19 May, 1984
EVERTON 2-0 Watford
FA Cup Final
Everton's second Wembley appearance in just under a month was against Graham Taylor's Watford side in the FA Cup final.
Having seen the Milk Cup go by the wayside, Howard Kendall's men were determined to ensure that Watford chairman Elton John would be singing the Blues come 4.45pm.
Everton started the match as favourites but everybody knew that it meant nothing in this game.
Taylor had assembled a largely inexperienced and unknown side but had them playing his trademark style of football, which was both simple and effective. They held out against their superior opponents for long periods of the first half, without ever looking overly troubled by the men from Merseyside.
John Barnes had a golden opportunity inside the first three minutes when George Riley flicked on Lee Sinnott's massive throw. With only Neville Southall to beat, the forward miscued his shot and the chance was gone. Everton had large spells of possession but had few clear-cut chances with Peter Reid and Kevin Richardson industrious in the Toffees' midfield, while Kevin Ratcliffe and Derek Mountfield were rarely troubled at the back.
Lee Taylor saw a 25-yard drive deflected just wide of the post by John Bailey's leg and Mo Johnston, who was later to play for the Blues, went close with a header, but it was Everton who took the initiative. First Graeme Sharp had a good chance, heading Trevor Steven's pinpoint cross fractionally wide, and then Richardson hit the side netting with another opportunity soon after.
Finally Everton got the breakthrough their domination had deserved as Richardson hooked what looked like a hopeful cross in from the left. The Watford defenders looked on thinking that there was no danger but Gary Stevens pounced to fire a low, hard shot into the box. His shot-come-pass landed at the feet of Sharp and he stopped the ball dead before turning to lash the ball past the despairing Steve Sherwood to put the Blues one up.
With Watford unable to break down Everton's defence, it was the Blues who went in a goal up at half time. But one always felt that they still had a little left in reserve if their North London opponents had stepped up a gear. Barnes was Watford's most potent attacking force but he was being given little room on the left wing, his threat being snuffed out by the athletic Stevens.
Six minutes after the interval the game was as good as over when Andy Gray scored what some thought to be a controversial second. Steven was the architect, looping a superb cross in from the right-hand side and Gray rose superbly to head home into the unguarded net. Sherwood had come out to claim the ball but could only throw his hands towards Gray's head. Gray's head reached the ball just before Sherwood's hands and Everton were two goals to the good.
The Watford players and especially Sherwood looked in vain at the referee waiting for him to blow up for a foul, but Mr Hunting had seen no offence and so the goal was given. This seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Watford side and Everton were rarely troubled for the remainder of the game. In fact, Howard Kendall's men could have added to their tally on a couple of occasions with both Gray and Sharp having chances to add a third.
A memorable day ended for the Blues with Ratcliffe making his way up to collect the trophy as he received a terrific reception from the Evertonians. It was the start of a very special era in Goodison folklore, with practically that entire team going on to bigger and better things some 12 months later.