Everton’s Class of 1985: The Greatest Team You Probably Never Saw

Friday, 16 February, 2018 73comments  |  Jump to most recent
Everton's all conquering class of ‘85 was one of the greatest ever but unless you were one of the few who attended Goodison Park at the time there's a good chance you never actually saw them play.

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Reader Comments (73)

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Brian Williams
1 Posted 17/02/2018 at 00:04:44
Was lucky enough to have seen them. The success of the time coincided with a great period in my life (not Everton-related).

All downhill then like!

Jerome Shields
2 Posted 17/02/2018 at 00:09:49
I saw them play. By far the best team I've ever seen play.
Brian Porter
3 Posted 17/02/2018 at 00:53:15
Best time of my life as an Everton supporter. We were class, the best, the bee's knees. Oh, for just one-tenth of the effort and application of those lads in today's feeble apology for a team.
Steve Carse
4 Posted 17/02/2018 at 17:09:14
Some of the official attendances in that era were iffy to say the least. Nevertheless, the average Goodison Park attendance I seem to recall was only bettered by Man Utd and Liverpool, the latter by only a couple of thousand despite their having had a decade of virtually unbroken trophy winning against our own zero trophy count prior to the Watford FA Cup success the season before.
Eric Myles
5 Posted 17/02/2018 at 17:23:15
I was working in the sand pits of Saudi from '84 to '94, pre-internet and satellite so didn't see those teams at all.

Best teams I saw were the '66 through '71 incarnations.

Lawrence Green
6 Posted 17/02/2018 at 17:25:52
If any Evertonian ever gets to see a better group of players in a blue shirt, he/she will be a very fortunate person.

Not only was the blend of characters almost perfect, they had skill, fight, determination and any other positive adjective you care to mention. That team truly represented the fans on the terraces and it is such a pity that not many Everton sides since that group have even come close. Obviously Joe Royle's Everton had elements of it, as did the Moyes team which included Arteta and Cahill.

I do hope that the younger supporters experience an Everton team that they can feel proud of and one which they will talk fondly about when they reach our age.

John G Davies
7 Posted 17/02/2018 at 17:55:21
The best side I have seen in all my years of watching the Blues.

You can very easily solve the problem of wasting money on players by appointing the most intelligent player of the 85 side as our chief scout.

Dave Williams
8 Posted 17/02/2018 at 18:18:30
I was lucky enough to see them play a lot and, whilst they were a truly marvellous team, I would say that the 1968-1970 team would have beaten them.

Southall was certainly the best keeper but Catterick's team had a stronger defence especially when the peerless Ray Wilson was fit. Neither Baines nor Van den Hauwe were anywhere near to his standard, he really was that good.

Wright was a better right back than Stevens, Hurst was vastly underrated, and Labone was a class above Mountfield or Watson. Ratcliffe was a class defender but as a pair I would go for Hurst and Labone.

The midfield in 1985-87 was very good but in my opinion could not compete with Morrissey plus the Holy Trinity. The Trinity were too quick of foot and thought for Reid and Bracewell and would have dominated them. Sheedy was a very good player but Kendall and Wright would have made his life difficult whilst Morrissey would have terrified Gary Stevens.

Up front, I loved Sharp and Heath but Labone would have had the measure of them. Jimmy Husband or Alan Whittle would have found it tough against Van den Hauwe but Royle would have given Mountfield or Watson (I realise Watson came after 1985) a torrid time and neither of them would have coped with him in the air.

The big difference between the teams would have been Ball. Not only would he have dominated midfield he would also have been alongside Joe up front. It is difficult to explain just how good Ball was but quite simply, back in those days when he was at his peak, if he played well, we would win (apart from in the 1968 FA Cup Final that is).

All that said, the eighties team was great and were it not for the RS we would have dominated for years. The problem was we lost Howard and they bought Barnes, Beardsley and Houghton at a time when some of our key players were getting long-term injuries. At their peak, they were awesome, full of spirit and fight, played as a true unit and you could see the camaraderie from the stands.

It was a privilege to see the fantastic teams from both eras and we can only hope that one day we will again have such a great team to support.

Kevin Bennett
9 Posted 17/02/2018 at 19:54:37
Season ticket holder in this period!! Beating Man Utd at home 5-0 – best I've ever seen the blues play!! Sheedy was out of this world... Reid & Bracewell not far behind! Wonderful times!
Brian Williams
10 Posted 17/02/2018 at 20:05:23
I remember that game, Kev. Gary Stevens scored a "daisy cutter" from outside the box.

Out celebrating that night and who does one of my mates turn up with? The very same Gary Stevens. Great night all round as we moved in on Gary's throwaways (girlwise). :-)

Paul Tran
11 Posted 17/02/2018 at 20:05:24
It didn't matter to me that we were hardly on the telly in those days. I had a season ticket for seven years and in 1983 I went to Portsmouth Poly for 3 years. Joined ESCLA and went to most games with them. Sure enough, as soon as I moved away, we started winning things, but being a student, I had little or no responsibility and had a great time following us everywhere.

