Capable, versatile, committed, Kevin Richardson was a fine midfielder who progressed through Everton’s ranks in the early-1980s and was an important member of the squad that reaped so much success in the middle of the decade. The blond Geordie was a popular member of the Everton dressing room – he was Graeme Sharp’s best man when he got married – and is remembered fondly by Evertonians who witnessed the club’s most successful period.
Greatly valued by his fellow professionals, there was nevertheless sometimes a sense that in supporter’s affections he paled in the shadow of his more illustrious colleagues. Diminutive and mobile, hardworking yet lacking the élan that Kevin Sheedy brought to his favoured left sided position, Richardson was an effective squad player but never quite looked like claiming an Everton shirt as his own. A hardworking, energetic player, a brisk tackler and accurate yet unspectacular passer of the ball, he filled in a number of roles across the Everton midfield with conviction and commitment.
Handed his debut as an eighteen year old in November 1981, Richardson went on to make 15 league starts through the 1981/82 season, 24 the next campaign, and 25 in the 1983/84 season. Perhaps his most telling contributions came in cup competition. He scored what would prove a decisive goal in Everton’s 1984 first leg League Cup semi final against Aston Villa, and in the FA Cup Final later that year it was his cross that set up Graeme Sharp’s Wembley opener.
With the arrival of Paul Bracewell in the summer of 1984 and the return of Kevin Sheedy from long term injury soon after, Richardson’s chances were restricted through the 1984/85 season. He was recalled to play in the European Cup Winners Cup semi final first leg at Bayern Munich, and gave a performance of high discipline and composure as Everton claimed a vital goalless draw. Yet come the second leg at Goodison, Sheedy had reclaimed his place.
By the start of the 1986/87 season, Richardson had been part of the Everton squad for five years, but seemed no closer to holding down a permanent place of his own. In September 1986 he joined Watford for £225,000 and a year later signed for Arsenal. At Highbury he finally flourished and was part of the team that secured the 1988/89 League Championship in dramatic circumstances at Anfield. In 1990 he joined Real Sociedad, but returned to England a year later with Ron Atkinson’s Aston Villa. Atkinson converted him to a defensive midfielder, and his performances in front of the Villa back four brought them close to the League title in 1993 and a year later, when Richardson was 31, a solitary England cap. Richardson subsequently followed Atkinson to Coventry City and continued to play in the top flight until his mid-thirties. He now works as a youth coach at Newcastle United.