Everton have had many great sides it must be said but which one is our greatest ever side is certainly debatable. Is it our 1938-39, 1962-63, 1969-70 or 1984-85 sides? Or maybe it?s none of them.
Sadly for me, I have the misfortune of not witnessing any of those but it?s certainly an interesting argument in my book. The 1891 title side was special because it was our first ever Championship and we were the team who stopped the Preston North End domination, which in reality they haven?t recovered from, if that makes any sense. However, this was a decade to be dominated by Aston Villa and the best we could hope for was 2 FA Cup Finals, both sadly lost.
Our 2nd Championship finally came in 1914-15 but given that it was interrupted by the Great War, it probably wasn?t worthwhile. We suffered because of this and it wasn?t until the mid-20s when an unknown 18-year-old who needs no explanation was signed.
The 1927-28 season is memorable not just for Everton being crowned League Champions but for Dixie Dean scoring an incredible 60 league goals. A double satisfaction indeed. However, this victory was to turn sour as, for the first time in 1930, we were relegated to the 2nd Division... Collapse we did not though.
Steamrolling back into the 1st Division and then winning the league for a 4th time the following season and then taking our first trip to Wembley in 1933, where we picked up the FA Cup. In both title-winning seasons, the integral member of the team was Dixie Dean. In either campaign we had two exceptional wingers in Alec Troup and Albert Geldard, who gave the genius great service.
But it could be argued that Dean really did hold together this team. His frightening goalscoring rate was not just down to fantastic wing play but also due to his awesome ability in the air and on the ground. Surely he is Everton?s greatest ever player. But greatest team... considering they got relegated in between? It's arguable...
The next great side was 1938-39. This was the side full of wonderfully talented youngsters who were set to take Everton into the next decade. With the likes of Tommy Lawton, TG Jones, Joe Mercer and Ted Sagar ? four of the greatest players ever to have played for our football club dominance in the 40s seemed certain. But a 2nd World War intervened. Once football resumed in the late 40s our team had again been ripped apart and we struggled into the next decade getting relegated before coming back and it wasn?t until John Moores took control that we started to get a grip again. He appointed Harry Catterick, who duly delivered by winning titles in 1962-63 and 1969-70.
Catterick was very wise with the generous funds he spent and bought several exceptional footballers like Alan Ball, Howard Kendall, Johnny Morrissey, Tony Kay and Fred Pickering. He also brought us the FA Cup in 66. However sadly that team of 70 expected to dominate did the opposite and sadly Catterick didn?t recover.
It wasn?t until the 1984 season that Howard Kendall revived us with an FA Cup win and then the next season was a domination few could have dared dream of, amassing 90 points, 13 clear of Liverpool, while playing some of the most gripping football this club has ever seen with some of Kendall's shrewd signings ? the likes of Kevin Sheedy, Trevor Steven and Graeme Sharp were hoisted from nowhere to near perfection. Incredibly, despite an injury list that was almost as great as the one we have now, we somehow managed to deliver the League title that year. But the damage had been done. Howard Kendall left that summer due to the European ban and we have never fully recovered. 1986 could have been our year...
So there you have it; on three occasions great sides were ripped apart and somehow didn?t manage to push on for what should have been periods of dominance. If I had to pick out a greatest Everton title-winning side, I'd probably say the 1939 side. Given that we had four of the greatest Everton players ever in that side, then we must have been good. I'd probably put it just ahead of the 1969-70 team but that?s just my opinion and those who have seen the 1970 side or even before are in a better position to comment than I am. It's great football sides like them that are our soul and inspiration and what we aspire Everton to be. COYB
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1 Posted 12/03/2009 at 10:19:52
2 Posted 12/03/2009 at 10:44:53
Dad. COYB FTRS.
3 Posted 12/03/2009 at 11:23:29
4 Posted 12/03/2009 at 11:32:48
I do though disagree that ?football got serious in 1992?. I don?t think the watershed is as different compared to pre- and post-war, even if you account for the long-ball tactics that emerged due to the Euro ban in the 80s.
What can account for the differing styles in football between now and pre 1992 is the change of the off side rule which now allows attackers to stretch teams where as before, having to stay behind to defenders made football a more steady and tactically different game... different players too are now needed.
