Saturday’s FA Cup tie between Everton and Bolton Wanderers evokes mixed memories and emotions for Alan Stubbs.
In January 1994, he fulfilled one of his childhood ambitions – scoring a goal at Goodison Park.
However, that evening he was not wearing the blue of his beloved Toffees but the white of Bolton Wanderers.
Stubbs, who turned professional at Burnden Park in 1990, was in the infancy of his career at the time but had become a key component in a Bolton side that were rapidly rising through the Football League pyramid under the guidance of manager Bruce Rioch.
On their journey from the old Third Division to the Premier League in the early part of that decade, Bolton were also causing mischief in the knockout competitions. Liverpool had been eliminated from the FA Cup the previous season and this time, unfortunately, it was Mike Walker’s Everton.
A 1-1 draw in the original third round tie at Bolton ensured the teams would meet for a second time at Goodison Park.
The Blues were in pole position in the replay thanks to Stuart Barlow’s double, but Wanderers hit back, firstly through John McGinlay. Then Stubbs sent the tie into an additional 30 minutes before the game was eventually decided by future Trotters boss Owen Coyle.
“It’s something that I will always remember, but something that my friends and family weren’t happy about,” Stubbs recalled when speaking to evertontv.
“I didn’t know what to do on that night. I didn’t know whether to celebrate or take the wrath of my friends and family that were at the game.
“We were a young team at the time and had a bit of history of causing upsets in the cup.
“We had a decent team, to be fair, and I scored the equaliser late on at the Park End and Coyley [Owen Coyle] scored the winner in extra time.
“It was a bit of a surreal moment for me. Obviously I was happy that we had won but I didn’t want it to be against Everton.
“There were mixed feelings but it was great from my point of view to play at Goodison, especially as I didn’t know what was going to happen in the future.”
As it proved, Stubbs was to enjoy many more memorable nights at Goodison Park following his move from Celtic in the summer of 2001.
Incidentally, the Kirkby-born man actually scored for Everton at Bolton just three months after his switch from Scotland, in a 2-2 Premier League draw later that year – a game which also saw Paul Gascoigne net his only goal for the Blues.
Now part of David Moyes’ trusted backroom staff, Stubbs is looking forward to Saturday’s fourth round clash at the Reebok Stadium, where Everton will be backed by just shy of 5,000 supporters.
However, Stubbs has warned that Everton must show their mettle to ensure they aren’t the victim of a surprise cup upset, similar to the one he was involved in 19 years ago.
Stubbs explained: “I haven’t had chance to see any of their [Bolton’s] replay [at Sunderland] but I listened to a little bit on the radio. I was in the car and it sounded like Bolton fully deserved the win.
“It will be a tough game for us but we’ll go there and fancy our chances of getting a result.
“I think Bolton’s league position and performances have probably been inconsistent. They found it hard to get a run of results when Owen [Coyle] was in charge and it was difficult for them.
“They have decided to have a change of direction with a new manager [Dougie Freedman] and even since he has come in it has still been up and down. He’s probably trying to change personnel, the way the team play and the ethics of the team.
“It still a bit of a transitional period for them, so we’ll go there and hope to capitalise on that. It won’t be easy – it never is going to Bolton – but we have got to be confident of getting a result there.”
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