March 31st isn’t a packed day in Everton history, but it still has some memorable moments to look back on. Let’s take a look at how this date shaped the Toffees’ past as we know it.
1906: Everton defeat Merseyside rivals in FA Cup Semis
After heartbreak in the FA Cup semifinals the year prior, Everton were looking to take care of unfinished business in the 1905-1906 FA Cup. They started the competition on a roll defeating both West Bromwich Albion and Chesterfield Town handily, scoring three goals in each game. Then, in the following round it was a 1-0 victory over Bradford City that catapulted them to the Quarterfinals. In the quarters, the Toffees would be matched up with Sheffield Wednesday, who were fighting for the league title, as well. There wasn’t much defense played in this one, but the Toffees did just enough to beat their opponents, 4-3, to advance to the semis. That brings us to March 31st, 1906.
Everton were drawn against their Merseyside neighbors, Liverpool, as they looked to avoid defeat for the second straight year in the semifinals. The Toffees had already had success against their rivals that season as they beat them at home, 4-2, earlier in the campaign. With both teams looking to advance to the Finals and win their first-ever FA Cup, they took the pitch at Villa Park. With 37,000 watching on, Everton held Liverpool at bay for the first half, sending things into the break scoreless. It was in the second half that Everton took advantage. First, it was Walter Abbott, then Harold Hardman for the Toffees as they took down Liverpool, 2-0, and advanced to the FA Cup Final. It was there where they defeated Newcastle for their first-ever FA Cup title, 1-0.
1910: Everton suffer another FA Cup semifinal disappointment
After two straight trips to the FA Cup Final in 1906 and 1907, Everton struggled in the competition, failing to make it past the second round in 1909. But, the wait to get back to the semifinals would not last long as the Toffees found themselves back in the FA Cup mix in 1910. After defeating Middlesborough, Woolwich Arsenal, Sunderland, and Coventry City, Everton were drawn against Second Division side Barnsley. After the two sides played to a scoreless draw at Elland Road on March 26th, they faced off at Old Trafford for the replay on March 31st, 1910.
The Toffees came out flat in this one and it proved costly. Everton were held scoreless, once again, while Barnsley slotted three past goalkeeper Billy Scott to win in impressive fashion. Barnsley’s run would end there, though, as Newcastle grabbed the FA Cup trophy 2-0 in a replay that was, ironically, held at Goodison Park. Everton’s FA Cup woes would continue for the next 23 years as their next trip to the competition’s final would not come until 1933.
2012: Everton defeat West Brom to continue late surge
Everton’s start to the 2011-2012 season wasn’t exactly a fantastic one. Despite going unbeaten in 5 of their first 6 matches, winning 4 of them, the Toffees fell off a cliff over the next three and a half months, losing 8 of their next 11 matches and 10 of their next 18. But, after a loss at White Hart Lane to Tottenham Hotspur in mid January, things started to turn around. The Toffees went on a 9-game unbeaten run in all competitions and found themselves in the FA Cup Quarterfinals. After a couple of losses in the league, Everton went on a 5-game unbeaten run, which brings us to March 31st, 2012.
With the Toffees surging up the league table, they took on West Brom at Goodison Park, looking for their 3rd win in a row in all competitions. Things got off to a good start as Leon Osman netted a goal in the 18th minute to put Everton up 1-0. It would be quiet the rest of the half for both sides, but after the break, the Toffees bagged their second of the day. Victor Anichebe found himself on the end of a Steven Pienaar cross that he finished first time into the bottom corner. That would be all Everton would need as they took care of business, 2-0. Despite the disappointment of falling to their Merseyside rivals in the FA Cup semis, Everton went unbeaten in 10 of their last 11 in all competitions. On top of that, they would get some quick revenge on Liverpool as they finished above the Reds in the league table for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign.
And THAT is today in Everton history.