From rules changes to suspensions to FA Cup matches, there is a lot that has happened on April 12th for the Toffees. So let’s take a look at how this date shaped Everton history as we know it.
1924: Chedgzoy forces rule change
As many of us know, the rules for taking a corner are pretty simple. There haven’t been too many changes to them over the years and they seem to have been locked in since the beginning of football, but there was a time when some of the simplest corner rules didn’t exist, which brings us to April 12th, 1924.
The Toffees were taking on Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane late in the season. Neither team was in the battle for the title and they weren’t truly in the relegation battle either, so there wasn’t much to play for with the campaign coming to a close. Despite all of that, though, this game still brought us one of the more important rule changes in history. The Toffees ended up beating Spurs 5-2, but it was Sam Chedgzoy’s goal that got all the attention. Chedgzoy was in charge of taking corners for the Toffees at the time and instead of distributing the ball into the box or to a player standing a few feet away, the Englishman just dribbled the ball himself. Even at that time, surely, the act seemed illegal, but it wasn’t and Chedgzoy took the ball all the way from the corner to the net before firing a shot home. It was ingenious and shocking and it caught the attention of the Football Association who wasted no time in changing the rule at the end of the season, stating that, from then on, the corner taker could only touch the ball once.
1964: Tony Kay suspended for match-fixing
In the early 1960’s, Everton were starting to make noise on the big stage again after a trophy drought of 20+ years. One of the most talented players at that time was Tony Kay, a Sheffield native, who was dominating football for his hometown club, Sheffield Wednesday. In December of 1962, Everton splashed the cash for the dynamic midfielder, paying a British record transfer fee at the time of £60,000 to earn the services of Kay. They would go on to win the title that season, but disaster would strike for Kay and the Toffees just about a year later. That brings us to April 12th, 1964.
On this day, The Sunday People, released an article that contained allegations of match-fixing in English football, a scandal that involved Tony Kay. As the story goes, Jimmy Gauld, an ex-Everton forward, approached a couple of Sheffield Wednesday players about a match to bet on. They identified their match on December 1st, 1962 against Ipswich Town, a match they typically lost, as the one. From there, one Sheffield player, David Layne approached Tony Kay, who was still with Sheffield Wednesday at the time and persuaded him to bet £50 on the game at 2/1 odds. Sheffield Wednesday would lose the game 2-0 and bookmakers lost tons. It took a couple years, but The Sunday People reporter, Mike Gabbert, uncovered the story after asking Jimmy Gauld to help him by setting up a meeting with Tony Kay in a car that was rigged with microphones. It was that call that completed the investigation and helped convict Kay of his crime. There were 33 players that were convicted of match-fixing in the end, with Kay getting the worst of it, four months in prison, a £150 fine and a ban from football for life, despite the fact that he had only bet on one match. The ban would be lifted 7 years later, but Kay, then in his mid-30s, was unable to restart his career, ending a promising footballing future before it had really got started.
1980: Everton earn FA Cup semifinal draw
In a year where Everton just avoided relegation in the league, there was still some promise of bringing home their first trophy in 10 years at the end of the season. The Toffees had not been able to string together more than 2 wins in a row in the 1979-80 campaign, but they did manage to string together enough wins to find themselves in the FA Cup Semis. After a clean sheet victory over Brighton and Hove Albion and a few 3 goal victories over Aldershot, Wigan and Wrexham, Everton took on Ipswich town at home in the quarterfinals. It was a hard fought battle, but goals from Brian Kidd and Bobby Latchford earned the Toffees a 2-1 victory and a trip to the FA Cup semis, which brings us to April 12th, 1980.
In a match that took place at Villa Park, Everton took on the second division’s West Ham United. But, despite the fact that they were playing in different leagues, the sides were evenly matched. Stuart Pearson scored for the Hammers and Brian Kidd converted a penalty for the Toffees before being sent off as this one ended all square at 1. The semifinal would go to a replay at Elland Road where West Ham’s magical run would continue as they knocked off Everton, 2-1, to advance to the final. The Hammers would finish their Cinderella story by defeating defending FA Cup champs Arsenal 1-0, making history as the last team that wasn’t from the top division to win the trophy. As for Everton, it was disappointment again, but it wasn’t long before that all faded and the Toffees became an English powerhouse in the mid 1980’s.
And THAT is today in Everton history.