That 1984-85 team was a wonderful mix of graft and craft, everything was about earning the right to play and playing in their half; two things we should follow today.

I only hope I live to see a team like that again and create as many memories as we all did back then.

Kevin Bennett
12 Posted 17/02/2018 at 20:52:35
Yes Brian,

Not long after, Gary Stevens had a few problems with his Achilles!! Apparently that was girl-related also!! What a player though...

Dave Abrahams
13 Posted 17/02/2018 at 21:18:58
That 1985 team was great to watch and, with Kendall as manager, they gave us our pride back for a few years, look Liverpudlians in the eye and go to Derby games, home and away with confidence, happy days.

One of the reasons the gates were so low was Howard struggled for two years to get a decent side and the fans drifted away, with gates of under 20,000 not being unusual, and they never got back to what they should have been with such a marvellous team.

I agree with Dave Williams (#8) that Catterick's team of the 1968-70 was a better team and would say, in my opinion that the 1963 team was also superior and was the best Everton team I ever saw.

All three teams were brilliant to watch with great individual players in each of them.

John Keating
14 Posted 17/02/2018 at 21:31:39
Agree, Dave.

I saw them all: '63, '70, '85 in that order.

Dave Williams
15 Posted 17/02/2018 at 21:41:52
Dave, John – what made the '63 team so good? I started supporting in the summer of '63 and whilst the likes of Young, Scott and Gabriel are quite clear in my memory, I didn't see the '63 team in full flight. Vernon for one was in decline after that.

I am very interested in your assessment of that team!

Kevin Bennett
16 Posted 17/02/2018 at 21:46:45
Sorry, guys, I can't agree. '85 was a very special team! Would have gone on to conquer Europe if it wasn't for Heysel ! We didn't know when we were beaten and dominated games from start to finish... best goalkeeper in the world also at that time.
Ian Smitham
17 Posted 17/02/2018 at 22:04:05
Kevin (#16), just have a quick look at the first line of what you posted. Are you sure?
Kevin Bennett
18 Posted 17/02/2018 at 22:20:25
Ian, not sure what you mean?

Maybe I shouldn't have said can't agree, as it is all about opinion, sorry... However, my opinion is that the '85 team was the best and I've seen them all... wouldn't it be good if we could have something near those times at the moment?

The team if I recall correctly was Southall, Stevens, Mountfield, Ratcliffe, Steven, Reid, Bracewell, Sheedy, Sharp, Heath – others around the time and added were: Andy Gray, Wayne Clarke, Alan Harper.

We also got Paul Power at a later date who was finished!! But won his first major title within 12 months in '87 and was probably Player of the Season! I'm getting goosebumps just writing about it (we got fed up of going to Wembley in them days).

Kevin Bennett
19 Posted 17/02/2018 at 22:25:54
Sorry, I forgot to mention Gary (lickyerarse) Lineker, who joined and stayed one season, runner-up to the Red Shite in league and cup (painful) so to me he doesn't count!!

And he has dismissed us ever since as a former team – we made him and he cast us aside and has been dong ever since on MotD – smarmy bastard!

John Keating
20 Posted 17/02/2018 at 22:26:49
Dave, for me it was just everything about that time.

The town was buzzing, the music was great, there was work for the older lads and apprenticeships for kids leaving school.

The pubs were busy and the council hadn't completely wrecked the City by decanting everyone out to Kirkby, Skem etc.

I thought Spurs were the team to beat, not long done the double and we'd been in the doldrums for a while.

I always felt Catterick was slowly getting the pieces together and the season just clicked. We were the Mersey Millionaires, the team were playing great football and we had the Golden Vision. I thought it would never end. How wrong.

Maybe it was because I was younger, no real cares and happy to go all over watching them with no segregation that I can recall.

Like the 85 team, there were no real big head superstars – the squad just gelled. I always thought the football we played that season was less "scripted" and things were a bit more off the cuff.

As you mentioned, Vernon – I think he did peak around then.

I just preferred the style we had that season. Catterick built 2 great teams but he also wrecked them far too soon for reasons known only to him. Kendall, well, in my opinion we would have gone on with him as he had Europe in his sights. Those aspirations ended with Heysel.

Terry White
21 Posted 17/02/2018 at 22:33:56
Kevin (#19),

I think your nasty post is way off the mark. Lineker is on record saying that the Everton side he played in was the best team of his career. And since he also played for Barcelona, that is saying a lot.

Kevin Bennett
22 Posted 17/02/2018 at 22:45:21

All about opinion, mate – not nasty, just a fact. He couldn't have said anything else. Barcelona were nowhere near us in them days! He used us as a stepping stone and showed no loyalty to us whatsoever – couldn't wait to “further his career”... good luck to him. But not an Evertonian when they say: Once touched by Blue, always a Blue!!

Paul Baxter
23 Posted 17/02/2018 at 23:22:07
I left school in 1980 and started going to the games regularly so watched this team coming together. I think it was the teamwork and camaraderie that made them so great as none of the players were household names, but they just gelled brilliantly.

