As one of English football’s most successful clubs it is almost impossible to think that Everton have failed to win the League Cup. Since the competition was launched during the 1960-61 season Everton have won the league 4 times, the FA Cup 3 times and the European Cup Winners Cup, but remarkably the League Cup in its various guises has avoided Everton.
The Blues have twice finished as runners-up, on both occasions losing out in a replay. Firstly in 1977, a season in which Everton had three different managers at the helm and again in 1984.
Billy Bingham was in charge at the start of the season as the Toffees progressed past Cambridge United (3-0), Stockport County (1-0), Coventry City (3-0) and Manchester United (3-0). Despite securing a semi final against Bolton, Bingham lost his job with Everton down in 13th place in the league.
Steve Burtenshaw took caretaker control and oversaw the first leg of the semi final. A Duncan McKenzie goal looked to have given Everton the advantage only for a late Bolton goal to keep the tie evenly poised. By the time the second leg was played at Burnden Park, Gordon Lee was in charge and his Blues were quickly on the way to Wembley, Bob Latchford scoring the winner.
The final was one of the most dramatic in league cup history, requiring three games before Aston Villa lifted the trophy. A 0-0 draw at Wembley was followed by a 1-1 draw at Hillsborough, Bob Latchford scoring a late equaliser. The third tie was played at Old Trafford and required extra time with Villa running out 3-2 winners. A Bob Latchford goal put Everton in front only for the tie to truly come to life with three goals in the space of as many minutes late in the game. Villa equalised in the 80th minute, went in front 60 seconds later only for Mick Lyons to score after a further minute to take the match into extra time. With the match heading for yet another draw Villa snatched a late winner and sent the Evertonians home heartbroken.
The 83-84 season was the beginning of the greatest era in the history of Everton Football Club but it almost started with a double cup victory.
We all know that Everton lifted the FA Cup in May defeating Watford, however earlier in the spring the Blues were denied in the league cup final by Liverpool.
Everton’s progress through the competition was far from smooth. In the second round the Blues overcame Chesterfield 3-2 on aggregate. Howard Kendall’s men were cruising into the third round when they led 3-0 on aggregate only for two late Chesterfield goals to leave the Goodison crowd biting their nails. In the third round Everton needed an injury time winner from Graeme Sharp to get past Coventry 2-1. The 4th round required a replay and extra time before the Blues beat West Ham 2-0.
The quarter final is one of the most famous games in the history of Everton. With the Blues heading out of the competition a Kevin Brock back pass let Adrian Heath in to round the keeper and equalise. The replay at Goodison was a one sided affair, a 4-1 victory seeing Everton into the Semi Final against Aston Villa.
The semi final appeared to be going Everton’s way after the first leg at Goodison, Kevin Sheedy and Kevin Richardson putting the Toffees two-nil up. The second leg was a much tighter game, Villa pulling a goal back but Everton managed to hold on for their first trip to Wembley since 1977.
The final was an all Merseyside affair. The first game was a controversial match, a nil-nil draw in front of 100,000 supporters at Wembley. Everton were denied a certain penalty, with Alan Hansen clearly handballing a goal bound shot from Graeme Sharp. The replay at Main Road was won by the Reds, a single goal giving them victory.
The best of the rest
Of course there have been other near misses, most notably the semi final defeat to Chelsea in 2008, when a Joe Cole goal
left Evertonians once again heartbroken by the League Cup.
On Tuesday night Everton travel to Teeside to face Middlesbrough with the weight of expectation and history on their shoulders. Everton’s talented squad can write their names into club folk law by progressing past the Championship club and beyond. Wembley is tantalisingly close and victory in the quarter final will put Martinez and co within touching distance of ending the clubs trophy drought and with the chance of becoming the first Everton team to lift the League Cup.