April 22nd has brought a variety of headlines for the Toffees in years past, so let’s take a look at how this date shaped Everton history as we know it!
1939: Everton earn a good enough result to clinch league title
Coming into the 1938-39 season, Everton had not finished in the top half of the table in three seasons. Even more so, the Toffees hadn’t finished in the top 4 since the last time they won the league back in the 1931-32 campaign. So, when they kicked off the season in 1938, there was no reason to believe that this year would be any different, but that would change very quickly. Everton got off to a great start, winning their first 6 matches, giving up just 3 goals. After that, there was a tiny dip in form as the Toffees went 8-7-1 to finish off the calendar year, but they would bounce back. Everton would start 1939 off with a bang, going unbeaten in 9 straight matches in all competitions. A 7-0 dismantling by Wolves in the league and a 2-0 defeat to them in the FA Cup over the span of a week and a half certainly caused more panic, but Everton would steady the ship once more. Another 9 game unbeaten streak found the Toffees on top of the league table, narrowly above Wolves, with three games remaining. That brings us to April 22nd, 1939.
With a slim lead over Wolverhampton, Everton travelled to Charlton Athletic, while Wolves faced off against Bolton. Any small slip up could put even more pressure on the Toffees as they chased the league title for the second time that decade. Unfortunately, they couldn’t handle the pressure as they were unable to take down Charlton, losing 2-1, opening the door for Wolves. Luckily, Wolves felt the pressure too and were unable to find the back of the net, settling for a scoreless draw with Bolton. The failure to grab all three points would be costly for Wolves as the draw handed Everton the title. The Toffees won the league for the fifth time in their history that year, beating out Wolves by just 4 points.
1961: Harry Catterick makes his Everton managerial debut
Harry Catterick is well-known by Toffee fans around the world, not only for his playing-time at the club, but for his time managing the Blues, as well. As a player, Catterick was good, leading the line for the the Toffees on multiple occasions, but he found his niche as a manager. Coming into the 1960-61 season, the Toffees were looking for some sort of success. They found some that year, going on a 16-game unbeaten streak from early September to late November, but then things fell apart. The Toffees lost 13 of their next 20 games, including a 7 game stretch where they failed to score more than once in any match, losing every time. Harry Catterick, on the other hand, had Sheffield Wednesday performing exceptionally well and competing for the league title and the Everton board took notice. So, when the opportunity arose, they brought the former Everton player back to the club to manage the side and, hopefully, bring them back to the glory days. That brings us to April 22nd, 1961.
After agreeing to move, Catterick took charge of the Toffees for the first time as they travelled to take on his former club, Sheffield Wednesday. The club was back in decent form, going unbeaten in their last 5 matches, and Catterick was looking to keep them on that path. Luckily for him, and for Everton fans around the world, he did just that. The Toffees took down Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 behind a brace from Frank Wignall. They would finish that campaign in 5th and the Catterick era would only get better from there. The Englishman’s managerial spell at the club lasted until 1973 when a heart attack forced Catterick out of the role of manager and into a less strenuous position as senior executive. In his time in charge, the Toffees brought home 5 trophies, a number only surpassed by Howard Kendall.
2012: Nikica Jelavic sets scoring record
Coming into the 2011-12 season, Everton were hoping to break into the top 4 for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign. They had finished between 5th and 8th each of the last 5 seasons and there was hope that they would finally break back into Champions League football that year. Unfortunately, after winning 4 of their first 6 matches, the Toffees lost 8 of their next 11 and by January things were looking bleak. With the winter transfer window open, David Moyes went out in search of players to fuel the second half of the season and possibly make a big run in the league and at the FA Cup. That’s where he found Nikica Jelavic. Coming from Scottish side Glasgow Rangers on the last day of the window, the 6’2” Croatian forward took some time to make an impact at the club, but once he did, it was a pretty big one. That brings us to April 22nd, 2012.
With the Toffees out of both domestic cups and fading in the league, they travelled to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United, who was competing for the title. At the time, Nikica Jelavic had scored in 4 successive matches away from Goodison, which included two FA Cup matches, and he had no plans of stopping there. In a match where the Toffees were down 3-1 and 4-2, Jelavic helped close the gap with 2 goals in the match as Everton came from behind to earn a thrilling 4-4 draw. Along with the result, Jelavic became the first player in club history to score in 5 successive away matches, a streak that would fall in the team’s next away fixture.
And THAT is today in Everton history!