St Georges Day. Saturday, April 23rd 1966. FA Cup Semi-Final.
Everton v Manchester United. Venue: Burnden Park, Bolton. Kick Off 3pm.
It was our first semi-final since 1953. For a 14 year old that?s effectively a lifetime. I?d hardly missed a home game in 2 seasons and I couldn?t get a bloody ticket for the match of my life. I lived on a estate near Halewood village (behind the ?Derby Arms ? within a mile of the site of what is now our spanking new training facility). I?d whinged about this dilemma so much everyone I even vaguely knew was aware I was after a ticket. My parents wouldn?t allow the scally option of bunking in or even trying to buy a ticket outside the ground. It was get a ticket or bust.
Then a phone call. Half past ten on the Saturday morning.. A mate?s cousin was sick and couldn?t go. Did I want the ticket at face — value. Is Ronnie Yeats a yard dog. Does Shankly talk indecipherable shit. I was on my bike in a trice, round to my mate?s house, slammed the 6s6d (or whatever it was) on the table and grabbed the ticket.
The local butcher , a bloke named Joe Hadley, was an Everton season ?ticket holder and had told me during the week that if I got a ticket he could fit me in his car. I shot round to the butchers, confirmed my place, then sped home like a regular Beryl Burton, bolted down a couple of bacon sarnies and a cup of tea then back down to Joe?s. I was going to the game of my life.
Manchester United were then League Champions (and would be the following season). The Best, Law, Charlton team were the media darlings especially after Georgie boy had strutted his stuff in Lisbon the month before against Benfica in their 5-1 European Cup rout. But now things weren?t so good. Only 3 days previously they?d been knocked out of the European Cup by ?Partizan Belgrade? having been heavily fancied to beat them. This competition was Matt Busby?s ?Holy Grail? after the Munich disaster and this had been their 1st attempt since then. General consensus was that they would be exhausted and demoralised ; and to add to their trauma Best had got himself injured and wouldn?t be playing. Excellent!
The Blues were in transition (we?d eventually finish the league season in 11th place). The 63 championship team was breaking up but we were still a decent side. West and Labone were as good as anyone in their positions. Wilson (who?d arrived in 64) was simply flawless; still to this date the best left-back I have seen. Tommy Wright was injured but Sandy Brown whilst lacking in the finer arts was uncompromising with a capital ?U?. Gabriel was still an effective right-half, Temple at that point was if I remember probably playing his best football ever and Harvey was rapidly developing into the wonderful player he became.
Young, Scott and Harris were past their peak but still extremely useful and then there was Mike Trebilcock. He was in the team because Pickering had crocked himself 5 weeks previously in the derby match. Endearing surname apart his main footballing trait was if he was in possession within 30yds of goal he?d have a shot, regardless of better placed team mates ; but of course 3 weeks later this particular foible would earn him legendary status. Finally Catterick?s master stroke had been to field a reserve team at Leeds the previous week (lost 4-1, fined I think 5 grand. only Brown and Trebilcock played from the semi-final team and they hadn?t been regulars all season) so in theory we were ?fresh as daisies?. United were still favourites but we were in with a bloody good shout.
We parked a mile from the ground and I had to memorise the route back. I was on the terracing 45 minutes before kick off. Quite frankly the stadium was a dump and for a short-arse like me getting a decent view required all my ingenuity. Eventually I got a spec at the back of the terrace and could see about 3 ft of the goal we were attacking in the 1st half. It didn?t really matter as we didn?t cross the half way line in the 1st half. Charlton and his mates had all the possession and kept us encamped without really creating a decent chance. The start of the 2nd half was much the same but as the game progressed we inexorably got on top so that with 20 minutes to go we were the better side although like United we weren?t creating much.
With about quarter of an hour left. seemingly out of nothing (at least this is how I remember it) the ball fell to Harvey about 15yds from goal. His snap left-foot shot beat Stepney to his left. The ball went into the goal but the net didn?t bulge; a second?s delay then cue delirium (of course we discovered later that the ball had bounced up and nestled between the stanchion and the net about a foot above the ground and stayed there). 1-0 up. Get in. Young still had time to hit the post after a surging Temple run and cross. Alex should really have scored but a couple of minutes later it didn?t matter. We were in the cup final for the first time since 1933.
I found the way back to the car (now I?d get lost) and it was handshakes all round. Me, Joe and his mates did a little jig around the car. Mama told me there?d be days like this.... well she didn?t but you get my drift.
