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On This Day In Everton History: May 8th

Kendall appointed manager, and an incredible unbeaten streak

Tottenham Hotspur v Everton - Howard Kendall Photo by Mark Leech/Getty Images

This date began one of the most memorable times in the Toffees’ past, so let’s take a look at how this date shaped Everton history as we know it!

1981: Howard Kendall is appointed manager

Coming into the 1980-81 season, Gordon Lee was on the rocks as Everton manager. He began his stint at the club back in January of 1977 trying to save the Toffees from relegation as they teetered above the bottom three in 15th place. He would do just that, bringing Everton into 9th place before the end of the campaign and things would only get better from there. The following two seasons were tremendous as the club finished in 3rd and 4th place, respectively, but there were signs that things were about to take another turn and in 1979, they did. The Toffees had an awful 1979-80 campaign, finishing 4 points clear of relegation in 19th place. So when it came to the 1980-81 season, Gordon Lee needed to get the most out of his team. He did for a short period of time as the Toffees lost only 3 of their first 13 games, but it was all downhill from there. By the end of the season, Everton were in 15th place, the same position as when Lee took over, spelling the end of the Englishmen’s tenure at the club. That brings us to May 8th, 1981.

In need of a manager, the Everton board looked towards Howard Kendall to fill the role as a player-manager. On this day, he accepted the position and the rest is history. He only played four matches before retiring from his playing career to focus on managing, but that led to one of the Toffees’ best runs as Kendall led the club to 7 pieces of silverware, while finishing runners up in 5 other competitions during the 1980s. His first stint at the club ended in 1987, after winning the team’s second league title in 3 seasons, over his frustrations with the European ban that forbid English teams from competing in their competitions. He would come back for more on two separate occasions, managing the club from 1990-1993 and again for the 1997-98 campaign, neither of which were as successful as his first stint. Either way, he will go down as one of the club’s favorite managers after leading the Toffees to new heights during his time at Everton.

Everton League Champions 1984/85
Everton players Gary Stevens (l) Trevor Steven and Kevin Sheedy (r) parade the Canon First Division Trophy for the 1984/85 season
Photo by David Cannon/Allsport/Getty Images

1985: Everton go unbeaten in 28th consecutive match

Howard Kendall’s most impressive campaign by far was the 1984-85 season. It might have even been the most impressive campaign in Toffee history. After finishing in 7th, 8th and 7th in the three previous seasons, respectively, Everton got off to an unbelievable start that year, going unbeaten in 20 of their first 23 matches in all competitions, winning 10 in a row from early October to mid-November. From there they hit a slump, winning just one of their next 6 matches, but at the end of December, the Toffees hit their stride. By May 6th, they had gone unbeaten in 27 straight matches and won the league title, but they weren’t done there. That brings us to May 8th, 1985.

Looking to continue their unbelievable run, Everton welcomed West Ham United to Goodison Park. The Toffees had already beaten the Hammers once that season and this time around would be no different. Neville Southall and the Toffee defense were terrific, holding their opponents scoreless, while Derek Mountfield netted a brace and Andy Gray added another for a 3-0 victory. The win was Everton’s 28th consecutive match without a loss in all competitions, a club record that still stands today. Unfortunately, they would lose their next match, but they would make up for it just 4 days later when they beat Rapid Wien to win the European Cup Winner’s Cup.

And THAT is today in Everton history!