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Weaving away ? from the party line

By Greg Murphy :  19/05/2008 :  Comments (30) :
I seriously hope - and suspect - that Michael, Lyndon and the whole team can (and will) treat this whole ?blame Toffeeweb? recent culture as water-off-a-duck?s-back. Of the leading Evertonian debate sites (as opposed to the likes of info-based services like so in my view that?s Blue Kipper, NSNO, Toffeeweb and WSAG (to put them alphabetically), this one is by far the easiest to have a lame pop at. And having a dig at ToffeeWeb most definitely seems to be the de-rigeur, ?too kool for skool? thing to do now around Evertonian circles.

A lot of that, IMO, is due to Toffeeweb?s superior functionality, presentation, design and navigability which makes it far more ?auditable? (though I?m stretching it a bit here) than the others. For it?s so much more easier to gain a perception (rightly or wrongly) of what ToffeeWeb and its contributors think about any given Blue issue because of the easier accessibility.

As a rule I only use ? whether it?s to read or post ? just two of the Evertonian sites: Toffeeweb and WSAG. On the positive side, I choose WSAG and TW because in the former instance I like it?s culture (however harsh some may find it) and it?s not-arsed, anything goes, what-you-see-is-what-you-get, laissez faireism, plus Mark O?Brien seems to call most everything spot-on; and in the latter there?s the ability on ToffeeWeb to really deconstruct any and every Evertonian subject, as long it?s only about Everton.

On the negative side, I purposefully don?t frequent some of the other Evertonian sites because in one particular instance (no names) I feel it?s just too cosy with the club itself and in another I simply can?t find my way around it (despite repeatedly being told how good it is, there?s a little too much petulant, knife-and-fork banging ?mum, I want me dinner? Apple Mac mentality in me and if I can?t negotiate my way around some sites after five seconds then I just don?t bother). Get me, big lix cyber-discerner!

You could never accuse ToffeeWeb of being difficult to negotiate, though, and you can see, in an instant, the moment you arrive at the home-page, before you?ve even clicked, what the current debates, praises and bete noirs are.

Therefore Toffeeweb is always gonna be in the firing line to a certain extent; although I appreciate that the reason it?s been held to account of late is because of the (perceived) negativity of some contributors (i.e. fellow Evertonians). Yet in my view, you can get equally as much negativity on the WSAG forum, for example, but it?s just not so readily identifiable in an arena where there can be as many as 30 different posts an hour debating everything from Cristiano Ronaldo?s bird (hywell), BIGGA peas, the PLO and of course the progress or otherwise of the tricky Blues.

Yet whenever the WSAG forum crew does debate the minutiae of Everton matters it?s surprising how ToffeeWebbish it suddenly gets (especially concerning Kirkby). But the difference is that within minutes the action has moved on and suddenly the superiority of a chippy in Tuebrook is being discussed and any given post about Moyes, Kenwright, Carsley, Neville, Kirkby can be two pages away.

Over the last weekend, for example, the WSAG forum carried a considerable thread about KEIOC and it was all very, er, very, well, er ToffeeWeb (which has now become a verb in Everton fan circles, as in ?he?s been Toffeewebbin on for the last half-hour about Carsley? which I overheard in the Spellow before the Newcastle game).

Unlike on WSAG (and I can?t really comment about the other sites so it wouldn?t be fair) any given subject matter can stay on the home page of ToffeeWeb for days and the perception is wholly different, not least because the contributors, by and large, have got the guts to put their names alongside their viewpoints (which isn?t a dig, far from it, at WSAG?s highly amusing ?user name? informality and long may it remain; for both sites have got two totally different, quite distinct cultures that you couldn?t recreate again if you tried ? but all credit nonetheless to TW for insisting on personal accountability as much as it?s possible).

But to say, though, that one particular site is wholly negative, positive, or even fair-minded is a bit like saying one particular part of Goodison has got a uniform mindset. Laughable. For example, I sit in the middle of the Park End and within 10 feet of me there?s two blokes on either side of the Phil Neville debate ? and fierce with it ? but at the same time they both seem to agree about Fernandes (to sign him).

