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On This Day in Everton History: March 22nd

FA Cup heartbreak, Royle’s last stand and Martínez magic in today’s feature

Everton v Swansea City - Premier League
Roberto Martínez’s Everton beat Swansea 3-2 six years ago today
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Want to relive some March 22 memories of Everton? Here’s four high and lows in the Blues’ history on this day:

1969 - Last-gasp City winner crushes Blues’ FA Cup dreams

Villa Park was the stage, March 22 was the date. In front of an audience of more than 60,000, it was time for Everton’s third FA Cup semi-final in four years. And against mid-table Manchester City, Harry Catterick’s high-flying Blues looked clear favourites.

Alas, it was not to be. A damp squib of a match was settled in the final minute by City’s Tommy Booth, who thumped the ball past Gordon West in a scramble from a corner to set up a date at Wembley with fellow semi-final winners, Leicester City.

It marked Everton’s first defeat in all competitions since early December, but also the sixth game in a row in which they had failed to score more than once, with such profligacy perhaps accounting for why they did not finish higher than third that year.

1997 - Royle resigns after United defeat

If Catterick’s Everton side in 1968-69 were a model of consistency, the 1996-97 crop under Joe Royle were anything but.

Only once in this campaign did the Blues string successive victories together, and after a 1-0 win at home to Derby County seven days earlier, March 22 marked another defeat at the hands of eventual champions Manchester United.

Goals from Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Eric Cantona sealed a 2-0 away win for United, and sealed the fate of Royle, who resigned five days after this latest defeat. By then, Andrei Kanchelskis had gone, Andy Hinchliffe was out for the season and Royle had stopped talking to the press. Things had been brewing for weeks, but this loss proved the last straw.

2014 - Three in a row for Martínez’s men

Everton v Swansea City - Premier League
Romelu Lukaku scored in Everton’s 3-2 win over Swansea six years ago today
Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images

2014 saw Everton arrest a dreadful record on March 22; their 3-2 home win over struggling Swansea that day was their first victory on this date in 11 attempts, since a 4-2 triumph over Portsmouth in 1958.

Leighton Baines’ penalty got the Blues off and running, but were soon pegged back by the lethal Wilfried Bony, who netted 25 goals in his debut season in English football that year.

But quick-fire goals shortly after the break from Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley put Everton out of sight; not even future pantomime villain Ashley Williams could spoil the party with his injury-time consolation.

This marked the third of seven consecutive league wins for the Blues, as their top four challenge gathered momentum in Roberto Martínez’s first year at the helm.

2015 - Beleaguered Blues edge past doomed QPR

Queens Park Rangers v Everton - Premier League
Aaron Lennon’s late winner sealed the three points for Everton at QPR
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

A year later, much of the good will towards Martínez had already evaporated.

The Blues narrowly missed on fourth place, and three days prior to their trip to QPR on March 22, 2015, they were dumped out of the Europa League by Dynamo Kiev. Everton won the first leg 2-1, but utterly capitulated in Ukraine to lose 5-2, crash out and essentially declare their season over.

Indeed, if there was anything left to play for after that, it was survival, after a wretched run of three wins from 14 league games left Everton just six points above the drop prior to this game.

Thankfully, they eased those fears with a 2-1 win at Loftus Road that day, thanks to an early strike from Seamus Coleman and a late winner from Tottenham loanee Aaron Lennon, leaving their hosts rooted in the relegation mire.