Everton Club Crest Everton 3 - 2 Rangers
Half-time: 2-1
Rangers Logo
Dave Watson Testimonial
Wednesday 16 July 1997
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 24,004
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Match Fact

Goal Scorers
Everton: Branch (19), Stuart (35), Barmby (72)
Rangers: Laudrup (15), Negri (65)
Team Lineups Subs Not Used
Everton: Southall (45 Gerrard), Barrett (45 Rytter), Watson (60 Unsworth), Bilic (45 Short), Phelan, Stuart, Barmby, Grant (45 McCann), Speed, Branch (65 Oster), Ferguson
Unavailable: Farrelly, Thomsen, Parkinson, Hinchcliffe (injured)
Short, Gerrard, Allen, Ball, O'Connor.
Rangers: Niemi; Porrini, Amoruso (Durie 77), Bjorklund; Cleland (Vidmar 45), Gattuso (McCoist 77), I Ferguson, Albertz (Durrant 64), Stensaas (Wright 80); Laudrup, Negri. Snelders.
Yellow Cards Red Cards
Everton: None
Rangers: None

Match Reports

Reports from Everton Fans
Guy McEvoy Tartan Army Trounced
Reports from the Press
PA News Match Report
The Telegraph Barmby Sinks Rangers
by David Keenan
Reports from Other Internet Sources
SoccerNet Link to Match Report

Tartan Army Trounced

Guy McEvoy
When the Tartan Army come to town you know about it. Kilts, whistles, pipes, loud songs and drunken swaggers. Thousands of them. The Bullens Road Stand was packed, and they'd done a good job of spreading themselves out amongst the rest of the Stadium too.

It's good to be back, even for the strange atmosphere that always accompanies a testimonial. Most Evertonians seemed to be there out of loyalty to Dave and a curiosity to check out the new signings. The travelling Glaswegians seemed to be treating it as the World Cup Final.

Of the initial starting eleven, we were only treated to the one new face; Slaven Bilic. Kendall had chosen to go for a traditional 4-4-2 formation. The back four was Barrett, Watson, Bilic, Phelan; the midfield was Stuart, Barmby, Grant and Speed; Branch and Ferguson led the line up front.

First Half

And so the game began and quickly Everton looked to assume an unfamiliar self-assurance. Nice passing movements from one side of the park to the other quickly started to bring us chances. Ferguson imposing himself twice in the first five minutes, first with a header against the bar (though the offside flag was already raised) and then with his best moment of skill in the game when he neatly turned a man after a gentle header and lined up a drilled shot that demanded a save. Speed also fluffed an opportunity to stick us ahead.

Predictably, with Everton on top it was Rangers who struck first. Their one-man miracle Laudrup simply picked up the ball and walked through the defence with it seemingly tied by some magnetic force to his feet before knocking home past Southall.

Unusually though we weren't made to suffer behind for too long. The equaliser came when Grant held the ball outside the area long enough to clock where Branch was, he slid one of those trade-mark weighted passes through into the open gap, Branch latched onto it and executed a perfect swivel shot (dare I suggest an Ian Rush goal-a-like). Branch, obviously aware of the effect that the rumoured arrival of a mega-star striker could have on his first team chances ran forward and gave the crowd a message. The shirt was pulled over the head as means of celebration, the implicit signal; 'who needs Ravanelli when you've got me'. Nice one Branchy.

In the first half we never really looked threatened again from there on in. Their few chances all came from quick breaks. From my view in the Park Stand as Everton attacked the Street End our defence, notably bolstered by Bilic, seemed to be able to cope with anything (except perhaps the footwork of Laudrup). It was certainly Everton who looked the more likely to go in front now as a series of promising attacks was played out. It twice could have been Barmby who put us ahead, his closest effort after a lightning ping-pong Everton attack into the box involving five players all releasing first or second touch passes. Only Barmby's first touch let him down by an inch in front of goal.

In the event, it was Graham Stuart who put us in front before the break. The Rangers keeper totally fluffed a clearance and the ball fell to Diamond just outside the box. Stuart had several options open to him, he could have perhaps laid it off to Ferguson or Phelan who were both in space, or maybe should have tried a lob as the goalie chased back. Whatever option he plumbed for, it was at best only a half chance. Instead he saw the gap and decided to just launch one. What a connection. Top corner. Exocet. Rangers -- screw on that!

The half-time 'entertainment' consisted of a kids penalty shoot-out against Nev in goal. A really nice touch was when the crowd adopted the smallest lad as it's favourite to win and cheered him like it was a semi or something. The lad was about 5 or 6 years old tops, and when he won (with a little help from our Nev) he did a lap of honour and the Rangers lot were magnificent with their 'not worthy' actions and massive cheers. That lad will remember that night for the rest of his life.

Second Half

For the second half ,we got a glimpse of a few more unfamiliars. Southall, Grant, Bilic and Barrett made way for Gerrard, McCann, Short and on-loan Rytter. Perhaps it was the unfamiliarity but I felt we never looked as controlled or neat in the second half and Rangers managed to edge themselves back into the game.