And that?s the thing about trying to portray an homogenous nature about any given section of Evertonia: you can?t because it isn?t true and never will be.

For instance: I?m vehemently anti-Kirkby, yet I?m still pro Bill Kenwright (yes, it is possible) and I think that, Kirkby aside, Wyness would actually have been judged to have done a good job at EFC so far; meanwhile I swung back and forth twice about Yakubu last season, I really believe Fernandes could be the answer, I was defiantly pro-Carsley, but oddly still retain a few doubts about Cahill especially in a four, and for good measure I?ve come to the conclusion that Andy Johnson isn?t the answer; while all that?s swirling in my head, I?m of the view that David Moyes has saved Everton FC from a slow-death (genuinely believe that) and I?m losing sleep about him not yet having signed his contract but (like Michael Kenrick) I got to a point last season where I just couldn?t handle his hoof-ball tactics anymore and wondered how he couldn?t see what we all could that playing long-balls towards opposition centre-halves like Zat Knight was pointless.

Meanwhile, back to the ground move, I support KEIOC in principle but not on the ?city? part, for I have to say that I wouldn?t be arsed if we played in certain parts of Sefton but there?s no way I?d go to Speke. So I suppose that makes me a Keep Everton Out Of Kirkby subscriber (KEOOK - might catch on).

Now if you can find a pigeonhole for all that lot then good luck.

But I?d say that type of ?all-over-the-place? thinking is about par for the course for most Evertonians. For some reason, though, if you?re anti-hoofball then it?s automatically assumed that you?re anti-Moyes (far from it) and before long you?re into the ?we should be grateful, who are we gonna get to replace him?? row. Similarly with Kirkby. If you?re anti-Kirkby (and I couldn?t try any harder to be) then you?re automatically pro-KEIOC and by proxy anti-Kenwright. Not so.

To suggest, then, that ToffeeWeb ? as an entity, albeit virtual ? or indeed any Blue site has one codified mindset is ludicrous in my opinion.

One area, perhaps, where you could say that there?s a uniformity of viewpoints (certainly among its editorial team) concerns Kirkby as it seems the whole ToffeeWeb crew are anti it (though, again, there?s different aspects of light and shade within that). That, though, just reflects my own Evertonian experience for my group of match-goers is 9 against and just 1 for (but he holds his own when it all gets a bit sparky, as he should and we all sit and listen to him).

Anyway, what should Toffeeweb do given that most of its editorial board have real concerns about Kirkby? Falsely say that some of them are for it and some of them are against just to serve the interests of the ?balance? brigade? That way lies a typical Talk Spewt phone-in: ?You can?t blame Rangers fans per se, Rhoddri, it?s more of a societal problem.? ?Oh, I?m not so sure, Ray.? Give us strength.

But we really have reached an ironic point, in my view, when national media channels start having a pop at fansites, especially Everton ones. For it?s now 20 years ago that WSAG (still the finest paper fanzine in the country, in my view) first appeared, chiefly to provide fans with an alternative to the force-fed party line of the club which certainly I?d had my fill of.

WSAG paved the way for everything else that?s emerged and whether they?ve survived or not (Blue Wail, anyone?) or evolved gradually as in the case of ToffeeWeb, we should be grateful for them because prior to the ?unofficial? era, the club-to-fan communications, certainly within Evertonia, were woeful.

Now, though, in a media era when Sky Sports daren?t ask a searching question because it simply has to keep the Big 4 onside, when print-hacks are afraid to penetrate issues in case they get barred from the press box, when MOTD has to rely on Carlos Quieroz being wheeled-out because of Alex Ferguson?s long-running spat with the Beeb (ironically because he?s seen fit to tar the whole corp. with the same ?Alan Green? brush), we?ve reached a point where fansites like Toffeeweb are being targeted for having the temerity to be democratic and the guts to present an alternative viewpoint.

Frankly, if Tony Marsh or whoever, even in the midst of a Uefa Cup qualifying campaign, wants to rail against certain aspects of David Moyes?s managerial style then we?ve surely reached a point in the post-Hillsborough era of football supporting where he should be allowed to say so. Like me, I?m sure Tony Marsh or whoever, will decide for himself when Everton are having a good season; and not because we?re being told that we are or that we should be grateful and must view everything through Goodison?s prism of relativity i.e. remember what it was like under Walter Smith, so stop bleating.

