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Evertonians are rightfully proud of their Club’s FA Cup history. The Blues have won English football’s most historic trophy on no less than five occasions, whilst they have finished as runners-up eight times. There is no doubting Everton’s pedigree in the competition.
This season, having successfully negotiated a tricky third round FA Cup assignment at home to minnows Tamworth, Everton face a difficult test against Fulham in the fourth round of the competition at Goodison Park on Friday. Despite being in only the early stages of the competition for both Premier League and Football League Championship teams, the Blues have had more than a habit of building momentum and going on a good cup run throughout the Club’s 134-year history.
In each of Everton’s thirteen successful runs to FA Cup finals, it has not always been plain sailing, but that can be attributed somewhat to the luck of the draw and the circumstances surrounding the given fixture. With that (and Everton’s upcoming fourth round match) in mind, I’ve scoured the archives to find out how and who the Blues have defeated in the fourth round of the FA Cup on each one of the thirteen occasions where they have reached the final.
The FA Cup as a competition commenced in 1871 and Everton first entered the contest in 1886. The Blues were scheduled to play Glasgow Rangers at Anfield (at that time Scottish clubs could compete in the FA Cup), but Rangers were informed upon arrival in Liverpool that Everton had several players who were ineligible to participate, resulting in Everton forfeiting the tie (October 30, 1886). In protest at what had happened, the Blues did not enter into the competition in the 1888/1889 season.
After winning the league title for the first time in 1890/1891, the Blues also reached the FA Cup final for the first time in the 1892/1893 season. At that time, the format of the competition was different, simply because there were not as many teams as there are today who could enter. That season, Everton competed in the first round, second round, quarter-final, three semi-finals against Preston North End (the match had two replays) and the FA Cup final where they lost 1-0 to Wolverhampton. Noticeably, during that period, teams had to play one less round than they do today to reach the final. The equivalent to a fourth round fixture for Everton that year was the blues second round match at home to Nottingham Forest (February 4, 1893). Everton, who were in their final season playing home matches at Anfield, ran out 4-2 winners. Left winger Alf Milward claimed two of the goals, while inside-left forward Edgar Chadwick and Fred Geary scored a goal apiece.
Everton reached their second FA Cup final in 1897 and by this time they had settled into their new Goodison Park home. The Blues defeated Bury at home 3-0 in the second round (equivalent to today’s fourth round) on February 13, 1897 with a brace from Jack Taylor and a goal from Milward, before losing to double-winners Aston Villa in the final.
Fortunately for Everton, it was to be third time lucky in the FA Cup. The Blues, who had also finished as runners-up in the league on three more occasions up to this point, won the 1906 FA Cup final against Newcastle United at Crystal Palace courtesy of a Sandy Young strike. That year, Everton defeated Chesterfield 3-0 at Goodison in the second round (February 3, 1906) with Jimmy Settle, Taylor and Young the scorers. Interestingly, the competition's format changed that season and meant that a team now had to win six FA Cup matches to lift the cup (the same as it is now for Premier League/Football League Championship sides).
The following season, Everton had the opportunity to win back-to-back cup finals but Sheffield Wednesday defeated the Blues in the final, which was also played at Crystal Palace. On the run to the final, Everton beat West Ham United 2-1 at The Boleyn Ground in the second round (February 2, 1907) with goals from Settle and Jack Sharp. This proved to be Everton’s last cup final appearance until 1933.
During the 26-year period where the Blues did not reach an FA Cup final, Everton lifted the league championship on three more occasions and finished as runners-up twice. The Blues won their second FA Cup for the first time at Wembley against Manchester City (in 1933) and it was the first time that two teams wore numbers on the back of their shirts: Everton 1-11 and Manchester City 12-22. William Ralph Dean scored his first Wembley goal for Everton, while James Dunn and Jimmy Stein also scored in a 3-0 win.
Interestingly, this FA Cup run coincided with the first time that Everton had to play a proper fourth round tie. The blues comfortably saw off Bury 2-1 at Goodison (January 28, 1933), with Dean and Tommy Johnson (2) securing the win. Everton added another two league titles to the trophy cabinet by the time their next FA Cup final appearance came around 33 years later. The Blues defeated Bedford Town away in the fourth round en route to another Wembley final (February 12, 1966). Two goals from Derek Temple and one from Fred Pickering was more than enough for a resounding 3-0 victory. That tricky away assignment put Everton well on their way to claiming a third FA Cup, but they did it the hard way. The Blues had to fight back from two goals to nil down against Sheffield Wednesday to win 3-2 – Temple netting the late winner.
Evertonians didn’t have to wait long until the Blues' next cup run to the final (1968). Everton defeated Carlisle United in the fourth round (February 17, 1968) with Jimmy Husband and Joe Royle scoring away from home. However, the final itself turned out to be one of the more disappointing days in Everton’s illustrious history. The Blues were defeated 1-0 by West Bromwich Albion. A league title in 1970 certainly helped to numb the pain of that defeat but Evertonians would again have to wait many more years to see their team have another go at the famous cup.