The equaliser came, unsurprisingly, through the industry of Laudrup, a charge down the left towards the Park End met with no convincing challenge and the ball was laid across the centre of the goal giving Gerrard no real chance against the forward who found the space.

With the scores even Howard decided to have a couple more tampers with the team, firstly he replaced Watson with Unsworth, but then the real revelation of the evening was when he stuck on new signing Oster in place of Branch.

Oster is apparently 18 but looks about 10. To give you an idea of his stature if you stood him next to Grant, then Tony would look like Frank Bruno. Size, as they say, isn't everything. He'd been on the pitch perhaps half a minute when a loose ball fell to him, head down he skipped past one player, then two and smashed a shot goalwards demanding a good save.

As if to prove the footwork wasn't a fluke, he treated us to glimpses a couple more times. We were getting a glimpse of pure raw talent. To cap it off he had another run down the wing and laid off a cross from which a diving Barmby was able to connect with to stick in the winner. If he's this good now then god knows how good he'll be when he reaches puberty.

With us ahead the atmosphere started to kick in a bit in the Park End, however, a misunderstanding was caused between both sets of fans that caused a brief period of tension between the supporters. Basically, we gave a rousing rendition of 'Grand old team to play for'. Now anyone who knows their old firm rivalry knows that Celtic do 'Grand old team to play for' as virtually their party piece attack on Rangers. To hear us singing, but not realising the words are different must have been to them like us hearing them all suddenly bursting into 'You'll never walk alone'. Cue them bursting into chants of "Liverpool" and us in return to that "Celtic, Celtic". It could have got ugly, but thankfully didn't. As I've already hinted, they were a magnificent credit to their team all night.

Before the whistle Rangers may well have snatched a draw but for a fine Double save by Gerrard against, you guessed it, Laudrup; but had it have gone in the result wouldn't really have been just.

This was promising stuff. Don't get too excited and go out and put your mortgage on us winning the league or anything daft like that yet, it was after all only a Mickey-Mouse friendly. However, I left Goodison with a good deal of the summers gloom lifted, and not a little faith restored. The thing that most pleased me though was the style of play. Intelligent, purposeful passing, not a long ball to Ferguson all night. Aye, Promising stuff,

Individual Performances

  • Southall - 7 Not too much to do, though one save from a long distance effort does stay in mind.
  • Barrett - 7 Fair enough performance. Seemed to have a lot of responsibility placed on him in the early stages as he saw a lot (perhaps too much) of the ball down the right wing, nevertheless, looked very self assured.
  • Bilic - 7 Liked what I saw. Just what we've been promised, a solid centre back with seemingly good passing awareness.
  • Watson - 7 Looked like he enjoyed his night, long term though given the performance of the other centre halves he must be wondering how secure he is with regard first team football.
  • Phelan 7 - Looks like he's been on the Sun-bed. Glimpses of the determination that made him the crowd favourite last season.
  • Speed 6 - I know Gary can do better than this cos we saw him do it week in week out all last season. Perhaps it's to do with him being put back in a more 'left' role. He certainly didn't have a bad game, but he didn't give that little extra we associate with him either.
  • Grant 8 - Instrumental in our first half performance. Great passing, great dribbling, great talent. On the basis of this showing he must now be pushing to figure in Kendal's plans. Cleverly set up the goal for Branch.
  • Stuart 7 - Usual tireless engine, sometimes looked to be not quite on the same wavelength, then would drift back in with an important contribution. WHAT A GOAL!!! Was apparently awarded the official 'Man of the Match' award on the night.
  • Barmby 7 - Fine first half, killer effort in tackling, really looked up for it, made a couple of chances for himself too before putting himself on the scoresheet in the second. Faded right at the end but then we shouldn't worry too much about match fitness on the first pre-season.
  • Branch 7 - Looks like he's been going down to the Gym and has filled himself out a bit. Done him good. Nice finish on the goal, get the work-rate back up to what we expected from him last season and he remains a real prospect. Like Barmby and Ferguson I think at least a part of his later anonymity can perhaps be explained by the removal of the key playmaker Grant.
  • Ferguson 6 - Started off like he meant business but then was later often left aside by the neat passing play. Not a single long ball to him all night! Faded badly toward the end.
  • Gerrard 8 - Best game I've seen him play. Great double save at the end.
  • McCann 6 - Except for one outstanding tackle he didn't really show too much, wasn't that taken with him.
  • Rytter 6 - Likewise, without doing anything wrong, didn't do anything to force me to take a positive opinion. The jury remains out.
  • Short 7 - Solid and dull just what you need in a centre back.
  • Unsworth 7 - Snap (though a couple of worrying signs that his passing hasn't improved!)
  • Oster 8 - Would normally say he's too small and lightweight to make it at the top level, but from the sweet brief glimpse we got who gives a shit. If you're good enough you're big enough right? This is the one that has got me most excited tonight, looks like Howie still has an eye for it!