As it happens, I?m pretty sanguine (aside from Kirkby) about all things EFC at present but if there?s someone out there who isn?t ? for whatever reason ? then so be it. But to read under the auspices of a national press title that the likes of ToffeeWeb ? and therefore the Evertonians who use it ? really should be more accepting, conforming and in agreeance with how the Club and the national media perceives things to be, is a bit alarming in my view.

I also have to say that David Moyes?s recent quote that some fans need ?educating? is a bit sinister, certainly to my easily-twitched, admittedly oversensitive ears; although in context I can see the broader aspect of what he was driving at. But it works both ways, Davey, for while we?ve just recorded a Premier League best points haul, moving up a place from 6th to 5th and achieved Uefa Cup football on our own merits this season (i.e. not relying on the Sky 4 to win the domestic cups), it has to be said that ahead of some games in the post-Fiorentina phase I?d sooner have gone to the dentist!!! Conversely some of the footy we played pre-Christmas (and indeed last day versus Newcastle) was the best I?d seen from the Toffs in years.

So yeah, I can see the bigger picture behind Moyes?s ?educating? quote (but he?d have been better off just issuing a shrug or an ?each to their own? blandishment because lines as colourful as that have a nasty habit of returning to bite); but at the same time that shouldn?t mean that fans can?t voice their opinions about incidental, as-you-go aspects of a season (such as the Goodison derby, when I felt that a certain Mark Clattenburg conveniently distracted the attention away from a worryingly negative tactical mindset we?ve developed against Liverpool in particular, who were utterly crap that day at our patch, a trend which was really seen to the fore in March at Anfield). Or do we now have to meekly label every post and every article with the caveat: ?Look I know we?re having a great season and I love David Moyes and in comparison to Walter things are really fab but about Mikel Arteta?s corners....?? Not at £540 a pop for a season ticket I won?t. Not when it?s £70 to fill your car for Arsenal with a £40 ticket on top and then factor in the rest of the spends.

We?re blessed with a plethora of quality ?unofficial? communications channels within Evertonia and certainly we have the best fanzine in WSAG and the best website in ToffeeWeb in the country (I really mean that - have you ever looked around at some of the dross out there, particularly in London?).

Indirectly, the club, in turn, has had to seriously raise its game regarding its communicative output over the last decade and I happen to think that by-and-large we get a pretty decent service from the club these days ? certainly in, ahem ?relative?, comparison to the early 90s and earlier eras ? (although I can do without yet another ?rally cry? from Phil Neville) and I feel that likes of Darren Griffiths and Co do a vastly undersung job.

But the likes of WSAG (which has copped a lot of flak down the years) and ToffeeWeb will only remain the best if they stay as forthright, irreverent and independent as they have every right to be. Wasn?t the whole basis of the fanzine culture (a phrase which itself seems a bit twee these days) in the first place based on the ?we?ll say what we want? premise?

Anything else takes us right back to the dark days of Dr David Marsh and an old-school Everton set-up which hadn?t quite got to grips with the fact that the (un)golden age of football-spectating deference had died and grimly it had taken the fatalities of 96 supporters to bring it about.

Anyway, as for ToffeeWeb, it?s surely better to be talked about than not and if I were Michael, Lyndon, Colm et al I?d take all the recent drum banging as a back-handed compliment.

Personally I think the affected, semi-elitist yawn about decrying all things ToffeeWeb is now tiresome in itself. About as tedious as some people thinking that Evertonians can be dictated to about how good we should feel and when we should feel it. We?ll decide that for ourselves, thanks.

Basically I?ll clap when I want, read what I want and I?ll click where I want - grateful that I?ve now got the choice.

Long may it remain the case.