When Leicester won the Premier League, they reminded me a lot of that great side as they had a lot of the same qualities.

Alan McGuffog
24 Posted 18/02/2018 at 00:05:49
1968-69. The best football I have ever seen at Goodison (excepting Hungary beating Brazil in 1966). 1969-70 we added a touch of steel and pragmatism to take us up a notch. Aaaahh.... nurse!
Don Alexander
25 Posted 18/02/2018 at 00:41:17
Those '63, '70, '84-86 teams were of another world. Since then, some major clubs, like all the others who with us were selected to take the lead in establishing the Premier League for example, have prospered in a way we still have to dream about given the "leadership" we, the fans, have demonstrably supported for decades.

Still, let's keep on supporting the old farts who've conspicuously failed us eh?

Wouldn't want to demand a change would we? Jeez no, we might even end up winning trophies again!

Derek Thomas
26 Posted 18/02/2018 at 01:01:20
Joint 1st; 69-70, 84-85... dead-heat after a photo finish

2nd, or is that 3rd; 62-63... a short head.

3rd; 86-87; half a length.

In my own mind, I solved the dead-heat problem thus: Having ranked them to a dead-heat using a 'one off' horse racing analogy and as we're talking League and not Cup, I needed to find a sport with a lot of games. So I switched sports to... Snooker.

The Final often acknowledged as the greatest ever was also in 1985, so it's 35th and final frame, which is as near to a result and sort of fitting. This went down to the blackball of the dead heat / close finish as you can get... as befits 2 great teams.

My decider, my black ball as it were, was one thing... more later.

Having watched both teams, the 69-70 played a more Cavalier game, you could, without stretching it too far, class the 84-85 as the Roundheads if you wished.

A look at the records for both seasons show that 69-70 W29, L6 and that 84-85 W28, L8.

Both teams, iirc, had it won with games to spare and tapered off towards the end... won by half a furlong and cantered to the finish... but it has to be remembered that 84-85 gave the rest of the field a start, got stuck in the starting stalls, losing the first two games.

In our Imaginary 41 frames of snooker/football, the 69-70 team would have scored more 147s and century breaks, but the 84-85 term would have won more of the close frames, the 56-48 close wins. This is where the black ball decider comes in.

That 84-85 team just hated to lose a bit more than 69-70 and that IMHO, makes the difference.

That said, If I was given just one season's access to The TARDIS or a Flux Capacitored De Lorean, I would set the dial to 69-70.

Thomas Lennon
27 Posted 18/02/2018 at 08:43:12
I was at University in Bristol (a wasteland when it comes to football, so a major culture shock). Had occasionally watched the teams of 70s and 80s be constantly eclipsed by the red dominance of my teenage years. Some sides in the 70s were decent but they were always there to knock us back.

Came home for Christmas in 1985 after following the team every week in the Sunday paper – had to buy a good one to get a decent match report. No TV, no internet. Every week I remember thinking "We are on a good run but we will get beat next week," but we never did.

Went to the Boxing Day match and Wow! This was a team... something was happening, it was easy to see. Even when teams were clean through, we had pace to get back and cover or Southall would sort it. Never seemed prolific scorers but we could always nick one.

That may even have been the game we lost 4-3 to Chelsea but it was the best team I have seen in blue.

Dave Abrahams
28 Posted 18/02/2018 at 15:27:42
Dave (15), I thought the 1963 team was the best because Harry Catterick built on Johnnie Carey's team. Carey had got together an attractive team, good to watch, especially at home, but it had a soft centre and couldn't be relied upon playing away.

Catterick changed the team into a solid determined eleven who feared no-one, home or away. Harry bought a young spectacular goalkeeper, Gordon West, sold every fan's idol, Bobby Collins (a mistake), but brought in a younger player, not as good but one who fitted in well with the way the team performed, Dennis Stevens. He followed this up with possibly his best signing, Tony Kay, a strong personality, captain in the making, and added to these by stealing Johnny Morrissey from Liverpool for next to nothing. The manager then strengthened the team further by adding Alex Scott in place of Billy Bingham.

Kay and Scott came in for the second half of that Championship-winning season and played the way football should be played – ball on the floor, classy attacking football to sweep the opposition away. If the opposition wanted to stop this type of game by mixing in the rough stuff, then Parker, Gabriel, Kay, and Stevens, aided by captain Roy Vernon and Morrissey, were more than ready to take them on.

Football first was the priority, mixed with hardness if necessary; a great team which was a credit to watch and support. It was followed the following season by being drawn against the eventual winners of the European Cup, Inter Milan, when we lost to them over two legs by one goal.

One thing Everton teams have never had is that little bit of luck, like getting a decent draw that year to enable us to get our feet under the table before the best team were picked to play us.

Dave Ganley
29 Posted 18/02/2018 at 16:11:37
I wasn't old enough to be able to comment on the 69-70 team, I only started to go regularly in mid 70s.

