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By David Mills :  25/07/2007 :  Comments (9) :

With the vote looming, these pages are repeatedly seeing the warning that a move to Kirkby is the beginning of the end for the Everton fanbase, with future scouse kids all picking LFC, regardless of their family affiliation.

Obviously every one has there own experiences, and maybe losing a loved one to the dark side is what really fuels these fears in the likes of Eddy Bernard, etc. So, for what it?s worth, my own experience was being a young lad growing up in the West Midlands in the early 80s, with a South-London Dad of Irish extraction and a South-Wales Mum, neither of whom had any particular affection for football at all, being more Rugby types.

Most people I knew supported Villa growing up, even though Wolves and West Brom were more local to us. The only ones who did go for the less successful, more local teams were those whose Dads led them that way. So who did I follow, without the paternal leading hand? Well obviously the most successful local club wasn?t it, the Mighty Villa! Well, no actually.

Instead, I talked to my Gran about growing up during the Great War, literally (Oxton Street) in the Shadow of Goodison Park, home of the reigning league champions from 1915-1919. I learnt about her Dad, who had followed Everton when they were still at Anfield. I looked into the history of the mighty blues, and I made my choice: an Evertonian I would be.

So now people are arguing that, because we are 4 miles further up the road, on the wrong side of an arbitrary administrative boundary, kids are going to ignore their historic family allegiances and become Reds. Every time I hear this argument, I really think people are missing a key point.

I would agree that if we are in Kirkby, and we remain a mediocre Premier League club (or worse), with a threadbare squad who cannot consistently compete with the biggest teams because of our lack of financial clout, then yes, over time the number of scouse kids choosing blue will probably reduce as a proportion of the whole. But I would suggest that this is already happening while we continue to sit in their shadow at an aging trophy-less Goodison. And of course, being mediocre in Kirkby isn't the plan is it.

The plan (whether you believe it is realistic or not) is that a move to a larger stadium will move us on from where we are now until we can compete at the very highest level. Then you have a very different proposition for the scouse kid in, say, 2012. Do I support that blue Merseyside team who are genuinely challenging for the title, or that red team who would challenge for the title if only they could find the last piece of the jigsaw?!

Call him incompetent if you like, but I really think that it?s absurd to suggest that BK wants to do anything but move the club forward. This idea is we move, we increase our attendance, we increase revenues, we make ourselves more attractive to investment. Subsequently we can invest more in the team, we win trophies again, and our fanbase grows.

I?m not yet decided if I am entirely for the move or not, I really do love GP and redevelopment would still be my primary choice. But if that isn?t ?deliverable? (and let?s be honest here, as much as we want it, who would pay for it?) and we move to Kirkby, then I just don?t see being on the other side of the city boundary by a few hundred yards is going to turn the next generation off following us.

Who a kid chooses to support is decided by some mystery interrelation between their family allegiance, the relative success of the options, and geography. Out of the three, geography is the least significant, especially when we are talking about such small distances. If we go to Kirkby, and we can improve financially, and then in terms of footballing success, and we all keep our kids on the right path (as I am doing with my two young sons) then I reckon we?ll be filling in those corners at the New Goodison in a generations time.

Reader Comments

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Shaun Brennan
1   Posted 25/07/2007 at 17:16:20

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With all due respect though David, you don’t represent every kid. Now i don’t really buy into it. But i went to a school called de la salle in croxteth and we had a few lads from kirkby and they had the piss taken out fo them for being wools and kirkby sock robbers. This was a little harsh, and ten years ago now. Maybe it’s the crocky mentalitly i don’t know. But i’d rather not move to kirkby.

good article though.
Dean Gwilliams
2   Posted 25/07/2007 at 19:29:19

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I agree with you David. My dad and my brothers are reds and i?m a Blue; and I know plenty of mates on either side with similar backgrounds. So it?s daft to assume every kid in every family, regardless of location, will necessarily choose to follow any particular path that is thrown in front of them.

