It was 18th February 1995 when Everton beat Norwich 5-0 at Goodison Park to reach the next phase of the FA Cup on their way to lifting the trophy that year. I was sat in the lower Gwladys Street end and have two main memories of the match.
The sun was warming the February air inside the stadium and the game being a stroll in the park from the kick off. It was a similar story when Blackpool came to town on Saturday 18th February 2012 and all but the score was mirrored. The sun was out again and it took a mere 50 seconds for Royston Drenthe to put Everton ahead. He was at the end of a move that almost looked to have gone a pass too far before he curled the ball effortlessly into the left side of the net. Drenthe may have been wasteful on occasion but he was a menace to Blackpool throughout. Such were his efforts last Saturday; I'd like to take some time to talk about the phenomenon that is R. R. Drenthe.
Due to the combination of his diminutive stature and drug test-worthy pace, watching him play football makes you doubt everything Brian Cox tells you about physics. Don't get me wrong, he can be frustrating and not use the ball as well as he should but when he's running at full tilt he seems to get past defenders, not with skill, but by bending time and space. It's hard to explain but if you have seen him live you will know what I mean. If you haven't, then just imagine that the big wigs in Hollywood decide to cross 'The Matrix' and 'The Borrowers' franchises. The product would be a new hit blockbuster 'The Mini-Matrix' with Royston playing the leading role.
Necessary rambling aside, Royston's blatant abuse of physics did not suck us all into a black hole (this time...) and 1-0 means nothing in a cup tie. It was fortunate then that only five minutes later Denis Stracqualursi got what is now his mandatory goal - finishing after a scramble in the box from a corner.
From that point on, the game felt like it was already over. Everton had the chances with Fellaini having two clear headers and Stracqualursi having one himself. Heitinga also had a headed opportunity missed and Drenthe was pushing for a brace when he had a bullet-like shot well saved by Gilks in the 58th minute. Although the game was a good professional display from Everton, after the second goal went in it felt as though we had already booked our place in the quarter finals. This wasn't a bad thing in many respects for Everton but given the recent form shown by Blackpool I was expecting them to bring more to the game. The Tangerines did however bring out a fantastic save from Tim Howard when Lua Lua (not that Lua Lua) shot from outside the box in the 89th minute and Kevin Phillips (yes that Kevin Phillips) rocketed his softly given penalty high and wide in the 90th.
Everton will take a lot from yesterday and not just their spot in the next round. The effect of Landon Donovan saying his farewells after the match will be lessened by the return of Seamus Coleman as well as the performance shown by Drenthe. The competition between the two for Donovan's vacated position on the wing will be a boost for Moyes and could well help Everton continue their good form. Stracqualursi's goal allowed him to maintain his newly found goal scoring habit and it will be interesting to see if Nikica Jelavic manages to even get on the pitch in the next few games. I must admit, my first thoughts when I saw Denis play were that he was far from the standard expected for a Premier League striker but through 100% hard work and dedication, he has managed to build his confidence and improve his game to the point that I now think it would be crazy for Everton not to sign him permanently. It's invaluable to have players that you know would die on the pitch for the good of the team and he is an inspiring example of such a player.
David Moyes will no doubt be delighted with all of his squad and their showing up to now in 2012. Everton are currently unbeaten in seven and in the last eight of the FA Cup. In 2009 Moyes took a depleted squad to Wembley to face a Chelsea team at the tail end of their peak and unfortunately could not fend off their unrelenting play. We're not in the final yet but this year injured stalwarts seem to be returning at just the right time. If Everton do progress they should do so with the ability to give the performance they deserved to in 2009. Plus with a certain R. R. Drenthe on the pitch there's no telling what impossibilities will become possible.
Rocky Balbluer. Follow Rocky on twitter @johnsimms1878