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On This Day In Everton History: May 6th

A tale of two important managers in this team's history

Soccer - League Division One - Everton Photocall - Goodison Park Photo by PA Images via Getty Images

May 6th is a pretty important day in Everton history for a couple of reasons, so let’s take a look at how this date shaped Everton history as we know it!

1981: Gordon Lee is sacked

Gordon Lee had one of the more interesting managerial careers that the club has seen, mainly because his rise and fall were all so quick. In 1977, Lee, who was in charge of Newcastle at the time, was approached about managing an Everton club who sat in 15th place just 3 points above the relegation zone. As we all know, Lee accepted the position and started to build his legacy with the team. Starting in January, Lee led the Toffees from the bottom of the table up to 9th place by the end of the year, losing just 2 of 18 league matches while also leading the team to the League Cup Final and the FA Cup Semi-finals that year.

It would only get better from there as the 1977-78 season began. Despite losing the first two matches of the campaign, the Toffees went on a 22-game unbeaten streak in all competitions that lasted from the end of August to mid-December. There would be a few bumps in the road from there, though, taking Everton out of the title race and earning them 3rd place, an impressive feat nonetheless. Things were looking up and that would continue the following season as the Toffees started the year unbeaten in their first 17 matches in all competitions and in their first 19 league matches, but that is where things took a turn for the worst. Despite the hot start, Everton would finish the 1978-79 season winning just 6 of their remaining 24 games, ruining another great start as the Toffees finished fourth that year. Their place in the table wasn’t bad by any means, but people saw the end was near for this spectacular success.

They would be proven right the following season as Lee led Everton to just 9 league wins in 42 matches, including just 2 away wins. That campaign the Toffees finished just above the relegation zone in 19th, 4 points above Bristol City. At that time, there was a growing concern with Lee and his defensive tactics and it showed at every game as attendance was taking a dive. So, as the 1980-81 season began, Lee had to turn things around or else he was headed for the door. And he did for a short period of time as Everton came out that season losing just 3 of their first 13 matches in all competitions, including winning 6 of 7 over the course of a month. It would get bumpy from there as the Toffees won back-to-back games just twice from the beginning of October through the end of February, but the worst was yet to come. As March began, Everton’s faltering jumped to a whole other level. The rest of the season was a disaster as the Toffees lost 6 straight and 9 of their remaining 13 matches. That brings us to May 6th, 1981.

After a scoreless draw with Wolverhampton 2 days prior to end the season, Everton found themselves in 15th place. Lee had done a tremendous job to bring the club back from the bottom, but, now, he was back where he started just 4 years prior and that was not a good sign for him. So on May 6th, 1981, Gordon Lee was sacked as the manager of Everton Football Club. He managed 234 matches, earning a 92-72-70 record with the Toffees. And if there was any question if the sacking was the right choice, Howard Kendall was the next man up and, well, we all know how that went.

1985: Everton secure league title

BUT, if you didn’t know how that went, you are in luck! Because this date happened to give us one of Howard Kendall’s many achievements as manager of the Toffees. After Kendall took over for Lee, he started to build the club back up again. It took some time, but by the end of the 1983-84 campaign, things were looking pretty good as Everton had beaten Watford to take home the FA Cup. Surely, Toffee fans were happy just to bring home their first piece of silverware in 13 years, but that was just the beginning. As we have mentioned multiple times, 1984-85 was possibly one of the best seasons Everton has ever had as a club. They were in the FA Cup, the European Cup Winner’s Cup and were dominating their way through the league. The Toffees lost just 6 times through the month of December, before going on an unbelievable unbeaten run. From December 26th through the beginning of May, Everton didn’t lose a single match in all competitions, placing them in the European Cup Winner’s Cup Final and the FA Cup Final and giving them the lead in the league title race, which brings us to May 6th, 1985.

With the Toffees holding a firm lead over Liverpool in the league, they welcomed Queens Park Rangers to Goodison Park for a very important game in the race for the top division title. Everton had already drawn with QPR on the road earlier in the season, but if they were able to grab all three points this time around, they would be able to lock up the league title. So, with that in mind, both teams took the pitch in front of a crowd of over 50,000, most of them hoping to witness the Toffees officially hold off their Merseyside rivals. And they were in luck. The Everton defense was tremendous that day, keeping a clean sheet while Derek Mountfield and Graeme Sharp each bagged a goal as the Toffees won the match, and the league, 2-0. Exactly 4 years after Howard Kendall had took over the managerial duties, Everton had now won their first league title since the 1969-70 campaign. On top of that, they would win the European Cup Winner’s Cup just over a week later to cap off the double before falling just short of the treble in a 1-0 loss to Manchester United in the FA Cup Final. Nonetheless, an amazing campaign during one of the most memorable periods in the club’s existence.

And THAT is today in Everton history!