It's Everton Time again, that twice-a-season knee shaker where eyes are trained on City's quivering stars to see if they can match the Toffees for grit, thunder, bluster, drive and sheer never-say-die lung-busting effort. Will David Silva be trampled under foot? Will Tim Cahill take yet another swing at our corner flag? Will Hibbert and Heitinga suddenly become world beaters? We have fallen foul of Everton's spirit on numerous occasions in recent years, but this season's 2-0 win -struggle though it was- may at last have put a dent in the hoodoo...
Here's a selection of memories from games between the two sides:
WEDNESDAY 8th DECEMBER 1993 A year earlier, Everton had turned up wearing salmon coloured shirts to a Maine Road wearing black. The Francis Lee campaign to oust Peter Swales was in full flow, as Swales's hired gun (more of a pop gun admittedly) John Maddock left his post in the run-up to this game. With the pitch waterlogged and both sides deep in trouble, an early header from Carl Griffiths sealed the win for City.
SUNDAY 8th APRIL 2001 The desperate descent under Joe Royle was well under way by the time he took City to his old Goodison stamping ground. With City sliding towards relegation, Nicky Weaver had started to show his nerves. A clanger in the home game with Villa was followed by a similar mistake in this game, which gave Everton their third goal. It was a shame for Weaver, who had already saved a Michael Ball penalty and made a string of brilliant saves, after Jeff Whitley had bounced City into an unlikely lead. By the time Weaver spooned Unsworth's header into his own net, the game was up and City were heading down the pipes.
SATURDAY 21st AUGUST 2002 Long before Nicolas Anelka decided it was time to learn Mandarin Chinese, he landed in the north west for a little while with goals on his mind. Nurtured by Kevin Keegan, he settled well and managed a hat-trick in this early season game, ably supplied by the mercurial skills of Eyal Berkovic, Ali Benarbia and Shaun Wright-Philips. The win would take City to the heady heights of 8th place, as Keegan tackled his first City Premiership season with all-out attack.
SATURDAY 9th DECEMBER 2000 This result was so out of place in a dismal season full of own goals and drubbings that, at first, it seems like a mistake. The day the Andromada Vortex swivelled across the Maine Road turf. In fact, this was a performance of poise and power amidst a season of poison and powder. Five different scorers (Wanchope, Goater, Howey, Dickov and Gary Naismith) made it one of the few days to remember in the 2000-01 relegation season.
SATURDAY 20th MARCH 1982 With John Bond fast losing interest in his City tenure, this Easter game was livened by a 30 yard pile driver from Kevin Bond and the single instance of Trevor Francis losing his temper in 22 years of top flight football, when he planted his forehead into the face of Billy Wright after an altercation between the two and Mark Higgins. The game ended level at 1-1 and City fans rued the diminishing returns from their star striker, who would leave for the Spain World Cup a City player and return only to collect his kitbag en route for Sampdoria.
FRIDAY 26th DECEMBER 1980 A Boxing Day cracker which saw City continue to climb the table at the turn of the year under John Bond's (at that time) enthusiastic leadership. Curiously, Gerry Gow and Paul Power scored the goals in this match. The same two players would also secure City a 2-2 draw at Goodison two months later in a never-to-be-forgotten FA Cup 6th round tie in the days when the FA Cup throbbed with passion, you could stand in the Park End and the atmosphere created by 52,000 was spellbinding.
SATURDAY 25th FEBRUARY 1978 With City charging hard for the title, this was a game full of emotion, as Everton, backed by sizeable travelling support, played their part in a thrilling clash in the wet, finally ending up on the losing side, thanks to Brian Kidd's clincher. 12 months later Kidd would be turning out in the dark blue of the Toffees and City's star-studded side (here represented by Channon and Watson) would soon be a thing of the past.
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