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Everton Shareholders Association
125th Anniversary Dinner

Ian Macdonald records a Special Event at Goodison Park 


 The Shareholders Association 125th Anniversary Dinner



Last Saturday was the Shareholders Association dinner to commemorate our 125th year as a great football club.  On the day of the dinner, we met Aston Villa a fitting game as this fixture has the longest history of any and is the most contested in top-flight English football.  And in the afternoon, our Boys in Blue  paved a perfect path for our night with a first win of the year, setting up a good atmosphere at the dinner.  I was dreading a defeat as it would have put us even more in the relegation mire and generated an atmosphere more akin to a funeral.   The present is as important as the past and that history of ours gives us the burden of our failings today.


The dinner was to be held in the Alex Young Suite; shareholders and guests gathered beforehand in the Joe Mercer Suite for drinks.  Just those two names conjure up magical times in our history...  In the Joe Mercer Suite was a fantastic ice sculpture depicting the 125th anniversary logo; everybody present was invited to have their picture taken with the sculpture.  This was a really nice touch and gave us all a lasting memento of the occasion.


After the drinks and pictures, we sat down in the Alex Young Suite to be entertained by three guest speakers: Barry Horne, Brian Viner (of The Independent), and sports impressionist Mike Tartarsky.  Before the meal, grace was said by long-serving ESA Executive Committee member Pauline Laphin, while I just thanked God for the three precious points!


A quick round of Head & Tails ensued; I got to the final then took a dive to give one of our older shareholders a night to remember with a signed Alex Young print.

Steve Allinson, the ESA Vice-Chairman, gave  a few words about our great club taking us back to our roots when we were St Domingos Methodist church team,  through all the triumphs and  heartbreaks from that era to now.  The hundreds of thousands of fans who have followed this club through thick and thin over the years many of whom have since gone on to a Blue Heaven with Dixie and the others.  Our dreams and hopes are with this club; custodians come and go but the real owners are the fans and thats what makes this club so special, we truly are the Peoples Club.


Steve thanked Mark Edwards for arranging the dinner and Nick Williams for his work to date in sending communications of all the Executive Committee meetings to all the ESA members.  He then introduced an ex-Everton player who, like so many in our history, needs no introduction.  Cue the Z-Cars Theme and a heros welcome to one of our past gladiators a man whose goal against Wimbledon almost 10 years ago helped secure continuity of our top-flight football: Barry Horne!


Barry told us he had just travelled up from doing some media work at the Leicester game but it was no trouble as the night was not only to celebrate our 125-year history but also to raise some money for the worthy cause that is the Former Players Foundation of which Barry is a patron.


Barry reminded us that he scored our first Premiership goal on his debut.  Everton are a fantastic club he realises how fortunate he was to play for the team he supported.  He came from a family of Evertonians, apart from his Dad who was a Man Utd fan; Barry thinks that after Uniteds draw with Leeds it's Arsenals title.  No kidding, eh Barry, Mr Mastermind!  Barry did go to Liverpool University and gained a degree.  He then joined Wrexham making his debut as a 22-year-old.


Our very Alan Ball spotted this talent and bought him for Portsmouth for a fee of 60,000 and a set of kit.  Barry said of Bally he was a truly amazing infectious personality, Everton is his one true love as with so many ex-players, it touches you.  That statement is echoed so many times at functions and dinners I have been to over the years.  Player genuinely love the club and its fans.


Whilst at Pompey, Barry got called up for Wales; Bally left; followed by Barry, who was sold to fierce rivals Southampton for 700,000 a lot of money in 1989.  Chris Nichol signed him to play with another midfield talent, Matt Le Tissier, who Barry thought was one of the most naturally gifted players he had ever seen, nevermind played with.


After 112 league games for Southampton, the writing was on the wall when Ian Branfoot took over from Chris Nichol and Barry moved on to his beloved Everton.  Howard Kendall signed Barry and that makes him quite unique as he played under the Holy Trinity of Kendall, Ball and Harvey.