Anyone under 30 who believes what you said just doesn't know their history as Sky do not value it. Of course you could be being all ironic with what you?re saying and I?m just catching on to the fact that you may well be.... hah!
5 Posted 12/03/2009 at 11:53:41
I think it’s hard to dispute the fact that technically football in this country is now of a higher standard and many more of the world’s top players play here now, compared even to 15 years ago, let alone 50. But great teams win trophies and titles and although you could argue that many of our current lads are individually better than what has gone before them there can be no doubt that our greatest ever "team" is 84/85.
This does remind me though - didn’t the Echo do an all time Everton XI a few years ago? If memory serves it was something like:
Southall; Stevens, Labone, Ratcliffe, Wilson; Steven, Reid, Ball, Young; Lawton, Dean.
Hard to argue with I suppose, but judging people form different eras is nigh on impossible.
6 Posted 12/03/2009 at 12:42:05
And Nick Entwistle, I really don't think it could be argued that every club's greatest ever team came since the inception of the Premier League. You see the Premier League and sky have spent almost 2 decades trying to convince us that this is the strongest league in the world and they may finally be right. So it took them almost 20 years to prove their point.
This may arguably be Everton's greatest side in my lifetime but it sure as hell is not Everton's greatest ever side. How many of these players would get into an all-time Everton 50. Possibly Cahill and Lescott.
As for other teams, while it could be argued that Arsenal's and Manchester United's greatest teams have come in this period, the thing you have to consider is... really is it? Sure, the 2004 Arsenal side played exceptional football but they wouldn't have been able to do that 20 years earlier. And was this side really better than their side of the 30s which won 5 titles?
For Manchester United, don't get me wrong ? in 99 they had a superb team but was it better than from the 60s when they had the holy trinity or the Busby Babes from the previous decade? I'm not sure I would be inclined to agree.
Also Liverpool's greatest team certainly come before this league started; Leeds from the 60s and 70s were miles ahead; Tottenham's too and Man City's. Oh and I'm sure that Wolves side of 1903-04 were miles superior to that of the late 50s. Do you see my point?
If i had to pick a greatest Everton XI then this would be mine: Southall; Alex Parker, Brian Labone, TG Jones, Ray Wilson; Albert Geldard, Alan Ball, Joe Mercer, Sheedy; Lawton and Dean. I said it there, if I'm wrong then I'm wrong but I'd be very surprised if those still alive who remember all these players disagree with too many of my inclusions here.
7 Posted 12/03/2009 at 12:49:18
8 Posted 12/03/2009 at 13:15:39
Richard, without respect and acknowledgement for the history and tradition of the club its future means little to those who just live for the day believe that football was only invented post 92.
The Sky will fall. But Everton Football club will live forever.
9 Posted 12/03/2009 at 13:49:21
10 Posted 12/03/2009 at 14:03:28
It?s obviously a massive conspiracy, probably formulated by the UN, George Bush or such like. Keeping us from winning the league avoids the possibility of another World War!
Right I?m off to take my medicine!
11 Posted 12/03/2009 at 14:06:52
Sure the Busby teams were great, but how about the quality that enabled them to dominate? Did the opposition then make them seem greater than they were, compared to the international PL squads of today?
Every team now is awash with internationals, before the PL you?d be proud to have just a few ? all from the home countries!
12 Posted 12/03/2009 at 13:46:27
Getting back to the greatest Everton team, I would have to say the '85 side simply because I'm just about old enough to remember seeing them play. At the end of the day, I suppose we could say each of our title-winning sides are arguably our best for many different reasons.
On the subject of our current squad, it is definitely our best since the 80s. The team spirit and potential (with 2 more quality players) has got to be up with the best but how close the team as a whole comes to any of our title-winning sides is an argument that would go on and on.
13 Posted 12/03/2009 at 14:30:05
Is it the most technically gifted and entertaining? >In which case you would have to give it to the 60s team.
Having been part of the rollercoaster ride that is being an Evertonian for 50 years now, I would have to say Doddy is living in Lala land (as usual) if he thinks the current side could even hold a candle to the previous sides.
Give me an Alex Young, Roy Vernon, Graeme Sharp or Joe Royle anytime over any of our existing forwards. (I havent commented on Dixie Dean or Tommy Lawton because I never saw them play.)
