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A-Star to AJ and Baines

By Greg Murphy :  03/01/2008 :  Comments (19) :
A big ?well-in? to both Andrew Johnson and Leighton Baines for being behind the A-Star ?street encouragement? programme for ?kidz?. It?s good to know that there are even more players in the EFC dressing room who ?give one?.

And I wonder whether this extra dimension to a player?s personality - i.e. a conscience - is what Moyes means when he always asserts that he?s looking for more than just football talent when signing a player.

They must also be the ?right type? of bloke to fit into Moyes? EFC mould, it seems, and it?s clear that there are now quite a few of them at Goodison.

Cars, we know, is a massively down-to-earth bloke who is unstinting in his charitable efforts - and I gather we don?t know the half of it. Phil Neville is another player in the same mould (him and Paul Scholes have always been doing ?things on the side? in the right way since they were kids together at Man Utd).

Cahill, who knows his roots are as modest as they come, is another who ?puts something back?, albeit chiefly for projects back in Oz, the homeland which he says he is committed to and has stressed will be where he returns to after he?s punched his last corner flag.

McFadden, too, is another current Toffee with an added dimension to his personality and I don?t just mean pointing to a black armband in memory of his late team-mate Phil O?Donnell.

And now clearly, in the shape of AJ and Baines, there?s another couple of grounded lads.

I must say I?m not that surprised about AJ because I always put a lot of store by Simon Jordan?s words when the transfer took place between us and Palace. He seemed very keen to stress AJ?s ?honour? in all things; which is in direct contrast to Jordan?s - love him or loathe him - unforked tongue when asked about those he isn?t too keen on.

I always suspected, then, that AJ was an all-round good guy but I have to say that the Baines involvement in A-Star is a very welcome sign (good job that he left the goal celebrations to AJ, though!).

The Fat Kid?s departure pretty much eroded what faith I had in modern footballers and for the last four years I?ve been as cynical and jaundiced as they come about the prima-donnas we see before us.

However, whilst I?ll never return to the days when they were all heroes and icons adorning a Pannini stickers album page, a degree of warmth towards them is slowly (very) creeping back into my ice-cold veins.

I suppose that when Moyes talks about team-building and blend he?s not just talking about on-field formations and I?m glad we have a gaffer who likes to sound out his charges beyond checking the Opta stats.

In that respect, then, I wonder what we are to make of the Fernandes saga (a player reputed to have had a surly gob even before he came) and Moyes?s total silence on the subject since the summer pantomime.

Anyway, that?s a negative. Only plus marks today. So, hats off to AJ and Baines... the more off-field ?do gooders? we have at EFC the better in my opinion.

ps: See Joey Barton?s before the beak today, eh?

Reader Comments

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Peter Hughes
1   Posted 03/01/2008 at 16:55:29

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Joseph Yobo is another name that should get mentioned here. Maybe his charitable work gets overlooked because it is mostly back home in Nigeria, but this old article from the BBC African Football strand gives some insight into the great work that he does:
Andy Morden
2   Posted 03/01/2008 at 17:00:21

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You Greg, you beat me to this article as I was mulling over posting a similarly themed comment on EFC’s currnet playing staff before the A-star scheme became widley publicised. I belive that part of the reason that we are doing so well is due to the characters that we have - grounded, focused and decent people. Sure they probably do have the odd liking for the expensive side of life, but on their salaries who can blame them? However, I think it is also important to note the Christian element in the dressing room - Yobo, possibly the Yak and Pienaar are all quite religious, as many African players are. Essentially I think we are spared many of the idioctic parties of Man Utd, the preening antics and self-aggrandisation of Gerrard et al, and the pomposity of Arsenal and Chelsea. And it is to our benefit on and off the pitch.
Keith Glazzard
3   Posted 03/01/2008 at 17:28:49

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Well done to the lads who try to put something back - it does them great credit.

I’m not too sure about this being their Christian duty - who was the top player in the 60’s who said he couldn’t be a Christian and a footballer (Knowles?) and went out on the knocker instead. I’m all for what’s called the protestant work ethic.

Without wanting to know anything about about DM’s upbringing, I’ll bet he believes that you get nothing in this life if you don’t work for it. And this does dovetail nicely with his preferred choice of player - plus what he does with them. I’ll bet that there are shedloads of ’experts’ out there who didn’t know that Yakubu could work as hard as he is doing now. Praise be.
Aidan Wade
4   Posted 03/01/2008 at 17:50:14

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Well said, and that’s a great piece on Joey too. Its great to have so many good characters at the club. It particulary bodes well for the future, with the wealth of role models for the youth players who are coming through.

