PAINTING HISTORY IN BLUE; Imagine If . . .Everton Would Won the European Cup or Signed Dalgish - It Could Have Happened, and Almost Did

Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England), February 16, 2002 | Go to article overview

PAINTING HISTORY IN BLUE; Imagine If . . .Everton Would Won the European Cup or Signed Dalgish - It Could Have Happened, and Almost Did


FOOTBALL, possibly more than any other sport, is full of what might have beens.

And Evertonians are the standard bearers of the hard-luck philosophy.

Gordon Lee might have been recognised as the manager with the Midas touch . . . if Clive Thomas had quite correctly allowed Bryan Hamilton's goal to stand.

If Gary Lineker hadn't left his lucky boots at home before the trip to Oxford, and Gary Stevens hadn't played that lazy pass down the touchline . . . Everton would have won the double.

And Everton would have won the European Cup in 1986 if a ban on English clubs hadn't cruelly reduced the silverware scope of the best side in the club's history.

They would have easily overcome Steau Bucharest in the final, then won it again in 1988 beating a PSV Eindhoven side whose most exciting player was a defender . . . Ronald Koeman.

That would have convinced Howard Kendall to remain manager, created the wealth for him to take Everton into the 90s and attract players like Shearer, Sheringham and Paul Gascoigne . . . at 24years-old, not 34.

And the Blues would now be challenging for championships rather than battling relegation.

Probably.

This whole flight of fancy was inspired by ITV's attempt to usher in the adverts on Saturday night's Premiership programme with quirky, light-hearted links.

Last weekend Archie Gemmill was featured, talking about son Scot.

A few amusing anecdotes were issued in the time it took to tug another ring-pull, but Archie never had time to tell how he almost pulled on the Royal Blue.

Researching tomorrow's FA Cup tie (Harry Catterick's first managerial job was at Crewe Alexandra) the following gem was unearthed from the Echo archives.

"How Bremner and Gemmill nearly came to Goodison . . . and the day I had my eye on a young unknown called Dalglish."

That's right. That's Billy Bremner, not Des, Kenny Dalglish rather than Paul - and Archie Gemmill, not Tommy . . . a trio of outstanding footballers who may all have worn Royal Blue.

Scot Gemmill may not even be aware himself, that Everton actually had a deal in witing for dad Archie to come to Goodison.

Harry Catterick lived in Southport at the time and was a frequent spectator at Preston North End matches.

The enthusiastic displays of Gemmill quickly caught his eye.

Contact was made between the clubs - as usual with Catterick it was a cloak and dagger affair - a fee was agreed, and it was even put in writing that Preston would sell to Everton.

"It would never have stood up in a court of law, " said Catterick, "but it was an agreement between two clubs and that sort of thing is never broken.

"I got a 'phone call in the early hours of the morning and when I got out of bed to answer it, it was Alan Ball Senior, Preston's manager.

"He said 'It's about Archie Gemmill.

Derby County are interested in him.' "I said 'Your club has signed an agreement to sell Gemmill to us.' He replied 'Yes, but Brian Clough is with me now, and he won't go away until he has signed for Derby.

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