Our Everton in the 80s feature continues to look back exactly 28 years to the 1985-86 season. Everton had won the Division One Championship the year before and after a poor start to the season were fighting their way back into title contention on the back of a rush of goals for Gary Lineker and Graeme Sharp.
After a successful Christmas and New Year, Everton were back at Goodison Park for a home match against a QPR side managed by Jim Smith.
Everton produced yet another stunning come back to defeat Queens Park Rangers 4-3. This all came after the Blues trailed 2-0 with just moment remaining in the first half, before a controversial penalty was awarded to the Toffees, which was duly converted by Graeme Sharp. Exactly 28 years to this day, the Daily Express carried an interview with QPR defender Steve Wicks, who was left fuming by Sharp’s actions in winning his side a penalty.
The raging controversy over the penalty that launched Everton’s thrilling revival against QPR masked the most crucial question about Rangers’ fragility away from home.
While Steve Wicks eloquently protested innocence over his challenge on Graeme Sharp a minute before the interval that gave the Scot the chance to haul Everton back from a 2-0 deficit, the Rangers’ defender added significantly “I still don’t think we should have crumbled like we did”.
“The penalty decision was harsh and the free-kick that led to it should not have been give against us. But we are disappointed to score three great goals away from home without getting a result, and we must defend better than that.”
Neutral observers would agree QPR were harshly treated by referee Terry Holbrook’s free-kick award to Everton that led to the fateful tussle of Wicks and Sharp.
“I went up for the ball early and headed it cleanly and then Sharp backed into me” claimed Wicks.
“Sharp is a great asset to Everton and a very good player. But he said to me as we walked off at half time: ‘I just don’t believe it,’ he is a past master at winning penalties like that.”
That penalty was the spark that kicked Everton into life and they overran their opponents in the second half. Within 10 minutes of the restart, the Blues were in front, Lineker equalising, before Paul Wilkinson, on as a substitute for Kevin Sheedy, fired Everton ahead only a minute later.
QPR were stunned and it was a now rampant Everton side that scored next, Graeme Sharp helping himself to a second of the afternoon. That wasn’t the end of the scoring and the Blues were given a nasty shock when Gary Bannister pulled one back in the 87th minute, but Howard Kendall’s side were able to hold on and secure all three points to retain second place in the Division One table.