Surely there can’t be a scenario where your favourite aspects of a sport combine in a moment of pure genius? Well, for me there was!
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about whether watching sport was illogical or not. I concluded that the endorphins released when victorious produce a much greater feeling than those produced when losing and therefore you carry on watching it. In many ways, Harmison’s wicket that I talked about last week is one of these examples. That morning had been painful and then, all of a sudden, it was one of the greatest sporting moments I had watched. This week’s instalment in Prime Memories is a, please excuse this, prime example of what I meant in that article.
I love the FA Cup. I believe it is a truly magical tournament, one of the few remaining cups where you genuinely feel that anyone can beat anyone if they play well. Now that the good old days where you could put together a good manager and team and win the league title have gone, the FA cup is all that’s left for old fashioned football fans who prefer to see team spirit and underdogs prevailing over the favourites. I don’t remember those days, mainly because I wasn’t born, yet I see that the sheer overload of money into our game has ruined the romance and theatre of it. The FA Cup therefore has always been my solace, something to look forward to, admire and want to win. As an Everton fan in this day and age, the silverware opportunities are limited to the cups and therefore it takes more importance.
I enjoy last minute winners a lot as well. There is nothing quite as wonderful as watching your side score one of these. Jelavic’s against Tottenham is the one that immediately springs to mind when people ask me for my favourites as well as Baines’ equalising free kick against Chelsea, not quite a winner but a very important goal! Last minute winners are enjoyable when they aren’t even for your team (although fairly rubbish if against your team!). For example, on the 10th August 2013, I was watching Forest away at Blackburn with ForestJosh and the atmosphere when Darius Henderson whacked home a winner in the 92nd minute was truly infectious.
I truly savour victories over Liverpool, although defeats against them are hard to take and therefore I don’t tend to relish Derby days. The good Derby days will stay with me forever, with my favourite being the 3-0 victory at Goodison, when Andy Johnson scored twice. There haven’t been many good Derby days at Anfield, given that Everton haven’t won there since 1999 when Kevin Campbell scored the only goal. I don’t remember that match and so the closest I have come to seeing a victory there was when we had a disallowed goal last season! One day soon that has to change, but this article isn’t going to look at when that could be!
Finally, I appreciate when a youngster can make an impact on a game. A youngster who isn’t known outside of the club, maybe not even one that has been talked about by people as a prospect although any youngster making an impact deserves to be applauded. Everton have had many an example of these down the years, with possibly none introducing themselves as dramatically as Wayne Rooney did against Arsenal – people certainly remembered the name! Joe Royle played for us when he was 16, which was the age James Vaughan was when he became, and he still is, the Premier League youngest goalscorer (Everton have three players on the top 10 list) whereas the current crop includes Barkley and Duffy. Not all have come through the academy but Everton nonetheless have a proud record of youngsters playing for the first team.
Surely there can’t have been a situation where a youngster scores a last minute winner in an FA Cup match against Liverpool?
The FA cup of 2008/09 started in an unremarkable fashion for Everton. Playing Macclesfield away, they weren’t fluent and scraped a 1-0 victory. If Everton wanted to have a cup run, they would need to play a lot better as you could guarantee the opposition would get harder. On the 4th January 2009, these suspicions were confirmed when Everton were pitted away to their bitter rivals, Liverpool. Unsurprisingly the match was chosen for TV, being shown as a lunchtime kick off on Sunday 25th January. The match was a fairly boring affair, with Everton choosing, in very David Moyes style tactics, to sit back and defend. Everton favoured avoiding losing rather than winning, a plan that is not necessarily a bad thing and indeed worked for many years with us. There was a bit of surprise when, in the 27th minute, Joleon Lescott turned in a Steven Pienaar corner after Cahill had flicked it on. When Tim Howard let Gerrard’s shot squirm through his body on the 54th minute, Liverpool looked the better team and probably deserved to win. Everton held on for a draw and took the tie back to Goodison.
The fifth round draw threw up very few ties that whetted the excitement and so tabloids and media outlets were drawn to the possibility that one of the Merseyside teams would face Aston Villa, going well in the Premier League, should Villa win their own replay. I mention this because I remember being annoyed at a headline I saw, and unfortunately I can’t remember where otherwise I would find it, which declared “Liverpool play Villa as fifth round draw fails to excite”. This was one of the first times I had come across the assumption that Liverpool would always beat Everton and it rattled me to the extent where I had never felt so passionate about a football match. In my opening paragraphs where I talked about my favourite aspects to football, I failed to mention my love for mid-week matches. This match was a mid-week match, being on Wednesday 4th February, and I had spent the whole day trying to stay calm, although I had found no method that worked!