Give me a Howard Kendall, Alan Ball, Colin Harvey, Peter Reid, Paul Bracewell, Alex Scott, Trevor Steven, Kevin Sheedy over any of our existing MF.
Give me an Alex Parker, Brian Labone, Dave Watson, Derek Mountfield, Jimmy Gabriel, Ray Wilson, Pyscho Pat before most of our existing defenders ? except for Lescott and maybe Baines. (Again, I haven't included TG Jones, who my dad says was the greatest he?s ever seen, but I didn't see him play).
And for GK, there is only one Neville Southall who for me was the greatest goalkeeper in the world. I have never seen anybody better, including Lev Yashin, Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton.
Great players and teams remain long in the memory and I?m afraid the current squad has yet to convince me. Yes, they have entertained sporadically but not as often as the 80s side... and they could not even compare to the 60s sides in the entertainment department. Yes, they have achieved in the face of adversity but yet not a trophy to show for it.
Yes, the Premier League has moved on and you have to be faster and fitter; I would have to say no previous sides have shown the level of team spirit of the current side but the 80s team do come close. And yet, great sides have trophies in the cabinet ? until they do, the current side will not compare to previous sides.
14 Posted 12/03/2009 at 14:58:56
Regarding your comment on the Busby Babes Nick yes I believe they are better than this current United team. If you spoke to United fans old enough to remember I bet 90% would say that team is better than this current one. This is taking nothing away from their current team but like with the other members of the Sky 4 they have got fairly lucky in that abroad teams have collapsed for one or another reasons.
And in the end they have capitalised on this. You could say the same on the quality nowadays which makes United look so superior. While Ii may not have been around to have witnessed the 50s and 60s I don't think you have to be a genius to see how much superior players were. Half the time they played on rotten pitches as opposed to today's picture perfect surfaces.
When I speak to several people who have been watching football for more than 3 decades they almost always say that todays standard is not as good. And I find it hard to argue with tbh. How can today's football be the greatest ever when pace is so vital. Take Aaron Lennon he is lightning quick but his talent is shambolic.
I'm sorry but when someone plays at the top level because of their pace you know football has been severely tarnished. Years back was actually about how good you was, not about how quick you could run which in my opinion is what it should be.
15 Posted 12/03/2009 at 15:43:15
I?m lucky enough to have seen the 80s teams AND the 60s teams and for me they were each great in their time and context and I don?t think you can say one was better than the other. Nevertheless, my number one player was, and always will be, Alex Young, but the 80s team just edges it as a team for me.
And I?m happy with the current team. They?re a work in progress (you don?t get overnight transformations these days) and their team spirit reminds me of the 80s. Maybe, just maybe, it will be our year for the Cup...
16 Posted 12/03/2009 at 17:39:02
So let me get this right, the player who in his first full season was consistently our best player, picked up numerous man of the match awards, voted fans' and players' Player of the Year, then followed on where he left off in his next season by consistently being our best player again and once again picking up Player of the Year awards, isn't consistent enough for you??
Ok, he never reached the same standards last season but that was mainly down to the fact that he was playing through injury but he wasn't exactly poor and he still managed to pick up North West Player of the Year for 2007.
At the start of this season, I admit he produced the worst performances of his Everton career but he wasn?t alone. Then he was moved into centre midfield, the position he prefers, and from his first match against Tottenham to his last against Newcastle, he was once again producing consistent performances and for me he was a joy to watch.
Also James, as for being our most valuable player, I would put Arteta and Cahill together for that title.
17 Posted 12/03/2009 at 18:16:22
Here’s a thought while comparing teams- Everton ’85 were champions with 90 points. W28 D6- Everton ’70 would have had, with three points for a win in place of two, amassed 95 points W29 D8.
However the ’85 team won one cup and went to the final of another. Champions of the ’70 team might counter that the league was a much more even affair in the late sixties and early seventies so was harder to win. It makes for fun arguement but there is no way of ever coming up with a definite answer when you have a club with history like Everton.
18 Posted 12/03/2009 at 19:12:45
19 Posted 12/03/2009 at 20:42:14
20 Posted 12/03/2009 at 20:14:35
Referees are drawn between allowing a tackling game or a no-contact game, the game is being ruined by the refs and the FA who are allowing them to stop the speed that the English league once was. Plus the FA just support any decision in favour of the so-called ?top 4.?
