript, after last season's stunning home defeat to Wimbledon, which more or less took us out of UEFA Cup contention, my father phoned me, and pointed out that, if we owed any team a couple of late goals, it was Wimbledon. One more thing to ponder for the conspiracy theorists who believe that the earlier game was rigged... Guy
As hinted in some of these stories, goalkeeper Hans Segers is one of the three players currently charged with big syndicate match-rigging alongside a certain ex-Liverpool goalie and one of the Fashanu bros. The Wimbledon match has been mentioned in several tabloids as one of the gambling syndicate's "featured" matches. Maybe we have to thank some Singapore "businessmen" and a bent goalkeeper, as well as Stuart and Horne for at least that one questionable goal, and the result that eventually saved us??? Naaah!
This page of priceless memories was compiled and edited by Michael Kenrick , from e.mail messages contibuted to ToffeeNet in May, 1996.