Oh aye, I forgot to mention. We played in last seasons top with Danka removed and instead were sponsored by GMP or someone for the night, apparently they are a demolition company.  Now why, I wonder, would a demolition company be seeking to forge links with us? What could they hope to get out of it? I leave that thought for the conspiracy theorists amongst you, I'm sure someone will take the bait.......

PA News

17 July 1997
A late goal from Nick Barmby settled an absorbing testimonial for everton's long-serving captain Dave Watson at Goodison Park tonight. A crowd of more than 24,000, bringing in receipts of about £250,000, turned out for the 35-year-old defender and witnessed a highly competitive pre-season clash.

The possible arrival of Middlesbrough's Italian striker Fabrizio ravanelli, who spent the day at Goodison Park discussing personal terms with manager Howard Kendall, seemed to have an inspirational affect on Everton's front line who looked determined to keep their places.

But it was Rangers' inspiration, Brian Laudrup, who opened the scoring after 15 minutes. Everton defender Earl Barrett cleared straight to Jorg Albertz. He set up team-mate Laudrup who found a space inside Neville Southall's near post.

Five minutes later Everton striker Michael Branch picked up a through ball from Tony Grant and tucked a wonderful shot just inside the far post. Rangers Finnish keeper Antti Niemi made two great saves from Duncan Ferguson and Barmby but was responsible for Everton's second after 32minutes. His clearance went straight to Graham Stuart who struck back a thunderous 25-yard effort.

On the hour, Watson went off to a standing ovation before Laudrup set up Rangers equaliser for the Scottish champions' new £3.5million Italian striker Marco Negri. Everton brought on John Oster, their 18-year-old Welsh Under 21 international signing from Grimsby, and he made an immediate impact forcing a fine save from Niemi and then crossing for Barmby's 72nd minute winner.

The game at least provided Rangers boss Walter Smith with the chance to experiment with a £15million worth of new talent acquired over the summer including Italian defensive pairing Lorenzo Amoruso and Sergio Porrini. In all, Smith gave six competitive debuts in a starting line-up that featured just two Brits, Scot Alex Cleland and Ian Ferguson. But the most significant statistic, as far as Watson was concerned, was the 7,000-strong Glasgow following which swelled the gate and the receipts.

Soccernet Report

By Fraser Mackie, 17 July 1997
Michael Branch and Duncan Ferguson served notice last night that Fabrizio Ravanelli will have his work cut out to win a place in Everton's first-team line-up.

The little and large partnership looked the perfect match against Rangers' own band of foreigners at Dave Watson's testimonial at Goodison Park.

After Rangers survived several Ferguson scares, Branch equalised Brian Laudrup's opener with 20 minutes gone. Tony Grant laced an angled pass through for Branch, who dragged his shot wide of Antti Niemi's grasp and the teenager even had the audacity to celebrate in trademark Ravanelli fashion by pulling his blue shirt over his head. Ferguson's aerial threat continued to worry debutant Niemi but if Route One fails for Everton this season, then Route Two - the left foot of Graham Stuart - seems a stunning alternative.

He made it 2-1 by collecting a horrendous kick-out by the Finnish goalkeeper and hit a 20-yard drive which rolled along the underside of the bar and into the net.

Watson was replaced by David Unsworth on the hour to rapturous applause from the 24,000 crowd.

Rangers midfielder Ian Durrant, who had a loan spell at Goodison two years ago, set up the Scottish champions' equaliser after 65 minutes when, with his first touch, he looped a delightful pass to Laudrup down the left flank. The Dane then offered Italian striker Marco Negri a simple task to tap home an equaliser past Paul Gerrard.

But Everton replied seven minutes later when Nick Barmby dived bravely on the six-yard line to nod home a cross from John Oster

Barmby sinks Rangers

David Keenan, Electronic Telegraph
TRADITIONALLY, these are charitable affairs, on and off the pitch. But with a tough Premiership season ahead for Everton, and Rangers opening their European campaign next week, Dave Watson's testimonial at Goodison Park was no kick-about.

On balance, Howard Kendall, back at Everton for his third spell as manager, could feel more satisfied with the performance of a near full-strength side.

While the Faroe Island side Gotu will do well to pose a threat to the accomplished Lorenzo Amoruso at the heart of the Rangers' defence, Duncan Ferguson proved to be more than a handful.

The Everton striker should have capitalised on an early error by Amoruso, seeing his shot blocked by Rangers' goalkeeper Antti Niemi, before the international ensemble from over the border took a 15th-minute lead.

Brian Laudrup jinked into the penalty area to surprise Neville Southall with a low shot which he rifled in at the near post.

Michael Branch swooped to equalise from close range within five minutes and when Niemi's poor clearance was collected by Graham Stuart, the Everton midfielder responded with a 20-yard shot.

Marco Negri's simple tap-in, set up by Laudrup after 65 minutes levelled matters again and on a normal benefit night they might have settled for that.

But John Oster, Everton's £1.5 million recruit from Grimsby Town had other ideas. After almost scoring with his first touch when he brought an excellent save from Niemi, he then turned provider with the cross which set up Nick Barmby's header for Everton's third.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

© Michael Kenrick