Legendary Everton defender recalls day he ‘tangoed’ Grobbelaar
KEVIN RATCLIFFE is one of the few goalscoring derby heroes to never hit the back of the net in the famous fixture.
But the fact that his 35-yard shot crept under the body of Bruce Grobbelaar and trickled over the line is in no way the most unusual aspect of his remarkable opening goal in the 1986 clash.
Because it was only Ratcliffe’s second for Everton and he wouldn’t score another one in a club career that averaged a goal every 330 games.
But despite the fortuitous – and, given the scorer, extremely rare – nature of the opening strike in Everton’s 2-0 victory, Ratcliffe insists it was no fluke.
“It must have been the backspin I put on the strike that fooled him,” joked Ratcliffe when recalling how Grobbelaar managed to lose his long-range effort.
“But seriously, it wasn’t the best goal I’ve ever seen in a derby but memorable to me because I only scored two goals in my Everton career.
“It just opened up a little bit and all of a sudden there was an opportunity.
“I think we were playing with a tango ball, which was quite light in those days, and so there was an opportunity if you caught the ball right.
“It was a bad strike but it was bouncing that many times before it got to him I thought he was just going to walk over and pick it up. But he seemed to dive on it, and with it being so easy he maybe just relaxed in concentration. That’s when you’re at your most vulnerable.”
Everton, thanks to Gary Lineker’s clincher, may have won the day but it was their Merseyside rivals who had the last laugh.
They went on to win 11 and draw one of their remaining 12 games to snatch the Division One title from Everton –and also beat them in the FA Cup final, denying Ratcliffe his second successive walk up the Wembley steps as winning captain.
“I’d have swapped that goal and my other one for the double that season,” said the former skipper.
“People don’t realise how disappointed we were.
“To lose an FA Cup final to Liverpool was bad enough but to lose the double even more so.”