Exclusive: Watson On 1995
FA Cup winning captain re-lives Everton's last major triumph.
This weekend Phil Neville could become the sixth man to lift the FA Cup in the royal blue of Everton.
The last, in 1995, was Dave Watson.
Already a firm favourite of the Goodison faithful, the Wembley defeat of Alex Ferguson's much-fancied Manchester United well and truly secured the defender's place on a prestigious shelf reserved for Club legends.
>1995 FA Cup final match report
>Neville fit for final
With the Blues set to return to English football's biggest stage, evertonTV caught up with the man who last led Everton to silverware to find out exactly what he remembers...
Let's cast your mind back to 1995. What was it like being an Everton player in the weeks leading up to the final?
It's quite chaotic really. You've still got your league programme to finish and in 1995 we were struggling against relegation so we still had some very important games leading up to the end of the season. Once we'd got them out the way it was a big relief we stayed in the division and as a bit of a thank you we were going to Wembley for the Cup final.
So the pressure was off?
Yeah, it was a bit of a jolly-up really! The lads were going there in a relaxed frame of mind, the pressure of staying in the division was off and the message was to go out and enjoy ourselves.
Joe Royle said the key to it was that nobody really thought about the game until the hour before kick off. Is that true?
Well, yes. We had been under so much pressure and the FA Cup had had to be put to the back of our minds. If everyone had been thinking about the FA Cup final we would have been relegated that season. So it was put to one side but we all knew about Manchester United, we all knew we'd have to be at our best on the day and, fortunately, we were.
What went through your mind when you woke up on the morning of the game?
The time has arrived - this is it. The nerves start cutting in and it was a bit of a worry because Manchester United were going really well at the time. But if we'd have turned up at Wembley in fear of them we'd have been absolutely battered, I've no doubt of that. When you face pressure you can react in a lot of ways but we knew we didn't want to walk out at Wembley and get a hammering. For that reason, we were all right up for the game from the first whistle.
Did you feel confident looking around the faces at the breakfast table that morning?
Yeah, I did. We had the TV programme on which was covering the build-up and it went over to the Manchester United players. They looked to be a little bit too relaxed - laughing and joking. We were a bit more tuned in to the day ahead.
Alongside yourself, who were the characters in the team who people could look up to?
You had some really experienced players in there; big Neville Southall in goal, Barry Horne, Paul Rideout and although Dave Unsworth was pretty young at that time he'd played a lot of games. But the likes of Graham Stuart and Matt Jackson were only young kids at the time and they put in tremendous performances.
Do you remember much about the journey from the hotel to the stadium?
Turning up at Wembley on the coach was a little bit special. Seeing Evertonians absolutely all over the place, it really did seem like there was 80,000 of them there. I wouldn't be surprised if there was to be honest! It certainly helps when you see so many passionate fans and the faces going up Wembley Way willing you to win. You don't want to let anyone down and it brings a lump to your throat.
What did Joe Royle say to you in the changing room?
We all knew how we were going to play because we'd played like it for the majority of the season. Joe and Willie Donachie were fantastic people to work for because they weren't complicated on tactics. And it wasn't like we were playing a team we didn't know anything about; Manchester United's players were all household names. The teamsheet came in and there was no Ryan Giggs on it and that gave us a little bit of a boost. Then, during the game, their captain Steve Bruce went off injured which also helped.
What do you remember about the game up until the point Paul Rideout scored?
We got off to a good start. We were expecting to be put under a lot of pressure early on in the game and it didn't happen. But it probably didn't happen because of how well we started. When Paul's goal came I thought, if anything, we might have scored a little too early and woken them up. But Neville made some superb saves, we defended well as a team and we held on.
Did you ever let yourself believe the game was won?
It's always in your head from a little kid - running around Wembley with the FA Cup. To actually be on the pitch 90 minutes away from winning it, then 45 minutes away, then 10 minutes and having your goal absolutely battered - I certainly wasn't going to let it go when it was that close.
Look out on evertonfc.com on Friday to find out what Watson was thinking as he went to collect the trophy, whether he really did sleep with the FA Cup and how the trophy ended up at a driv-thru!
Subscribers can watch parts one and two of our exclusive-three part interview on evertonTV now.