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On This Day in Everton History: March 21st

Dixie’s debut, Baines brilliance and derby delight in today’s feature

Portsmouth v Everton - Premier League
Leighton Baines scored his first Everton goal 11 years ago today
Photo by Joe Pepler/Portsmouth FC via Getty Images

Recent history isn’t great for Everton regarding games played on March 21 - they’ve lost their last five, in fact (two of which to the team the should have faced today; Norwich City).

Let’s look back at some of the memorable anniversaries today brings for the club, good and bad:

1925 - Dean makes debut as Blues gunned down

Soccer - Football League Division One - Arsenal v Everton
Dean was a £3,000 signing from Tranmere in March 1925
Photo by Barratts/PA Images via Getty Images

1924-25 was among the more unremarkable seasons for Everton. Following the loss of goalkeeper Tommy Fern to Port Vale, and the lack of form of the previous year’s top scorers, Wilf Chadwick and Jack Cock, the Blues were desperate for extra fire power in their fight to survive.

Enter William Ralph ‘Dixie’ Dean; a £3,000 signing in March 1925 from across the River Mersey at Tranmere Rovers, where he had netted 27 goals in 30 Third Division appearances that term.

Dean would make his debut for the Blues against fellow strugglers Arsenal (yes, you read that correctly - in fact, the Gunners finished just one place above the drop) but didn’t get off the mark straight away. Fred Kennedy scored Everton’s only goal that day in a 3-1 defeat at Highbury.

But of course, there wouldn’t be a statue of him outside Goodison Park today had he kept firing too many blanks in a royal blue shirt.

1970 - Derby delight moves Everton closer to title

Oh, for the days when Everton would actually win at Anfield.

Just six games were left when Harry Catterick’s men took the short trip across Stanley Park, on the back of three consecutive league victories and an eight-game unbeaten run. Revenge was on the cards here, too, with Liverpool having won the reverse fixture 3-0 in December.

But even without the injured Jimmy Husband and captain Brian Labone, mainstays in Catterick’s side that year, Everton rose to the occasion. Top scorer Joe Royle’s looping header put the Blues in front, before Alan Whittle - uncle of Tom Davies - steered home a second just after the break.

Worthy winners on the day - would they prove to be worthy champions, too?

1991 - Leeds seen off in semi-final

Another turbulent season for the Blues arrived in 1990-91. A poor start of one win in ten league games spelt the end and return of Colin Harvey, who was initially sacked before becoming assistant to his replacement, Howard Kendall, who himself rejoined for his second stint as manager.

Everton’s form gradually, if not spectacularly, improved under Kendall that year; though they never reached higher than ninth. One crumb of comfort from an otherwise unremarkable season, though, was their run in the Zenith Data Systems Cup.

Formerly known as the Full Members’ Cup, and then the Simod Cup, this was a generally disliked competition aimed to fill the void left by the ban on English clubs in European competition following the 1985 Heysel disaster. Everton reached the final on two occasions; in 1989, when they were beaten by Nottingham Forest, and in 1991.

Having seen off Blackburn, Sunderland and Barnsley, the Blues booked their place at Wembley on March 21, winning the second leg of their regional final with Leeds 3-1, and 6-4 on aggregate.

A Tony Cottee brace and John Ebbrell saw Everton come from behind to see off Leeds at Goodison, though it required extra time after the match was still deadlocked at 1-1 after 90 minutes.

2009 - Baines off the mark but Blues go down to Pompey

Still going strong for Everton now as a 35-year-old, today marks 11 years since Leighton Baines, a £6 million signing from Wigan in August 2007, scored his first goal for his boyhood club. And how better to open his account than with a trademark Baines free-kick?

Only four minutes had passed when Baines, who had finally nailed down his place having played second fiddle to Joleon Lescott previously, planted the ball beautifully past Portsmouth goalkeeper David James to give the Blues an early lead. The first of many, it was so perfectly placed that James didn’t even bother to dive for it.

Unfortunately for Baines, the day was overshadowed by a 2-1 defeat to Pompey, as Peter Crouch’s brace gave the struggling hosts three priceless points and dented the top four hopes of the Blues, who suffered just their second league loss in 14 games.