I was terrified we would sign Barton during the summer.
Danny Militwitch
5   Posted 03/01/2008 at 19:37:00

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Spot on points there Greg, a post that brought a smile to my face when the nostalgia of the panini albums was mentioned. I remember struggling for what seemed like months to get Paul Bracewell in a swap.... The Wimbledon foil badge always seemed to elude me aswell.
I never sent off to get any missing stickers that was cheating..........
Dan Adams
6   Posted 03/01/2008 at 20:04:29

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As we are on the topic Pienaar is another fantasic person coming form a very poor place and helping the neigbourhood.
I wonder how many other Premiership teams have such fantastic characters in their ranks?
Christopher Clough
7   Posted 03/01/2008 at 21:51:32

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Good to see that David Moyes is going for players with good character as well as the necessary skills and footballing intellegence. That was the dual ethos behind the sucess of Bill Shankley (whom even an ardent Evertonian such as I held in the very highest esteem - as I now do with Davie M). Great clubs need illustrious players and admirable management. We are really starting to look like a great club!
Derek Thomas
8   Posted 03/01/2008 at 22:17:22

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Glad to see all our ’ smashy’s and nicey’s getting a mention, the only ones missing are bachman, turner and overdrive.

I seem to remember rooney being fronted up at Alder Hey by his minders soon after the grab a granny fiasco for a bit of damage limitation.


We were well rid.

’ The worst kind of heart problem is to have no charity in it’ ...Bob Hope
Chris Jones (Wakefield)
9   Posted 03/01/2008 at 22:28:39

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Yes it’s good to see so many of the lads appear to be decent blokes. As such they are all the more likely to gain one another’s support and spur team-mates to graft for one other. It’s one thing to fail to support a git, but no one wants to feel a tw*t by letting-down the good guys!
Paul Hetherington
10   Posted 03/01/2008 at 22:39:31

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My Dad’s a director in Alder Hey and he says that, although they are all down to earth when visiting the kids, the one who really stood out was none other than Killa Kilbane!! He also said that Gravesen once made a kid cry with his sheer intensity!
Peter Singer
11   Posted 03/01/2008 at 23:20:09

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You forgot about Yobo and Howard, their charitable work is well-known.
Peter Singer
12   Posted 03/01/2008 at 23:22:39

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And one more thought: this type of behavior seems to catch on quickly, if the new lads see that all the others do it, they feel compelled to follow their suit.

Maybe Barton is beyond help but I’m sure Manny isn’t.
Guy Wilkinson
13   Posted 04/01/2008 at 00:40:43

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Good men, good role models. Do the club proud
Nick Flack
14   Posted 04/01/2008 at 00:51:06

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A Star. That?s what AJ?s celebration is all about. All the footy players are doing it showing support. It?s mostly AJ and Fitz Hall isn;t it. There?s a website.
Santosh Benjamin
15   Posted 04/01/2008 at 03:20:57

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Wonderful article,Greg.It is a breath of fresh air to read an article with footballers doing charity work and not something sordid(ala Man Utd..Barton,etc) ...and the comments gave me a real insight into what the players we have are doing to improve the lives of others.
I have always felt that players need to use their resources and connections to help the less fortunate and this seems to be the case with many of our lads.We are more than just a football team..we are part of an amazing group of human beings at Everton..and nothing makes me happier.
Lets hope that the lads keep up the good work and do even more in the new year.
Nick Flack
16   Posted 04/01/2008 at 05:32:47

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I used to work for a printers and one of my main clients was Neville Neville’s Tiger Sports. Nice fella, met Gary a few times with him and have to say the weasel is also very modest. He asked his dad if he could "borrow a quid" to put in an appeal box we had in the reception. He and Phil do a lot of stuff to support Bury FC.
Chris McGlynn
17   Posted 04/01/2008 at 13:15:42

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Good articles on Yobo and Pienaar - very proud of them and the others mentioned above.

Although I just wish Peanuts had remembered his final quote from that Telegraph article in the 88th minute at OT with Giggs bearing down on him...

"I just hope we can get one in Manchester. As long as we don’t give anything away, we know we will have a good game."
Mark Allen
18   Posted 04/01/2008 at 13:21:33

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A football club isn’t just about what happens on the pitch.
I have to say one of the things which has made me most proud of the blues over the last few years has been the football in the community program which is recognised as one of the best business (not just football) in the community schemes in the UK.
I think one of the things that stands out with our squad at the moment is the inteligence and maturity of the players (even the very young). Not lables that can be easily attached to most permiership footballers.
I don’t think this is an accedent, and I don’t think it is a coincidence that such personalities play well as a team and work as a squad.
Jon Livesey
19   Posted 04/01/2008 at 16:28:12

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Just after ’The Special One’ was appointed as manager of Chelsea, he was speaking to the media about the size of his squad and how he believed it was too big. He then launched into an interesting analogy about fruit, making reference to how it only takes one bad apple in a box of hundreds and before you know it, 50 more have been infected and are bad as well. I think his point was that the larger his squad, the more chance there was of it containing a bad influence.

It is pleasing that we don’t seem to have any particularly bad apples in the Everton squad at the moment. I’m going to be kind and say that Andy Van Der Meyde is more misguided than unsavoury. What’s more, he doesn’t appear to have any influence on the squad, let alone a bad one.

It’s probably noteworthy when mentioning Carsley and Kilbane and their involvement at Alder Hey that they both have children with learning difficulties (they’re down-syndrome I think).

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