I could rant all day about the officials and the people controlling the game who are tacking it away from the people that matter, us, the fans. Look at Wembley for example for the Carling Cup final how many corporate tickets do you think were sold, 25,000. Yeah that?s right you herd me, the FA just give away tickets to people who don?t care whilst the people that pay bundles every week cant get a ticket and I guaranty it will be the same case in the semi final.
Finally slagging off Aaron Lennon, Boden? Seriously? He?s been Tottenham?s best player this year, it ain't just about his speed, his dribbling and ability to go round people is astonishing, he made a mockery of Evra in the final last week. Certainly some raw talent for Harry to work with.
21 Posted 12/03/2009 at 21:11:38
Southall; Parker, Labone, Ratcliffe, Wilson; Ball, Reid, Kay, Sheedy; Latchford, Vernon.
Subz: Martyn, Watson, Gough, Campbell, Harvey, Young, Bracewell.
22 Posted 12/03/2009 at 21:57:38
A few years ago many were claiming that Nigel Martyn was a superb goalkeeper. And he was good. When he was 25 a certain Neville Southall was so far ahead of him that comparison were a joke. The only keepers near Southall were Schmeichel and Seaman. Both would walk into the Man U and Arsenal teams today without a murmur today.
Back to us - lots of fans were saying that Howard - in his prime - wasn’t as good as an ageing Martyn. Don’t particularly agree myself - but lots of you said that - so they must be close. So compare Howard (who I greatly respect) with Southall - joke.
Against that you’ve got to look the other way with equal honesty. There’s no question who is the greatest outfield player (player, not man!) to play for us in the 50 years I’ve been watching. You know his name and don’t want to hear it.
But he - even in his Everton days when he was at his best - was not close to the best player I have seen often enough to judge. He played for Man U in the 1960s and you know his name. Only the above-mentioned Everton youngster and Thierry Henry have justified comparison - buit a comparison always easily in Mr Best’s favour.
As for the Arteta argument, spare me. He is the best midfielder we have had in my lifetime - far better than Kendall and Harvey, and I count Ball as much a forward as a midfielder. Nearest approach was our beloved Peter Reid - who was not close to being as good as Arteta, and never got stuck out on the wing. And also did not last all that long at the top.
As for Dixie Dean, I’d love to have heard what Sam Aallardyce - a cheat on the ptch in his career and off the pitch as a manager - would have said about his heading ability.
In these matters sometimes you have to trust across generations. 5 years ago I said to my 80-year old Dad t(not an Everton fan) that Rooney could be a really great player if he could learn a bit more. He told me I was talking nonsense - Rooney already knew more about football than anyone else playing, so who could he learn from. So I believe my Dad about Dixie Dean, and I don’t think I’m being nostalgic. I believe a player of his talent today would be the best now as he was then.
23 Posted 12/03/2009 at 23:08:53
One HAS to ask the question though, has the premier league seen the death of the game as a contact sport?
Imagine how Alex Young, George Best, etc would have flourished to even greater acolades if they weren’t getting seven shades kicked out of them each week?
An conversly just how would todays footballers have managed against the like of Reid, Hunter, etc etc..
Quality is quality irrespective of period they play in. I for one miss the combative nature on one hand but not the career ending tackles that didn’t even warrant a booking in the 70s or 80s..
Life goes on with some good bits and some not so great.
24 Posted 12/03/2009 at 23:24:27
I put it to him that the 2 greatest England strikers of this generation, Rooney and Owen, both played in the same era as Fowler, and Fowler played at the same time as Rush who played at the same time as Dalglish and Maradona, I could go on...
From that prospective, players of each generation can be compared and should be equally respected despite the differences of centuries.
25 Posted 13/03/2009 at 03:27:24
You are also wrong to assume Arteta would have walked into our great 80s team. I know people on here have short memories but Arteta was shit for the first half of this season and for most of last. Reid, Bracewell, Sheedy and the brilliant Trevor Steven performed consistently, week-in, week-out, home and away against ALL opposition... unlike Arteta. In my opinion, only Jageilka and Lescott would have got near that team.
