10 November 2019
The wing wizard, along with many of his ex-team-mates, has been back on Merseyside to reminisce about the gaffer who masterminded the Blues’ glory days.
“Please welcome on to the pitch… Trevor Steven!”
Goodison Park rose to a standing ovation. Taking the adulation of the entire ground during the half-time break as Everton hosted Tottenham, there was one stand this Toffees legend paid particular attention to.
The Howard Kendall Gwladys Street End.
It was here, led by the legendary manager the terrace is named after, that Steven scored as he and 50,000 Blues enjoyed the best night in the history of the Old Lady.
“Get the ball into the box and the Gwladys Street will suck it in,” Kendall said in Goodisons most influential team talk as the Blues faced the might of German giants from Bavaria. It worked.
Everton three, Bayern Munich one, Cup Winners Cup semi-final, second leg, April 24, 1985. Steven grabbing the elusive third.
“It was the greatest night. Because we fell behind, because it was Bayern Munich, because nobody had seen anything like it,” said Steven as he sat down for an exclusive interview with The Sportsman at Liverpools Albert Dock.
“Bayern, it was backs to the wall and everybody says it was an atmosphere that has never been repeated.”
It hasnt. This was THE night, the main chapter in the book of Goodison Park folklore. Now, the story of that brilliant Everton side of the 80s - two-time champions, FA Cup victors and Cup Winners Cup heroes - has been turned into an equally brilliant film.
‘Howards Way is a celebration of the golden era of Everton Football Club and Steven, along with many of his ex-team-mates, has been back on Merseyside to reminisce about the gaffer who masterminded the Blues success.
“Howard was very impressive,” Steven says fondly. “Charismatic, inspiring, enthusiastic, in a classy, professional way.”
“Good managers also have the fear factor that comes from respect from players for them.
“One, he was a top player, you could still see that in training. I liked that, hed get involved.
“He demanded respect and it was easy to give him respect. However, If you were injured hed ignore you, he wasnt interested, very single-minded, very cutting… Peter Reid said he would run through brick walls for him. When Reidy is saying that, you know this is an impressive character.”
Kendall, who formed part of Evertons Holy Trinity with Alan Ball and Colin Harvey, who would become his trusted assistant, in the 60s had it tough at first as manager and fans actually wanted him out. Boos, and cushions from the Main Stand, rained down after a goalless draw with Coventry.
"Where he was going, before he got this group together, it was nowhere near where he wanted it to be so he was determined."
“Because hed played at Everton, and had been successful at Everton, he knew where the bar was, he knew it was massively high.”
Then, in early ‘84, came the turning point. A rescued 1-1 draw at Oxford courtesy of a Kevin Brock backpass which Adrian Heath latched on to, was the start of something special. Kendall kept his job and the rest is history.
Though the Toffees have not won anything in the 21st century, the last trophy coming in 1995, every generation knows the 80s XI and sing about it at every away game: ‘Tricky Trev… Neville Southallllllll.
Stevens goal against Bayern was a defining moment and he enjoys watching it back. Though that wasnt always the case.
“Its still so vivid. Ive seen it a lot now. I didnt watch any of it for years and years and years, it didnt seem relevant, but then you get to a certain age and think youre not here forever, you should acknowledge the things that youve done in the past because people still love them.”
Paul Bracewell wins it back, Kevin Sheedy, with thousands screaming “man on”, expertly holds on before releasing a ball in to Andy Gray, who puts Steven through.
“I knew I was favourite. I just thought heres the opportunity.
“I was thinking ‘this is going to do it for us. The defender couldnt catch me and the keepers had to move. I couldnt have hit it better and its exactly what I wanted to achieve, the way I envisaged it.”
The most successful side in the clubs 141-year history, after sweeping Bayern aside, they beat Rapid Vienna in Rotterdam to claim the Cup Winners Cup. As recently-crowned English champions, the result was never in doubt as Steven, again, got on the scoresheet in another 3-1 win.
“Wed won the title weeks before and the last few league games, we kind of took our eye off the ball, because the job was done. We were never complacent going into it but because wed lost those couple of games, we had a wake up call.