That 84-85 season was what I had been dreaming of since I first started going to watch Everton. It was amazing. We had so much confidence and swagger. Going across the park and winning the first derby with Sharpie's wonder goal just made it all the more sweet.

I remember being in the Gwladys Street for the home rearranged derby near the end of the season. Nothing to play for as we and already won the league, it was absolutely heaving. I think Paul Wilkinson scored the winner in a much changed team and the whole crowd singing "Hand it over, Liverpool" in regards to the league trophy. That moment has yet to be bettered for me. A magical season.

Ray Roche
30 Posted 18/02/2018 at 16:14:20
Kevin Bennett (#22),

Kevin, I think you should check your facts, mate. We sold Lineker – he didn't ask to go. As always, it was considered too good a financial deal for our club to ignore – just like when we sold Ball.

And as Terry White says, Lineker has praised us and his time at Goodison on countless occasions.

Dave (#28),

It's a difficult call, I dither between the 62-63 side and the 69-70 side but, in my opinion, the 69-70 just shades it, mainly due to the Holy Trinity, although, when I think of Young, Vernon and Kay bloody hell... that's a difficult one!

Si Cooper
31 Posted 18/02/2018 at 16:34:00
Kevin (#19), it's eye of the beholder time. I've never seen Gary Lineker disregard or belittle our club. Rather, I think he has continually (if understandably) referenced that association whenever it has been appropriate.

He earned his move to us and then went on to be lauded and appreciated at every other club he played for. As already mentioned, he has clearly announced (I've seen the footage) that the Everton team he played in was the best he played in.

I think he has every right to choose not to disregard the high opinion of the Leicester, Barcelona and Tottenham fans who he spent much more of his career with.

It is great that some players never find the same level of belonging than they felt at Everton but do we really need to try to assassinate the character of those players who end up with multiple allegiances for perfectly understandable reasons?

Roberto Birquet
32 Posted 18/02/2018 at 16:36:47
I was a kid at the time and went to about a dozen games. Cavalier, wonderful football. No fear, utter belief. We were outplaying Liverpool as well as everyone else for about three years, although they generally had the better strikers.

I thought Peter Reid was the most important player, he drove us forward. But one interview I read had players saying it was goalkeeper Southall and centre-back Ratcliffe who were... the one was the best goalie in the league and one-on-one would beat almost everyone – except perhaps Rush – and the other, the fastest centre-back in the league. Between the two, our team knew it could attack with abandon and be unlikely to concede more than one goal.

Aside, I often thought the 85-86 team even better, but it lost both league and cup. However, with a new system using Lineker we lagged early on, but then overtook everyone midway through the season. By February, we were miles ahead. But then came a freak run from Liverpool. But we would have still won the league if our team not bottled it.

April to May 1986 was the only time that team lost belief: it was a tragedy. The 85-86 team was superb, but bottled it. Who knows? – Maybe the 84-85 team woulda bottled it too.... But it took a huge lead in March, and no-one else went on a freak run.

We also bossed the 1986 Cup Final. Lots of chances, one goal. then Liverpool, two chances in two minutes: two goals. A freak comeback again from the others. A freak end to the season. Otherwise, that 86 team would be the team we are talking about.

Kevin Bennett
33 Posted 18/02/2018 at 16:40:03
Ray, I don't agree, sorry – he went for sun and money! His only motivator! If it was the best team he played in, why did he want to leave?

That was the one time Everton weren't a selling club... good players would have walked to Goodison in them days but we already had the best.

I don't need to check my facts, mate.. I never missed a game in those days, home and away. Lineker fell on his feet when he joined Everton – it was even his mates Reid, Steven and Stevens that got him through as top scorer in the World Cup!

He retired from England early and chased money in Japan with an in-growing to nail... and now he is an average TV presenter!!

Paul Tran
34 Posted 18/02/2018 at 16:44:33
Kevin, the club told Lineker he was going as they'd accepted the offer. That's how it was in those days.

I remember reading at the time how Kendall agreed to it because he felt we'd focused too much on Lineker's pace. I'm not so sure; I think we'd have won the double if Nev hadn't got injured.

Kevin Bennett
35 Posted 18/02/2018 at 16:53:44
Paul, there was not too much resistance from Everton as we were a better unit without him, as proved the season before he arrived and the season after he left. Kendall wasn't that bothered either cos he had aspirations to manage in Spain himself...

On a lighter note, I remember the game at Wembley against the red shite and the scousers getting in with rolled-up tenners in a ticket stub that had been passed out to them from supporters already in the ground... no wonder it was packed!

Ray Roche
36 Posted 18/02/2018 at 17:08:30
Kevin, I am clearly not the only one who recalls that Lineker didn't ask to go.

You also say "If it was the best team he played in, why did he want to leave?" The answer is that he didn't. He was told Barcelona had made an offer and we had accepted it.

We paid £800k and received, what, £2.8M. Just like we did with Ball, sell for a profit. We thought we could more than double our money in one season and go back to the successful style we had before Lineker came.

