15 May, 1985
EVERTON 3-1 Rapid Vienna
European Cup-Winners' Cup Final
Everton arrived in Rotterdam for the European Cup-Winners' Cup Final at the end of a long, hard season. There were many who feared that this might be the night they were made to pay for their relentless pursuit of a much-vaunted 'treble', but having overcome the mighty Bayern Munich in the semi-final the Blues were in confident mood.
Having already clinched their first League Championship for 15 years, they had to face the tough-tackling Austrians, controversial conquerors of Celtic in an earlier round. Four days later, they had to walk out at Wembley in a bid to retain the FA Cup against Manchester United. Everton were the favourites in Rotterdam as the throngs of blue and green bedecked supporters gathered in the Dutch town on that memorable May evening.
Manager Howard Kendall had watched Rapid Vienna in action the previous week. He knew that if Everton could maintain the form they had shown week after week in the League, they would be more than capable of taking their first-ever European title. Vienna's pre-match declaration that they would attack Everton from the start proved to be nonsense as they sat back and tamely soaked up the mounting pressure.
Aware that Rapid had publicly expressed reservations about their ability to cope with the aerial prowess of Scotsmen Andy Gray and Graeme Sharp, Everton pumped in high crosses from all angles. Rapid were unsettled by this, but somehow they managed to hold firm. Everton thought that their long-overdue breakthrough had arrived in the 39th minute when a superbly worked free-kick was finished by Gray. Sheedy swung the ball over, Mountfield headed it down, and there was Gray to sweep it home. Unfortunately, Mountfield was adjudged to have been offside although millions back home saw the television replays appear to prove that he was not.
Rapid stood firm until the end of the half soaking up the Everton pressure and only attempting to break on the counter attack. Kendall's men were throwing everything they had at the Austrians and the longer it went on the more you feared that the Austrian Cup Winners would wait until their opponents were tired and then hit them with a sucker punch just before the end.
In fact it was not until the 57th minute that Everton eventually broke the deadlock. Graeme Sharp easily beat goalkeeper Konsel to an under-hit backpass. Sharp had time to turn and look up before chipping deftly across goal where Gray raced in to smash the ball home, unchallenged, from eight yards. The Evertonians around the ground, of which there seemed to be twice as many as the Austrians, went absolutely wild.
Everton's victory was sealed in the 72nd minute when Trevor Steven found himself on the end of a Sheedy corner, which had eluded the lunging boots of three defenders. Steven thumped the ball home at the far post before turning to begin the celebrations. Trevor Steven had a fantastic game and was arguably one of the unsung heroes of Kendall's side in the mid-Eighties, preferring to stay out of the spotlight.
Astonishingly, Rapid managed to claw their way back into the game when veteran Hans Krankl beat Neville Southall from close range. It was a minor and very temporary setback. Straight from the restart Sheedy hammered home a third goal, brilliantly from 25 yards and now the Blues fans could breathe easily again.
Krankl summed up the game: "Everton were just too good for us. It's been a long time since we played against anyone of their class. They are possibly the best side in the whole of Europe."
Kevin Ratcliffe went up to collect his second cup in the space of a few weeks but the great side would not claim a third as Norman Whiteside was to break the Blues' hearts in the FA Cup final a few days later.