When Barry first came to Everton, Kendall never liked him but it worked out better later on their relationship.  Barry told us that he thought the ill feeling came from when Howard heard that Spurs Ted Buxton wanted to talk to Barry and wanted him to sign, fearing that Barry was just pushing up the anti.  In fact, Barry never talked to Spurs at all he only ever wanted to come to Everton, his boyhood team.


When Howard left, it was Enter the Silver Fox: Mike Walker.  Barry, like a lot of us, thought that Mike Walker never really understood the full picture or grasped the size of Everton.  He was brought in on the back of a few good victories in Europe for a small club, Norwich City.  Barry remembered when Mike brought his canaries to Goodison and beat us 5-1 with four goals coming from well-named Efan Ekoku (or was that Cuckoo?). 


Anyway, after securing Premiership survival and That Game against Wimbledon, Mike was sacked by Peter Johnson and another truly great Evertonian came in to save our souls.  I think at the time we had just 8 points from 13 games.  His name?  Big Joe Royle!  Joe told Barry and his team mates to just go out and play; aim to please, that was Big Joes motto.  Tony Grant was knocking on the door soon and Gary Speed was brought in; Barry knew it was time to leave on a high so he joined Birmingham.


One of his biggest regrets was that, when Big Joe eventually left Goodison on Deadline Day 1997, Barry was all set to come back but Johnson, who was refusing to back Joe on the Flo deal, put paid to his return.  Imagine sitting there all day waiting for a fax of confirmation of his return and you find out the manager who was to re-sign you had left by mutual consent!


The best four years of his career were spent at Goodison; he won 23 Welsh caps, captaining a Wales side that beat the likes of Brazil, West Germany and Italy.  His Wembley Cup Final in 1995 and that Wimbledon game will forever be remembered by Barry.  Of the goal that helped save our skin in 1994, he said in the past he just knew where he was placing it.  (But Barry, How did we know that at the time?  In 144 appearances for the Blues, Barry scored only two other goals...)  Ill always thank Barry for that wonder strike and his battling no-nonsense displays, he was truly a dog of war for the Blues when heroes were needed and demanded.


A small footnote of Barrys speech was of the Wimbledon game when 80,000 packed around Walton, everyone says they where there but no one admits to being in the trees that day!  I too would like to hear from a fan in the tree and their experience.  It was one of the weirdest sights ever but also a measure of Blue passion.


Next guest was Evertonian and Sports writer, Brian Viner


Brian was originally from the Southport area.  As he started his speech, he noticed Gordon West sitting near him and he stopped to thank him for the pleasure Westy  gave him as a kid.  It reminded him also of Gordons team mate, Bally, who was sold far too early and irreplaceable; he was our biggest asset at the time.  Brian, with sadness in his voice, said he hopes history does not repeat itself with you know who...
  We were told Roman Ambromovich has Rooney on his shopping list and Radzinski, in fact every single player in Europe... except Heskey!


Brians job entails interviewing a lot of sports personalities; in the last few weeks Brian has interviewed Denis Bergkamp (was it on air miles Brian?), Steve Davies, Phil Vickery, and written farewells to Bob Stokoe and Ally McLoed.  A past story was based on big Ron Atkinsons interview in a plush part of Birmingham.  When Brian walked into the Atkinsons house, it struck him everything was orangey.  The walls, the sofa, the carpets even the tea mugs were tan.  Brian in a off thought like Homer of the Simpsons imagined that if Ron had to find his wife in the room he couldnt so well camouflaged both would be really.


Talking about the game that day, Brian noticed Derek Mountfield at a table and said Stubbs played like our Derek worthy of a mention even in Labones stature on todays performance.


He interviewed Gazza for an hour once and only understood five minutes of the conversation.  He was at Celtic Park on Thursday reporting, and Goodison today; its a hard life, eh Brian? or should that be The Life of Brian?  In fact, Brian reports on all major sporting events.


He told us of a well known journalist who was notorious for fiddling his expenses: expensive dinners for the likes of interviewing Venables etc right down to chicken nuggets and chips which were really his own kids' dinners (a diner shouted out Was that for Rooney!").  His editor questioned him on the small dinners to which he replied Well jockeys have small appetites!


