How The Title Was Won
So just how did Everton become the 1962/63 champions of England? Here we take a look at that unforgettable campaign month-by-month…
The season started with four straight victories as Everton swept aside Burnley (3-1), Sheffield Wednesday (4-1) and Manchester United twice (3-1 and 1-0) to set the early pace in Division One.
This impressive form put Harry Catterick’s side at the summit of the table for the first time since May 1939 and there were signs of things to come from strike duo Alex Young and Roy Vernon, who both netted four goals apiece from these opening fixtures.
Catterick had gone all summer without adding to his squad but during the first month of the campaign Johnny Morrissey was recruited from Liverpool for £10,000. The winger became the fourth player to move across Stanley Park to Goodison and he immediately made the number 11 shirt his own.
Everton began September in disappointing fashion by slipping to a 1-0 reverse at Fulham. But the Blues were soon back among the goals and back on track thanks to successive home wins over Leyton Orient (3-0) and Leicester City (3-2).
Less than two weeks after the victory over Orient at Goodison, the London side gained revenge in the corresponding fixture at Brisbane Road in winning by the same margin Everton had managed on Merseyside. That defeat saw the Toffees deposed from top spot by Wolves, however a 2-0 victory over the league’s other Wanderers, Bolton, three days later saw Catterick’s men once again move to the summit.
Next, the first Merseyside derby since 1951 was the talk of the town and 73,000 spectators crammed into Goodison Park to see Everton thrash out a 2-2 draw. Roy Vernon’s penalty – already his fourth from the spot that season – and Morrissey’s strike against his former club looked to have secured the bragging rights, only for Roger Hunt to steal a leveller for Liverpool deep into injury time. Morrissey then followed up his maiden Everton goal by netting a hat-trick to see out the month with a 4-2 win over West Bromwich Albion.
Everton went through October unbeaten in the league. Fellow title challengers Wolves – who had still to taste defeat after 11 games – were brought crashing to earth as Billy Bingham and Young secured an excellent 2-0 win in front of 45,000 fans at Molineux. Ipswich Town were beaten 3-1 at Goodison, while there was also a hard-earned 1-1 home draw with Aston Villa.
All in all, the Club’s Division One prospects were looking bright – but the same could not be said of Europe. A fourth-placed league finish the previous season was enough to secure a berth in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup – but that campaign came to a premature end after a two-legged defeat to Scottish outfit Dunfermline.
Despite the continental disappointment, Everton continued to shine domestically. Frank Wignall hit his first of the season in a 1-1 draw at Manchester City, before the Blues crashed nine goals in two games as Blackpool (5-0) and Nottingham Forest (4-3) were dispatched.
A 3-2 defeat at Blackburn Rovers proved to be a setback, but Everton were once again occupiers of first position following a 3-0 thumping of Sheffield United at the end of the month.
Everton remained top of the table until the turn of the year as draws against Tottenham Hotspur (0-0), West Ham United (1-1) and Sheffield Wednesday (2-2), plus a home victory over Burnley (3-1), put them into a slender one-point advantage heading into 1963.
Catterick returned to his former club Sheffield Wednesday to sign Tony Kay for £50,000 – a defender who would become one of the finest ever to wear a blue shirt – but the youngster had to wait nearly two months to make his league debut as the big freeze set in and began to play havoc with the fixture schedule.
Off the field, chairman John Moores parted with £25,000 to buy the Bellefield training ground – a decision which helped shape the future direction of the football club.
Everton played just two matches in January as the coldest winter in 200 years took hold. The Toffees were, however, able to battle their way through to the fifth round of the FA Cup. A 3-0 win over the Pennines at Barnsley was swiftly followed by an even more impressive victory away at the County Ground as Vernon netted a brace in a 5-1 thumping of Swindon.
With little in the way of on-the-field action, Catterick again dipped into the transfer market, this time recruiting Scottish right-sider Alex Scott for £40,000 from Rangers.
Following the enforced break, Everton finally resumed league combat on 12 February. By that time they had slipped into second spot behind a rejuvenated Tottenham. With a backlog of games, Catterick’s charges knew they could ill-afford to drop points if the title was to be claimed.
A mini-crisis began therefore when a 3-1 defeat at Leicester and a goalless home draw against Wolves saw the Toffees lose further ground and slip to third.
Everton took a step in the right direction at the start of March as goals from Alex Parker and Young secured a 2-0 triumph over Nottingham Forest at Goodison. But a 1-0 FA Cup fifth round reverse at West Ham meant that the Division One title was now their sole focus.
Successive victories over Ipswich Town (3-0) and Manchester City (2-1) were cancelled out by losses on the road at Arsenal (4-3) and Sheffield United (2-1), results which left Everton’s title ambitions hanging in the balance entering the home stretch of the campaign.
April was the month when Everton put their mid-season wobble behind them, building up a head of steam with a series of results that would eventually lead to title glory. Following the loss at Bramall Lane, the Toffees would not taste defeat again that season, despite the winter postponements meaning nine matches had to be fulfilled in just 27 days.
That run included back-to-back fixtures against Birmingham City on April 15 and 16, but four points were recouped from the Midlands club as a 2-2 draw at Goodison Park was followed by a 1-0 win at St Andrews. Further victories against Aston Villa (2-0), Blackpool (2-1) and West Ham (2-1) swung the momentum back towards Everton and, indeed, a priceless 1-0 triumph at home against Spurs saw Catterick’s side leapfrog their rivals to reclaim top spot.
As the campaign entered its final weeks there was no stopping Everton. The Blues – boosted by the fit-again Derek Temple - could smell success, and the dazzling run of form continued with a 1-0 win over Bolton and a 4-0 thumping of mid-table West Bromwich Albion.
With one game to play – a home clash against Fulham – two points was all that was needed to secure a sixth Division One title. As many as 60,000 fans packed into Goodison Park to see the Cottagers put to the sword, Vernon netting a hat-trick to seal a famous 4-1 victory. It was fitting that Vernon was the hero as the Welshman’s 46-goal haul with strike partner Young had been a primary reason for the Club’s title charge.
Everton had amassed their highest ever points total, 61, and the trophy was back on the Blue half of Merseyside for the first time in 24 years.