The Blues arrive at Goodison Park this weekend ahead of the home team in the table but that was not the case for a memorable win there recalls club historian Rick Glanvill…
Thirty-five years ago this month, a soggy but mild evening in Lancashire three days before Christmas produced one of those memorable occasions when Blues fans were able to sing the special version of ‘Jingle Bells’ that ends ‘Oh what fun it is to see Chelsea win away!’
The Londoners’ first away league victory of the season was achieved in a seven-goal thriller that proved the Barker & Dobson ‘Toffee Girl’ was not the only person handing out gifts to a packed Goodison Park crowd.
The game is otherwise best remembered for the impact made by unfashionably moustachioed Blues striker Gordon Davies, who had arrived in November from Fulham with a CV boasting 112 goals in 246 league games. The Wales forward was brought in to compete for a place with David Speedie, who had found the net once in the first three months of the campaign.
Davies had scored on his debut at Hillsborough a few weeks earlier, and would leave Goodison with the match ball, but never quite deposed either Speedie or Kerry Dixon from the forward line. Manager John Neal’s other change against Everton was picking former Liverpool player Joey Jones – his first start for three months – with summer signing Doug Rougvie missing out.
The scoreline updates reflect the fact that Chelsea’s extra zip and incisiveness always had the upper hand: 1-0 after nine minutes, 1-1 on 35, 2-1 five minutes before half-time, 3-1 just past the hour through Colin Pates (pictured top), 3-2 after 69 minutes with the first of Graeme Sharp’s brace of penalties, 4-2 as Davies completed his hat-trick with 15 minutes to go, and finally 4-3 with Sharp’s last-minute spot-kick. The Toffees also grazed the post right at the death, which would have been rough justice for the impressive visitors.
Neal savoured the spectacle as much as the result, which kept his newly promoted side in the chasing pack. ‘It was marvellous,’ he glowed. ‘A hell of a game, a great battle, with a fair bit of skill and a fair bit of finishing.’
This was actually the fourth occasion Howard Kendall’s title-chasers had conceded such a number, and the result knocked them off their perch after seven weeks at the top. However, they would still go on to win the league ahead of Liverpool, with Chelsea finishing a creditable sixth.