And Kendall's aspirations to manage in Spain came after the Heysel ban, if I remember rightly. There was also talk of Southall going to Barca where Kendall imagined he was going to end up; instead, he ended up in Bilbao.

Si Cooper
37 Posted 18/02/2018 at 17:32:48
I started going to the match in 84-85 (using pocket money and money from pools and paper rounds) and managed to get to a fair few through to 86-87. Apart from most of 84-85 season, I often had other things to do on Saturday so midweek games became more important.

I had no older relative to take me under their match-going wing, so generally I tried to meet up with a few lads from school on the Gwladys Street terraces. It didn't bother me if I couldn't find them as it was sometimes easier to find a good speck in front of the barrier above the trench if you were on your own (not that anyone was really alone in that crowd).

Loved every minute, from the banter in the long, snaking queues, the slowly building buzz of the stadium filling up from up to an hour before kick-off (no reserved seats, it was first-come, first-served if you could hold your own), to the noisy carnival atmosphere that seemed ever present when the team were on the pitch. We (I think it was everyone present) just didn't expect to lose to anyone and the players lived up to that expectation more often than not.

Gary Stevens was definitely more of a defender than an attacker but had great athleticism. He was more likely to shank a ball down the line into the crowd than anything else. Worked very well with the sublime ‘Tricky' Trevor Steven though when it was kept simple.

That was the key all over the park; combinations that worked to overcome individual weaknesses and make the most of the abundant strengths. All the fringe players (Alan Harper and Kevin Richardson) never seemed to let us down when they were called on.

I was very fortunate to be at some of the games people always reference (Man Utd 5-0, Sunderland 4-1). Most memorable has to be the Bayern Munich semi-final. That was a performance and atmosphere that would stir the hardest heart and incite the most indifferent to frenzied tribalism. It would be wonderful to get to that level again and I think the right manager could do it with Moshiri's money.

Paul Tran
38 Posted 18/02/2018 at 17:38:07
Kevin, you're right about people bunking in with used ticket stubs. It happened in all the finals in that great era. There was always one gate where there was a massive queue because the guy was taking a tenner to let us in. The Man Utd final in 1985 was the worst one – way too many people in the ground that day.
Kevin Bennett
39 Posted 18/02/2018 at 17:45:03
Ray, debate is brilliant just wish we may be debating the current squad in 30 years time – somehow I don't think so eh??
Ray Roche
40 Posted 18/02/2018 at 17:51:09
Kevin, the only thing we will be debating is which players would get in an “All-time worst player” team! Answer? All of them.

Come on, Rochdale!!!!!

Dave Abrahams
41 Posted 18/02/2018 at 18:09:35
Paul (38), me and me mate got in the first Liverpool final with tickets from the Watford final, the only difference between them was the Everton / Liverpool ticket had a green line down them, we just got a green marking pen to make the line then stuck a pin all the way down the line and handed the ticket and let the fella on the gate tear it off.

It worked dead easy, mind you it helped the fella working the turnstile was about 86!!!

John Keating
42 Posted 18/02/2018 at 18:33:36
That Milk Cup Final we went down in a full coach and only me and my brother had tickets and every single person on that coach got in.

When we left Rotterdam, we went straight to London; again, I had a ticket but could not believe the crowd in Wembley that day. I could not even attempt to put the actual attendance. Had there been an accident it would have put Heysel and Hillsboro combined in the shade. Horrendous thinking about it now.

Peter Mills
43 Posted 18/02/2018 at 18:33:41
One of my favourite moments of the 84-85 season was being outside Old Trafford before the league game there, heading towards the end of the season. We had, of course, beaten them 5-0 at home, but it was going to be a tough match.

As the Everton team coach approached the stadium outside the old Scoreboard End, I was caught up in a mob of United supporters who were banging on the side of the coach and spitting at the windows. Peter Reid was sitting next to the window, playing cards. He didn't bat an eyelid at the furore, but then with the merest hint of a grin he pulled a card from his hand and pressed it against the window – the 5 of Diamonds.

Dave Abrahams
44 Posted 18/02/2018 at 18:56:08
John (#42),

I was at the 1966 FA Cup Final but if you watch the movement of the crowd on TV you can see the massive overload of the attendance, thousands jibbed in, as they did the year before for the Leeds Utd - Liverpool final.

As you say, it is amazing that nothing serious happened on the terraces in those games and the Man Utd game.

Kevin Bennett
45 Posted 18/02/2018 at 19:02:15
Ray (#30),

Years from now, I don't think I will remember! Sadly... so maybe it doesn't matter so much.

If we beat the red shite soon ,I will put an alarm on my phone to go off every 12 months – now there's a plan – that's if I remember we're my phone is...

Ray Roche
46 Posted 18/02/2018 at 19:32:04
Kev, do you know where your phone is?

(You left it in the ale house.)

Jay Harris
47 Posted 18/02/2018 at 19:44:51
Like Brian, the 80s were the best time for me too. I worked with a Man Utd supporter who had a face like a smacked arse every Monday. He was truly peeved and hated it but what a joy to bring to a working day.

