Plymouth Argyle’s Mike Trebilcock was the first ever Black FA Cup final scorer

Everton winger Mike Trebilcock never forgot his roots and came back to play with juniors at his old East Cornwall school weeks after 1966 Wembley triumph

When Mike Trebilcock clocked up two goals for Everton against Sheffield Wednesday at Wembley in May 1966, he became the first black footballer ever to score in an FA Cup Final.

The former Plymouth Argyle winger suddenly found himself an overnight hero and post-match pictures of him holding up the coveted trophy appeared on the pages of the national press.

Such glory might have gone to any player’s head, but only a month later, heart-warming photographs discovered in the archives reveal how down to earth Mike was back in his home village of Gunnislake, joining the juniors at his old primary school for a kickabout on the school pitch.
Mike Trebilcock wears his Plymouth Argyle strip in about 1963

The youngest of 14 children, this community near Callington was where Mike first got a taste for the game and his broad grin showed he was clearly delighted to be doing his bit to inspire the next generation.

The fledgling football team members at Delaware County Primary School were quick off the mark to test their skills against their local hero. And Mike looked thrilled to be back on home turf demonstrating headers and lining up for a team photo with the juniors, whose serious faces confirm the importance of his visit.

Born in 1944, Mike cut his teeth playing with local village sides in his teens, moving on to Tavistock’s non-league team before being picked for Plymouth Argyle in December 1962.

Steadily making his mark for the Pilgrims, he had played 71 league games and scored 27 goals for the team by the time Everton came calling three years later, paying £23,000 for his transfer.

Pictures from the time show a dapper, smiling Mike, in suit, tie, and sheepskin coat, arriving in Liverpool by train and receiving a warm welcome that involved being wheeled through Lime Street station on a mail trolley.

The excitement of quickly making his debut playing Aston Villa was dampened by a foot injury that put Mike on the side benches for most of the 1966 season. While Everton were progressing through to the FA Cup final, Mike only managed a handful of reserve games. He was astonished when inspired manager Harry Catterick picked him for the squad over international centre-forward Fred Pickering, who had recently recovered from injury.

The unknown black lad who thought his minor role at Wembley Stadium would be to carry everyone else’s kit, ended up as the star of the show. After 60 minutes’ play, Everton had yet to score and Sheffield Wednesday were two goals up. Then in a magical five minutes Mike scored twice, radically changing the picture to bring the teams neck and neck.

The crowd went wild and Mike was immediately mobbed by a pair of Everton fans who charged onto the pitch in celebration. Chased down by police officers, one fan was eventually brought down with a rugby tackle.

A third goal by Derek Temple sealed the team’s win, their first FA Cup success in 33 years, with a final score of Everton 3 Sheffield Wednesday 2. Manager Harry Catterick joined the ecstatic and exhausted players for celebrations on the pitch, with 21-year-old Mike the centre of attention.

That game was to be his finest hour for Everton. Mike stayed with the team until 1968 without repeating his spectacular success. Sold to Portsmouth for £40,000, he enjoyed four successful seasons with the Hampshire club, scoring 33 goals in 99 games.

In 1972 he headed closer to home on a free transfer to Torquay United, playing just one season. He transferred to Weymouth for a few months before emigrating to Australia in 1974 and getting involved in coaching.

Mike always looked back fondly on his West Country roots, though, and luck brought him back to live in Tavistock in 2016 when the widowed father-of-two attended a reunion for the 50th anniversary of the FA Cup win and reconnected with his first love, Ginny. The couple were due to marry that autumn.