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v Wolfsburg

Thursday 18 September K.O. 20:05

1961 - 1980

1961 - 1980
Stories of the Era
 

At the end of Harry Catterick's first full season in 1961-62, Everton finished fourth in Division One but, significantly, The Toffees boasted the best defensive record.

It was only their away record that had prevented them getting closer to the summit - with just three wins in 21 games away from Goodison. But that was to be put right the following season.

Harry CatterickHarry Catterick

The campaign began with four successive wins as they beat the previous year's runners-up, Burnley, on the opening day, Sheffield Wednesday were dispatched 4-1 at Hillsbrough and Manchester United defeated both at Old Trafford and Goodison Park.

A minor blip was to follow as the only 100% record in the top division went as Catterick's men lost to Fulham. But the side were undeterred and bounced straight back with home wins over Leyton Orient and eventual FA Cup finalists, Leicester City.

Although Orient gained revenge for their reverse a week later, the Blues would then go unbeaten in the league with wins over Bolton and West Bromwich in September, Wolves and Ipswich in October and both Blackpool hit for five and Nottingham Forest beaten 4-3 up until mid-November.

Roy Vernon and Alex YoungRoy Vernon and Alex Young
 

By this time, Everton's twin strikeforce of Roy Vernon and Alex Young had 10 and nine goals respectively.

The only downside at this point was the falling at the first hurdle of the Club's first foray into European football - although they never travelled out of the United Kingdom!

Although the Blues took a 1-0 lead up to Dunfermline Athletic's East End Park through Dennis Stevens, the Scottish side ended Catterick's hopes of going further in the Fairs Cup, with a 2-0 win in the second leg at the end of October.

A certain Jock Stein was manager of the Pars at that time and what he went onto achieve is legendary.

Blackburn Rovers inflicted only their third defeat of the season on November 17, but the players just responded by going a further seven games without loss in all competitions. This run included the FA Cup third and fourth round victories over Barnsley and Swindon Town - eight goals scored in the process and six different scorers.

But Everton were to win only three of the next eight games as their form hit a difficult patch. West Ham were to knock them out of the cup at the next stage and defeats away to title rivals Leicester, and also at Arsenal and Sheffield United seriously harmed their chances of finishing top.

Indeed, when they travelled to Villa Park at the beginning of April, the league table looked like this:

  P W D L PTS
Tottenham 32 20 7 5 47 
Leicester  31 19 5 7 43 
Everton  31 18 7 6 43 

But former an Everton legend was in charge of Aston Villa at that point and it proved to be an omen, as the Blues won 2-0 with goals from Jimmy Gabriel and Young. They never looked back, staying undefeated until the end of the season and storm to the championship.

On the final day, the table looked like this:

  P W D L PTS
Everton 42 25 11 6 61 
Tottenham 42 23 10 55 
Burnley  42 22  10 10 54 

The team lost just six matches that season and won the title by as many points. Vernon scoring 24 league goals and Young 22 - in no season since have Everton had two players score more than 20 league goals - as the team clinched the Championship in true 'School of Science' style.

The scenes that followed the title-confirming win over Fulham - a team that has halted the Blues' 100% start to the season - at Goodison in May 1963 were reminiscent of that day in 1928 when Dixie had bagged his 60th goal!

1962-63 Championship winChampionship-winning victory parade


Everton were now a team to be feared, although the following season's assault on the European Cup floundered at the first round stage - with the 2nd leg marking the debut of an 18-year old player destined to become another Goodison Great...Colin Harvey. 

Young - nicknamed the Golden Vision - played in those games and despite the result, reflected on the experience fondly.

"I remember when we qualified for the European Cup in 1963. Unfortunately, we drew the future Champions, Inter Milan in the preliminary round! We lost 0-1 over the two legs, but it's a wonderful experience.

Alex YoungThe Golden Vision - Alex Young

"As a player, it was terrific for me. There was a wonderful atmosphere in the game we had at Goodison. I think there were over 60,000 at the game and the memory of that night will stay with me for the rest of my life.

"Getting into what is Europe's best club competition is a fine achievement for any player. The pace of the game is frantic, the atmosphere electric and every single footballer would want to play in that situation."

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