The match was scrappy, as many expected, and clear cut chances were few and far between. It was far from being a classic however Everton were given the first boost of the night when Gerrard limped off injured in the 16th minute. Yellow cards were more apparent in the first hour than sights of goal with Cahill, Pienaar, Neville and Lucas all going into the referee’s notebook. David Moyes made his first change in the 52nd minute when he took the ineffective Fellaini off and replaced him with young star Dan Gosling. Gosling had been a regular substitute for Everton and while he hadn’t done anything remarkable, his all round play had been enough for Everton fans to believe there was potential there. Liverpool created the first opportunity of real note when Howard smothered a shot from Riera, an obscure 00’s footballer if ever there was one, after a mistake from Jagielka. It was Everton, however, who came closest to breaking the deadlock when Arteta and Osman combined only for the latter to whack the post from a tight-ish angle. Red cards have become a sadly inevitable part of Merseyside Derbies and Liverpool were the team on the receiving end here when Lucas got sent off, a second yellow, for an innocuous, but definite, trip on Lescott. Everton then started taking the initiative by playing with more intent and purpose however they couldn’t find the breakthrough before the end of the 90 minutes.
As this was a replay, extra time occurred and from the first whistle of the first period it was clear that Everton were going to go for the win, while Liverpool were prepared to settle for the penalty shoot out. Osman again fashioned an opportunity, but a smart save from Reina denied him who then recovered to save from Gosling. A corner was the result and Cahill headed it wide, inches away from finding that all important breakthrough. As Everton grew more frantic and their fans grew increasingly restless, Moyes decided to turn to Andy Van der Meyde. By taking off Neville, Moyes sacrificed a likely penalty taker for someone who would offer more width and attacking intent. In a moment of genius, Moyes had reignited Everton’s push for a win in extra time, although it wouldn’t be easy.
118 minutes into the match, Everton were nicely passing it around the centre circle before Lescott got the ball and my screen went black. ITV’s coverage cut to Eon’s title screen for their sponsorship before my feed returned to the match. Van der Meyde had the ball and he crossed it into the area where it fell at the feet of Dan Gosling. Now, it has to be said that Gosling showed remarkable composure for a 19 year old here. His first touch was slightly wrong which allowed a Liverpool defender, Arbeloa, to get back to him. In the space of seconds he had gone from having a clear sight of goal to having three defenders surrounding him. Did he panic? Not one bit! He calmly jinxed the ball one way and then the other before curling it, via a couple of deflections, into the top corner of the net. I went crazy; possibly waking the whole street up, Goodison went crazy, while the red half of Liverpool went silent. Not only was this a last minute winner in a derby match, it was a wonderful goal too. As the ITV commentator, Clive Tyldesley, put it, it was the finish of a seasoned professional. One of my later thoughts was towards the journalist who presumed Liverpool would win!
Little did I know that half the country had missed the goal; what I had presumed to be a glitch in the ITV system had turned into a full scale advert break and when pictures returned, Everton players were celebrating. The fall-out from that rather overshadowed a fantastic victory for Everton but at least it highlighted just how poor ITV are at showing sport. The footage that half the country received made its way onto you-tube and so I will include a link to this video at the bottom of the article.
For the reasons detailed in the first 5 paragraphs, this goal is deserving of a place on the list. The only reason it isn’t higher is due to the fact that this was only the fourth round and realistically, a fifth round appearance in a cup shouldn’t be seen as a successful return for Everton. There was still work to do in that regard but the cup run had been set up in perfect fashion. Dan Gosling didn’t do much else in his Everton career but I will always be grateful for him due to this goal. It is a goal that I never get tired of watching for both its class and its importance. Nights really don’t get much better than that one, although it would have been a lot better had I been at Goodison!
Legacy of the Goal: I can’t even consider Gosling for this, sadly, as all he did after this was score a goal against Manchester United, get injured and force us to remove him from his contract – leaving him free to join Newcastle United and bench-warm. It wasn’t the reason for Rafa’s departure from Liverpool and it wasn’t the click that Van der Meyde needed so I have to look further than the football field. Step forward tic-tacs. Their advert was the one which ITV cut to and so, as a way of apology, the company that owns them filmed an advert that was a mock-up of the goal. Once again I’ll include a link to a you-tube clip of this advert at the end of this article.
Reason for the Goal: Gerrad’s injuries and Lucas’ red card definitely inspired Everton and gave them the belief that they could win however I don’t like saying that other team’s mistakes/frailties were the reasons for our victories. I would give this to Moyes for changing the team tactically by bringing both Gosling and Van der Meyde on but I want to give this instead to one of the guys I have just mentioned. Specifically Van der Meyde. He came on, gave us width and managed to find just one cross that reached another player. He changed the dimension of our player and during his torrid time at Goodison, this was his definite highlight. Thanks Shandy!
General highlights of the match: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeGVA2JWoGo
ITV’s stream during the goal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qUx3RPdlcM
Tic-tac mock advert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evkrLX8Vltk