So come April 19th we need the Mancs to get knocked out of the European Cup 4/5 days before (perhaps a decisive Vidic own goal to maintain the Yugoslav connection) and Ronaldo to get injured and miss the match. A personal favourite would be a little Rooney hamstring tweak 5 minutes into the game but maybe I?m being greedy. It would seem unlikely Moysey could put out a reserve side against Villa (blue Bill right back, Mother Noblett centre forward )so we?ll have to let that pass. Then 15 minutes from the end of game Moyes springs a surprise and brings on Colin Harvey(alright Rodwell). Game over. Job done. Cup Final here we come!
We?ve done this once before. We can do it again.
"Oh we hate Bill Shankly and we hate St John..."
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1 Posted 13/03/2009 at 23:02:28
Thence to Lime St in time for the last football special to Bolton.I managed to get a good speck right behind the goal that Harvey scored into. Great player that he was... Dennis Law on that day was the biggest enemy of his own team. From start to finish he would pinch the ball from his team mates feet only to stuff things up. At different times I noticed several of them including Styles and Charlton having fierce confrontations with Law.
It seemed to me that Harvey's goal resulted from a miss-hit, the ball going into the opposite corner to which he appeared to be aiming. For a split second, the United keeper, who was also fooled by the miss hit, scrambled back across the goal line but failed to keep out the bobbling ball.
I could be wrong but as I recall the United keeper that day was Harry Greg but as I said earlier even our best memories can fade.
2 Posted 13/03/2009 at 23:17:28
Oh, and I also remember the chants of "Patizan, Partizan" to wind up the Mancs. My brother & I managed to get 2 tickets for that semi, I can?t remember how, but I presume we probably queued for hours at Goodison for the pleasure of handing over our pocket money.
The day of the match arrived and I was placed "in his care" (although he was only 14!) and we set of from Birkenhead on one of Hardings coaches. The traffic was horrendous (no motorways in those days!) and we finally got to Burnden Park five minutes after the game had started.
We were in the open embankment end and had no chance of finding a decent spec. Eventually "big brother", exercising his parental duties, decided that the only way we?d be able to see the game would be from the roof of the bog, so up we scrambled, getting covered in moss & piss as we climbed up the pipes! (Open air urinals, but the cubicle had a roof on it.)
There must have been about 20 of us on that roof, which probably only measured about 6? x 3? and god only knows how it withstood our weight, especially when Colin scored!
Of course, this year it will be completely different. The ground will be 21st century, not 19th century for a start. I?ll hopefully be sat in a seat and not stood on the bog roof, covered in piss! I just hope we can get the same result!
3 Posted 14/03/2009 at 00:39:46
And a couple of years later, Joe Royle?s knee did the business in an Old Trafford quarter final.... Man who?!
4 Posted 14/03/2009 at 01:07:58
Onwards Evertonians ;-) lets rock wembley COYB!
5 Posted 14/03/2009 at 01:31:49
"But most of all we hate big Ron"
I was at the game to with my Dad Len Hartley (god rest his sole).
As I recall Mike Trebilcock gave Nobby Styles a really hard time of it that day.
For you younger fans, let me assure you, even without Best, United were a great side. Law and Charlton were fantastic footballers ? I would have either of them in my side before Ronaldo. So as Bob says, "we have done this before". I can feel it in my bones ? we are going to do them again.
6 Posted 14/03/2009 at 09:33:35
7 Posted 14/03/2009 at 09:45:27
8 Posted 14/03/2009 at 09:57:32
Other than the goal all I can remember is the Man U fans behind us throwing everything they could get their hands on, onto us Evertonians at the front .
But what a journey home on the coach - memories !!!!
9 Posted 14/03/2009 at 11:50:05
Always really good to hear about those earlier, great periods in our history. Keep up the good work and let’s hear some more recollections.
10 Posted 14/03/2009 at 12:26:10
Perhaps I am confusing it with hearing a different team singing it?
11 Posted 14/03/2009 at 14:10:15
Does anybody remember the significance of the number 3? Correct me if I?m wrong, but we beat Suunderland 3-0, Bedford 3-0, I think the next one was Coventry, I?m not sure, but we won 3-0, then we beat the Manchester clubs a combined 3-0, city at the third attempt 2-0 then United 1-0, then went on to score three in the final. Also we were the only team EVER to get to the old Wembley without having a goal scored against us!!!
We would have done it in 95,as well, but a very dodgy penalty was given against us, can?t remember the ref. I hope Utd play their first team against us, I wouldn?t like any of the lads getting complacent. I personally think we are due for a good win against them, and we will give them a doing!!!
12 Posted 14/03/2009 at 15:48:27
13 Posted 14/03/2009 at 19:34:34
But that year will forever be remembered for the final, and the biggest comeback since Lazarus when little known ex-Plymouth player Trebilcock had his finest hour and Derek made us the first, and only team to win an F.A cup final at Wembley after a two goal defecit.