It seemed we were at Wembley or big games every year then which is why I really feel for the kids now who haven't known such elation.

Ron Marr
48 Posted 18/02/2018 at 20:21:07
I was there when we won the league in '63 and '70. Alan Ball, Roy Vernon, Howard Kendall, Alex Young, Colin Harvey and Tony Kay will always be my faves, all top drawer players, but as a team the 84-85 team was the best. Very close to winning three trophies in one season.
David Price
49 Posted 19/02/2018 at 07:26:01
i was lucky enough to see this team and can remember the passion and belief, not only from the players but from the supporters; from Southall to Sharpy the team oozed class. What I would give be able to get up on a matchday and know were going to win!!

I am, however, a firm believer that, with the investment and new stadium, the club will once again become a major power. It may take a little more patience, as the saying goes: Rome wasn't... etc etc!!

COYB !!!!

Simon Jones
50 Posted 19/02/2018 at 09:16:36
I think a lot of ToffeeWebbers probably did see the 1985 team play, but I understand the point of the article. This was probably a group of lads who perhaps individually were not maybe the greatest players in their own position (except Big Nev who was, without doubt, the best goalie in the world at the time; you could make a case for Steven & Stevens too), but came together as an amazing team with fabulous spirit.

I started going the game in 1984 and so was completely spoiled by this team. I don't think I saw us lose a game at home for three seasons!

Laurie Hartley
51 Posted 19/02/2018 at 09:37:28
I emigrated in 1973 so although I saw the two great teams of the sixties I only got to see the great team of the eighties on television but that did include the final against Rapid Vienna.

That is something I regret because, from what I did see of them, they were a fantastic team. Two players stood out in that team to me – Peter Reid and Andy Gray – both courageous.

Our day will come again and our young fans will be as mad as the rest of us – roll on.

Up the Blues

Tony Hogan
52 Posted 19/02/2018 at 10:11:30
Very rarely do I read all of a thread but loved every comment on this one.

They say nostalgia is good for the soul, great memories.

If only...

Steve Carse
53 Posted 19/02/2018 at 14:06:32
Alan (#24), not sure I'd rate Hungary as the best footballing side seen at Goodison but In Florian Albert I think they had the best centre-forward I'd ever seen.
Ray Roche
54 Posted 19/02/2018 at 14:47:29
Steve, Florian Albert, what a player! Yet he never gets mentioned when people talk about past greats. We were so lucky to have seen the likes of him, Bene, Garrincha, Jairzinho, Pele, Gilmas, Djalma Santos, Simoes, Torres and, of course,Eusebio, Yashin and the Germany side with Beckenbaur, Haller, Seeler etc. And we saw all those players at Goodison Park!

And we would have seen the England team if it wasn't for the shithouse FA changing the venue for the England-Portugal semi-final in the 1966 World Cup.

The best team I have seen, admittedly on TV, was the 1970 Brazil side. Fabulous.

Kevin Prytherch
55 Posted 19/02/2018 at 14:53:44
Posts like this are a reminder as to why we should all get behind the likes of Davies, Kenny, Calvert-Lewin, Holgate etc...

I'm not saying they'll ever be as good, but the pride of playing for Everton, the dogged determination and the relationship with the fans are things which today's expensive foreigners usually don't have.

Dave Abrahams
56 Posted 19/02/2018 at 15:09:00
Steve (53), you are correct in saying Florian Albert was a great centre forward and he was brilliant in that game versus Brazil but he played wide right that game. Ferenc Bene was the centre forward versus Brazil and scored the first goal, if I'm not mistaken.

What a performance by Hungary in that game, and whereas Brazil were booted off the pitch in the other two games versus Bulgaria and Portugal, particularly by Portugal, they were outclassed by a terrific Hungarian team. They turned the clock back to the 1953 Magyar side that completely destroyed England twice that year, 6-3 at Wembley and then 7-1 back in Hungary with the fabulous Puskas and Hidagutti (sic) bringing unseen skills to a fascinated football ordiance in Britain.

Dave Abrahams
57 Posted 19/02/2018 at 15:12:53
That should have read Ferenc Bene in post (56) and ordience further down the post. I'm starting night school in English next week.
Tom Bowers
58 Posted 19/02/2018 at 15:19:09
Some times all it takes is the right chemistry even though each individual player may not be the best in the league. Just look at Leicester a couple of seasons back.

The sixties teams under Catterick were great at separate times but Catterick was not a popular manager and Kendall struggled early on until everything clicked.

The players always hold the key and, no matter what the manager does, if they don't perform on the field then it's all for nought.

Players, no matter how skilful need to show intensity and teamwork in every game in order to produce consistent results.

The Catterick team of 1962 was probably the best because they had to outdo the fabulous Spurs double-winning team of Bill Nicholson, play without substitutes and basically have a squad devoid of imported players.

People might say, well, in those days teams didn't park the bus match after match but that still meant that defenders had to be exceptional because the door was open for much more attacking pressure as teams usually played with 5 forwards.