The most successful period in Everton’s history obviously came during the 1980s. The Blues won two more league championships and finished runners-up once in a period of English football dominated by the two big Merseyside clubs. To reach the first of Everton’s four FA Cup finals in the decade, the Blues had to overcome difficult fourth round opposition. The Toffees were drawn at home to Gillingham (January 28, 1984), and although manager Howard Kendall fielded a strong side, Everton were unable to break down the lower league team as the match finished goalless.
The Gills earned a replay to bring Everton back to the Priestfield Stadium three days later (January 31, 1984) but the match again finished goalless and as neither team were able to find the net in extra time, Everton were forced to make the trip back to Kent six days later (February 6, 1984). However, this time, the Blues recorded an emphatic 3-0 win to secure their passage through to the next round. Wing wizard Kevin Sheedy scored twice and Adrian Heath added a third. Watford were Everton’s opponents in the club’s first FA Cup final for 16 years and the Blues made sure they wrote their name on the coveted silverware for a fourth time, winning the match 2-0.
The thrill of playing at Wembley clearly appealed to Kendall’s men as they were back there again at the end of the 1984/1985 campaign. Along the way, in the fourth round, Everton swept aside Doncaster Rovers (January 26, 1985) thanks to goals from Trevor Steven and Gary Stevens. Having already secured an eighth league championship with five games to spare and the European Cup Winners' Cup against Rapid Vienna in Rotterdam, Everton had less than three days to prepare to face Manchester United at Wembley. The match finished goalless after 90 minutes, before Norman Whiteside grabbed a curling, late winner for the Red Devils in extra time.
During the 1985/1986 campaign, Everton strolled past Blackburn Rovers in the fourth round of the competition at Goodison (January 25, 1986) thanks to goals from full-back Pat Van Den Hauwe and a double salvo from Gary Lineker. The Blues marched through to Wembley where they faced Merseyside rivals Liverpool for the first time in an FA Cup final. Despite taking the lead in the match through Lineker, the Reds fought back to claim a 3-1 win.
History went onto repeat itself three years later. Everton, under the management of Colin Harvey, battled to reach the final for the fourth time in six years. The Blues travelled to Plymouth in the fourth round (January 28, 1989) but the match finished one apiece. The replay between the two sides happened just three days later (January 31, 1989) and Everton enjoyed a 4-0 rout. Graeme Sharp (2), Pat Nevin and Sheedy were on target that night. On Cup Final day, Stuart McCall rescued Everton and equalised for the Blues to level the match (1-1) against Liverpool in the last minute of normal time. In extra time, Everton’s nemesis Ian Rush made it 2-1 to Liverpool, before McCall equalised for the second time. However, it was Rush who would have the last laugh, as he converted John Barnes’ centre to win the match for the Red half of Merseyside.
In a decade blighted by relegation struggles, a good cup run was just the tonic for then-Everton manager Joe Royle and his team. Matt Jackson scored the only goal to secure an Everton win in a tricky fourth round tie away to Bristol City (January 29, 1995) and he turned out to be a key figure in the Club’s march to Wembley. Having distanced themselves from the threat of relegation and secured Premier League survival, Everton were still very much the underdogs in the 1995 FA Cup final against Manchester United. As it was, Paul Rideout had other ideas that day, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 Everton victory.
Everton’s last run to Wembley is fondly remembered by every Evertonian, and perhaps the most memorable moment came during the fourth round. When the Blues drew arch rivals Liverpool at Anfield (January 25, 2009), it was not the easiest of fixtures, but Joleon Lescott ensured the away side got off to the best of starts as he headed in from a corner. Everton, who were visiting Anfield for the second time in the space of six days following their Premier League meeting, looked set to win the match until Steven Gerrard scored a late equaliser. The two teams lined up against one another at Goodison for the replay ten days later (February 4, 2009) and it turned out to be one of those Goodison nights, and for one youngster, a night he would never forget. Substitute Dan Gosling stroked home the winning goal in the last minute of extra time to send Evertonians delirious, in a match that will live long in the memory. David Moyes’ men eventually lost to Chelsea in the final.
Of course, if a team is going to go on a successful cup run, then every round is crucial. The fourth round of the FA Cup is no more or less important than any of the others, but as Everton’s history suggests, that stage of the competition has been critical for building momentum for the matches ahead. The varying calibre of opponents, different eras of football and focus purely on Everton’s successful FA Cup marches to the final offer an insight back into the history books more than anything else. However, if Everton can replicate one of the aforementioned starting with Fulham at Goodison Park on Friday, then the Blues will be on target to repeat those Everton teams that have gone before them. There’s a long way to go, but the latter stages of the FA Cup are more than familiar territory for the Blues.
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