We are the Champions: 1986-87 – Everton

AFTER finishing runners-up to Liverpool in both the Football League championship and the FA Cup in 1985-86, thus relinquishing the title they won in 1985, Everton bounced back to become champions for the second time in three seasons.

This was a significant achievement given they lost their leading forward Gary Lineker to Barcelona after a summer in which the England forward had finished top scorer in the 1986 World Cup. Lineker’s departure earned Everton £ 2.8 million, but also meant they had weakened their forward line, as the popular Lineker had netted 38 goals in 1985-86.

However, Everton’s dogged pursuit of the title was impressive, shrugging aside Liverpool and adopting a more pragmatic, if less vibrant style, than their previous championship-winning team. Aside from the signing of Norwich City central defender David Watson for £ 900,000 Everton did not spend vast sums on headline summer signings to replace Lineker. Howard Kendall also secured the services of other relatively low-profile signings like Neil Adams from Stoke City, Kevin Langley from Wigan Athletic and the veteran Paul Power from Manchester City. These transfers did little to suggest that Everton could top the table, especially as Liverpool remained a formidable force.

Furthermore, Everton received a series of injury setbacks across the season, notably goalkeeper Neville Southall, who was absent until October, midfield pivot Peter Reid and Welsh defender Pat Van Den Hauwe. Paul Bracewell was missing for the entire season after breaking a leg.

The championship race was a tight affair, with Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest enjoying a good autumn and Arsenal leading the table from mid-November to late January. Tottenham, too, had a say, employing an innovative forward line and playing attractive football. Everton started well, but suffered three defeats in September and October and were inconsistent away from home.

Six successive wins either side of the Christmas period put Everton into contention. They strengthened their squad by signing versatile defender/midfielder Ian Snodin from Leeds United for £ 840,000.  At the same time, Liverpool were on song, gaining 32 points from a possible 36 from Boxing Day to mid-March. At one stage, Liverpool led Everton by nine points. But seven victories in a row in March and April put Everton on top. By this time, they had been boosted by the arrival of Wayne Clarke, a £500,000 capture from Birmingham City who scored five goals in 10 games, including the winner against Arsenal in a game that sent the Toffees above Liverpool.

On April 25, an out-of-form and injury-struck Liverpool won 3-1 at Anfield in the Merseyside derby, but Everton still led the table by three points and had a game in hand. They stayed focused and continued to grind-out results.

Everton clinched the title with a 1-0 win at Norwich City on May 4, the winning goal scored by Van Den Hauwe. Two more victories, against Luton Town and Tottenham, gave them a nine-point margin over rivals Liverpool.

Everton had triumphed in what many people saw as a mediocre season. Howard Kendall, shorn of some of the creativity and exuberance that characterised the 1985 team, filled the gaps in his squad with perhaps less celebrated recruits, but the team scored goals from all departments rather than rely on a front man like the departed Gary Lineker. They also had a strong home record, losing just once at Goodison Park.

The joy was short-lived, though, for in the close season, Everton were dealt a major blow when Kendall announced his departure for Athletic Bilbao. He would return, but in 1987 he left the club as its most successful manager.

Everton’s regular team comprised: Neville Southall; Gary Stevens, Pat Van Den Hauwe,  Kevin Ratcliffe, David Watson, Alan Harper; Peter Reid, Paul Power, Trevor Steven, Kevin Sheedy, Ian Snodin; Adrian Heath, Graeme Sharp, Wayne Clarke.

