April 4th was a record breaking day in more ways than one for the Toffees, so let’s take a look back at how this date shaped Everton history as we know it!
1896: John Bell becomes Everton’s first Scottish International
John Bell became the first Everton player to represent Scotland ON THIS DAY in 1896.— Everton All Sorts (@EvertonAllSorts) April 4, 2014
From Graeme Sharp to David Weir to the Scottish Messi, Steven Naismith, Scottish Internationals have been a huge part of Everton history. But none of them took the field for their home nation before John Bell. The Scotsman played for the Toffees on two separate stints, from 1893-97 and then again from 1901-02. During his time at Everton he was a quick and dangerous winger who had 70 goals in almost 200 appearances for the club. Possibly his most important feat, though, was his help in the creation of the Association Footballers’ Union, earning him the nickname Union Jack, but none of that is why we are talking about him on April 4th.
On this day in 1896, the Scotsman became the first Everton player to ever earn an appearance for Scotland’s National team. In a game against England in Glasgow, Bell started for his home nation and bagged the second goal of the game after his teammate, William Lambie, scored the opener. Bell’s goal would eventually be the game-winner as Scotland took down England 2-1. Bell was the first of 32 Scottish Internationals to play for the Toffees who totaled 253 International caps and 36 goals.
1931: Everton set wins record
After a disappointing 1929-30 season, Everton found themselves in the Second Division for the first time in the club’s history. Surely, morale was down, but the Toffees didn’t let that affect them as they went out to earn promotion back to the top division the following year. The quality of this team showed early as they won their first 5 matches before drawing and losing in the next 2. But as September ended, Everton took off. The Toffees lost only 2 of their next 28 matches in all competitions and hadn’t lost at home in the league since mid-September. That brings us to April 4th, 1931.
Despite four losses in their last six matches, Everton’s home winning streak in the league was still intact. As they took the pitch at Goodison Park, the Toffees were looking to win their 15th straight home league match, but were facing a tough Bradford Park Avenue side. Everton would give up two goals to their opponents, but that didn’t matter in the end as Jimmy Stein and George Scott Martin each had a goal to go along with Dixie Dean’s brace as the Toffees beat Bradford, 4-2. The win broke their record for most consecutive home league wins and guaranteed the Toffees promotion back to the top division.
1972: Everton winless on the road
Like 41 years prior, 1971-72 was also a record setting season for the Toffees, just not the type you want. Just a couple years removed from their league and FA Cup-winning campaign, Everton were coming off a terrible end to the 1970-71 season, winning just 1 of their final 13 games in all competitions. Even more concerning, the Toffees hadn’t won an away match since September 30th, 1970 and hadn’t won away in the league since September 19th of the same year. Everton hoped to change that in their 1971-72 campaign, but things didn’t go as planned. The Toffees went winless in their first 20 away matches of the season, bringing us to April 4th, 1972.
With 38 straight away matches without a win, Everton travelled to Coventry City hoping to, finally, break the streak that had lasted since the beginning of last season. Unfortunately, the horror would continue. David Johnson would score for the Toffees, but it wasn’t nearly enough as Coventry City dominated the game, winning 4-1. The loss was Everton’s 39th straight away game without a win in all competitions and their 35th straight in the league, both records for the club. Fortunately, the misery would end just four days later as the Toffees travelled to Southampton where they held the Saints scoreless, while Mick Buckley scored the lone goal to give the Toffees their first away win in over a year and a half.
1987: Everton move into first place in Division One
The mid-1980s were possibly the best years in Everton History. The FA Cup in 1984, the League Title and European Cup Winner’s Cup Champions in 1984-85 and runners-up in several other competitions and the 1986-87 season would only add to that. In a year where Everton and Liverpool were once again fighting for trophies, the Toffees started the campaign undefeated in their first 7 matches, but things would get a little bumpy from there. Everton lost 5 of their next 8 before steadying the ship by mid October and that’s when they went on a run. By the end of March, they were sitting just behind Liverpool in the title race, which brings us to April 4th, 1987.
The Toffees were within striking distance as they travelled to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea. Everton were in the midst of a 3-game win streak and their crosstown rivals weren’t playing due to the League Cup. The stars were aligning and all Everton had to do was win. Luckily, for Toffee fans around the world, they would do just that. Kerry Dixon would score for the home side, but it wouldn’t be enough as an Alan Harper goal and some help from the hosts (an own goal) would give the Toffees a 2-1 win on the road. The victory took the Toffees above Liverpool where they stayed for the remainder of the season. Liverpool lost 5 of their final 9 league matches, while Everton won 10 of their last 12 to win their 9th, and most recent, league title, finishing 9 points above their rivals.
And THAT is today in Everton history!