Players from Everton’s League and European Cup Winners’ Cup winning side will come together at a special event in November to celebrate the life and career of Howard Kendall, the Club’s most successful ever manager, through the release of a new film, Everton - Howard’s Way.
Taking place on Monday 11 November, the event will see the entire 1984/85 winning squad reform for the first time in more than 30 years for an exclusive screening of the new film followed by a series of interviews to recall their stories and memories of that era.
The celebration and screening will take place in The Great Hall at St George’s Hall, offering more than 500 supporters the opportunity to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event. In addition to the playing squad, a number of special guests will also be in attendance to pay tribute to the Everton Giant.
Tickets to the event cost just £45, with all proceeds being donated to Everton in the Community’s ‘People’s Place’ campaign which will see the Club’s official charity build and develop a purpose-built mental health facility close to Goodison Park to support anyone in times of need.
Filmmaker Rob Sloman said: “We are delighted to be working with the Club and Everton in the Community to host such a wonderful event to recognise and celebrate Everton’s greatest ever manager. It is going to be a truly unforgettable experience and probably something which will never be repeated. All proceeds from the night will be donated to The People’s Place which is a fantastic campaign and demonstrates why Everton really is the People’s Club.”
Everton - Howard’s Way charts the Blues’ rise from a decade of struggle and misfortune in the 1970s to recognition as one of the best footballing sides in Europe in the mid-1980s, through the players who became household names under Kendall and remarkable never-before-seen footage.
Featuring names including Andy Gray, Kevin Ratcliffe, Peter Reid, Graeme Sharp and Neville Southall, Howard’s Way is more than the tale of Kendall, a man with Everton in his blood; it is the story of a team intent on greatness and a city united in defiance. A story told by all the heroes of the day - the men who made history.
The Everton - Howard’s Way screening will take place on Monday 11 November at St George’s Hall.
At one stage of Everton – Howard’s Way, Peter Reid channels his inner Alan Ball. “Once Everton grabs you, says Reid, “it never leaves you.”
This film has a similar effect, hooking you in from the outset with footage of a desolate Ball after his sale to Arsenal in 1971.
That image of Ball unhappy with his lot immediately relates an understanding of what it means to play for Everton, while cleverly and understatedly drawing a neat line between the end of one heady Goodison Park era and the beginning of another 13 years later.
Countless Evertonians will float out of cinemas as the credits roll on 108 engrossing minutes, swelling with pride and humming the stubbornly catchy Here We Go on their way.
This film captures the mood of an era, with its heavy political and musical influences.
At its core, though, is Everton.
The mid-1980s Everton producer Rob Sloman plainly cherished. His affection for this team and its disparate and compelling characters bursts from the screen. Sloman grew up in Cornwall surrounded by peers who aligned themselves to Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
After years of stomaching his friends lording it in the playground, along came this bunch of players, led by the indomitable Howard Kendall, arriving unannounced to shake up English football.
Sloman expected a round of applause when he got off the school bus after Everton won the FA Cup in 1984.
He didn’t get it, of course. Equally, it rankles with Sloman that his idols never received the recognition they deserved, never got to savour their legacy as one of the finest football teams assembled on this continent.
Sloman’s motivation for piecing together Howard’s Way stemmed from that absence of appreciation for Kendall’s superlative team.
His determination to create a flawless production was rooted in a fear of “messing it up for everybody else if I get it wrong”.
Rob Sloman got it right.
You would neither need to remember this magnificent side nor support Everton to be swept along by a story skilfully told through the eyes of its chief protagonists.
Derek Mountfield talks on screen of being buttonholed more than 4,000 miles away by a chap from Newcastle. The Geordie in Dubai felt compelled to tell Mountfield that Everton circa 1984-85 was the best football team he’d seen bar none.
If any Evertonians who own memories stretching back 35 years secretly harboured worries they were viewing Kendall’s team through Blue-tinted specs, those fears would have been washed away in a heartbeat watching high definition pictures of their old favourites demolishing all comers.
From a purely footballing perspective, seeing Everton torment Rapid Vienna with a succession of rapier passes as their fans hollered Oles into the Rotterdam night was a joy.
The hairs on your neck defiantly stand to attention watching Trevor Steven kill off Bayern Munich at Goodison Park, no matter how many times you’ve already seen Everton's silky winger stroke his finish into the Gwladys Street net.
Steven’s description of the rush of thoughts plaguing him in the seconds between receiving a pass from Andy Gray and coolly placing the ball beyond Bayern goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff is enlightening.
And no film works without the central characters drawing you in.
Pat Van den Hauwe and Neville Southall are laugh-out-loud funny.
Camera-shy Van den Hauwe, a master of deadpan, describes in innocent and hushed tones of how he couldn’t help himself launching a right hander when the red mist descended during a brawl at QPR’s Loftus Road.
Every straight man needs a comic sidekick and John Bailey, Everton’s 1984 FA Cup winning left-back who was usurped by Van den Hauwe the following season, is a surprise star of the screen.
The rapport Van den Hauwe and Bailey share to this day is obvious. And really quite lovely.
Sharp editing brings the famously trenchant Southall’s personality to the surface. We first see him talking about the day he signed for Everton and his recollections of being driven to Goodison are hilarious.
A few excerpts of Southall in action reinforce what an exceptional goalkeeper he was. The best.
Kendall’s Everton had the lot. They could play and they could scrap and, as the verbose Reid had it, they generally found a way – and really should have had another FA Cup to add to their league title and European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1985.
Some of the tackling on show might make you wince, alternatively it could prompt a yearning for bygone times. f nostalgia is your thing, there’s plenty of it. From Harry Carpenter introducing Sportsnight to screenshots of Teletext headlines and articles, there are images everywhere to trigger a thousand associated memories.
There is inescapable sadness, too, in the man all these players evidently adored not being here to savour his achievements and appreciate the esteem and affection in which he is held.
Colin Harvey reliving the morning he learned of his great friend Kendall’s passing would move the most flint-hearted observer.
A section of newsprint from 1983 starkly noted its concerns for “Everton’s future as a First Division club”.
What Kendall achieved, then, positioning his team at the pinnacle of European football within 18 months of that bleak editorial was extraordinary.
Howard’s Way allows us fresh insight into how the Club’s greatest manager masterminded this turnaround. It reveals why Graeme Sharp was left disappointed when he expected something shiny for the mantelpiece after his howitzer of a volley against Tottenham in 1982.
We learn what happened to a bundle of Andy Gray’s medical records before he signed for Everton.
And why a bottle of hair conditioner sent Harvey into apoplexy.
We’re the team, we’re supreme, number one, and we love you, Everton.
Watch Howard’s Way and those words ring as true today as they did when Paul Bracewell gazed longingly down a camera lens to sing them to 18m people 35 years ago.