Goal of the century
January 25th 1997
Everton 2 O’Brien o.g. 54, Speed 90
Bradford City 3 Dreyer 49, Waddle 51, Steiner 59
Yes, time for more BCFC related nostalgia. Ten years ago this very day, a huge cup shock, with what should have been goal of the season (yet didn’t even make goal of the month). On paper, this was a mis-match. City were in the bottom 3 of the Championship, having struggled desperately post-Wembley promotion. Everton were only 19 months out from having won the FA Cup against Man Utd in 1995…
City persisted with the fashionable 3-5-2 system (almost until it was too late in the league), hoping to pack the midfield and frustrate. Cheered on by 6,000 travelling fans half-time came with only 1 real scare, a fine tip-over from Mark Schwarzer denying Duncan Ferguson’s header. Yet having drawn 0-0 at half time, manager Chris Kamara withdrew Hamilton and Kiwomya for Wembley scorer Stallard and the always entertaining Liburd.
And 4 minutes into the second half, complete disbelief. A scramble on the edge of the area led to John ‘Tumble’ Dreyer, normally a centreback but deployed in front of the back 3, rifling in a half volley from 20 yards. But that was nothing in comparison to what followed.
Everton piled forward and won a corner. The move broke down, and City counterattacked. The ball ended up with Andrei Kanchelskis on the half way line, with noone behind him. Not being used to playing in such a position, he dallied on the ball and was ambushed by Swedish striker Rob Steiner…the ball rolled to Chris Waddle (in his late thirties, but still our best player by a mile) in the centre circle...who saw Neville Southall in his own penalty arc…and hit it first time.
It sailed goalwards, over the stranded keeper, clearing the underneath of the bar by centimetres and hitting the back of the net 6 feet up. Stunned silence. Following by mad cheering from the visiting hordes from Yorkshire. The best goal in the world, ever.
Everton were now really mad. Again they threw everyone forward, and following a header down from Ferguson, 17-year-old Andy O’Brien misdirected the ball past his own keeper. If you listen hard enough, Keith Coates (legend) – the commentator on the club video – is heard to remark “oh, s—t”. Here we go, we’ll lose 3-2. Yet the next meaningful attack saw Waddle send Steiner through a hopelessly square back 4, outpacing the ancient legs of Dave Watson to coolly beat Southall again. Delirium in the stands. Steiner’s best performance for the club by some distance; a mobile, aggressive, strong centre-forward – oh for one now!
The next 30 minutes were spent in a furious rearguard action, with Ferguson mostly marked by 2 players. We looked like we had got away with it only for ex-dirty-Leeds man Gary Speed to fluke a deflected one in from the left touchline in injury time. But it was the last meaningful kick of the game.
To give the Everton fans credit, they gave the City players a good hand as they left the pitch. We’d lose in the 5th round to a very poor Sheffield Wednesday side, and it would be the last time we had any sort of a cup-run. 10 years since the last cup-run!
The epilogue; what should have been the BBC’s goal of the season ended up losing the goal of the month contest to Trevor Sinclair’s spectacular (but entirely speculative) overhead kick for QPR against Barnsley on the same afternoon. A travesty. Biased? Me?
Everton (4-4-2): Southall – Barrett, Watson, Short, Phelan (Grant) – Kanchelskis, Parkinson, Stuart, Speed – Barmby, Ferguson. Subs not used: Gerrard, Unsworth.
City (3-1-4-2): Schwarzer – Mohan, Sas, O’Brien – Dreyer – Hamilton (Liburd), Duxbury, Waddle, Jacobs – Kiwomya (Stallard), Steiner. Sub not used: Pinto