Everton: Ten best post war players post script

Having just finished compiling my list of the ten best Everton players after WW2, I have decided I would add one more as a post script, a player I feel deserves an honourable mention; Kevin Sheedy.

Sheedy is a player who just failed to make it in my original four from the great mid-eighties Everton side but after much reflection, I’m going to include him anyway!

The reason I had decided not have him originally in my ten, was because I had to restrict the number of players from the eighties team and I had a strong sentimental attachment to Peter Reid, who I also genuinely feel was the epitome of that side.

But I do feel Sheedy does deserve his inclusion for his talent and contribution, and it makes my group of ten now eleven players, a full team.

Sheedy was a player who along with Alan Harper, came to the Toffees from Liverpool, and both proved to be very astute buys from them lot down the road.

Harper was a really useful utility player who filled in many times at full-back, in midfield and even occasionally up front. He also often played in Sheedy’s place too, such as in the derby win at Anfield in October 84.

As for Sheedy, who Bob Paisley had signed in 1978, he switched from red to blue and crossed Stanley Park in June 1982 for a fee of £100,000 after failing to find regular football at Anfield.

It’s perhaps not surprising that Sheedy had struggled to nail down a regular starting place in that hugely successful Reds team, although Paisley was a keen admirer of him and was rumoured to have said he was the one player he regretted selling when he was Liverpool manager.

In particular, he found his way into in the Liverpool team blocked first by Ray Kennedy and then Ronnie Whelan, who would become their first-choice, left-sided midfielder after Sheedy left.

So when Howard Kendall came knocking on the door, Sheedy took the chance to swap Anfield for Goodison Park and the chance to play regularly.

He must have wondered at first if he’d made a truly terrible decision as Everton struggled badly in the 1982-83 season and then in the first half of the following campaign as well. But the tide finally turned at the beginning of 1984 and the rest as they say, is history.

Sheedy was a supremely talented left-sided midfield attacker with a superb left foot. He was an excellent finisher, who was also deadly from set-pieces. As a result, he produced a lot of assists, before that statistic was regularly being kept.

His presence added real quality and creativity from the left side, Sheedy played in an almost laid back way, in contrast to the relentless energy of most of his team mates.

The Welsh-born Republic of Ireland international, was a great outlet who would often come up with an incisive pass, cross or a vital goal when needed. And as I mentioned, his ability to deliver a pinpoint ball from a set-piece or score a goal from a free kick, was legendary.

There are many great examples of this talent, but one game that sticks in my mind is the 1985 FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park.

Everton were battling for an incredible treble during that wonderful season and went to Birmingham for the semi-final to play Luton Town.

The Toffees were big favourites as they were leading the first division and playing well, but although their opponents were struggling in the league, they were a difficult team to face. and were a strong, direct and physical side.

Luton played really well in the first half an hour and after having a succession of good chances, Ricky Hill scored for the Hatters, to give them a well-deserved half time lead.

Everton were all at sea and needed most of the second half to claw their way back into the game and it looked like they were going out of the FA Cup. Finally with only a few minutes left, the Toffees were awarded a free kick just outside the Luton area.

Up stepped Sheedy and scored.. but the referee called it back for a re-take. Never mind he put a superb shot into the other side of the net to give Everton a goal they hadn’t looked like getting. So to extra time and once again a free kick and Sheeds stepped up, but this time he swung a great ball into the box and Derek Mountfield rose to head it home decisively for the winner.

Sheedy’s main problem was his injuries, which were a constant source of frustration to Evertonians as he spent recurrent spells out for various ailments.

Although other players like Harper or Richardson were fine replacements, the team always lacked a little bit of extra quality and creativity when Sheedy was absent.

He missed large chunks of the season on a regular basis as Everton were winning trophies, being absent regularly in the 1984-85, 85-86 and 86-87 seasons.

After spending ten years at Everton, Sheedy left Goodison Park in 1992, moving to Newcastle United before retiring in 1994.

So now having added Sheedy, I can pick a full team of eleven: Southall in goal, a defence of Labone, Jagielka, Ratcliffe and Baines, a midfield of Ball, Arteta, Reid and Sheedy, with Cahill playing off Sharp up front. I think that’s a pretty decent-looking side! I wonder how that team would fare in the Premier League today..?

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