Neville Southall (27): Injured at the start of the season, but returned to remain typically consistent goalkeeper. Was named in the PFA team for the first division in 1986-87. Joined Everton from Bury in 1981 and won 92 caps for Wales in his long career. Made almost 600 appearances for Everton.
Gary Stevens (23): Developed by Everton’s youth scheme, Stevens broke into the first team in 1982 and went on to win 46 caps for England. Mostly a right back, he made over 200 league appearances before joining  Glasgow Rangers in 1988 for £ 1.25million.
Pat Van Den Hauwe (25): A tough tackling full back who arrived at Everton in September 1984 from Birmingham City, costing £100,000. Scored the goal that clinched the 1987 championship. Capped 13 times by Wales, he stayed at the club until 1989 when he joined Tottenham.
Kevin Ratcliffe (25): A robust centre half who skippered Everton’s title winners in 1985 and 1987. Developed by Everton’s youth set-up, he was earmarked a genuine prospect beyond his own club and attracted interest from others early on in his career. Stayed with Everton until 1991 when he joined Dundee after making almost 400 league appearances.
David Watson (24): Liverpool-born central defender signed from Norwich City in August 1986 for £ 900,000. He remained at the club for 15 years, playing over 400 league games and captaining Everton to FA Cup success in 1995. Capped 12 times by England.
Alan Harper (25): Another local player who joined Everton from Liverpool in 1983, costing the club £ 100,000. Could play in the centre of defence, full back or midfield. Often underrated, because of his versatility, he was often seen as a useful squad man.
Trevor Steven (22): Right-sided midfielder who had an eye for goal throughout his Everton career. Signed from Burnley in 1983 for £300,000 and within two years, had been capped by England. Won 36 caps in total, playing in  two World Cups. Left Everton in 1989 for Glasgow Rangers and later played for Marseille in France. Made over 200 league appearances for Everton.
Peter Reid (30): At just £ 60,000 a bargain signing from Bolton Wanderers for Everton in 1982, the modest fee due to Reid’s reputation for being injury-prone. This robust midfielder was key to Everton’s success in 1984-85 and was named PFA Player of the Year. Capped 13 times by England, he left the club in 1989 for Queens Park Rangers.
Ian Snodin(23): Tenacious midfielder who arrived at Everton mid-season in 1986-87 from Leeds United, costing £ 840,000. Spent almost eight years at Goodison Park before joining Oldham Athletic in January 1995.
Kevin Sheedy (26): A skilful, left-footed midfielder who was adept at taking free-kicks. Moved across Liverpool from Anfield to Goodison Park in 1978 for a £ 100,000 price tag. Named in the PFA team of the season for 1986-87. Capped by the Republic of Ireland 46 times, playing in the 1990 World Cup. Moved to Newcastle United in 1992.
Graeme Sharp (25): Tall striker who was signed from Dumbarton in 1980 for £ 120,000. Good in the air and also able to hold the ball up well, Sharp formed a series of good partnerships during his time at Everton, including one season with Gary Lineker in 1985-86. Capped 12 times by Scotland. Left the club in 1991 to join Oldham.
Kevin Langley (22): Midfielder signed from Wigan Athletic in the summer of 1986 for £ 120,000. His stay with Everton was brief and he joined Manchester City in March 1987.
Adrian Heath (25): Diminutive midfielder/striker who arrived at Everton in 1982 from Stoke City, costing £ 750,000. He departed Everton in 1988 for Spain’s Espanyol.
Wayne Clarke (25): Signed in the closing stages of the 1986-87 season, Clarke joined Everton from Birmingham City for £ 500,000 and scored five goals in 10 games to reinforce the club’s title credentials. A member of the famous Clarke family that included England and Leeds striker Allan.

Football League Appearances

Adams, N 10+2 Mountfield, D 12+1 Snodin, I 15+1
Aspinall, W 0+6 Pointon, N 10+2 Southall, N 31
Clarke, W 10 Power, P 40 Steven, T 41
Harper, A 29+7 Ratcliffe, K 42 Stevens, G 25
Heath, A 41 Reid, P 15+1 Van Den Hauwe, P 11
Langley, K 16 Richardson, K 1 Watson, D 35
Marshall, I 0+2 Sharp, G 27 Wilkinson, P 12+10
Mimms, R 11 Sheedy, K 28