“We were confident. I didnt sense nerves. I just sensed this is it, were back, were here.
“They werent hurting us but we didnt quite know if they had something else, if there was something coming we didnt know about but as was proven, they didnt have anything.”
Everton knew the trophy was theirs. Speaking to Steven, he is a winner. Winning football matches is just what he did. It came naturally.
Now, were in an era of forensic analysis, charts and folders but back then, things were completely different and Steven admits they knew very little about the opposition.
“Hans Krankl. That was it,” he says with a tiny shrug, not even attempting to search in his head for more names. As it happens, Antonin Panenka was on the bench.
“I couldnt tell you any of their players at all apart from Hans Krankl.”
“Im sure most of the players didnt take notice of the opposition as much back in those days.”
“I could name you four players of the Argentina team that we played against for England in the ‘86 World Cup quarter-final: Maradona (he then names three more...) no, not a clue.”
After beating Rapid, there is wonderful footage in the movie of Steven and Andy Gray sat at a press conference, Steven holding the trophy, so laid-back, while Gray sinks a bottle of beer. They look like theyre just down the pub, mates, rather than newly crowned European victors.
Surely they partied into the early hours? Not at all. Especially with an FA Cup final on the horizon.
“This is where it doesnt play out as youd imagine. We dont all go out and have a massive party, you go and see your friends and your family, you go home, few lads would have beers and that was it. Already we were thinking about Man United (in the FA Cup final, days later).
“No more than two or three glasses of champagne and then we had to fly, get home and get to training.”
While they lost the final to a Norman Whiteside stunner in extra-time, just exhausted from the European excursion after a gruelling campaign, this should have been the start of a period of domination for the blue half of Merseyside.
It wasnt to be.
Everton, along with Mersey rivals Liverpool, had been dominating domestically.
However, due to a five-year ban from continental competition imposed on English teams from after the Heysel disaster in which 39 Juventus fans lost their lives ahead of a final against the Reds, Kendalls stellar side were robbed of the chance of competing at the very top.
For many, they would have been favourites to lift the European Cup in 1986.
”We would have been, without doubt, a contender to win it in a normal sequence of events,” Steven says with certainty.
“I was in Mexico when Heysel happened, watching on TV, in this little cafe of the hotel on a pre-World Cup tour in ‘85 and we had this little television where we were all trying to watch it.
“I think it was a week or two after that the ban was imposed, and the consequence of that decision did not really land home until after the World Cup the following year because we were still living off the hype of being winners in Europe. Everything was great.”
Everton suffered - Kendall left for Athletic Bilbao in 1987 after the clubs greatest side had been halted in its tracks. This all occurring a few years before huge Premier League money would change the game forever. Not at the top of the tree, it could be said the club never recovered.
However, what is often overlooked, is how it affected the individuals.
“The ban, if your career is ten years say, to have five years of it taken out of the prime part of your career, on a personal level that is sad. Thats sad.” he repeats himself.
“Ill tell you why, because our reputations as players, as individuals as players, never ever got anywhere. We as people we never fulfilled ourselves because of that ban. This is the damage its actually done.
“Some of the lads have done well in various things but in a footballing sense, theres only Andy Gray, Reidy and Inchy (Adrian Heath) whove really taken on in the footballing world, more through their determination because they really wanted to do management.”
Despite the sadness over a career dented, the memories of that glorious time will stay with fans and the team forever.
For those born too late, Evertons appearance on ‘Wogan as they sang ‘Here We Go, provides a real snapshot into the togetherness of that side, a real team, full of excitement, knowing great times were ahead.
For the players, the camaraderie was a huge factor in the clubs success, particularly Kendalls squad trips to the local Chinese.
The banter, and the booze, would flow, though some characters were louder than others and Everton even had an A, B and C team when it came to mickey-taking. On this occasion, Steven was content to be in the reserves.
”Some of us didnt want to go to the Chinese because we werent really drinkers,” admits Steven who is erudite and softly spoken.
