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Everton 2020/21 Season Preview: Memorable opening-day moments

As the start of the 2020-21 campaign approaches, we look back at some significant curtain-raisers in previous years for Everton

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton FC - Premier League
Richarlison scored two on his Everton debut on the opening day of the 2018-19 season at Wolves
Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

A little later than normal, but finally, it’s that time of year again. The season previews have been written, the new kits released, the talking over and done with. This weekend, a new campaign gets underway for Everton, starting with Sunday’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur.

With that in mind, here’s a look back at some of Everton’s most treasured opening-day memories, including crushing victories and the first chapters of title-winning campaigns. Let’s take a walk down memory lane:

September 6, 1890 - Everton blow Baggies away

In the early days of football, Everton were absolutely beloved on Merseyside. Strolling down those formative years, it is of little wonder. In just the third season of the Football League, Everton had made themselves a formidable, consistent contender. For this Blues side, fresh off finishing runners up the year prior, Dick Molyneux’s outfit would add William Campbell from Bootle F.C. to play centre-half for the upcoming campaign.

September 6, a starting point more recognisable for us this year than perhaps many past, saw this slightly changed Everton soar. 20-year-old Scottish goalkeeper Jack Angus had usurped former starter Robert Smalley for this match, a trend which would continue more often than not; meanwhile, Campbell would score to welcome Toffees across the north to a new era.

West Bromwich Albion stood no chance, and were blown away on the opening day 4-1, with Molyneux reaping great reward for these choices on this day, and beyond. With Everton eventually edging out two-time defending champions Preston North End by just two points when the season ended, they could finally celebrate properly as champions.

August 27, 1927 - Everton kick off title-winning campaign and Dixie begins legendary scoring torrent

To start the campaign that would see Everton win the league for a third time, this time by just two points against Huddersfield Town, a 4-0 thrashing of Sheffield Wednesday was in store. It may have just seemed like a strong start to a season by a young, vibrant and historical club but in reality, aside from the victory here and the eventual First Division championship, Toffees striker Dixie Dean and boss Thomas McIntosh were in the midst of unbelievable history, and an unbreakable record.

While Dean scored just one goal on this day, it would be far from his last of the year. In league competition alone, he would score a still-unmatched 60 domestic strikes to bring Everton another First Division title. This does not mention those scored internationally or in the FA Cup, which actually brings his tally for the year to 63 goals for club, and 67 overall. It is truly a remarkable and unmatchable feat, and one that began with a one-goal effort against the Owls on the opening day of 1927-28.

August 24, 1963 - Catterick’s champions begin title defence in style against Fulham

Funnily enough, Everton’s final game of the 1962-63 campaign was also their opening fixture of the 1963-64 season - at home to Fulham.

Harry Catterick’s men had clinched the First Division title with that final-day 4-1 trouncing of the Cottagers back in May, and continued where they left off by kicking off a new term with a 3-0 win over the Whites.

An own goal from Bobby Keetch after just five minutes set the tone, with Derek Temple and Alex Scott increasing the Toffees’ lead in the second half, as Everton followed up a 4-0 Charity Shield win over Manchester United the previous week with another convincing victory and clean sheet.

You can usually rely on Fulham to leave Goodison Park empty-handed, though - they have never won at the Grand Old Lady in the league, losing 23 - the last 22 consecutively - and drawing their other four visits.

August 9, 1969 - Stunning season starts with Highbury victory

Another unforgettable year for the Blues started with victory away at Arsenal, as Everton kicked off a 1969-70 season which would see them win the First Division again in the best possible fashion.

A shortened season due to the forthcoming World Cup in Mexico meant that Catterick’s men, with no summer arrivals, faced a gruelling start of seven games in the first three weeks of the campaign. But they would embrace this challenge head-on, winning six and drawing one, starting with this 1-0 triumph at Highbury.

Everton were made to wait for the winner, but John Hurst’s 84th-minute volley from a free-kick that caused chaos in the Gunners’ penalty area proved decisive, and the perfect way to kickstart a season that will live long in the memory of any Evertonian from that generation.

August 21, 1976 - Rampant Everton crush QPR at Loftus Road

The fixture list did not look to have been particularly kind to Everton on first glance in 1976. After a middling previous campaign under Billy Bingham, resulting in an 11th-placed finish, first up for the Blues this time around was a trip to Queens Park Rangers, who had missed out on the First Division title by one point last term.

On this sunny August day, though, you wouldn’t have known it. Everton cruised to a thumping 4-0 victory at Loftus Road, starting with QPR goalkeeper Phil Parkes throwing the ball into his own net after just eight minutes.

David Jones was then sent off, but Bob Latchford doubled their lead soon after, before getting his second and Everton’s fourth late on after Mick Bernard’s spot-kick had made it three. That wasn’t the only penalty of the game though; George Wood heroically denied Stan Bowles from 12 yards in a convincing start to what would transpire as a much-improved season for the Blues.

August 27, 1988 - Cottee bags hat trick in devastating debut

After finishing third the prior season, the Toffees had high hopes of getting back to the pinnacle of English soccer in the 1988-89 season. To add to their already stacked team, Colin Harvey brought in the talented West Ham United forward, Tony Cottee, for a club record fee to provide a little boost upfront. Cottee had scored just under 100 goals in a little over 200 appearances for the club and was surely going to add some fire power to the talented Toffee front line. Then came his debut.

