The darkest hour: How Howard Kendall's Everton turned 1982 Mersey derby humiliation into glory
This weekend’s encounter between Everton and Liverpool marks the 30th anniversary of the most one-sided Merseyside derby of the post-war era.
Nick Hilton, who reported Liverpool’s 5-0 rout of Everton at Goodison in November 1982, argues the game made winners out of Blues as well as Reds don't get mad, get even, the saying goes. Few football managers took that idea to heart to such positive effect as Howard Kendall. There was nowhere for the Everton manager to hide on Merseyside after his team had been stripped of their dignity by Bob Paisley’s imperious Liverpool in front of a Goodison Park full house and the Match of the Day TV cameras in the first week of November 1982.
The execution was performed by Ian Rush, whose four goals made all the headlines on the sports pages and in the history books. Many of those who witnessed the game were struck by Everton’s apparent helplessness in the face of superior and ruthless opposition. Making sure a defeat of such embarrassing proportions did not happen again was one issue, rebuilding the Everton team so it became strong enough to match Liverpool’s dominance of English football, established over the previous decade, was quite another. That was getting even on a grand scale – and Kendall achieved it in a remarkably short time. Little more than 18 months after the Goodison derby debacle, Everton won the FA Cup with a new look team that swept to a League Championship and European Cup Winners’ Cup double the following season and lifted the title again in 1987.
The 82 derby looks like the moment Kendall decided the pace at which he was reshaping the squad at Goodison would have to quicken and the quality of the players he introduced into the side would have to be of a higher calibre than those he had recruited before. Many of the players Kendall signed before the end of 1982 performed like journeyman. A number of those who followed showed themselves to be thoroughbreds. Kendall also accelerated the introduction of several talented young home-grown prospects into the side who would establish themselves on the international stage.
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