There is a common misconception that Everton’s league and FA Cup capitulation to Liverpool in 1986 was due primarily to the loss to injury of Neville Southall. While it is true that the Welsh colossus was a considerable loss but his replacement, the England under-21 goalkeeper, Bobby Mimms, was blameless in the subsequent travesty. Indeed Mimms kept clean sheets in six of his first seven games after Southall’s injury in late March; and until the FA Cup final, when Liverpool scored three second half goals, Mimms had conceded just four times in ten matches.
But his was always a thankless task, for the chances of making the Everton number one shirt his own were always going to be limited. Mimms made enough appearances at the start of the 1986/87 season to claim a League Championship medal at the season’s end, but as soon as Southall returned to fitness he played just a handful more games for Everton.
Born in York, Mimms started his career with Halifax Town, but joined Rotherham in 1981 without playing a game. Howard Kendall signed him for £150,000 in the summer of 1985 and over 37 senior appearances he provided solid and dependable service – certainly a more competent pair of hands than some of the men who succeeded Southall. Following Southall’s return in Autumn 1986, Mimms was loaned out on three occasions, but having made just a handful of further appearances recognised that his was always an impossible job in Southall’s indomitable shadow.
In February 1988, he joined Tottenham Hotspur for £325,000, but never wholly convinced the Spurs faithful. In December 1990, he joined Blackburn Rovers, just as Jack Walker began to plough his millions into the club. He played an important part in their renaissance, but lost his place to Tim Flowers on the eve of Rovers ultimately victorious Premier League campaign in 1994/95. There followed a tour of the lower league before his retirement at the start of the century.
Mimms now serves as Blackburn’s goalkeeping coach, and his son, Josh, a former Liverpool trainee, has followed in his footsteps and is a goalkeeper at York City.