Guess Who’s Not Coming To Cardiff?
By Steve Horton
From Issue 50, Winter 2001
When Everton get knocked out of the Worthington/Coca-Cola/Littlewoods/ Cup the excuses are ready. One of my favourite ones is that there are bigger and better cups for Everton to win and they leave this one to the likes of Leicester and Bolton to get worried over. Its time to expose this myth. Everton have done their best to win this trophy but are just too shite to have won it. As a consequence, they are the only club of what they refer to as the ‘big five’ not to have.
For a club that aren’t supposed to be bothered about the League Cup, they took the now defunct Full Members Cup very seriously. Twice they got to the final, and in typical blue style, twice they lost. They also went all the way in the Screen Sport Super Cup, which was played in 1985-6 between all the teams who missed out on European qualification due to the ban. We beat them 3-1 and 4-1 in the final, with only 20,000 turned up at Anfield. However, the attendance of 26,000 for the Goodison leg was higher than they got for a league game against the Mancs a few weeks earlier. Funny that if they weren’t bothered.
In the League Cups first season, despite a lack of interest from many first division clubs, Everton took part and made it all the way to the quarter final where they lost to Shrewsbury. Both Liverpool and Everton did not compete again until 1967-8 and the Blues actually declined to participate in 1971-2,but that doesn’t mean they haven’t done their best to win it since, unsuccessfully.
In 1976-7 Everton were the first Merseyside team to get to the final of the competition and they were at pains to point this out at the time. Despite Liverpool marching on to within a whisker of the treble, one Blue Nose had the following to say in their match programme for the game against us that season, when thet still harboured hopes of us blowing the lot. “Everton are keeping this city alive. By going back to Wembley, we have given everybody something to talk about. When were they last at a Wembley for a cup final – 1974 wasn’t it?” They then went on to lose after 2 replays to Aston Villa.
For the all Merseyside final in 1984, did we see Evertonians say they wouldn’t bother going as they had an impending FA Cup final. No we didn’t, they went down in their droves and still moan about Alan Hansen’s alleged handball to this day. Some of them even went to the trouble of making a banner with the slogan ‘Alan Hand-sen for the replay.
There last serious attemopts at winning it were in the late 1980s. 53,000 turned up at the Pit in 1986-7 for a quarter final which we beat them 1-0 with a Rush goal. The year after they knocked us out and got to the semis, only to lose to Arsenal. Since then their record has been, well, shite. Millwall and York amongst others have knocked them out. But, despite the excuses about them not taking it too seriously they were talking about being Wembley bound as recently as 1998-9. A favourable draw saw them in line to play Luton at home in the quarter finals. As Liverpool suffered under the Evans-Houllier fiasco by crashing out to Spurs blue noses started to mock, but they messed it up by going out to Sunderland at Goodison in the 4th round.
This season was another classic. After last years pathetic 8,000 for the second leg of a tie against Oxford that was still evenly balanced, they decided to let kids in for £2 to boost the gate. They thought a big win would be witnessed and they’d all be hooked. This is a funny policy to adopt from a club that isn’t supposed to be interested in the competition, I mean they didn’t do what Arsenal do and make it clear to anyone buying tickets that a weakened team will be fielded. Last year Wally Smith tried a bit of squad rotation but didn’t have anything resembling a squad to rotate. This year, they were at virtually full strength and still couldn’t get through. Their £2 idea was one of footballs biggest ever marketing gaffes. A whole generation of support has been lost. Can you imagine how many fathers took their kids to the game only for them to be pleading afterwards to go to the pictures or bowling next time. They’re still a big club though.