Everton Album: Eddie Cavanagh
We re-live the tale of the Blue who invaded the Wembley pitch in May 1966.
While 14 May 1966 is a date many Evertonians of the generation will remember fondly, for one Blue it was a day that changed his life.
The man in question was not a player; not one of those who battled heroically from two goals down to lift the FA Cup at the expense of Sheffield Wednesday. He was not Mike Trebilcock, scorer of a brace or even Derek Temple, the match winner. He was Eddie Cavanagh, a fan.
Born in Huyton, Eddie was on the books at Everton as a youngster but never made the grade. The disappointment did little to curtail his love for the Club and, as a supporter, he travelled all over to follow the team he held so close to his heart.
When the Blues reached their first post-war FA Cup final in 1966, there was no doubt Eddie would be present. But even he could not have predicted the notoriety that would follow him from that day forth.
Two-nil down, Everton's Cup hopes had looked in tatters. But Trebilcock struck twice in five minutes, restoring parity and sparking wild celebrations in the stands.
Cavanagh took it one step further. To use his own words of the time, he was on his bike, heading across the Wembley turf straight for Trebilcock and co. His actions spurred London's Metropolitan Police to life and they too set off - in pursuit of Everton's fugitive fan.
Within seconds Eddie's adventure appeared doomed, one of the chasing policemen clinging desperately to his coattail. But Cavanagh was cunning. Releasing his arms from the jacket he sent his pursuer tumbling to the ground – much to the amusement of the disbelieving crowd.
Now down to his shirt and braces, Eddie was tiring. A diving lunge finally brought him to the ground, ending the chase which would earn him the tongue-in-cheek nickname, 'The first hooligan'.
"I can’t explain what that 1966 FA Cup final meant to him," says Andrea, Eddie's daughter. "He was so proud of it. On the walls he kept those famous pictures of him on the pitch. He had four in total, all framed and taking pride of place above the fireplace.
"Frank Skinner and David Baddiel actually paid him to reenact it before he passed away [in December 1999]. He wasn’t in the best of health at the time but he did it and had a whale of a time."
But Eddie's moment in the limelight was by no means an isolated expression of his love for the Blues.
"Everton was his world," explains Andrea. "He ate, slept and dreamt football - everything was about Everton. Even in his house everything was blue - everything.
“He fitted blue light bulbs and we weren’t even allowed to have tomato ketchup [what with it being red!]. That’s how bad he was.
"He wouldn’t even go to Anfield. They were the only games he missed. He wouldn’t set foot near ‘that place’. But going here, there and everywhere on the trains to watch Everton - they were the good old days to me dad."
You would be forgiven for thinking Eddie's fame had faded over time, but you would be mistaken. His name has been written in Everton folklore, something of which his family are well aware.
"People I meet still bring it up now," says Andrea. "I lived in London for a while, and even people there knew my dad. My husband at the time used to say to people, ‘This is my wife, this is Eddie Cavanagh’s daughter’. Everton fans would look up and go 'Eddie Cavanagh? He’s a legend!'. I really feel they love him because of that afternoon at Wembley and that makes me so proud."
Gone but far from forgotten, the story of Eddie Cavanagh lives on - the tale of a local lad who was simply Blue through and through.
"He was just a character, that's why people liked him,” concludes Andrea. “He always wore a shirt and tie and a suit. That’s the kind of man he was, just a nice, respectful bloke."
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