Royle hoping Everton can finally end long wait for silverware
Everton manager Joe Royle celebrates after his side defeated Manchester United 1-0 in the 1995 FA Cup final at Wembley. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Allsport
It is a mantle Joe Royle holds dear but is anxious to lose. For almost 18 years he has been the last Everton manager to win a trophy and that is not a cause for celebration for someone who spent his formative years on the terraces at Goodison Park.
If he is usurped this season it will come at the expense of the club he revitalised over 12 years and 608 games as manager, Oldham Athletic. He is content to be torn.
“It’s no-win and no-lose for me,” says Royle, who will be at Boundary Park for tonight’s fifth-round tie.
“I’ll have a smile for one of the clubs although I’ve never denied that Everton is where my heart is and always has been since I used to stand on the paddock watching Alex Young and Alan Ball make their home debuts. I remember exactly where I was stood.”
Royle took Young’s first-team place as a 16-year-old against Blackpool in 1966 and it is part of Everton lore that Harry Catterick was accosted afterwards by an irate fan for dropping “The Golden Vision”.
There are weightier issues confronting Royle’s successor as Everton manager, David Moyes, as he approaches the end of his contract this summer having restored pride, ambition but not silverware in his 11 years at Goodison. That is why Moyes will not repeat Brendan Rodgers’ mistake with Liverpool and field a weakened team against the League One side.
“David Moyes has said it himself, he is desperate to win something to crown his years at the club and to have a ‘W’ on his CV. I would be delighted to see that,” says Royle. “I am proud of my record but I would be delighted to see that go.”
Royle enjoyed FA Cup success at Everton and Oldham, beating Manchester United to win it in 1995 with the former and taking the latter to the semi-finals, in 1990 and 1994, only to succumb to Alex Ferguson’s team on both occasions.
Everton’s FA Cup win came only six months after Royle returned to his boyhood club yet he does not consider it the highlight of his all-too-brief reign.
“I consider our bigger achievement was staying up,” he states. “I had been asked to manage Everton and said yes without giving too much consideration to the implications.
“I knew they were bottom of the league but when I saw the games they had coming up, I suddenly thought I may have been a bit hasty. We were bottom with eight points from 14 games. Bottom after a third of the season exactly (a 42-game league season).
“We never took the Cup too seriously. I saw it as a possibility of injuries and suspensions and was worried about that until we beat Tottenham [4-1] at Elland Road. I still think that semi-final was one of the best Everton performances in modern history.”
The final was settled by Paul Rideout’s goal and a commanding display from Neville Southall, although Royle stressed it was no backs-to-the-wall job.