Reader Comments

Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer

Adam Cunliffe
1   Posted 19/05/2008 at 17:05:48

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ToffeeWeb and Bluekipper are by far the best.Bluekipper is entertaining and very up to date with club news but ToffeeWeb is great for a debate.Be it on Kirby or Kenwright theres always a disscusion going on (some can get a little to personal but that aint ToffeeWebs fault.)There both easy to navigate and I think any criticsm to any Everton website run by Evertonians be it ToffeeWeb, Kipper, NSNO and WSAG is completely unjust.
David Kiely
2   Posted 19/05/2008 at 18:03:21

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Needed to be said. That newspaper article was a disgrace. It reminded me of that balloon-head Green from 5Live two seasons ago saying Everton needed a reality check in relation to expectations and status. Then it was fine to hit back with gusto. This time though, because it was from ?a fan?, we?re all supposed to be cowed into agreeing that 5th in this dross league is an unanswerable achievement. That fella?s not on.

As for ToffeeWeb: this place has seen all the trends and fads come and go. Like the Mississippi it?ll keep on rollin? on regardless of the falk from the ?In Deference [sic] to Kenwright? brigade.
Andy Willox
3   Posted 19/05/2008 at 19:54:01

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Bit difficult to digest the whole tract, but I eventually got the gist.
By the way, is there a link to your article from the last issue of WSAG, the ?bitter? one? I forced a load of reds to read it and they did scuttle tail twixt legs afterwards. I thought it was a very responsible piece and should have a bit more access. I?ve asked G Ennis but as yet he hasn?t responded, so maybe Michael et al here would offer you the opportunity?
Jay Campbell
4   Posted 19/05/2008 at 20:37:29

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Blue Kipper’s not that good.
Greg Murphy
5   Posted 19/05/2008 at 20:50:09

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Hi Andy, if you send your private e-mail to Lyndon who can then forward to me, I’ll send a PDF of the piece to you. Cheers.
Seamus Murphy
6   Posted 19/05/2008 at 20:58:36

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Excellent article Greg ? couldn't agree more with your viewpoint.
Jason Lam
7   Posted 20/05/2008 at 03:31:53

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Personally I’ve been visiting TW since the late 90s. This is by far the best website out there in terms of presentation, layout, content, navigation, use of graphics etc (I used to work in web development myself). Most importantly the posters are some of the most intellectual fans I’ve met, which obviously has accumulated and converged here after years of positive reputation. BlueKipper is fun and all but I do love a good honest debate.
Michael Kenrick
8   Posted 20/05/2008 at 05:28:01

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Andy, I don’t know what that article of Greg’s is that you refer too, but we’ll take a look if someone could send it in.
Simon Williams
9   Posted 20/05/2008 at 08:23:48

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Just wanted to say what a pleasure it was to read such a well-thought out and well-written piece.

This site is the best Everton resource on the web as far as I?m concerned, and it?s ridiculous that it seems to need defending. What I particularly like about this article is how you?ve looked at ?balance? ? which this site is often accused of lacking. The fact is you can?t achieve balance without some weight at the extremes, and as a place to survey the richness of thought, the range of topics discussed and the breadth of opinion of Evertonians across the UK and further afield, ToffeeWeb has no peer. In this regard, it?s actually the most ?balanced? media outlet out there.

Congratulations to the editors for maintaining such an excellent site ? and thanks to Greg for reminding me to be grateful for it!

Michael Hunt
10   Posted 20/05/2008 at 08:43:37

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Bang on the money there Greg. I’m all for being educated in a few perplexing areas though:
- I’d like to understand the merits of long balls to the head of 6 foot centre backs for AJ to compete aerially with.
- The benefits of making defensive substitutions when we need another goal are also not yet appreciated by me.
- When it makes sense to put unfit midfield players on the bench when a fit one is available, then putting on a defender when a fit midfielder seems to be a better option.
Gareth Humphreys
11   Posted 20/05/2008 at 09:15:37

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Greg, once again a superb well written and balanced article.

With regards to the "A bit bitter this" article I can?t endorse what Andy Wilcox is saying enough. The article was absolute top drawer and deserves publication to a much wider audience.
Tony Waverleas
12   Posted 20/05/2008 at 10:17:02

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David Kiely (above) refers to a disgraceful newspaper article which I’ve clearly missed.
Any chance of a link to point me in the right direction?
Chad Schofield
13   Posted 20/05/2008 at 11:22:48

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Like Tony, I missed that one.
Greg, reading between the lines, are you suggesting some kind of TW Top Trumps?

