May 5th has displayed some of the highest highs and the lowest lows in the club’s past, so let’s take a look at how this date shaped Everton history as we know it!
1928: Dixie Dean breaks goal record on final match day
As we have talked about a lot when doing these posts, 1927-28 was a special year to be a Toffee fan. Coming off a very disappointing season, not many expected Everton to be any good that year, but they proved everyone wrong and it was thanks to one man, Dixie Dean. The Toffees were in great form to start the season and it was because of an unbelievable 25 goals in 14 games by Dean. And that was just the beginning. He would continue his dominance in English Football, tallying 43 goals by March, but then he hit a drought. Things would get a bit hairy towards the end of the season as the rush to beat the scoring record set just one season prior seemed almost impossible, but when you score this many goals in a season, you need a little bit of luck and that’s exactly what Dean got. He would score 4 against Burnley in the penultimate match of the season, putting him just two shy of the record with just one game to play. That brings us to May 5th, 1928.
Everton had already won the league title that year, but 48,715 rowdy fans showed up hoping to see history that day. The Toffees took on Arsenal, a team who they had lost to twice already, but, more importantly, a team that Dean had scored 3 goals against that year. Even though there was nothing to play for in this one, there were still nerves and excitement around Goodison Park. Unfortunately, the game started terribly for the Toffees as they allowed Arsenal to score in just the 2nd minute, but have no fear, Dixie Dean was there. A minute later, the English striker bagged the equalizer. 58 goals. The fans wouldn’t have to wait long for #59 either as Arsenal committed a foul in the box, giving Everton a penalty kick. Dean would step up and smash it home. 59 goals and tied for the single-season goal-scoring record. Things hit a lull from there as Arsenal equalized and the score remained 2-2 with a nervous crowd watching on. Dean kept the fans waiting on the edge of their seats, but he did not send them home unhappy. With just 8 minutes left in the match, it happened. Dean got his head on a cross and smashed it into the back of the net. 60 goals, cue limbs. Arsenal would equalize before the end of the game as things finished all square at 3, but no one cared about that because they just witnessed one of the greatest strikers in English football history net 60 goals in a season, a record that will almost definitely never be broken.
1951: Everton get relegated for the second time in their history.
From one of the best times in Everton history to one of the worst, 1950-51 is a season that every Everton fan would love to forget. Coming off an 18th place finish the season prior, things were not looking good in the Toffees camp. They needed to turn it around or else they were doomed for relegation. Unfortunately, the beginning of the season was the opposite of what they needed. Everton lost 12 of their first 18 games, winning just three of them, putting the club in a terrible spot almost midway through the campaign. December brought a glimmer of hope as the Toffees steadied the ship a bit, going unbeaten in 10 of their next 14 games through the end of February, but disaster struck shortly after. Everton failed to win any of their next 9 matches and with two games remaining, they were looking at relegation to the second division. Luckily, Everton beat Derby County on the road, 1-0, to give them a chance at staying up heading into the final match of the season. That brings us to May 5th, 1951.
With the Toffees needing just one point to avoid relegation that year, they travelled to Hillsborough to take on Sheffield Wednesday. Going into the match, Sheffield Wednesday was also in the relegation zone, three points behind Everton, so the Toffees didn’t have a tough opponent that day. In fact, they had drawn a game against Sheffield Wednesday just over a month earlier, so fans had reason to be optimistic as the team only needed one point. Unfortunately, all that optimism went out the door with the blink of an eye. Sheffield Wednesday came out firing and the Everton defense had no answers for them. By the end of the match, their opponents had put 6 past the Toffees to earn a 6-0 victory and all three points. Everton were officially relegated for just the 2nd time in their history and wouldn’t make their way back to the top division for another three seasons. Ironically, despite finishing even on points with Chelsea, Sheffield Wednesday’s win was not enough to catapult them out of the bottom two, earning them relegation, as well.
And THAT is today in Everton history!