Today, Everton remembers a man whose achievements with the Club stand unrivalled, a giant truly befitting of the title ‘legend’.
The most successful manager in the Club’s history, Howard Kendall was also one of the esteemed triumvirate of players immortalised forever as the Holy Trinity – Kendall, Harvey, Ball.
He won the league championship as a player in 1969-70, as a manager in 1984-85 and 1986-87 and masterminded the most celebrated moment in the history of the Club when Everton defeated Rapid Vienna in the European Cup Winners’ Cup final in 1985 having put together a team that was in the words of Hans Krankl, the Rapid Vienna striker, “possibly the best side in the whole of Europe”.
That his sudden passing on October 17, 2015 evoked such widespread and genuine sadness, a pervasive feeling of someone essential having slipped from our midst, is only one measure of the impact that Howard had on a club whose team became known as the School of Science under Harry Catterick in the 1960s and early ‘70s.
“He was a great manager to play for,” Graeme Sharp, one of Everton’s ambassadors and a key contributor of goals and all-round class in the 1980s side, reflected at the time of his passing. “He believed in team spirit and the lads always enjoyed themselves. But he made sure they worked extremely hard, too. The players always had the utmost respect for him.”
His playing career had already made him an Everton great before he led the Club to that European triumph on a famous night in Rotterdam. His achievements in the 1980s merely cemented his status as a man who could shape the destiny of his football club.
But making history was a feat that Howard always took in his elegant stride, having become in 1964, as a mere 17-year-old, the youngest player then to appear in an FA Cup final with Preston North End.
He began his playing career at North End as an apprentice in 1961, turning professional in May 1963 and appearing in that FA Cup final of 1964 against a West Ham United side captained by Bobby Moore. He was just 17 years and 345 days.
Originally a defender, he joined Everton for £85,000 in March 1967 and was moved into midfield with Ball and Harvey. After winning the title in 1970, he became the skipper of the side for the next three seasons. But the Blues struggled to build on their title triumph and, after making 277 appearances for Everton in total, including a start in the Cup final of 1968, he was sold to Birmingham City in February 1974, helping the St Andrews club survive in the First Division during his time in the Midlands.
Howard Kendall reflects on his 18-year playing career.
In August 1977, he joined Stoke City and became player-coach a little over a year later, thriving in the role, with his performances earning him the club's inaugural player of the year award.
From there he joined Third Division Blackburn Rovers as player-manager – the beginning of his meteoric rise to managerial mastery.
He stayed with Blackburn for almost two years before returning to Everton to play a handful of games, again as player-manager, prior to retiring from the playing side in September 1981.
That summer he had succeeded Gordon Lee and he began to plot Everton's rise in the First Division table with an immediate, and abundant, recruitment drive, including one of the Toffees’ most decorated players, Neville Southall.
Finishing eighth at the end of his first season was a strong start; seventh at the end of the next demonstrated improvement, if not the glory that was imminent.
The 1983-84 season will go down as a genuine watershed for Everton. It had everything.
Six wins in 21 league games left the Toffees in a precarious position in the First Division table.
The Chairman, Sir Philip Carter, memorably stood by his man and Howard stood by his players. Kevin Brock inadvertently teed up Adrian Heath for a late League Cup equaliser at Oxford United in January, and, sure enough, the tide began to turn.
Everton reached the League Cup final, only to lose to Liverpool, but then went one better by lifting the FA Cup, defeating Watford at Wembley.
The best was yet to come. Everton's magnificent finish to the 1983-84 campaign brought heightened expectations… and Howard didn't disappoint.
The 1984-85 championship was won comfortably and stylishly, the European Cup Winners' Cup was brought to Goodison after a memorable run through to the final – including Goodison’s greatest night and a 3-1 victory over Bayern Munich - and a unique treble was only denied the team when tiredness caught up with the Toffees in extra-time of the FA Cup final at Wembley against Manchester United.
Quite aptly, Howard was named Manager of the Year, but Everton suffered double disappointment the following season, finishing second to Liverpool in both the title race and the FA Cup final.
The position of Merseyside 'top-dogs' was well and truly restored 12 months later when the title was secured once again - the ninth championship success in the Club's history.
Kendall discusses the challenge of reshaping Everton's squad following his appointment as manager in 1981.
Having conquered England, Howard moved abroad to Athletic Bilbao during the summer of 1987. After a brief spell in Spain he came back to these shores to take charge at Manchester City. He was doing well at Maine Road but when the Toffees came calling, he simply couldn't resist.
His second tenure, though, from November 1990 to December 1993, was one of frustration and, after the departure of Joe Royle in 1997, he was tempted back again in what proved to be a one-season stay that came within a match of Everton losing their proud top-flight status, Gareth Farrelly famously netting on a dramatic final day at Goodison to seal top-flight safety.
In 1999, Howard was selected alongside the likes of Dixie Dean and Ball as an inaugural Everton Giant. He rarely missed a game at Goodison Park and, after stepping away from football management, he became a renowned pundit in the local media, talking and writing about his beloved Blues.
In 2006, a prize at the Everton End of Season Awards was named in his honour. The Howard Kendall Award continues to celebrate excellence, a fitting tribute to a man who personified the Club's famous motto - Nil Satis Nisi Optimum.
Stats and Honours
As Howard himself said in one of his more famous quotations: "You can have love affairs with other football clubs. With Everton, it's a marriage."
Howard Kendall, we will never forget you.
The thoughts of everyone at Everton, today and always, are with Howard’s widow, Lily, and the rest of his family.
Player (1966-1974 and 1981-1982)
Football League Champions: 1969-70
Charity Shield winner: 1970
FA Cup runner-up: 1967-68
Manager (1981-1987, 1990-1993 and 1997-1998)
Football League Champions: 1984-85 and 1986-87
FA Cup winner: 1983-84
European Cup Winners' Cup winner: 1984-85
FA Cup runner-up: 1984-85 and 1985-86
Charity Shield winners: 1984, 1985, 1987, shared in 1986
Zenith Data Systems Cup runners-up: 1991
Manager of the Year: 1985 and 1987
Kendall on the magic of Goodison Park, Everton’s European Cup Winners' Cup triumph in 1985 and why he left the Blues for Athletic Bilbao.
The above videos were first broadcast in June 2015.