David Kiely
14   Posted 20/05/2008 at 13:25:25

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Tony and Chad -

Times online piece:
Tony Waverleas
15   Posted 20/05/2008 at 15:35:51

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Thanks for that, David.
I’ve read Ed Bottomley (author of the Times article) when he does the fans’ match verdict/preview in The Observer and he’s usually pretty good.

Although the the best compliment I can pay him is that if he’s being used in that week’s paper it means the lad from another well known Everton fan site who also gets used (and no prizes for guessing which one) is mercifully prevented from sharing his opinions with a national audience.

I really don’t wish to be unkind but talking about "redshite" this and "redshite" that and "Beneathus" every time he appears (and we haven’t even been playing them) is toe-curlingly juvenile. Most of all via a national newspaper it just makes us all look bitter and obsessed by our friends across the park.
Dismal stuff, indeed.
David Collins
16   Posted 20/05/2008 at 19:18:26

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Just to say "Well said Greg" for that 'Bitter' article' in WSAG, it made a few reds in work speechless for once (well about 3 minutes anyway).
David Kiely
17   Posted 20/05/2008 at 19:43:42

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Tony, agree 100% about the ?redshite? word. I?ve never used the expression, it?s de-humanizing. Like when the Old Firm talk about each other as Bheggars and Huns and ?the animals?.
Lyndon Lloyd
Editorial Team
18   Posted 21/05/2008 at 06:12:56

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First off, a big thank you to Greg for taking the time to write at length and with such eloquence on a topic which (obviously) we try to deal with all the time, be it on the open forum of the site itself or in private e-mails. It means a lot to be defended so staunchly by someone whom I have come to respect greatly since you first came to our attention last summer at the height of the Kirkby ballot/debate.

I?d be lying if I said the constant labeling of ToffeeWeb as negative ? particularly where it?s got to the point that we?re now a verb with negative connotations! ? was like "water off a duck?s back" but I am at least cognizant of the fact that it is the areas of most prominence vis-a-vis criticism of the management and matchday performances ? i.e. the MailBag and Match Reports ? that have fostered that reputation.

We can publish as many wholly pro-Kirkby articles or Moyes-adoring letters as we like ? and there have been, and continue to be, many of those ? but people will always get hung up on the most extreme voices on the perceived "negative" end of the spectrum, in this case the likes of Tony Marsh and Michael. [And, no, they?re not the same person!]

As Greg points out, all three of us on the editorial team are anti-Kirkby to varying degrees and while we?ve never been entirely neutral on that issue, we have published opinion on it across the board, often to the detriment of our side of the argument. Our biggest detractors don?t always give us credit for that but as long as people keep finding reasons to come back and people like Greg and the other like-minded respondents on this thread keep supporting us, then it?s all worthwhile and the critics don?t matter so much.
David Gallant
19   Posted 21/05/2008 at 08:31:43

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Greg, parts of your article had me in stitches, other parts I agree with wholeheartedly. Still others had me nearly falling off my chair in disbelief.

Pretty much in keeping with the gist of your piece innit? LOL

I still think Michael Kenrick is too impatient and unfair with some of his comments, and believe that the sale of Wayne Rooney still rankles with Tony Marsh.

But thats just me LOL
Christine Foster
20   Posted 21/05/2008 at 12:44:45

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Having just read the offending article, its no surprise that the first to post his agreement in decrying TW and its comments and editorial as a digre etc, none other than Mr Gerard Madden as usual the first to condem and the last to construct.

To all of the readers and editorial staff of TW, your comments are I would say made with passion and emotion but there is also a great attention to facts (as they exist).

The article says we are hell bent on slagging Moyes no matter what the acheivements. I must admit that certainly is not my view of the site. Moyes, comes in for a significant amount of praise and I think its fair to say that without him we would indeed be up the creek without a paddle. He gets criticizes yes, but that goes with the territory.
Vitriol? Abuse? Against Moyes?? All the time???

