As part of our regular feature looking back at Classic Cup Finals, we look at 1984 and the match between Everton and Elton John's Watford. Everton ultimately emerged victorious but the match is largely remembered for the controversial second goal for the 'Toffeemen' scored by Andy Gray...
Everton 2-0 Watford
The FA Cup Final
Saturday 19 May 1984
For Everton the 103rd FA Cup Final was their second Wembley game in three months, while Watford were making their first visit in the sixty-two years of Wembley finals. In terms of FA Cup Final appearances alone, however, it was a meeting of clubs enjoying a rare experience.
Everton had last played in the Final sixteen years ago and since their Championship season of 1969-70 had been forced to live in the shadow of Liverpool's success. Watford had completed an unprecented rise from Fourth Division to runners-up in the First in six seasons under their astute young manager Graham Taylor, and reaching the Final had meant a personal dream come true for the club's flamboyant singing superstar chairman, Elton John.
The finalists were billed as two teams with castly different playing styles. Everton played it short in midfield, probing for openings and using the wings, while Watford favoured the long-ball game- getting the ball into their opponents' penalty area by the quickest route.
The Everton defence largely stopped the usual Watford ploy by pushing up so much that Reilly and Johnston barely had to step over the halfway line to be pulled up for offside. And their dangerous winger Callaghan, who was expected to supply a stream of crosses from the right, was effectively marked out of the game. But, for all that, the crowd was still treated to some scintillating football in the first half.
Watford had the more chances in the first half-hour, Southall savingbarnes' close-range header and foiling Barnes again and then Johnston after surging runs through the middle. Captain Taylor's determination also took him into two scoring positions but his shooting finally let him down, though he was less than a yard wide on both occasions.
The Watford defence had moved swiftly forward to try to catch the Everton man offside. Referee Hunting was on hand to observe their marginal failure and Sharp was left to strike an instant right-foot shot past Sherwood, the ball clipping the inside of the left-hand post on its way into the net.
'The Hornets' were by no means out of contention at this stage and during the half-time interval Everton might have reflected on their good fortune to be in front. Then, six minutes into the new half, Watford conceded a controversial second goal which shattered their dreams of ultimate victory. Steven set off down the right, two defenders in hot pursuit, before curving the ball over towards the far post. With Sherwood stretching his 6ft 4 inch frame to gather the ball, it seemed unlikely that Andy Gray, charging in with Terry at his side, would even get close to it. But the leaping Scotsman appeared to head the ball almost out of Sherwood's hands and into the net for a bizarre goal.
Then came the fateful 38th minute when Watford for once lost their defensive concentration to allow the Merseysiders to sneak in front. Reid put Richardson away down the left and his cross was half-cleared by Sinnott, the youngest man on the field, to Stevens some thirty yards out. Under pressure from Barnes, the Everton full back could only knock the ball a few yards forward, though he clearly had been looking to shoot, but it fell convieniently for Graeme Sharp.
Watford wilted and, though they fought on bravely, their chances of even being able to force the fourth replay in four years looked remote. Pulling a goal back would have made for a more exciting finish but Southall and skipper ratcliffe remained in uncharitable mood in front of goal all the way until the final whistle.Everton
: Southall, Stevens, Bailey, Ratcliffe, Mountfield, Reid, Steven, Heath, Sharp, Gray, Richardson
Goals: Sharp 38, Gray 51
Watford: Sherwood, Bardsley, Price (Atkinson), Taylor, Terry, Sinnott, Callaghan, Johnston, Reilly, Jackett, Barnes
Referee: J Hunting