I also definitely think the club needs to get a bit more positive about the whole thing if it really wants to sell this idea to the the matchday masses. Talk it up like it?s a new ?era? or something, and come up with some actual costs, projections, anything to restore our faith in them that they can actually achieve this ?deliverability? they?ve been bleating about so much. Then maybe a few more of those maybes will turn into yes?s, and their desired majority.

and it speaks volumes for me that BK has still not really opened his mouth on the subject since the images and ballot details were released. i reckon he?s secretly voting no.

To be honest, i only go about half a dozen times a season becasue that?s all i can afford, so they won?t care about which way I?m leaning anyway, but until we see some kind of actual planning or anything like that, i fear our ballot on the so-called ?deal of the century? will become something of an embarrassing problem for BK.
Ray Robinson
3   Posted 25/07/2007 at 23:18:18

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David, good article but if moving generated oodles more cash which in turn generated more success and if all this was guaranteed, I’d agree with you. Otherwise, I have my doubts ....
Ben Chambers
4   Posted 26/07/2007 at 09:05:40

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Great Article David.

I agree with most of your key points raised, regarding family allegainces etc.

My dad is a red, mum is a red yet me, my brother ans sister are all Blues. But, 9 times out of 10, as a kid, you tend to follow your dad and his team as a direct result of being around him.

I dont give a shit where we play, as long as it is IN LIVERPOOL. We brought footy to this great city and there is no way i’d wanna move ouf it and let the red shite have it all to themselves.

All the councils need do is re-jigg the fuckin boundries and problem solved!

As long as the gobshites cant gloat, Im happy.

We do need a new ground though to enable us to compete, even though I truly love my seat in Goodison!

Im swaying to the "NO" at the moment, only because of city boundries.

5   Posted 26/07/2007 at 10:36:35

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So true mate, this loss of local fanbase crap, is just desperate scaremongering.
David Mills
6   Posted 26/07/2007 at 14:11:23

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Shaun - I did prefix my own story with ’For what it’s worth’. I know everyone has different reasons for being blue. I just don’t see how all of those reasons will disappear because we are the wrong side of a local government boundary.

Ray - This is the real point that we should be getting at in the stadium debate. if they are trying to move so as to improve finances and therefore the team in the long-run, then show us a proper business plan to show that it will work that way. The club must have one, there must be a reason why KW is saying that they’ll be an extra 10million a season for players.

Or maybe there isn’t. Maybe he really is plucking the figures out of his rear. He is certainly giving a good impression of making it up as he goes along.

I guess the real point of my article is that we shouldn’t get bogged down in the geography of the move, which I maintain is not a really significant issue when it comes to the long-term prospects of club support.

The significant issue is how the move will lead to greater financial, and consequently playing, strength and success. If the board want to win the vote, this is what they should be focussing on.
vin bleu
7   Posted 26/07/2007 at 20:17:08

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In a football age of global brands, big money and world wide marketing, are we willing to compete? There are dozens of big European clubs and EFC has to target European football every year if we are to survive at the top level. Yet some of us have reservations about moving four miles up the road.
We have got to make something happen now. Inertia is not an option. Even if we choose Kirkby, we’ve still got three seasons to survive against clubs investing so much more in their teams. How long will it take to get another scheme off the ground without a penny to our name? Wake up! It’s may be our last chance.
8   Posted 27/07/2007 at 16:41:16

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I wonder if Kenwright really does want the move. Perhaps the reason for Wyness’s shakey statements is that part of Kenwright actually wants to lose the vote: the part which business sense as only one part of the equation in football.

Strikes me that inertia is the only option until this very dodgy scheme is explained more fully.
Nothing stacks up on the ’yes’ side: move to Kirkby and become a global brand? Don’t think so.
9   Posted 27/07/2007 at 16:41:16

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I wonder if Kenwright really does want the move. Perhaps the reason for Wyness’s shakey statements is that part of Kenwright actually wants to lose the vote: the part which business sense as only one part of the equation in football.

Strikes me that inertia is the only option until this very dodgy scheme is explained more fully.
Nothing stacks up on the ’yes’ side: move to Kirkby and become a global brand? Don’t think so.

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