ToffeeWeb is as impartial as it gets. As well presented and professional in its construction and editorial staff. It's a credit to Everton Fans everywhere but most of all a credit to Michael and Lyndon. Well done guys. Keep it going, there needs to be a voice of reason to counter balance the crap. :-)

Alex May
21   Posted 21/05/2008 at 12:49:15

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The whole ’Toffeeweb is negative/anti-Everton’ guff is only posted by those whose mentality runs no further than throwing beer in the air at half time or learning what Indonesian for ’redshite’ is. Their opinion is worthless.

One of the editorial team, in particular, is probably far more positive about the team’s performances and possible post-Kirkby future than I am. At least you expect contributors on here to have a brain whether you agree with them or not.
Gavin Ramejkis
22   Posted 21/05/2008 at 12:56:50

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Really enjoyed the article and despite it’s length managed to retain my interest top to bottom. I only bother with viewpoints on this website as the others far too staid, one of my late cousins was a founder of WSAG so have years of history with those and they still bring a smile with some excellent work. Bluekipper is well in bed (quite literally payrollwise in fact) with the club so will always be the new Pravda. I enjoy a good debate on these pages admittedly going off both barrels a few times then deciding to give it a miss and I’ll just upset myself and my poor targets who I apologise for some outbursts but passions run high in respect to certain topics and I maintain my stances with regards to them - Kirkby, BK and KW. I’ll also happily point out deficiencies of some poor games as and when they happen.
Michael Hunt
23   Posted 21/05/2008 at 13:20:02

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TW is the best conduit for all things blue. If the content is occassionally too ?blue? for some thats a shame, as it is the best site for all true blues, whatever their viewpoint! IMHO the editors are true Evertonians worthy of NSNO accreditation.
Long live Toffeeweb! Cheers!
Tony Williams
24   Posted 21/05/2008 at 13:42:24

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A mail bag without differing views would simply be boring.

You need to have the two ends of the spectrum to make it interesting. I am a positive person and as a left back, I am a defender at heart as well so I defend the team and Moyes.... mostly but it is far more interesting debating/arguing a point than posters just agreeing with each other.

Yes we have our mega negative and positive posters but that is what makes this mail bag one of the best around and long may it continue.
Chris Roberts
25   Posted 21/05/2008 at 17:14:49

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"ToffeeWeb is as impartial as it gets. "

*in bits here*

That said Toffeeweb is great for news and I think the article makes a fair point that the features hang about too much giving a more negative impression than necessary. I for one am really put off by what appears to be incessant moaning.
David Kiely
26   Posted 21/05/2008 at 17:54:21

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Chris - TW?s impartiality is only in question when you compare it to the staple diet that most Everton supporters get fed from the club?s own official website and the unctious kow-towing of the local rags and radio.
Steve Lyth
27   Posted 22/05/2008 at 16:00:40

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Toffeeweb quite simply, is the best football fanzone on the net. Keep up the great work guys
Matthew Morgan
28   Posted 22/05/2008 at 19:44:43

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Top quality article Greg, one I've come to expect. By the way, regarding your WSAG article, would it not be possible to post a somewhat edited version of it on ToffeeWeb itself, so that it would gain a greater audience? However, I do not know if editing it would ruin the overall quality?
Andy MacFarlane
29   Posted 23/05/2008 at 01:56:16

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Good post, Greg. I have to confess that I regularly log on to TW with the same guilt as a "third party out-of-body experience" looking at a road traffic accident: I don?t really want to look at it, but I am drawn to it! Sometimes the vast preponderance of anti EFC Board (and even anti-Moyes) opinions infuriates me and drives me to despair. AND, I have to say that that is MOSTIMES, given the balance of the posts that I read. But then, I appreciate the efforts put in by the presenters of the site, which is by far the best of the EFC genre, and I try to hold on to the mantra "everyone entitled to their opinion, even if they are d*******s (erm, I mean, "hold a different opinion to me"). So, I persevere....
Michael Ward
30   Posted 23/05/2008 at 19:47:57

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Anyone got a link to the WSAG article? I would be quite interested to read it...

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