Brian always likes to get a mention of Everton in his interviews: for the likes of the Atkinson interview, it was easy as Big Ron had had a milk round around Goodison as a lad; it was a bit harder for the Martina Navratilova interview!


He remembered Gordon lee with affection and thought we really dont recognise his contribution to Everton as much as we should.  The screaming skull he was affectionately known as, if I remember correctly.  There were always big victories under Gordon:  6-0, 5-0, etc.  Good shout that Brian about Gordon maybe we should get him for after-dinner speaking soon. 


Brian went on at that time we would celebrate anything, we even would have entered the Brylcreem Cup if there had been one.  Duncan McKenzie was a great entertainer Brian boomed, Do you know he could jump over a mini and throw a golf ball the length of a pitch?  Err, Brian;  What about his footballing skills?  On the pitch he was magic at times everyone remembers his piss-taking against Stoke, yes and he was a heavy smoker to boot.  Brian finished his spot with a toast to Gordon Lee.


The last guest speaker was sports impressionist Mike Tartarsky.

Mike has performed previously at a number of smaller football clubs countrywide, providing light entertainment by way of racing, football, snooker and general sports personalities.  He also does radio voiceovers.  Mike started with a brilliant commentary of the Grand National at lightening pace or should that be at a gallop!  All I could remember was Hello Dandy.  His impressions of Bob Paisley, Terry McDermot and Emlyn Hughes all went down well.  Mikes act must have been very good as I thought he was only on for about 15 minutes maybe thats all his clean act is for as he wasnt Blue, but I detect he could have been a red. 


Then came then came the raffle prizes from the tickets previously sold at a fiver a head.  There must have been the largest amount of prizes Ive ever seen at a dinner: loads of signed prints, a signed Everton shirt, football and Designer City vouchers, 3 at 50 thanks Mr Feldstead, the owner, for that particular donation.  Jeremy Wyke won the signed framed Everton shirt.


It seemed I was the only one not to win anything, there were that many prizes flying out.  Present as well was Steve Milne, patron of tithe Former Players Association; he does an awful lot of work behind the scenes to help ex-players who are in need of repair to damaged limbs and bodies due to giving us so much pleasure on the field.  No better example of how an ex-player's life can change because of this charity is my own favourite: Gordon West .


Gordon is basically shy but when he was asked to come and say a few words of his life-changing experience with the former BlueBlood, he came out of his chair like a bull.  A person like Gordon with a mike in his hand just gets complete respect, the room fell into silence as this great goalkeeper of Everton (only ever rivalled in my opinion by Big Nev) spoke of how much he thanked BlueBlood for giving him a new life.  If ever a speech came from the heart, this was it.


A few  years ago Gordon was down and out and hungry (biggest laugh of the night); he could hardly walk and fell over often when out not through drink but from his knees collapsing over his weight and the wear and tear of his football life.  It made him almost hermit-like.  I remember calling over to Gordon as he walked along with his bike used as an aid not for riding; he would just nod and not get into any discussion but just walked on...   Maybe it was me, but I know the real reason was that he was really down and depressed.


Four years ago, he got a phone call from the club; it was from Steve Milne and the Reverend Harry Ross, also a BlueBlood patron, offering help.  Gordon declined at first as he is a proud man and wondered why anyone would be bothered to help old has-beens.  Thankfully, Steve and Harry made Gordon change his mind and his life.  First thing they did was buy Gordon a TV as his old set was broken and he couldnt afford a new one. 


Then came his knee operations and with this the ability to walk unaided.  These ops cost 8,000 but what cost to the recipient?  Gordon is alive again, his dry Yorkshire sense of humour returned, and a new reason to get out because believe it or not a lot of Evertonians love to hear the stories of his Everton days.  Gordon and many others are not has-beens; they are ex heros, people who have lived the dream and we want them around us.


Gordon mentioned his old team mate, Sandy Brown, and asked us to spare a thought for him as he is not very well.  Gordon finished off with a tear in his eye and said that many older ex-players around the country have been left with terrible injuries but that HIS people had helped him, and he was very thankful.  As fans, have a lot to thank David France for as his was the original idea of Blue Blood.  Id like to take this opportunity to wish him well as this man is also in ill health and will have to leave these shores forever soon .