On August 27th, 1988, Everton opened the season up at home, welcoming Newcastle United to Goodison to kick off the campaign. New signing Tony Cottee would start and it didn’t take long for him to make an impression. Just 35 seconds in, the London-born forward bagged his first Everton goal and it wouldn’t stop there. He would grab two more to go along with a goal from Graeme Sharp as the Toffees battered Newcastle 4-0. This would be the first of six hat-tricks Cottee would score in an Everton shirt as he netted 72 goals in 184 appearances for the club before moving back to West Ham in 1994.

August 15, 1992 - Everton play first game in ‘Premier League’

As many know, England’s top-flight was not always called by its current name. Before 1992, the top division went by ‘League Division One’ or ‘Football League Division One’. But, after the powers that be at some of the top clubs across England, including Everton, got together, they decided that in 1992 they would start their own ‘super league’ in England, breaking away from The Football League, featuring some of the best teams and garnering tons of TV money. So, as the 1992-93 campaign got underway, Everton and many others were stepping into a whole new world of English football.

On August 15, 1992, Everton welcomed Sheffield Wednesday to Goodison Park to begin their new journey into what we now call the Premier League. The Toffees, who finished in an uninspiring 12th the previous season, trotted out a mostly English team with just two players coming from further afield (Barry Horne and Neville Southall from Wales). Wednesday, on the other hand, had finished in third the previous campaign and had qualified for the UEFA Cup.

That didn’t matter on this day, though, as the sides played out a measly 1-1 draw. Barry Horne would net the lone goal for the Toffees who had another difficult season, finishing in 13th. As we all know, the Premier League hasn’t been the kindest to Everton since its start, as the Toffees have managed just one trophy and no league titles in its history.

August 17, 2002 - Rooney debuts for Everton

Wayne Rooney was a boyhood Evertonian. From the time he was a youngster, he supported and, sooner rather than later, played for the club he loved. He slowly but surely worked his way up through the ranks at Everton, making a name for himself as he worked to climb to the top. So much so, that when it was time for him to make the jump to the first team, he was one of Everton’s most exciting prospects and, possibly, one of the most exciting across the league.

So, after finishing 15th in 2001-02, the Toffees looked to their youth academy for a spark that would help catapult them out of the bottom half of the table.

Enter Wayne Rooney.

On August 17, 2002, 16-year old Rooney made his debut for his boyhood club. He would start up front alongside Tomasz Radzinski and Kevin Campbell as the Toffees took on Tottenham. The youngster wouldn’t score and would be subbed off in the 67th minute, but it was still a memorable day for the future Everton star. The Toffees drew 2-2 that day and would go on to finish seventh that season, but Rooney was only just getting started.

He would become the youngest goalscorer in Premier League history that year, scoring six goals in the campaign before adding to his Everton total with nine more in the following season. In 2004-05, he would be sold to Manchester United where he truly made a name for himself, before returning to Everton for one season in 2017-18.

August 19, 2006 - Howard debuts in goal

Entering the 2006-07 campaign, the Toffees were looking to beef up the back end of their lineup. They had finished 11th the previous season, conceding 49 goals, almost double the amount of any of the top 4. So the Everton board turned to Manchester United, the club they had sold Rooney to a few years prior, and asked about their young prospect Tim Howard.

Howard had played 32 times for the Red Devils in his first season with the club, winning the FA Cup, before seeing his time fizzle out with the introduction of Edwin van der Sar. So, in 2006, the American was loaned to Everton to get more first team playing time. Little did we know, it was the beginning of a tenured Everton career.

On August 19, 2006, Howard stepped between the posts at Goodison to begin his career as a Toffee. He would have a solid debut, conceding only an own goal, as Everton pulled out a 2-1 win over Watford to kickstart their campaign.

Howard would make more than 30 appearances for the club in his first season, helping them finish sixth, before being permanently bought by the Toffees in the following transfer window. Howard played more than 400 times for Everton, recording in excess of 130 clean sheets and even scoring a goal before making a move to the Colorado Rapids of the MLS in 2016.

Reading v Everton
Tim Howard initially joined Everton on loan in 2006
Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

August 11, 2018 - Richarlison scores two on sparkling debut

Coming into the 2018-19 campaign, new Everton boss Marco Silva was looking for reinforcements for his new club as they went into the summer transfer window. With knowledge of a talented Brazilian who currently resided at the manager’s former club, Watford, Silva raided the Hornets to add some extra fire-power to the Toffees’ attack.

The fee was reported to be between £40-50 million, but for what Everton were about to get, it was worth it. Despite the drawn-out saga between Everton and Watford, Richarlison was signed and ready to play by the time of the Blues’ first match of their new campaign - and boy, they needed him.

On August 11, 2018, Richarlison stepped onto the pitch against newly-promoted Wolves for the first time in a royal blue jersey. It didn’t take long for him to make a first impression as he put the Toffees ahead early with an easy finish right in front of goal for his first Everton strike.

The game would get a little tougher after that, though, as Phil Jagielka picked up a red card in the 40th minute, followed shortly after by a free-kick by Ruben Neves to tie things at 1-1.

But Richarlison would not let that stand. From a nice layoff by Cenk Tosun, the Brazilian beat a couple defenders and curved the ball right around goalkeeper Rui Patricio’s outstretched hand to net his second of the day. The game would end in a 2-2 draw, but it was still one of the more memorable opening day moments in recent history and, surely, a sign of things to come for Richarlison in an Everton shirt.

And THOSE are your most memorable opening day moments in Toffee history!


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