1985-86, the season of the TV blackout and one that will be forever remembered as one of the most painful in the history of Everton Football Club. Not only did Everton manage to throw away a significant lead at the top of Division One to gift Liverpool the title, they also suffered FA Cup heartbreak at the hands of the Reds. To make matters worse Everton were still smarting at the apparent unfairness of the European ban which had denied the Blues opportunity to take on the continents finest in the European Cup.
Following intense negotiations between the Football League, the BBC and ITV, all parties had failed to reach an agreement on television coverage of English football. Therefore as the 1985-86 season kicked off, the TV cameras were locked out of football grounds up and down the country. It took until January for a deal to be struck and when the cameras were finally switched on they focused immediately at the top of the table and Everton in particular.
Everton, the defending champions were riding high in first position. Howard Kendall had strengthened his all conquering side with the addition of England striker Gary Lineker and the former Leicester City striker was plundering goals to become the scourge of Division One defences. On 11th February, Manchester City, who were struggling at the wrong end of the table travelled to Merseyside to take on the Toffees and came up against Lineker in blistering form.
On a freezing cold night at Goodison, Everton were quickly in front, Lineker seizing on a terrible back pass from future Evertonian Paul Power, to lift the ball past Eric Nixon and into the Park End goal to give the Blues the lead after just 5 minutes. The goal owed a lot to the hard work of Graeme Sharp who harried the City defence into making a mistake. With Everton in the lead they were expected to go on and beat City comfortably but it took until the second half for the Blues to take a strangle hold on the game.
However, it only took a minute of the second half for Everton to finish City off. Lineker and Sharp hadn’t given the City defence a moments piece and when Steve Redmond played a ball across his goal to Nicky Reid, the latter tripped on the ball, allowing Lineker the simple task of passing the ball into an empty net from the edge of the penalty area.
The pressure from Everton was now intense and the Blues and Lineker should have scored further goals, before the England striker did add his third. A ball forward from Bracewell was helped on by Sharp into the space behind the City defence. With Nixon coming out of his goal to clear, Lineker used his electric pace to get to the ball first and lift the ball over the City keeper and into the goal.
With the game all but over before the hour mark, the only question that remained was how many Everton would score. When the fourth goal did arrive it was courtesy of another mistake in the City defence. A long looping cross into the box from Gary Stevens looked hopeful at best, especially when Steve Redmond won the ball. However the City defender dallied on the ball, allowing Sharp to tackle, the ball fell perfectly for the Everton striker and with only Nixon to beat, Sharp finished powerfully to cap a brilliant night for the Blues.
Enjoy the highlights of the game below and use the comments box to let us have your memories of the 85-86 season and the City game in particular.