The Great Escape, Part I

England kicked off its soccer season today for all divisions except the Premier League. The top match-up featured Southampton and Wolverhampton, who played an entertaining 0-0 draw (cue sarcasm from John). Southampton was dropped (“relegated”) from the Premier League last May after nearly three decades.
My team, Everton, has been in the top flight for more than 50 years. It hasn’t been easy inasmuch as (a) the bottom three teams are relegated every year and (b) Everton has been a below-average side for a good portion of this period. In a prior post, I described the very close call we had in 1998, when relegation was still a possibility until the last kick of the final match.
But our greatest escape (and probably the greatest ever in top-flight English football) occurred four years earlier. That season, on the final day, Everton needed a victory over a decent Wimbledon side, as well as some help in other matches. We quickly fell behind 2-0 and then fought back to win 3-2, the last goal coming from Graham “Diamond” Stuart (his second of the match) with only nine minutes left. Enough of the other matches went our way that we survived.
Stuart scored only one other goal that season and averaged only about one every six matches over his career.


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