Friday, March 25, 2022

The Soccernostalgia Interview-Part 18 Interview with Mr. Gavin Buckland on Everton in the Cup Winners Cup, 1984/85 Season)


For this interview, I start a new project as I look back at past performances of English clubs in the European Cups.

This will be a semi-regular and continuous series. For this Interview I look at Everton's 1984/85 Cup Winners Cup adventure.

The Interviewee is:

Mr. Gavin Buckland

Mr. Buckland is Everton's official statistician, Question of Sport script consultant, Radio Merseyside regular, Liverpool Echo Royal Blue podcaster.


Mr. Buckland’s contact info:

twitter: @GavinBuckland1

Soccernostalgia Question: When Everton started the 1984/85, they had not been in Europe for a number of years and even then they had not advanced beyond the first two rounds. What were the expectations for the 1984/85 Cup Winners Cup?


Mr. Gavin Buckland Response: Remember European football was still an unknown quantity then and although we had won the FA Cup, we were still a work in progress. There was no expectation we were going to win it, but at the same time feeling was we could go far. 


Soccernostalgia Question: Everton had won the FA Cup but at this point they were still not a power and certainly no one could have envisaged the season they would at home and in Europe. Howard Kendall’s remodeling had been a slow build. Was being in Europe, the extra impetus the side needed?


Mr. Gavin Buckland Response: Not in the early stages of the season but when the QF started definitely added to the momentum of the campaign, would say league and Europe were mutually beneficial. 


Soccernostalgia Question: The major transfers in the off-season had been the arrival of Pat Van Den Hauwe in defense (in September) and Paul Bracewell in midfield. In hindsight how was their arrival critical in the European matches that season?


Mr. Gavin Buckland Response: Think Bracewell was important because he worked hard off the ball, could slow the game down and pass the ball well - all vital aspects of playing in Europe. 

Van Den Hauwe less influential as he was a left-back, but he added height and defensive stability, a hugely underrated player.


Soccernostalgia Question: On paper, the first-round opponents University College Dublin should have been the easiest, yet Everton had difficulty, what was the reason you think?


Mr. Gavin Buckland Response: Basically, they parked the bus over the two legs and showed up our lack of European experience, after the game at Goodison which we won 1-0 to go through after a goalless draw over there, we were booed off


Soccernostalgia Question: In the second round, Everton eliminated Czechoslovakian side Inter Bratislava. What are your memories of those ties?


Mr. Gavin Buckland Response: Never heard of Inter Bratislava, thought they were Slovan Bratislava! First leg over there, listening to it on crackly radio. Second leg at Goodison we had just gone top of the league and were on a run of 10 successive victories, eased to a 3-0 win with a very efficient display.  


Photo From: Onze, Issue 113, May 1985

(Graeme Sharp)

Soccernostalgia Question: When the springtime arrived, Everton were in a completely different zone They were League leaders and destroying all in their path. They were one of the best teams in Europe at that point. Were the ties vs. Dutch side Fortuna Sittard seen as a formality?


Mr. Gavin Buckland Response: Like previous games, knew nothing about them – there was no reference point so not seen as a formality. We struggled in the first half at Goodison, but Gray had a habit of bending games to his will, and he did that with a second-half hat-trick. Second leg was a formality mind, won 2-0.  

Soccernostalgia Question: At this point, Pat Van Den Hauwe starting in defense ahead of John Bailey and Adrian Heath’s injury almost went un-noticed as the Scottish duo of Andy Gray (having a second act) and Graeme Sharp were effective upfront. The team was more or less consistently the same players, did everything just click perfectly?


Mr. Gavin Buckland Response: I think Adrian Heath getting injured in the December did get noticed, we struggled for 4/5 games afterwards. There was a noticeable change in style, with Gray and Sharp, more direct but not long ball.

Gray had experience and a natural winner’s attitude which rubbed off on the others. We were undoubtedly a better footballing side with Heath in the team.     


Photo From: Onze, Issue 113, May 1985

(Andy Gray and Peter Reid)

Soccernostalgia Question: The real test for Everton came in the semifinals vs. West German powerhouse Bayern Munich. Everton came away with a key scoreless tie in Munich and then defeated Bayern (3-1) at home after falling behind. Was this Everton at its height that season?


Mr. Gavin Buckland Response: I would say if you were to ask for a single highlight of the campaign, it would be Bayern at home. That said, the football wasn’t great – bombard the German penalty area, press the opposition and regain possession as soon as possible. One of the great strengths of Kendall’s teams was taking the temperature of a game and react accordingly.


Soccernostalgia Question: I remember watching the Final vs. Rapid Vienna and just knew that Everton was going to win. Was this the feeling for the Everton faithful?


Mr. Gavin Buckland Response: In a word, yes. Think having beaten Bayern so thrillingly you knew Rapid were not going to be a problem if we performed to our ability.

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2041, May 21, 1985

(May 15, 1985, Cup Winners Cup, Everton 3-Rapid Vienna 1)

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2041, May 21, 1985

(May 15, 1985, Cup Winners Cup, Everton 3-Rapid Vienna 1)

Soccernostalgia Question: In the end, Everton were relatively comfortable in Europe that season. Was it a combination of luck of the draw and being confident as well?

Mr. Gavin Buckland Response: Not so much luck of the draw – we got Bayern in the semi. Think if Celtic had beaten Rapid that would have been a tough tie. Confidence did not come from challenging in Europe alone, it was progressing in league, the FA Cup and Europe.  

Soccernostalgia Question: Which players stood out in the European matches?


Mr. Gavin Buckland Response: Think Gray because he scored crucial goals in the last three rounds. Peter Reid as well, it was their experience that made the difference, but that was the same domestically too.

Soccernostalgia Question: Do you have memories of attending European matches that season? What was the atmosphere at Goodison Park for these European nights?


Mr. Gavin Buckland Response: Like the season, atmosphere improved as we progressed. This was a time of falling attendances so we had 15k versus UCD than 25k ish in next two rounds.

Gray’s hat-trick certainly ignited Goodison in the QF and Bayern is rightly regarded as Goodison’s greatest game – the atmosphere and intensity was incredible.

Soccernostalgia Question: This victory occurred just two weeks before Heysel. In the aftermath, the Champions Cup participation was denied. It’s one of the big-ifs for this Everton Generation as to how they would have fared. What is your opinion?


Mr. Gavin Buckland Response: I think we would have been in 2/3 favourites and potential winners – the confidence gained from winning CWC was important. Would have been feared by anybody. Remember we won the CWC which had Roma, Barcelona and Bayern in the field. However, two-legged ties can be notoriously unpredictable. Think signing Lineker would have given us another weapon in the armoury, his pace in away games would have been a huge asset.  

Photo From: Mondial, new series, issue 63, June 1985

(May 15, 1985, Cup Winners Cup, Everton 3-Rapid Vienna 1)

Soccernostalgia Question: How is this Cup Winners Cup victory regarded Historically by the Everton faithful? Is the League title revered more?


Mr. Gavin Buckland Response: Right up there, as part of our most successful season. Strangely the Bayern game tends to overshadow the final. It’s still our only European trophy.  


Photo From: World Soccer, October 1991

(Everton squad, May 15, 1985, Cup Winners Cup, Everton 3-Rapid Vienna 1)

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