Goalscorers: Steven 14, Sheedy 13, Heath 11, Clarke 5, Power 4, Watson 3, Wilkinson 3, Harper 3, Stevens 3, Mountfield 3, Langley 2, Marshall 1, Reid 1, Pointon 1, Van Den Hauwe 1, Own Goals 3 Total: 76

Football League Results

Aug 23 Nottingham Forest Home W 2-0 Sheedy 2 35,198
Aug 25 Sheffield Wednesday Away D 2-2 Sharp, Langley 33,007
Aug 30 Coventry City Away D 1-1 Marshall 13,504
Sept 2 Oxford United Home W 3-1 Steven (pen), Harper, Langley 26,018
Sept 6 Queens Park Rangers Home D 0-0 30,173
Sept 13 Wimbledon Away W 2-1 Sheedy, Sharp 11,708
Sept 21 Manchester United Home W 3-1 Sharp, Sheedy, Heath 25,843
Sept 27 Tottenham Hotspur Away L 0-2 28,007
Oct 4 Arsenal Home L 0-1 30,007
Oct 11 Charlton Athletic Away L 2-3 Sheedy 2 10,564
Oct 18 Southampton Away W 2-0 Steven (pen), Wilkinson 18,009
Oct 25 Watford Home W 3-2 Mountfield 2, Steven (pen) 28,577
Nov 2 West Ham United Away L 0-1 19,094
Nov 8 Chelsea Home D 2-2 Steven (pen), Sheedy 29,727
Nov 15 Leicester City Away W 2-0 Heath, Sheedy 13,450
Nov 23 Liverpool Home D 0-0 48,247
Nov 29 Manchester City Away W 3-1 Heath 2, Power 27,097
Dec 6 Norwich City Home W 4-0 Power, Steven (pen), Pointon, Heath 26,746
Dec 13 Luton Town Away L 0-1 11,151
Dec 20 Wimbledon Home W 3-0 Steven, Sheedy, Heath 25,553
Dec 26 Newcastle United Away W 4-0 Power, Steven 2, Heath 35,079
Dec 28 Leicester City Home W 5-1 Heath 2, Wilkinson, Sheedy, OG 39,730
Jan 1 Aston Villa Home W 3-0 Harper, Steven, Sheedy 40,203
Jan 3 Queens Park Rangers Away W 1-0 Sharp 19,287
Jan 17 Sheffield Wednesday Home W 2-0 Steven (pen), Watson 33,011
Jan 25 Nottingham Forest Away L 0-1 17,009
Feb 7 Coventry City Home W 3-1 Stevens, Steven (pen), Heath 30,402
Feb 14 Oxford United Away D 1-1 Wilkinson 11,878
Feb 28 Manchester United Away D 0-0 47,421
Mar 8 Watford Away L 1-2 Heath 14,014
Mar 14 Southampton Home W 3-0 OG, Power, Watson 26,564
Mar 21 Charlton Athletic Home W 2-1 Steven (pen), Stevens 27,291
Mar 29 Arsenal Away W 1-0 Clarke 36,218
Apr 4 Chelsea Away W 2-1 OG, Harper 21,714
Apr 11 West Ham United Home W 4-0 Clarke, Reid, Stevens, Watson 35,731
Apr 18 Aston Villa Away W 1-0 Sheedy 31,218
Apr 20 Newcastle United Home W 3-0 Clarke 3 43,576
Apr 25 Liverpool Away L 1-3 Sheedy 44,827
May 2 Manchester City Home D 0-0 37,541
May 4 Norwich City Away W 1-0 Van Den Hauwe 23,489
May 9 Luton Town Home W 3-1 Steven 2 (pens), Sharp 44,092
May 11 Tottenham Hotspur Home W 1-0 Mountfield 28,287

FA Cup: Round Five
Football League Cup: Quarter-Finals
Average home attendance: 32,960

Pos   P W D L F A Pts
1 Everton 42 26 8 8 76 31 86
2 Liverpool 42 23 8 11 72 42 77
3 Tottenham 42 21 8 13 68 43 71

Photo Press Association: Everton fans celebrate the title win at Norwich.


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