9 from the number 9...part 3

Last updated : 17 May 2006 By Les Roberts

It was another summer of turmoil leading up to the start of the 1997/98 season. Peter Johnson had spent much of the close-season courting Martin O'Neill and Bobby Robson only to be jilted by them both. It was actually the third time during his career that Bobby Robson had been offered the job and still he turned us down!

Johnson then turned his attention to the dream partnership of Andy Gray and Howard Kendall and, for a minute back there, it looked like our former front man was going to put pen to paper.

But the thought of tearing himself away from Richard Keys proved too much and Gray decided to stay with Sky. Well, it was either that or the massive amount of wedge Sky were prepared to bung him for not doing very much at all that kept him there!

However, once Howard knew that he was in the frame there was no way that he was going to turn us down. And so we had the Dome mark III at the helm. Unfortunately, history was never going to repeat itself and it turned out to be a wretched season, with this game was one of the few high points.

We had already been involved in a controversial draw at The Reebok Stadium when Bolton felt they were denied a perfectly legitimate goal. As they never ever tire of telling us! Watch the footage again Trotters, yes the ball was clearly over the line but Southall was fouled in the build up so it should never have got that far anyway!

And never get an Evertonian going on hard luck stories, we'll wipe the floor with anyone!

But back to this game…both teams went into it badly in need of the points to try and pull away from the relegation places. Everton got off to a flying start as Tony Thomas pinged a cross into the six-yard box and Ferguson nodded it past stand-in ‘keeper Gavin Ward.

then got his head on the end of another cross from Thomas to send us two-goals up on 41 minutes. Half time was approaching and we were coasting it!

But a minute later Bolton pulled one back through a header from Bergsson.

And, a minute after that, Scott Sellars lashed a shot from outside the box and Bolton were level!

Oh dear…

But the big man saved the day, and our season as it happens, as he rose to meet another Tony Thomas centre and headed his third of the game past the Bolton ‘keeper on 67 minutes.

His hat-trick had secured a 3-2 win in a match that proved to be a real six-pointer.

We finished the season on level points with Bolton and only stayed up by virtue of a superior goal difference! A big thank-you should also go to Chelsea for not wearing their flip-flops on the final day of the 1997/98 season!

scored 11 of our 41 goals that season and ended the campaign as our top scorer. And he netted his only hat-trick in an Everton shirt, a hat-trick that went a very long way to keeping us right where we belong, the top flight of English Football!

Dunc in action against Coventry on the
day we stayed up at Bolton's expense!