FA Cup hero Matt Jackson believes Everton were handed a huge psychological boost before they even kicked a ball in their 1995 semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur.
The 4-1 demolition of the Londoners is widely-considered as one of the Blues' all-time great performances and as the most-impressive display of Joe Royle's tenure as manager.
April 9, 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the game which was played at Elland Road, the home of Leeds United.
Although it was a ground where Everton hadn't won a league game since 1951 – a sequence they finally ended thanks to a goal from Wayne Rooney in his debut season of 2002/03 – they produced a dominant display against Spurs to tee up their Wembley final against Alex Ferguson's Manchester United which they would win 1-0 the following month.
Such was the structure of Elland Road, segregation at the stadium saw all the Tottenham fans housed in the East Stand.
Completed just two years earlier it was the largest cantilever stand in the world at the time and held 17,000.
As a result though, Evertonians were given the other three sides of the ground, which Jackson believed helped them to create a partisan atmosphere from the start.
He told the ECHO: “I recall the emotion of the day, what a fantastic achievement it was at the time and what a big part it was of our professional careers.
“I obviously don't remember the whole day but certain bits stick out including walking out for the first time and seeing the Everton fans on three sides of the ground was amazing.
“Opening the scoring was a real proud moment for me personally.
“Looking back it's very emotional with Gary Ablett being so heavily involved in that cup run and no longer being with us there is a sad tinge to it as well.”
Jackson added: “I think the way the fans were segregated that day was absolutely pivotal and proved the difference on the day.
“It was a good performance from our team but walking out you couldn't hear a Spurs voice.
“That wasn't their fans' fault but a lot of them were lost in the upper tier of that massive stand.
“It's a fantastic place to go and play football but if you want to try and make an intimidating atmosphere you want the three sides of the ground to yourself to be sure.”
Jackson opened the scoring with a 35th minute header as he got ahead of Stuart Nethercott to meet an inswinging Andy Hinchcliffe corner-kick from the right wing.
Although raised in Bedfordshire, where he started his career with Luton Town before Howard Kendall brought him to Goodison Park for £600,000 in 1991, Jackson was actually playing on 'home turf' in Yorkshire's biggest city although he acknowledges his goal was more down to the quality of his fellow full-back's dead-ball accuracy than any kind of familiarity provided by White Rose county roots.
He said: “I was born in Leeds. My dad was one of those who stayed at university until he was about 44! He was doing a post-graduate course at Leeds so I was born there but I was only there for a very short period, the first year of my life basically.
“It was something we worked on a lot with Andy's delivery being outstanding from both corners and free-kicks.
“That was my position. We scored a good few goals that season from me just flicking it on.
“The pace that he generated created difficulties for defenders.
“Although the goal goes in for me you can see I'm outside the near post, just trying to help it on its way. I get that perfect contact and it flies in.”
With Tottenham pushing for a place in Europe and Everton – who had only survived relegation with their 'Great Escape' against Wimbledon on the final day of the previous season – battling against the drop again, the Blues went into the game as underdogs.
They had been rock bottom of the table when Royle had replaced Mike Walker the previous November and did not guarantee their top flight status until after the penultimate fixture of the 1994/95 campaign but reserved some of their best displays for the FA Cup run.
Along with single goal victories against Derby County (home); Bristol City (away) – where Jackson had scored a spectacular winner with his left foot from outside the area and Newcastle United (home); there had also been a 5-0 thrashing at Goodison Park of his future club Norwich City.
Graham Stuart doubled Everton's lead 10 minutes into the second half but Tottenham then pulled a goal back through a Jurgen Klinsmann penalty after captain Dave Watson was adjudged to have brought down Teddy Sheringham – the only time they conceded en route to lifting the trophy.
Jackson said: “Scoring first was huge. We'd had a great atmosphere in the camp all the way through the cup run.
“Obviously the league campaign was slightly different and a bit more problematic but there was a terrific spirit and everything felt like a bit of a bonus.
“It was lovely to get ahead and you get that feeling within the game that you've got that great balance going on and you know that the team is playing well.
“With Spurs penalty you think 'this is their moment they've been given to get into it' but as it turned out Amo (Daniel Amokachi) worked his magic and it was an unbelievable day for everybody.”
PODCAST: Listen to Matt Jackson's memories of that memorable day at Elland Road HERE
There was a gap of almost 20 minutes between Tottenham pulling a goal back and Amokachi adding Everton's third but Jackson believes that he and his team-mates always felt fairly comfortable.
He said: “In the final I recall coming under spells of pressure where I thought we were up against it and Neville made a few saves but in the semi I certainly don't ever remember thinking 'oh it's gone back to 2-1 we're super-vulnerable' or bodies on the line.
“We always had a threat on the counter-attack and to score four goals against that quality side was fantastic for everybody.”
Amokachi's two-goal cameo off the bench that day has gone down in Everton folklore.
Royle himself quips “It was the greatest substitution I never made” with the Nigerian World Cup star of the previous summer making his way on to the pitch on 70 minutes while Paul Rideout was undergoing treatment on the opposite touchline.
Rideout, who would go on to net Everton's winner in the final was actually fit enough to continue but £3million striker Amokachi was eager to impress despite footage showing his manager remonstrating with the fourth official.
Jackson himself is still not entirely sure what happened but was delighted that Amokachi – who was a huge fans' favourite despite struggling to live up to expectations – was able to enjoy his moments of glory.
He said: “It was not on the radar. On the pitch you're not aware of what's happening on the sidelines and to this day I still don't know the full detail.
“I've heard Joe tell the tale on many occasions but he's a fantastic storyteller and it's a slightly different version each time over what the communication was and it what order.
“It was great for Amo to make that impact being the player that he was, it was certainly fitting that he played a big part in that side of things.”
Jackson added: “It was a fantastic moment, he was always a great character and well-liked in the changing room.
“He settled in really well from a social point of view. It seems ridiculous to be talking about it now and it even being part of the conversation but having a black player in the squad was a big deal.
“He'd come to us on the back of a very good World Cup. Was a great physical threat and had good pace but it was tough for him signing for a new club in a different league, coming out of Belgium which is a completely different intensity.
“He never gave anything other than his best and was very popular with the lads.”
The FA Cup displays were an added bonus for Jackson who had lost his place in the side for Premier League games to Royle's former Oldham Athletic captain Earl Barrett, who had arrived midway through the season from Aston Villa but was cup-tied.
He said: “It was great for me to play first-team football. I was still involved in the first-team squad for league games but wasn't starting them.
“Graham Stuart I believe was in a similar situation. It was rather bizarre that we were winning against the likes of Norwich City 5-0 and then the Spurs game but after that we both lost our place.
“That was slightly strange when you think of the quality of the performance but ultimately Joe kept the team in the division and won the FA Cup so that's good management whichever way you look at it.”
Many pundits had talked about the prospect of Manchester United (the previous season's double winners) against Tottenham Hotspur (who boasted an array of big name players including Klinsmann, Sheringham, Gica Popescu and future Everton record signing Nick Barmby in a so-called 'dream final' but Jackson acknowledges that both the Blues and their manager relished their role as party poopers.
He said: “Joe loved having a bit of that underdog tag and we wore it with pride in many respects.
“He came up with the name 'The Dogs of War' and that stuck pretty well and summed us up.
“Sometimes when you've got opponents regarding you as being 'The Dogs of War' that's not the worst thing in the world from a psychological point of view.”