Everton Football Club remains one of the most historic and successful clubs in English football, despite recent decades proving less than successful for the blue half of Merseyside.
No club has spent more years in the English top tier than the Toffees. In fact, Everton has appeared in the English top-flight in 119 of its 124 seasons. While they have struggled to make an impact on the English top tier in recent years, only Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal can boost more top-flight titles than the men from Goodison Park.
The Toffees have not won the English title in the Premier League years, but they have won they have been crowned English champions on no less than nine occasions. Here is the story of those titles:
The early years and titles
Everton were founded in 1878 and was one of the eight founding members of the English football league in 1888. It didn’t take the Toffees long to claim their first-ever English top-flight title, as they were first crowned English champions in 1891, in just the third year of the English top-flight. The Toffees finished two points clear of Preston North End for their maiden title.
In 1906, Everton won the FA Cup for the first time in their history. The Toffees had to wait until 1914 to claim their next title, though, as they pipped Oldham Athletic to the crown. The English football league was then suspended due to the First World War.
The phenomenal William Ralph ‘Dixie’ Dean
It was not until 1927 that the Toffees saw any more notable success. This period of success coincided with the signing of the now almost mythical William Ralph “Dixie’ Dean in 1925 from Tranmere Rovers. Dean’s signing was the catalyst for glory.
In season 1927/28, Dean scored an unbelievable 60 goals in one league season to fire Everton to their third league title. Unsurprisingly, Dean’s tally remains the highest a player has ever achieved in the top flight of English football.
The success would not last, though, as Everton suffered relegation just two years later amid reported internal conflict. They were not in the Second Division long, though, as Everton won promotion at the first time of asking, scoring a record number of goals in the second tier.
The Toffees were again top-flight champions in season 1931-32, with Dixie Dean finishing as the top goalscorer in the league with 44 goals. Everton won their fifth league title in 1939, with forward Tommy Lawton this time topping the goalscoring charts. Unfortunately for the Merseysiders, the First Division was forced into another break in action due to the second world war.
Their title-winning team broke up, and in 1951, the Toffees suffered relegation to the Second Division. They didn’t earn a promotion back to the English top flight until 1954. However, they have featured in every English top-flight season since.
Harry Catterick returns success to Goodison
The 1960s saw success return to the blue half of Merseyside. The appointment of Harry Catterick as the team’s boss in 1961 proved to be the key to that success. Catterick led Everton to the English top-flight title in just his second season in charge at Goodison.
Everton also won the FA Cup in 1966. They recovered from two goals down to defeat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 in the final. In 1970, they returned to glory to claim the English top-flight title, with the trio labelled ‘the Holy Trinity’ Howard Kendall, Alan Ball and Colin Harvey at the heart of the triumph. The trio are immortalised by a statue close to Goodison Park’s Gwladys Street.
The Toffees couldn’t build on their 1970 title success, and Harry Catterick retired from football management. His successors, Billy Bingham and Gordon Lee, failed to secure silverware, and the latter was sacked in 1981.
Howard Kendall becomes a legend
In 1981, Everton appointed former playing hero Howard Kendall as manager. He was already loved, but he became a club legend during his spell as manager. After some serious struggles that almost led to Kendal losing his job, he turned things around by winning the FA Cup in 1984 against Watford before guiding the Toffees to the First Division title in 1985 and 1987, in an era dominated by rivals Liverpool.
However, the biggest success was arguably winning the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1985, when they defeated Rapid Vienna in the final. A 3-1 victory over German giants Bayern Munich in the semi-final second leg was undoubtedly the highlight of their European run, though. It remains the Toffees’ only-ever European trophy.
Everton’s great team split up in the wake of a European ban on English teams, which led to a decline in the club’s fortunes. Various bosses attempted to restore the Toffee’s fortunes, including Kendall returning for two further spells, but they have yet to repeat the success of his first reign at the club.
Could a stadium move be the key to a return to success?
The Toffee’s lack of silverware in recent decades is well documented. Everton are currently going through the longest trophy drought in their history. Everybody at the Merseyside club expects better from the team due to their historical past.
One hope for Everton is that a long-awaited move to their new stadium at Bramley Moore Dock will help give the club more financial muscle and raise the club’s profile once again. However, the stadium is due for competition in 2025.
One of Everton’s famous songs, ‘It’s a grand old team’, references the history of the club. At least Evertonians have that to look back on with fond memories while they wait for the sleeping giant to wake if indeed it ever does.