I can’t remember being more despondent about the Reds' chances in a Derby than before this one, which also just happened to be the first Derby I was able to attend. Liverpool had started the season well, dropping only two points from the the first nine games but had stuttered badly and only won three of the next 10.
The previous two home games had seen us go out of Europe on away goals and lose for the first time, against Arsenal. In contrast, the Blues were flying; they’d won all 10 of their home league games and were seven points ahead of us in the League with a game in hand.
The main stand at Goodison was being redeveloped (firewood must have been plentiful on County Road that winter) so just 57,000 crowded on to the terraces. They were greeted with the team news that Bill Shankly had dropped Roger Hunt and replaced him with Ian Ross, the reserve team captain and normally a defender. The Blues were at full strength.
It quickly became clear that Ross had been picked to do a man-marking job on Alan Ball and his effectiveness in that role and the usual Derby freneticism meant that neither side could create anything in a dour first half.
Just 2 minutes into the 2nd half, however, Liverpool made the breakthrough. Ian Callaghan hung a cross up to the far post where Emlyn Hughes got up highest. The ball hit his shoulder and trickled ever so slowly across the line.
Could we hang on? Surely the Blues would respond? Well if they were going to, their hopes were deflated seven minutes later. A breakaway saw Liverpool move down the left. The only problem was that there were no Reds’ players in the middle so it seemed a waste when the cross came in. Then Everton left back, Sandy Brown, took a hand. For some reason he flung himself full length and powered a sensational header into the net.
For a second there was a stunned silence followed by a roar from the Park End that was part jubilation, part helpless laughter. After that it was game over, 30 minutes to enjoy a sensational triumph with the icing on the cake a third goal scored by Bobby Graham.
I walked home - well floated more accurately - avoiding discarded blue and white scarves and the occasional disconsolate Blue. Like Smokey Robinson, it was easy to trace the tracks of their tears. I bought the Footy Echo, I bought all the papers the next day and for once, I couldn’t wait for Monday to get back to school and see all the Blues who’d confidently predicted an easy home victory. Strangely, a lot of them were not in that day.
Was that the start of a charge up the table or the wheels falling off the blues challenge? Sadly, not. Our next game was a 4-1 home defeat by Manchester United, followed by a 5-1 win at Burnley and the rest of the season was similarly inconsistent, culminating in a shock 1-0 FA cup defeat at Watford. Shankly decided that enough was enough and started the process of breaking up the 60s team.
Everton walked away with the League, but, if any Blues became a little too chirpy, two magic words could quieten them down. ‘Sandy Brown’.