Considering most Evertonians look back on the first half of last season with a combination of despair and disappointment, it is easy to forget that October proved to be a promising and productive month for David Moyes’ men.
Everton began the month winless and still licking their wounds following an embarrassing defeat to Brentford in the Carling Cup. Birmingham meanwhile were defending an 18 game unbeaten run at home that stretched back to September 2009.
Though it was perhaps those raised expectations - and the belief the worst of the season was now over – that made the rest of 2010 so massively frustrating.
Alex McLeish’s safety first tactics meant it was never going to be a classic, but given what Everton fans had seen during the season so far any sort of win would do.
It looked like that wait would continue though as the game ambled towards a dull stalemate before Leon Osman’s flashing cross-shot flew in off the head of Birmingham defender Roger Johnson early in the second half.
Birmingham threw on the ridiculously tall Nikola Zigic as they gamely pushed for an equaliser, fluttering Everton hearts in the process, before Tim Cahill settled the game in the third minute of stoppage time to send the away fans home happy.
An air of optimism filled the air then as Everton welcomed the old enemy to Goodison Park the following week, the reds themselves boosted by the news that John Henry and NESV had completed their take-over of the club.
The scale of the task lying ahead of the American was laid bare following a hilariously bad performance from his new club. That shouldn’t take anything away from Everton though, who built on the Birmingham win in style. The Yak looked like a £11million man striker again, Mikel Arteta played like he did at the tail end of the previous campaign, Tim Cahill was his usual busy self while Seamus Coleman terrorised poor Paul Konchesky down the right wing.
I’m sure you know what happened next, with Cahill blasting the Blues in front just after the half hour and an Arteta thunderbolt doubling the advantage five minutes into the second half. The rest of the game was spent laughing at the Liverpool supporters and their hapless manager Roy Hodgson.
We all hoped that result would signal lift off, and a 1-1 draw away at Spurs the following week was not a result to grumble at either. Leighton Baines, already showing signs of having a decent season, curled the Blues in front with one of his now trademark free-kicks before the in-form Rafael Van Der Vaart capitalised on a rare error by Tim Howard to bring the home side level just three minutes later.
Everton spent the rest of the game on the back-foot, with Spurs looking the fresher side, despite having played in Milan in midweek. But still, a point at White Hart Lane and another game unbeaten was satisfying enough.
Things got even better in the next match, with a 1-0 win over Stoke catapulting Everton into the top half for the first time in the campaign. The Potters proved stubborn and rugged opponents as ever, and with Everton impotent in front of goal the game trod a path we would see again and again throughout the season - apart from those rarest of things – a Yakubu goal.
The Nigerian, so cruelly robbed of a yard of pace thanks to that nasty injury, rolled back the years with a second half rocket to finally break the deadlock. The win left Everton seventh, just three points away from the Champions League places.
October was the month our season finally began. It had seen us keep three clean sheets, claim 10 points from 12 and see Cahill, Arteta and Yakubu finally hit form. We were finally ready for takeoff, it was just a shame the following weeks proved it to be a stuttering false start.