Pete Clarke
59 Posted 19/02/2018 at 15:58:54
Dave (#41),

I thought I was the only one to have got in the Liverpool game with the Watford final ticket but I actually got caught by the steward. He called a copper over to check if my ticket was forged and without looking at the front, turned it over and run a felt pen down the ticket. The felt did not run so the copper told the steward to let me go.

There were 12 of us in a transit that went to Wembley that day and only one of us had a ticket. We all got in of course. 😃

Ray Robinson
60 Posted 19/02/2018 at 16:24:28
For me, the best ever Everton teams were 1984-85, 1969-70, 1962-63 and 1986-87 in that order although I have to say that the team of 1968-69 was a great one too but didn't win the League.

The attendances in the eighties were desperately poor on account of multiple job losses in the manufacturing industry and the resulting recession during the dire Thatcher years – but they were not quite as bad as the figures might suggest. Wasn't there some sort of VAT fiddle going on with the numbers registered at the turnstiles being significantly lower than they should have been – for which several clubs were fined in an amnesty several tears later?

The most unsafe I've ever felt at a match was at the Watford Cup Final. My ticketless mate slapped a tenner on the counter as we queued up – and got in – there was no anti-crush queuing system – everyone just funnelled into the turnstile, so it was impossible to turn around and leave once in the melee. Also, I distinctly remember tickets being thrown out of the stadium and even rope ladders suspended down the sides of the staircase towers!

After the match, we spiralled our way down the staircase just hoping that nobody tripped over because the throng behind couldn't possible see what was happening below them around the corner. I swear I was carried down that staircase with my feet hardly touching the floor. A fantastic day but probably just one stumble away from a monumental tragedy.

Dave Abrahams
61 Posted 19/02/2018 at 16:27:42
Pete (59), soon as I got through the turnstile I was grabbed by a steward, thought to myself "Here goes my free entrance", but all he wanted to do was check my carrier bag which had a few sarnies and a couple of cans of lager.

He said "I'll have to take them, the cans of lager, I said "Fair enough, you can have a butty to go with them if you want". He declined the offer and I danced in, only to suffer once again at the hands of them so-and-so's.

Brian Harrison
62 Posted 19/02/2018 at 16:49:59
I think they were all great sides, I was lucky enough to have seen them all, 62-63 side with Young Vernon and Kay. The 70s with Harvey Ball and Kendall, and the 80s team with Southall, Reid, Bracewell, Sharp and Gray. Just like in any sport, it is impossible to say which was the best as it's just that person's thoughts. I am sure if you asked anyone who'd seen the 3 great teams, they would all vary as to what was the best.

Alan (#24), I don't know if you had your tongue firmly in your cheek when you suggested the best team you have watched was the Hungarian side that beat Brazil in 1966. They kicked Brazil off the park and, if memory serves me correctly, Pele was carried off. Now if you had suggested the Hungarian side that came to Wembley and wiped the floor with England with Puskas and his team mates, I might have agreed.

My favourite team of all time was the Brazilian team of 1970 they played a brand of football that the world hadn't seen before. All 10 outfield players were magical to watch.

Dave Abrahams
63 Posted 19/02/2018 at 17:00:38
In posts (56) and (57) I'd had two goes at spelling a word, AUDIENCE, that's the correct spelling. My other attempts were wrong, does the word checker get paid, he's not doing his job, making me look like a dickhead.
Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
64 Posted 19/02/2018 at 17:24:52
Sorry, Dave. That would be me.

They are such original spellings, I thought I'd leave them for everyone's enjoyment.

Ste Traverse
65 Posted 19/02/2018 at 18:25:44
I'm biased because I'm old enough to remember the 85 side whereas I hadn't been born in when the 1970 side were strutting their stuff but the 85 outfit will always be the better side for me as they simply achieved more than the 1970 team.
Peter Mills
66 Posted 19/02/2018 at 20:50:43
Hungary’s second goal in that game against Brazil in 1966 was a Goodison great - Albert, out to Bene on the right, who floated a cross for Farkas to volley into the Gwladys Street goal.
George Stuart
67 Posted 19/02/2018 at 21:10:53
Oh Dave Williams (8) you actually brought a tear to my eye. I was 14 in 1970 so matches and appreciation were more limited though I do know you were exactly right when referring to Ball.

Interestingly on the web there is/was a poll about the best 100 midfield players of all time, Bally isn't in it. Such greats as Billy Bremner and Greame Sourness are!!! I'd put Bally in the top 5 and only out the top 3 because he had off years.

I think Lothar Mateus was top. Hardly ever saw him.

Ron Marr
68 Posted 19/02/2018 at 21:12:55
There was a delay getting into Goodison Park and I missed the first goal. Bene scored after 2 minutes. Albert and Farkas were brilliant and got a great ovation from the crowd at the end.

Biggest disappointment was missing Pele. He was injured in a very physical game against Portugal a few delays earlier. I saw him around 1972 when Aston Villa played Santos, but it was a friendly game and not the same.

