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On This Day in Everton History: March 20th

Arteta free-kicks, crucial cup clashes and derby victories in today’s feature

Everton’s Spanish midfielder Mikel Artet
Mikel Arteta opened the scoring for Everton in their 2-0 win over Bolton ten years ago
Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

As the coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of alleviating yet, there will be no Everton to sink our teeth into for at least another six weeks, if not longer.

So, for the time being, we’re taking a step back in time each day, to times when no only were football matches played, but were won by the men in royal blue, too. Truly, those were the days.

Here are six Everton victories on past March 20s to immerse yourself in:

1893 - Blues see off Preston (eventually) to reach FA Cup final

Old Everton
The Everton squad of 1893
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Talk about fixture congestion. In its first incarnation, the FA Cup would keep replaying semi-finals until the tie was won, no matter how many games it took.

Everton reached the semi-finals of the competition for the first time in 1892-93, their first campaign at the newly-opened Goodison Park. They faced Preston North End at the neutral venue of Bramall Lane, Sheffield on March 4, 1893; the two sides had already faced each other in the First Division that season, Preston winning 5-0 at Deepdale, Everton winning 6-0 at Goodison.

And the Blues raced into a 2-0 lead after 25 minutes thanks to strikes from Patrick Gordon and Edgar Chadwick, but Preston would peg them back after the break to force a 2-2 draw. So they reconvened 12 days later, again at Bramall Lane, only to produce a goalless stalemate this time around.

It proved third time lucky for Everton on March 20, though, as a late Gordon goal proved the winner in a 2-1 victory over Preston at Ewood Park, Blackburn, to secure their place in the final five days later.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be for Dick Molyneux’s side, who fell at the final hurdle five days later, losing 1-0 to Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Manchester Athletic Club in Fallowfield.

1897 - More semis success, more final heartache

Everton hardly entered their next FA Cup semi-final in sparkling form; they had lost their last four First Division matches, the previous two by a 3-0 scoreline.

But as is so often in the case for cup clashes, form went out of the window when they faced high-flying Derby County at Stoke’s Victoria Ground. Four years to the day since finally overcoming Preston, two goals from Abe Hartley and a third from Alf Milward sealed a 3-2 win over the Rams.

There was also the tantalising prospect of a Merseyside derby FA Cup final, but while Everton kept their side of the bargain, Liverpool fell to a 3-0 defeat to that season’s league champions, Aston Villa.

Villa would go on to complete a league and cup double when they saw off Molyneux’s men in the final with a 3-2 win three weeks later.

1915 - Blues crush County en route to second league title

Rather apt given current events, the 1914-15 campaign almost didn’t go ahead following the outbreak of the First World War in July 1914.

But go ahead it ultimately did, in what prove to be a memorable season for Everton, edging out Oldham Athletic by one point to claim their second league title.

An underwhelming beginning was followed by a run of just two defeats in 17 games, and by the turn of the year, Everton were genuine title contenders.

It was on March 20, 1915 that they really flexed their muscles, dismantling lowly Notts County 4-0, thanks to a brace from inside-right Billy Kirsopp, and a goal each for Bobby Parker and Joe Clennell, who netted 38 and 17 respectively that season.

1985 - Sittard seen off on road to Rotterdam

Widely regarded as the best Everton team of all-time, the 1984-85 side under Howard Kendall swept almost all that lay before them in a monumental season for the Blues.

It was March 20 when they secured their place in the last four of the European Cup Winner’s Cup. An Andy Gray hat-trick a fortnight ago had already given Everton a healthy 3-0 lead over Fortuna Sittard going into the second leg, but they left nothing to chance in the Netherlands.

There was no Gray, Kevin Sheedy or Paul Bracewell for Kendall to call on this time; thankfully, there was no problem, either. A wonderful solo effort from Graeme Sharp set Everton on their way, and after the interruption of an on-pitch streaker, Peter Reid added a second to secure a thumping 5-0 aggregate win.

Only the imperious Bayern Munich would stay in the way of a trip to Rotterdam in the final for Kendall’s men.

1988 - Liverpool toppled in Southall shut-out

Somewhat a collector’s item these days, March 20, 1988 marked a derby win for Everton, but also so much more.

Liverpool, who would win the league by nine points that season, had equalled the Leeds’ record in 1973-74 of 29 matches unbeaten from the start of a top-flight campaign. To Goodison they went, in search of claiming the record outright. Alas, Neville Southall and co. had other ideas.

This 1-0 home win over the Reds in Colin Harvey’s first season in charge, courtesy of Wayne Clarke’s early scrambled finish from a corner, dashed those hopes of the Reds, and triggered a joyous pitch invasion at full-time.

Not only that, it marked a record eight consecutive clean sheet at home in the league for Everton, and a personal best for the heroic Southall. Indeed, only Liverpool, who let in 24, conceded fewer than the Blues’ 27 that term.

2010 - Vintage Arteta sets Everton on way past Bolton

‘There’s nobody better than Mikel Arteta,’ the song went. And at the turn of the last decade, it would have been hard to argue against that; at least in terms of dead-ball specialists.

2009-10 was, in many ways, a classic Everton season under David Moyes - a sluggish beginning followed by an flourishing finish, leaving you wondering, yet again, just what might have been.

When mid-table Bolton visited Goodison on March 20, 2010, such was the improvement in Everton’s form that it was hard to see anything other than a seventh straight league home win for Moyes’ men, who saw off Chelsea and Manchester United on their own turf the previous Month.

The game was deadlocked for 70 minutes, until Everton’s current chief European scout, Gretar Steinsson, was red-carded for committing a professional foul on Yakubu. Up stepped Arteta from the resulting free-kick and, typically, arrowed the ball straight into the Bolton goal.

Steven Pienaar added a second as Everton’s late and ultimately unsuccessful push for a Europa League place gathered further momentum.