A great day for all concerned, even Wednesday players and supporters must have had the experience of their lives even if ended in sadness for them. That would be the Sheffield club’s last wembley appearance for a while, but Everton would continue.
14 Posted 14/03/2009 at 20:41:42
15 Posted 14/03/2009 at 23:17:54
Not a drop of rain for 4 months, an average day time temp of 30+ c makes supping on coldies more of a neccesity rather than a luxury.
Home comforts and every PL game on live HD TV are my weekly pleasure but I know where I’d rather be at kick off times.
16 Posted 15/03/2009 at 01:54:11
17 Posted 15/03/2009 at 10:27:56
18 Posted 16/03/2009 at 04:26:53
In a distant land there is this place that forever will be Everton.
19 Posted 16/03/2009 at 17:07:24
I remember Grandstand had some really high-tech visuals at the final whistle- namely, two bits of cardboard showing the semi-finalists with Chelsea and Man Utd?s names stuck out with a felt tipped pen thus revealing us and Wednesday as the finalists!
My daughter bought me a retro 66 FA Cup final shirt recently (without really understanding its significance). It?s got to be an omen.
20 Posted 16/03/2009 at 21:12:46
21 Posted 17/03/2009 at 09:43:01
22 Posted 17/03/2009 at 17:35:21
Of course that rather OTT (for its time) reaction at Burnden Park was to be seen a month or so later at Wembley. When you see the Blues fans reaction to our goals there, particularly the winner, I think you are seeing crowd fanaticism being witnessed for the very first time in England.
23 Posted 17/03/2009 at 20:40:57
24 Posted 18/03/2009 at 18:43:48
25 Posted 19/03/2009 at 02:46:41
1966, two days before the semi-final against Man Utd. It was in the dark late hours of night that two young Evertonians scaled a high locked gate into the grounds of the Kirkby ?Westvale Conservative Club?. Their mission? Pinch the huge Union Jack flag, which was hanging amast in the club garden.
Mission successful. Our plan was to unfurl the flag at the big match with the words ?Alex Young? painted across the flag. (We later dumped the flag because it was so heavy to carry!)
Apart from the flag episode, my strongest memory of that momentous day is of Colin Harvey's left-footed ground shot, which bounced once on its way into the net; a match winning goal followed by a magnificent Evertonian chorus of "We Shall Not Be Moved... We?re on our way to Wembley..."
It's reverberating crescendo made Burnden Park rock & shake like it would fall down ? the memory of the noise, atmosphere, and Blue excitement of that day as a 15-year old-is still very strong in my mind.
My best mate and partner in crime of that time, Tony Long, often traveled to away games by hitching lifts or on one occasion secretly stowing away inside the boot of an Everton supporter bus on the way home from a night game against Blackburn (?). We were nearly asphyxiated by exhaust fumes but thanks to our shouts and banging, supporters on the back seat broke out in song after being alerted to our distress. The driver stopped the bus and, annoyed as he was, nevertheless led us into the warmth and safety of his bus for a floor seat alongside seat-paying Blues.
Bunking into an away ground without a ticket was nearly always on the agenda for Tony and me. We tried hard at Wembley in the Cup Final against Sheffield Wednesday but the only way in was when the gates opened with 20 minutes to go ? we missed all the goals but enyoyed the celebrations.
Sadly, I recently heard that Tony passed away ? I knew him as a great Evertonian, as was his dad, Dickie Long & family ? but hadn?t seen him for years as I left the UK in the early 70s to travel and then eventually live overseas.
(I?m not sure but I think Tony?s brother John Long manages the ?Railway Inn? pub in Westvale. Any one who reads this and knows him may like to pass the story on and my late condolences for Tony?s family).
On a final note; apart from the TV here in Australia, I haven?t seen Everton play ?live? for many years but have always kept true to my ?Blue? roots by following their results, most recently through ?ToffeeWeb?, which I think is a great forum for Blue fans.
Early on in the piece I mentioned how on that great day Burnden Park rocked (as did Goodison on many an occasion) to "We Shall Not Be Moved". Correct me If I?m wrong, but one thing that surprises me is that on the occasional broadcast game over here I?ve heard supporters of the reds at Anfield chanting the very same song that was almost like a Blue anthem during my young days as a follower of Everton. Isn?t this misappropriation a Blue song?
Maybe the upcoming semi-final clash with Man Utd will see the reclaiming of this great chant...
26 Posted 19/03/2009 at 19:20:47
27 Posted 24/03/2009 at 23:45:10
I always hitchhiked to all the matches. The night before the final, we went to the East Lancs to start hiching we got a lift in a tail wagon... it was packed; it was about 2s/6d for a lift. We got out at Birmingham fearing for our lives.
I paid £8 for my ticket outside the ground ? that was 2½ weeks wages to me then but it was worth it. The face value was 50p