To conclude our series in which former Everton players such as Colin Harvey and Derek Temple have looked back at the 2005-06 season, we asked Bob Latchford for his thoughts on the season which saw our hopes fade from European ambitions to survival in the Premiership.
“I’m very interested to think how Evertonians will judge the 2005/6 season in ten years time,” he told NSNO. “Will we judge it as a season of missed opportunities? Will it be a season of disappointment? Or more worryingly, will we think, ‘well, it wasn’t such a bad season after all.’
For me, Everton’s 11th place finish gives us a true indication of where the club is at the moment. Seventeenth place in 2003/4 was a false one, given the calibre of players in the squad while qualifying for the UEFA Champions League preliminary stage by virtue of ending the season in fourth was simply amazing.
This year, Spurs held on to that position for most of the season, but were pipped at the post by a fine Arsenal side. However, if you look at Spurs and Everton, you’d think that the Londoners are in a better position to sustain their development than we are. When they came to Goodison, I think the facts show that their starting eleven cost about the same as ours did.
Arguably, Moyes’ signings this season didn’t have time to settle in before the season started, which could have gone some way in explaining the stuttering start to the season and the early cup exits. It was disappointing to see our involvement in the Champions League, UEFA Cup, FA Cup and Carling Cup end prematurely, given that they represent Everton’s best chance of silverware.
Next season will be a very interesting one for the club and for David Moyes. Personally, I believe that the team will do better in the Premiership and I hope and pray that a visit to Wembley will be on the cards. The fans deserve a day out and the club needs success, particularly in view of what the other lot across the park are achieving under Rafael Benitez.
For this reason, a lot of people have been comparing this decade to the 70s and I can see why. I’d say that we’d scored more goals – but then again I’m biased on that one! Having said that, it’s during these days when your support is vital. I am sure it’s appreciated by the club and the players. They couldn’t wish for a finer set of fans to back them up.
Even though many people won’t remember this season with fondness, it’s given me some very special Everton memories. I’ve had some great nights with the Former Players’ Foundation – and of course in April, my first book was released. It was a very proud moment for myself – and I can’t thank you enough for the way you supported it.
I was very nervous on the day it came out and I was truly overwhelmed and touched by the number of people who wanted to meet me at the book signings.
Whenever I have come back to Goodison since I moved to Swansea 25 years ago, I’ve always been given a great reception – but to actually meet you (those who came to the book launches), hear your stories and memories was absolutely amazing.
I met children who had been named after me, I signed pre-natal scans (which I had to put a disclaimer on!) and I also signed one person’s book that had autographs from some of the great number nines of the past: William Ralph Dean, Tommy Lawton, Dave Hickson and Alex Young. It was a humbling experience for me to be added to that list.
The joy of the book launch quickly turned to sadness on hearing of the passing of Brian Labone. I was in Dublin, after a fantastic book launch night with Evertonians from the Emerald Isle, but I was brought down to earth with this terrible news. However, again, the Everton family quickly rallied to give the great man a terrific send off.
There was a different send-off on the final day of the season for Duncan Ferguson, who was visibly moved by the reception he received. I liked Duncan. Yes, he would get himself sent off for silly things, but I genuinely believe that he cared deeply about Everton and the fans. He has certainly given the us a lot of memories since 1994.
Goodison Park will be a different place without those two characters next season.”
NSNO would like to thank all the players and journalists who took part in our end of season review; Colin Harvey, Derek Temple, James Corbett, and of course Bob Lacthford. We would also like to thank Martin O’Boyle and the Everton Former Players’ Foundation for their help and co-operation with the site over the past season, as well as Everton Football Club for their tolerance and the use of their images.