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Rob Sloman has endured and enjoyed as a fanatical Everton supporter. Following his beloved Blues since the 1970s, Sloman, through his devotion to his club, has been taken on an emotional journey that has taken in some of European football’s most majestic cathedrals. This month, Sloman’s eagerly-anticipated documentary, ‘Everton – Howard’s Way’, will be unveiled and the story of Everton’s remarkable success during the 1980s, amidst a turbulent social backdrop, will be revealed in full detail. Sloman, speaking exclusively to SportPesa, can quickly identify his inspiration for producing such a feature.
“I don’t think that Everton side ever got the credit they deserved,” opined Sloman. “Since the introduction of the Premier League in 1992, a lot of the stuff that happened before that date has just been brushed aside with more emphasis placed on what has happened in more recent years. People have either forgotten or just don’t realise how good that team was, and it was down to Howard Kendall. It’s a brilliant story and one that definitely needs to be told just to highlight how special Everton were for that period.”
The key years featured in Sloman’s work centre on Everton’s run of success that began in 1984 with FA Cup glory against Watford all the way to their league title win three years later. Sandwiched in between is the greatest season in the club’s illustrious history, 1985, when Everton captured English football’s top prize and then doubled it up with the European Cup Winners’ Cup. Something magical was taking place at Goodison Park, and Sloman highlights much of it with his upcoming presentation.
“That season in 1985 was really something else. Liverpool had long been the benchmark in European football and Everton beat them three times that season without conceding a goal. We really were that good. What we accomplished that year should never be forgotten and if it wasn’t for an extra-time defeat in the FA Cup final, we would’ve been the first ever English club to win the domestic double and have a European trophy to go with it.
“The tragedy at Heysel eventually overshadowed everything that occurred on the football pitch that season and it also meant that Everton never had the chance to take their greatest ever side into Europe’s biggest competition. By over taking Liverpool, we proved that we were one of Europe’s best sides and it’s a shame that we never had the chance to prove it on the grandest stage. You hear a lot of Everton fans say that we would’ve won it, and back then English teams dominated the European Cup, so we definitely would’ve had a great chance.”
Despite demonstrating an admirable desire regarding ‘Everton – Howard’s Way’, Sloman admits that putting his masterpiece together did encounter numerous difficulties. Reassembling a football team that essentially disintegrated over 30 years ago was challenging for Sloman but encountering such obstacles has installed a self-pride when observing the finished article.
“There’s no doubt that I’m proud after what myself and everyone involved has accomplished. Gary Stevens is in Australia, Andy Gray is out in Doha, Neville Southall is in deepest, darkest Wales; getting all these players to contribute towards something that they played a massive part in was difficult, but we got there in the end and the documentary is much stronger for everyone’s inclusion.”
As well as displaying his appreciation for the players contribution, Sloman is also quick to identify the efforts made by others in ensuring the documentary reached a standard of excellence. “Keith Mullin from the band, The Farm, was fantastic in handling the music for the film. David Fehily, a walking encyclopaedia on Everton, was vital and Carina Duffy from Everton in The Community has been a great asset in organising so much stuff for us behind the scenes. Lily Kendall, Howard’s widow, is fully onboard with what we’re trying to do and she’s so happy with what we’re trying to achieve. That is really important to us.”