Peter Eastoe arrived at Goodison in March 1979 as Bob Latchford’s latest forward partner. Despite his finest,
most selfless efforts, he was unable to revive his team-mate’s once formidable goalscoring form, but would later assist the development of another great Everton number nine – Graeme Sharp.
STARTING OUT at Wolves, Eastoe, a former England Youth international, had seemed destined for great things, but struggled to make an impression in a squad that included such names as Derek Dougan and John Richards. In 1973 he joined Swindon Town for £80,000 and after averaging a goal every other game, made the step up to the First Division in March 1976 with Queens Park Rangers. Exactly three years later he came to Everton in an exchange deal that saw Mick Walsh join a Rangers team doomed to relegation.
He came into an Everton team that was showing the first signs of decline under Gordon Lee. A strong, diligent front man, he was the sort of hard-working foil for Bob Latchford that Lee had long sought – certainly more the breed of player he preferred to the gifted but wayward showman, Duncan McKenzie. With his intelligent running off the ball and neat shimmies and touches, his play drew comparisons to Kenny Dalglish – although playing in a faltering Everton team, he was invariably considered the ‘poor man’s’ answer to the great Liverpool forward.
Injury limited Eastoe’s impact during the 1979/80 season, but the following year he was Everton’s top scorer with 19 league and cup goals – including the opener in Everton’s FA Cup fourth round victory over Liverpool. Everton, however, could muster only 15th position and Gordon Lee was out of a job.As Howard Kendall moved on many of Lee’s signings that summer, Eastoe was a player he retained. During the 1981/82 season, he aided the emergence of a young Graeme Sharp.
He was,’ Sharp recalled, ‘a far better player than a lot of people gave him credit for... He could shield the ball superbly well, hold it up when he got it and he had a terrific first touch. We had a very good partnership.
FOLLOWING THE arrival of Adrian Heath in January 1982, Eastoe’s opportunities became more limited. In August that year, seeking to make his own impression on the club, Kendall swapped the forward for West Bromwich Albion’s Andy King. After a trail of loan moves there followed a period in Portugal, where he played out his career in the sun.