”We went but you knew when the banter came you were going to get it. I remember I said something at the table and Mick Heaton jumps up...” Steven leaps from his seat, arms stretched motioning to everyone to stop in their tracks and look “‘Woah, woah, woah, he said ‘Trevor said something. When he speaks youve all got to listen.” Any trait, even being the quiet one, would be ripped into. It could be brutal, as was the culture in those days.
“I would happily go in, laugh at everybody elses jokes... but you learn to keep yourself ringfenced because its a harsh environment and Everton was right up there.
“My job wasnt to sit in dressing rooms and have banter. My job was crossing that line and doing something."
At Bellefield training ground, huge characters filled the corridors, none bigger perhaps than Andy Gray.
“I dont think any of it would have happened without Andy. He didnt do it any sort of balshy way (getting hold of dressing room) or deliberately as though hed been told by Howard to shake us up, he just came in as Andy Gray with a huge reputation.
“It was just natural, he was from Glasgow, came up the rough way, tough way and had done so much in football.”
Gray had plenty of injury troubles at Wolves and this was a risk for Kendall. It paid off in a massive way.
“It was the greatest thing that could have happened because it added an additional voice to those who were strong, particularly Peter Reid and Kevin Ratcliffe who were the strongest characters.”
Only one player had the knack of keeping Gray quiet.
“Sheedy would give a whiplash of a one-liner and it would sting you. He never did it to me but he had his targets.”
The mercurial winger with a wand of a left foot was also the only player allowed to attempt to lob Neville Southall in training too.
“He let Sheedy as Sheedy might do it in a match.” Everyone else could try only once, but would be sure to miss or face the wrath of Big Nev.
Everton are one of the most storied clubs in English football but this team seems less fabled.
A team with so many characters and all the successes to match, their somehow not talked about as much as other great trophy-laden sides.
The entire film is joyful, and as Steven said, it needed a happy ending, but there wasnt one. Outside factors ruined that.
Rest assured though, for those three years, Evertonians had the time of their lives.
An edited version of this article was first published by The Sportsman and is reproduced here in full by kind permission of the author.
Reader ResponsesSelected thoughts from readers
1 Posted 11/11/2019 at 05:51:42
A fantastic piece about a fantastic player
The way we were
4 Posted 11/11/2019 at 10:49:08
The best chance we've ever had to win the CL taken away from us and weve not had the chance again in over 30 years. What a team that was.
5 Posted 11/11/2019 at 12:01:52
He seemed destined to sign for the rs, but just as Catterick plucked Howard Kendall out of their hands, Kendall nipped in to pinch him from Burnley. A great signing, his eventual sad departure was just one more consequence of the European ban brought about by Heysel.
He continued a fantastic career with Rangers and Marseille, seeming to win a title medal every year - I think he ended up with 9.
Im quite happy to admit that a tear still comes into my eye every time I see film of him cruising down onto the Gwladys Street goal to stroke in his goal against Bayern. I will never tire of it.
Tricky Trev, a class act.
6 Posted 11/11/2019 at 12:51:13
7 Posted 11/11/2019 at 14:29:02
8 Posted 11/11/2019 at 14:51:42
9 Posted 11/11/2019 at 15:58:01
On the way to away games, no matter who the opposition, the talk was not if we could win, it was how many we would score.
If not for the ban this team would have dominated Europe. If you listen to the CWC final game Brian Clough says the same.
10 Posted 11/11/2019 at 18:10:25
11 Posted 11/11/2019 at 19:27:14
13 Posted 11/11/2019 at 22:23:21
Fortunately I witnessed those glory years at the right age to appreciate just how good that team and players were...
14 Posted 12/11/2019 at 06:21:54
15 Posted 12/11/2019 at 14:01:28
To be honest my favourite game from that period was the rearranged derby game at the back end of the 84/85 season at goodison when Paul Wilkinson scored the winner. Stood in a packed Gwladys street all singing "Hand it over Liverpool" in regards to the league title trophy, real goosebumps thinking about that game. Finally payback for the years of misery from the RS
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