26 Posted 13/03/2009 at 05:54:57
NO ONE, young or old is automatically right or wrong from the others point of view just by virtue of age or the lack of.
One of the few benefits of age is that it may give you a certain PERSPECTIVE, some of us DO know shit from shite, by way of having seen 50yrs worth of varying consistencies, eg hard, soft, tough, good, happening, etc etc
If you had your shit together instead of just talking it you might even say...no shit?
As to which team is the best, some say you can’t judge as the game has changes in so many ways.
But as the old saying is said, you can only beat what is put in front of you and statistically, post war, the 69-70 team won more and lost less W29 D8 L5, just shading out the 85 team, no matter if 2 or 3 pts for a win is used. The 63 and 87 is more or less a dead heat 60n Vs 61 for 2pts and 86 each for 3pts.
Through the joys of perspective, hind sight, mystic meg being my long lost auntie, and plain gut feeling we have...
3=) 1963- 1987
As a one off imaginary game would only be just that, a one off, taking it to it’s ultimate absurdity, you might need a best of 9 series and even then I could not in all honesty come up with anything better than a tie between the 1970 and the 1985.
The other 2 are easier, the 63 team by virtue of greater all round class would see off the 87 team.
I might well be, like you Richard, talking shite, but the shite is thus separated from the shit by the perspective you lack.
27 Posted 13/03/2009 at 11:10:55
As well versed and literate as you are discussing the interesting topics talked of above, get on with your education!!!
Great article mate, and lively responses
28 Posted 13/03/2009 at 14:03:11
Me, I’m a Holy Trinity man if there ever a better, more balanced mid field in one side at the same time then I’ll eat my very worn out blue and white striped scarf.
But the basic problem is, Roy Vernon is the best most complete footballer I have ever seen so how can you compare one to another. You can’t.
Just be happy you’re a blue with all that amazing history to look back on.
29 Posted 13/03/2009 at 14:52:04
The difference came with turning up to watch these teams. I simply expected the 69-70 and mid-80s teams to win (the latter were nearly always at least 1-0 up within the first 20 minutes and routinely recorded many convincing victories). Whereas with the 1962-63 side, I hoped that they would win ? similar to today?s team.
I put the mid-80s team ahead of the 69-70 team because in 1986 (the Lineker year) they played the best football of any Everton team that I have seen. Yes, despite not winning a trophy. They also went on to play at a top level for more years.
The question for supporters of the current team is how many players do you look forward to watching play and what is your level of expectation before each game? I would place them 4th below the other 3 teams:-
4) Current Team
But that is not a bad position, as the other 3 were great Everton teams.
30 Posted 13/03/2009 at 18:35:55
That is a great idea to settle the matter once and for all. If only it were possible the best teams in our history playing each other at thier respective peak.
There could be a round robin style tournament obvioiusly at Goodison with the current team in to make the numbers up to 10.
Then the 5 winners in a group playing each other once with the top four into the semis and then the final.
In a head to head game between 1970 XI & 1985 XI i think the 80?s lads would prevail as Big Nev would not be beaten.
31 Posted 13/03/2009 at 23:31:12
I was lucky enough to be at the Bayern Munich game at Goodison (and the away leg) and others where Everton had to come from behind to win. A game against Sunderland springs to mind where they scored first and I remember me and my mates laughing at their fans joy, knowing that it would be short lived and we?d end up thrashing them. We scored three outstanding goals on that day that I still love to see today.
Our present team, as much as I love them, just doesn?t compare with that team, no way no how. You can?t factor in Sky and foreign players and all the other things that people try to use to make some sort of calculated and reasoned answer. Well I can?t anyway. All I can factor in are my memories, my experience and experiences.
The team that so cruelly missed out on the chance to go and win the European Cup (it was a dead cert) were just outstanding, and this present team, although not without it?s qualities, are not outstanding, good yes, resilient yes, with a great team spirit, but not a patch on that team in the 80s..in my opinion.
32 Posted 14/03/2009 at 23:31:24
Secondly we put on an awesome performance, and three of our four goals finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd in that month?s Goal of the Month ? as far as I know the only time that has ever happened.
Also don?t forget that if Kendall hadn?t buggered about with the team after the title was won we could have got 100 points.
Must seem like another world to the Sky generation!!!