It was a last gasp goal from Grimsby Town’s Paul Wilkinson in November 1984 that unexpectedly sent Everton crashing out of the League Cup. In doing so he not only dealt a rare blemish on Everton’s otherwise impeccable record for the 1984/85 season, but alerted Howard Kendall to his burgeoning talent. Four months later the Everton manager paid £250,000 for the strapping 20 year-old centre forward.
Acquired as an understudy to Graeme Sharp and Andy Gray, Wilkinson soon made his mark in a royal blue shirt. Included for the final four games of the 1984/85 season, with the league already won and most minds focussed on forthcoming cup finals, Wilkinson struck his first goals for the club, including the only goal of the Goodison derby.
Chances were hard to come by through the 1985/86 campaign, but Wilkinson played enough games the following season to win a league title medal. He scored freely in the League Cup, but it was never enough to threaten Graeme Sharp’s place in the team. Before the campaign was over, Kendall sold Wilkinson to Nottingham Forest for £200,000, using the fee as down payment for the signing of Wayne Clarke.
Having failed to make a significant breakthrough at the City Ground, in 1988 Wilkinson joined Watford. In 1991 he joined Middlesbrough, where here remained until 1996, and his goals twice helped earn his team promotion. There followed something of an itinerant trail through the lower leagues and after finishing up with Northampton Town he turned to coaching.