Neil Adderley looks back on an amazing night at Goodison Park.
Everton 3 – 1 Bayern Munich
UEFA Cup Winners Cup semi-final
Goodison Park – Wednesday, April 24, 1985
Everton’s campaign in the 1984/85 UEFA Cup Winners Cup had seen a largely untroubled passage to the semi-final stage. Howard Kendall’s charges had been flying domestically whilst playing some of the most outstanding football ever seen at Goodison Park. Now, just two games away from the clubs first ever European final, Kendall’s Everton would have to face their sternest test yet, the might of German footballing superpower, Bayern Munich.
Drawn to play the first leg away from home, Everton ground out an excellent 0-0 draw in front of 67,000 at Munich’s Olympic Stadium. With the teams topping their respective leagues (both eventually going on to be crowned champions), as well as reaching their cup finals, the return leg at Goodison Park, the first ever European semi-final to be played at the historic stadium, was set up perfectly to be a classic encounter. The match did not fail to live up to expectations, it blew them out of the stratosphere.
With the Grand Old Lady packed to the rafters, captains Kevin Ratcliffe and Klaus Augenthaler led the teams out of the tunnel and into a cacophony of noise. Howard Kendall’s talk of his side having to show patience was swiftly revealed as pre-match mindgames, as his players, roared on by the 50,000 inside Goodison Park, besieged Bayern Munich with an authority and aggression that visibly rattled their German opponents. Kendall would later acknowledge his game plan was to get the ball forward to Sharp and Gray, to bombard Bayern and crucially, be first to the second ball. Munich coach Udo Lattek, who would in his career lead Bayern to a total of six Bundesliga championships and a European Cup, had bemoaned Everton’s overly aggressive approach, yet would, in the aftermath of the match, declare Everton as “the best team in Europe.”
Within three minutes of the kick off, Everton had carved Bayern open, only for mercurial right midfielder, Trevor Steven, to screw his angled shot agonisingly wide of Jean-Marie Pfaff’s right hand post. The surge of Royal Blue attacks continued as Bayern were confined to sporadic forays forward. A wayward Dieter Hoeness header being the most a shell shocked Munich could muster in the opening quarter of the match. From yet another ball into the box, Graeme Sharp rose to flick on to Kevin Sheedy, the Irishman was about to pull the trigger when the seemingly stray hand of Wolfgang Dremmler made contact with the ball. Sharp, Sheedy and the Park End screamed for a penalty but Swedish referee, Erik Fredriksson, waved away the vociferous appeals. Mr. Fredriksson would soon be centre of attention once more, as Everton number 9, Andy Gray, on the end of a forceful challenge from behind by man marker Hans Pflugler, lashed out wildly at the German defender. Gray was fortunate he had made no contact, although this did not stop Pflugler rolling around in apparent agony. The Goodison crowd let their feelings be known as the referee ordered the defender to his feet before booking both players.
Gray would give Pflugler a torrid evening and the two clashed again as the abrasive Scot was brought down outside the Bayern penalty area. Free kick specialist Sheedy stepped up and scraped Pfaff’s left hand post from 25 yards. It was all Everton now, as Bayern Munich struggled to cope with the constant bombardment from the Everton flanks. Once more, the Germans failed to deal with a Gary Stevens long throw from the right. Initially allowing the ball to bounce in the box and then leaving Graeme Sharp to connect with a firm header. The grateful Pfaff watched on as Sharp’s effort cleared the crossbar.
Eventually, Bayern began to get a foothold in the game, with the pace of teenage left winger Ludwig Kogl becoming a prominent outlet. Kogl was again involved as Lothar Matthaus tested Neville Southall with a stinging shot from outside the box. It was a warning sign left unheeded by Everton when on 37 minutes, Goodison Park, aside from the 300 travelling Bayern fans, was stunned into a deathly silence. A long kick by Southall was gathered by Kogl who, after playing a one-two with Matthaus, found himself clean through on Southall’s goal. The keeper thwarted the young wingers attempt to round him, however, Southall’s touch fell into the path of Dieter Hoeness who despite facing two defenders on the line, maintained the composure to roll the ball into the Gwladys Street net. The first goal Everton had conceded in the competition. If the supporters inside Goodison were concerned about how their team would react to going a goal down, within minutes of the restart, Kendall’s men would quickly put those concerns to bed.
Paul Bracewell, receiving the ball in the Bayern penalty area, after a typical mazy run by Trevor Steven, saw his cross blocked for a throw in on the Everton right. With the Germans having struggled all night with the long throws of Gary Stevens, the jam-packed Gwladys Street turned the volume up yet another notch. Stevens launched his throw and as Andy Gray got up early at the near post, his flick on was met by strike partner Sharp, whose deft header found the back of the Gwladys Street net. Goodison Park erupted with a snarling wall of sound enveloping the famous old stadium as never before.
At 1-1, and with Bayern still ahead in the tie on away goals, Udo Lattek’s answer was to bring on another defender, however, the fleeting initiative gained by Bayern through the Hoeness goal, had been well and truly consumed by a ravenous Everton. There was from now on, only going to be one winner. Paul Bracewell snapped into another tackle on Soren Lerby, continuing his run as Peter Reid drove forward. Managing to release the ball a split second before being cynically mowed down, Reid found an unmarked Bracewell once more but the midfielder’s effort was sliced horribly wide. The Toffeemen were now in total command, Bayern’s Kogl threatened intermittently but it was never enough to stem the unstoppable tide of Royal Blue dominance. Graeme Sharp, collecting a deft lay off from Gray after a precise Pat van den Hauwe cross, hit a goalbound low volley, only to see Pfaff make an excellent stop to his right. A save that would for Bayern, be no more than a delay of the inevitable. On 72 minutes, inescapably, the floodgates were opened as Bayern’s resistance was conclusively broken. A straight ball into the Munich box was controlled by Sharp but before the striker could get his shot off, Pflugler was able to clear for another Everton throw. Up stepped full back Gary Stevens to launch yet another missile into the Bayern area. In his halftime team talk, Howard Kendall had famously told his players if they got the ball into the box, the Gwladys Street End would suck into the net. The manager’s promise came to fruition as Bayern keeper Pfaff, hindered by two of his own defenders, misjudged the flight of the ball, allowing Andy Gray to gently stroke the ball home and make it 2-1 from two yards out. Goodison celebrated in a scene of complete pandemonium.
If it was the raw force of sheer will that led Kendall’s side to overturn a 1-0 deficit, the third goal, a seal on the game, displayed Everton’s class of ‘85’s ability to mix it up with the very best Europe had to offer. As the clock ticked through 86 minutes, Kevin Sheedy intercepted the ball in the left back position. Despite being put under pressure, Sheedy, moving effortlessly forward into space, picked out a pinpoint pass that allowed Andy Gray to feed the run of Trevor Steven. Now clean through on goal and facing the onrushing Pfaff, Steven took one touch before sweeping the ball past the helpless Bayern goalkeeper. The Gwladys Street End became a wild blue seascape of bodies as the pressure cooker atmosphere was finally released in a dynamic cacophony of jubilant noise and movement.
Those 50,000 inside Goodison Park had been fortunate enough to have witnessed the greatest night in The Grand Old Lady’s enduring and distinguished history, yet make no mistake, they had also played their part in Everton’s triumph. As for their heroes, the great Everton team of 1985, they would of course go on to take the trophy in Rotterdam, with a 3-1 win over Rapid Vienna.
Follow Neil on Twitter @deneils