Then came the part all wives of Evertonians should be led away from: the auction.  First to be auctioned was a dinner for two in the company of two ex-players in the Blue Brass and match day tickets before the Spurs game.  Mr Allinson beat off competition with a 200 bid.


Next was a framed match-day poster of the Austrian team FC Bruck... So what? you may ask...  Well, it was signed by a certain Mr Rooney and it was the game in which he scored his first ever senior goal for Everton.  Our Executive Committee member, Anne Asquith, spent her life savings on it with a winning bid of over 300.  Well in, Anne.



Then came a chance to play for Everton at Goodison, to live the dream.  Before the next testimonial at the Old Lady, a team of former players will play another team on the hallowed turf, so make your bids please!  Well, so intense was the demand it was decided that at 500 all four bidders could get the chance to pull on the Royal Blue jersey.  I got the names of three of the winners: Tony Bennett, Mark Denny and Jimmy Walker, so get into training lads now and live that dream and save the embarrassment!  I think the game next season will be on 10 August or thereabouts.




Another highlight of the evening was a plaque to commemorate Everton as pioneers in football a list of firsts compiled by Evertonians for Evertonians.  When you read this list, it shows that Everton have been at the forefront of the development of football on these shores and around the globe.



I hope it will be hung in the main entrance foyer of Goodison Park where visitors come, particularly the press, and see for themselves that is not just any old club: This is Everton!  Sadly, there was no one present from the club for the committee to present this special plaque too.  There were two own-goals last Saturday: missing a minutes silence at the Aston Villa game in respect for the late great Irish winger, Tommy Eglington.  [In an excellent moment of inspiration, Colm Kavanagh made sure the minute's silence was observed at Bray Wanderers' friendly with Everton the following Tuesday night on Tommys home soil.]


The other own-goal was the party line of no Everton staff /Board members present at the only dinner (to my knowledge) to celebrate Evertons 125 years of existence.  If people at Everton have an issue with certain shareholders, so be it, but to snub the whole association and its members is very harsh. 


I do despair at times with the hierarchy that wields the power at Goodison.  Why drive wedges between fans and shareholders?  Why not work together?  Bring people in for discussions not pull drawbridges up.  Helpful ideas are not criticisms in my book.  If we are to be under the Peoples Club banner, then we should live up to it   not the Selected Peoples Club!  


For I fear no share issue will work while we are divided, we need to be together at this moment in time, we dont even know yet where we will be next season.  So let's stop all this no dialogue nonsense and get together now!  First step of togetherness will be receiving the plaque of Everton Firsts on the pitch before the next home game.  Then bring in people who may be considered as in conflict with the club and sort things out.


But let me finish now on a high note from the night: nearly 4,000 was raised for BlueBlood thats half a kneecap operation or a hip replacement.  300 of this money was due to donations from recipients of tickets  in the Directors box this season, since these have now been made available to all members of the association.


Well done to everyone who made this a night to remember, the ESA Executive Committee, the bar staff and waitresses (except the one who drenched me in wine and ale... only joking accidents happen.  Half the population in the world are accidents...), the cooks, and all Evertonians around the world who have got us this far.  Without fans there is no club.  I was told by an elder shareholder it was the best event he had been too and keep up the good work.


Ian Macdonald

Independent Blues

Everton Shareholder

ESA Executive Committee Member*


PS I'd like to wish our vacating Chairman John Sinnot all the best too; it's the long haul and a nod and a wink is better than any ill feeling in our extended family.  Evertonians want to help the club, if allowed, because they love it and will do it for nothing.  Our rewards are to see the best team we can muster on the field.  To hold our heads high amongst other fans and be proud to be an Evertonian not embarrassed.  As the saying goes: 

               Evertonians are born not manufactured 

             We do not choose; we are chosen

             Those that understand need no explanation

             Those that won't communicate with each other and hurt a member of the family, please leave

                Help rather than hinder

                 Live up to the club's motto

                What have you done for Everton today and reply "My best"  


     That's all we ask.


* The views and opinions expressed herein are those of Ian Macdonald and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the ESA Executive Committee or its individual members, or anyone else for that matter.



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