Brazil in 1970 was a great team. I also liked Holland in 1974 with Rinus Michels and Total football, where it seemed like every outfield player could play every position. I think Rinus Michels had been the Ajax manager when they beat Liverpool 5-1 in the European Cup. Blues fans had a lot of fun with that "Ajax washes away scum" to paraphrase a well known commercial.

Greg Anderson
69 Posted 19/02/2018 at 21:39:21
I would put the 69-70 team over the 84-85 team. I was just 7½ in May 1970, but all I could think about was Alan Ball and Joe Royle. That whole team seemed like gods to me, and they still do now.

I think Sheedy is the only 84-85 player who would have got in the 69-70 team, because his otherworldly left foot was one of the very few things that they did not already have.

Also, it is essential to remember that the whole image of our club was grander in 1970. We were arguably the biggest of the four undisputed "big" clubs at the time (with Man Utd, Arsenal, and Liverpool), the Mersey Millionaires, and we played in what was widely viewed as the country's best club stadium, a magnificent cathedral of the game.

By 1985, after a decade or so of domination by the noisy neighbours, we were very clearly not the "biggest" club, and Everton had more the feel of a bunch of scrappy (if very talented) underdogs, not the smooth, almost effortlessly superior Rolls-Royce of a team that we were in 1970. But perhaps my glasses are just a little too rose-tinted. Wish I could have seen the 62-63 outfit.

Phil Lewis
70 Posted 20/02/2018 at 15:23:32
My favourite all time worldwide player, without hesitation, has to be, Alan Ball. He simply had the lot. Heart bigger than himself, adrenalin plus, skill in abundance, insurpassable vision!!

However, my earliest Goodison recollections are as a ten year old boy, of the '63 Championship side. I remember them well, some wonderful players, but at that age, my football knowledge was still rather formative. I didn't see enough of Young, his blistered feet caused him to miss a lot of games! But he had dazzling skills make no mistake.

The '70 side played brilliant precise football. One intriguing contest that stays in my mind was at Goodison against Moenchangladbach in the European Cup. Their captain was a fella called Gunter Netzer, he was their playmaker, long blonde hair, loping casual stride, spraying 40-50 yard pinpoint accurate passes all over the park. While we had just the opposite in Ball, Kendall and Harvey, playing quick one-two's, 'gymnasium' style football, with passes rarely going more than 15 yards at breakneck speed. The end product invariably being, to get it out to 'Moggsy' on the wing, where he would get to the bye-line and supply the ammo for 'Big Joe' to score. Simple, but extremely effective. Ball himself had a wonderful strike rate for a midfielder. Needless to say we beat the Germans in a thrilling encounter, winning on penalties after extra time.

I truly feel for the younger Blues, some who have never seen one great side, let alone the three great teams that I have been blessed with witnessing over the years. As this post is about the greatest Everton team, rather than individual players, I must conclude that the '85 team was the greatest of all. It was simply a perfectly balanced side. A well oiled machine with top quality components, all completely compatible to each other. They were a joy to watch. I truly believe we could have beaten anyone in the world at that time with that team. That's how good they were.

I stress that their success was down to a TEAM effort. We brought Lineker in and changed the style of play to suit him. Personally I didn't like the more direct approach, we didn't look like 'Brazil' any more! But to be fair, it worked, even if sadly it was short lived. Lineker's goal record tally spoke for itself. He was a devastatingly good centre forward, probably my favourite in a blue shirt.

But before he arrived we had the greatest team. That fabulous all conquering 'Class of '85'.

Dave Abrahams
71 Posted 20/02/2018 at 17:18:21
Michael (#64), fair enough; I had to use the dictionary in the end, that word just didn't look right. Night school, here I come!!!
Rob Sawyer
72 Posted 23/02/2018 at 17:55:02
I was very lucky to be a teenager when Howard Kendall's team clicked in the 83-84 season. The team was so balanced – no mega stars in it although I would pick out Steven and Sheedy for their skill whilst Reid and Bracewell ran the midfield. A remarkable stat: that four-man unit only started 14 competitive games together after the 84-85 season – mainly due to injuries to Brace and Reid.

Winning the title in 86-87 was a remarkable achievement with such a spate of injuries and a real make-do-and-mend approach. I do not agree with those who argue that Lineker ruined out passing style – we could and should have adjusted (as could have he) and I think we missed him in the long-term after he left. That said, I can understand that his head would have been turned by the lure of Barcelona and regular European football.

Our failure to reinforce with top-quality players in the summer of '86 (Dave Watson aside) and, more so, in the summer of '87 hurt us. Liverpool went and got Barnes, Beardsley, and Aldridge etc. and the rest is history.

Stan Schofield
73 Posted 24/02/2018 at 12:00:06
A great side, but not the greatest. The greatest was the side that won the league in 69-70. They were particularly great to watch the previous season. The quality of the football was way above any other team in Britain at the time. In a way, the equivalent of today's Man City.

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