Throwback Thursday: Everton v Sheffield Wednesday, FA Cup Final (May 14th, 1966)

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Throwback Thursday: Everton v Sheffield Wednesday, FA Cup Final (May 14th, 1966)

If it seems like we feature a lot of the FA Cup in this Throwback Thursday series it’s only because the competition is steeped in history and drama. 135 years of English football is bound up in this tournament and, until fairly recently, the Final was the top of the mountain for most footballers (at least as far as their club career was concerned). It’s a rich field to plow.

The FA Cup Final is as much about pageantry and English identity as anything else. It’s not unlike the Super Bowl in terms of its function as a cultural mirror— we watch the game and we see ourselves in a somewhat distorted funhouse reflection.

But for all the liberal arts nonsense one could read into the occasion, there’s still a game of football to be played. And the 1966 Final between Everton and Sheffield Wednesday was a real cracker.

Other than the game itself, the 1966 Final— and this newsreel footage of it— are interesting for a few reasons.

First, there’s the look in on the dressing rooms before kickoff. The tradition in England of not allowing cameras in the dressing room has been surprisingly durable, even in the face of American investment and influence. Yet exceptions have been made over the years, and the opening few minutes of British Pathé’s newsreel offers a peek at Everton players scared out of their gourds. (Wouldn’t you be?) The officials looked marginally less piqued, which is only natural.

Not shown in the newsreel footage: John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who were both in attendance.

But on to the football. Wednesday went ahead in the fourth minute when midfielder Jim McCalliog found his target from just inside the 18. Everton appeared to find an equalizer a short time later but winger Alex Scott was caught offside. The Toffees pressed hard throughout the first half but couldn’t find an opening, and both teams went into the break with Wednesday up by a goal to nil.

(Oh hey, a marching band!)

Everton nearly pulled level early in the second half but a shot was pushed just wide as fans undulated in the stands. As the sun emerged from the English spring haze, Wednesday doubled their lead when David Ford claimed the ball on the rebound and slotted it past a prone Gordon West. It was the 57th minute and it looked like the Cup was headed to Hillsborough.

And this is when history was made.

Two minutes later Mike Trebilcock collected an attempted clearance and hit the near corner of the net from 12 yards out. There were just about 30 minutes left and Everton were back in it.

Five minutes later the Toffees got their equalizer. Another botched clearance fell right at Trebilcock’s feet on the 18 yard line and he hit the exact same spot as before. In just seven minutes Everton had went from all but hopeless to level terms, and Wembley could barely contain itself.

At least one fan definitely couldn’t. An Evertonian by the name of Eddie Cavanagh ran onto the pitch right after the equalizer and had to be chased down by police officers.

As the newsreel commentator noted, this had turned into the kind of cup final fans dream about and hardly ever see. The game’s place in English football history was sealed in the 74th minute when Everton winger Derek Temple got the ball on the break and buried it in the lower left-hand corner. The Toffees had been down 2-0 in a Cup Final with just over an hour gone and had turned it completely around in the space of 15 minutes. Wednesday players were dejected, more fans invaded the pitch, and there were moments when it seemed like the sky would come crashing down, like the world couldn’t contain what was happening anymore.

Everton hung on for full time, secured their 3-2 win, and center half Brian Labone led his team up to the Royal Box and took the cup from Queen Elizabeth. If you’re an Everton fan alive today, this is one of those games that makes you wish you had a time machine.

Everton have won the FA Cup five times in all, the last being in 1995. They’ll have a chance to keep their run for number six alive this Saturday when they host Chelsea in the quarterfinals. Kickoff is at 12:30pm EST on Fox Sports 2.

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