Euro Nights: How Blues Nearly Fell At First Hurdle

In the lead-up to Everton returning to European football in the third round of qualifying for the Europa League on 27 July, we are kicking off a brand new feature here on

We’ll be speaking to a former Blues player who has featured for the Club in Europe and picking out a Great European Night they consider as their favourite.

To begin, Graeme Sharp recalls the moment a potential banana skin opponent almost robbed Everton of their eventual tag as the best team in Europe…

19 September 1984
European Cup Winners’ Cup first round first leg
UCD 0 Everton 0 (Blues won second leg 1-0) 

Everton had not qualified for Europe for a long time and, of course, we won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in the 1984/5 season.

In the first round, we drew University College Dublin. When it was drawn out the hat, it was down as ‘UCD’ – I had no idea who they were. When we were told, we instantly thought, “University College Dublin? They’ll be students – what an easy tie this is!”

We thought we would turn up and win - but ended up getting the biggest shock of our lives!

The first leg was away on 19 September 1984, but we had no doubts in our minds that we were going to win. It was a short trip and the fans could come over and enjoy themselves. When we got to the ground – which must have held only a few thousand - the pitch was short, tight, compact and bobbly.

We treated it almost like a pre-season game and ended up drawing 0-0. Howard Kendall probably couldn’t believe what he was seeing! But UCD played out of their skins that day.

But we just put it down as a bad performance and result and looked to taking them back to Goodison on 2 October. We all said we would beat them five or six back at home.

Except we just about scraped through again! We won 1-0 on the night and I scored the goal. I remember Adrian Heath did well down the flank and managed to cut it back and I have stabbed it home from close range at the Park End.

But UCD hit the post in the last second and if that had gone in, we would have been out. That’s how close it came.

You look at the European campaign we had that season and people point to the Bayern Munich games as the toughest. But that first match against UCD gave us an almighty kick up the backside. You can’t underestimate anybody. We were too soft in our approach and we didn’t take them seriously.

It could have gone so, so wrong for us, and we could have fallen at the first hurdle. As it was we went on and won the competition.

Everybody regales that 1985 team and says what a great side it was and how we were the best side in Europe – but it so nearly came unstuck against a team of amateurs!  

On this day...19 September 1984

- I Just Called To Say I Love You, by Stevie Wonder was number one in the UK singles chart.
- All Of Me, starring Steve Martin led the way in the cinema box office.
- Ronald Reagan was President of the United States
- A pint of milk cost 23p and a loaf of bread cost 33p.

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