COLUMNIST KEVIN SPARKE
This will be my last piece for this site; for reasons I’ll not go into here. [Webmaster's note: off-topic comments related to this have been removed from responses below]. It’s been a rocky ride and on the way I’ve learned more than I’ve forgotten, so thanks for the positive comments... and the negative ones.
All things must end and with endings come new beginnings... and this will be the theme of this the last bit of nonsense I put here before you.
I’ve been watching the Blues since 1972 as a regular follower — though my first match was 1963 carried by my old feller as a 3 year old to watch us batter a Manchester United side (5-1). I don’t remember anything about it apart from the sound of the crowd being the loudest and most enticing noise I’d ever heard. I’ve been in love with football and Everton ever since.
In my time of watching the Blues there have been many false dawns and even one or two real ones. I remember being at Filbert Street when we played a Leicester City side with Gary Lineker playing up front for Leicester and watching a midfield master class conducted by our team and thinking ‘Blimey... we look pretty good here’... I remember us beating Manchester United 5-0 at Goodison a few months later and thinking ‘We’re not just pretty good — we are bloody fantastic!’ We had four really good seasons and if not for events largely beyond our control we probably would have had four more.
I got that glowing feeling again a few weeks ago when we should have beaten Arsenal, it was even stronger when we beat Manchester City. Defeat by Birmingham and Liverpool tempered my imagination but after Chelsea and Manchester United were both deservedly put to the sword by our lads, that feeling is back again — it is a feeling that the winds of change are blowing through football and at last we might just be on the brink of something very special indeed.
For too long the ruling elite of football known as the ‘Sky Four’ have treated the Champions league as their own personal fiefdom. There is a sense of entitlement at the top of the football tree; a swaggering arrogance about ‘big four’ teams and their supporters, fed by excessive hype and monetary reward. They strut about their business as if success is theirs by right and ‘small’ clubs should know their place and that place is playing cameo roles to their star turns. The latest evidence of this is pronouncements by no less than three different sports journalists that Jack Rodwell needs a ‘big club’ (Manchester United) to continue his development. They treat success as if it were a divine right.
Well... not any more, the times they really are a’changing– Everton are back.
We have the best squad since 1987 and barring the lure of filthy mammon leading our more cultured players to greener pastures — we should fear no other team
Best of luck to all of you... and enjoy the ride... the future is bright... the future is Ginger.
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
1 Posted 22/02/2010 at 20:34:26
I don’t think Liverpool or Man U can spend money in the summer... so I think we have a great chance to keep our players... the future is bright.
2 Posted 22/02/2010 at 20:38:49
3 Posted 22/02/2010 at 20:32:07
Evertonians are so starved of success that every single failure is triggering wide range of feelings and emotions and in the end we have to accept that.
4 Posted 22/02/2010 at 20:19:55
5 Posted 22/02/2010 at 20:55:25
6 Posted 22/02/2010 at 21:27:02
However, I cannot for the life of me feel the winds of change at the moment.The big 4 have too much to lose, as does Sky, if they lose their status.
The FA are also up to their eyes in it, remember them backing the shite when they failed to qualify for the CL. I firmly believe they are all pigs with their snouts in the trough. Too many bad refereeing decisions and none of the useless bastards bought to book by the spineless twats at the FA also convince me of this. It’s a conspiracy, believe me!
As for us. The minute our young lads break into the England squad, they will be tapped up by the big time charlies. This to me is illegal and dishonest, but again the FA do fuck all about it.
We all know also that Billy boy will sell off our prime talent at the right price, he has done it before and will do it again. The odds are stacked against us, mate, and a couple of wins over the Sky 4 will not change that. Football needs a major major overhaul to break the monopoly, starting with the FA taking back control instead of cowing down to Sky dictating the fixtures and kick-off times.
I hope you are right by the way, but like you I have been following the blues since the 60s and the bastards have broke my heart and given me more false dawns than I care to remember. But know what... I wouldn’t have it any other way and don’t regret one minute of it.
Best wishes. Dave.
7 Posted 23/02/2010 at 01:17:03
Looking at the United team only Ferdinand, Vidic and Rooney would guarantee a place in our starting eleven. However with Jagielka set to team up with Heitinga… don’t quote me on that!
Man for man we should fear no-one!
At the start of the season new players had to settle, injuries had to heal, confidence had to grow and David Moyes had to tactically evolve. United would have you believe that they were tired… truth is (like Chelsea and Sporting) they played us at the wrong time!
Donovan’s arrival has brought balance to our team. There are many wingers in the world but an Everton winger requires more. Tracking back, fighting, running, tackling and pushing the others. Come summer Donovan is a must!
And then there is Jack Rodwell. Compared to Ferdinand (due mostly to his skin colour) but reminds me of Patrick Vieira. Patient and calm on the ball, composed finisher, competent passer, box to box effective and all contained within a captains mind… this kid could be something special.
Anyway, sorry to see you go mate, good luck in your life, and yes… I’m excited too.
8 Posted 23/02/2010 at 01:05:46
9 Posted 23/02/2010 at 01:34:10
Your brilliant, inciteful and genuinely funny contributions will be missed if you’re off. But all the very best to ya Kevlar....
10 Posted 23/02/2010 at 02:39:49
I think the glass ceiling may be cracking. And not just because Moyes has finally put together a squad with a bit of depth in almost every department (Donavan will be missed - no real back up for Saha).
Dave Lynch thinks there is a conspiracy. I don’t think so. The Sky 4 oligopoly has been created by the current business model and TV deals for the Champions League and Premier League. But the model may have run its course.
It was a pryamid game that relied on ever increasing revenues which automatically increased the cost base through higher salaries and transfer fees - wiping out any hope of a profit that new investors/owners may have harboured. The only ones who made any money were those that sold to the next fool.
The financial crisis has wiped out the few remaining potential fools. And more important than that, after 15 years, the model is so clearly exposed that even the most foolish investor will realise there is no money to be made as an owner of a football club.
Man Utd and Liverpool are crippled by debts to third party lenders. Arsenal have to repay their stadium development costs and have not made as much as they were expecting on the housing element. Chelsea are in hock to their Russian owner. He has not pulled the plug but appears to have lost the appetite to lose over GBP 100m a year.
Man City are the only ones that can really defy gravity at the moment - but this will only increase the pressure on the Sky 4.
These factors alone mean that the glass ceiling for Everton, Villa and Spurs is cracking (or at least rising a bit). Perhaps we can bless our good fortune that we might, just might, have the team and squad (even without Rodwell) that can take advantage of this opportunity - if not this season then next.
Large forces are at work off the pitch. The ice is melting just as it did in the mid 90’s and Everton need to get themselves up the pecking order before it freezes again and a new model replaces the old.
11 Posted 23/02/2010 at 04:05:56
Best of luck to you in the future.
As a new on-board Blues supporter from America, I’m very excited for the near and future fortune of the Team. We’re talented everywhere from back to front. Imagine if we started the season with this side? OK, we’re past that.
My point is we just look terrific. Not just the wins, but the fact that the wins were so well-earned against top teams that were trying their best. Obviously, ability and confidence are meshing perfectly.
No complacency. Big European match mid-week. FInish that off then back to surging up the Table. Top 4 is there to be had. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? Hell no!!
By the way, American soccer reporters are starting to wonder in print and on-air if it wouldn’t be better to keep Donovan in Everton leading up to the World Cup. It’s obvious to everyone over this side of the Atlantic that Donovan wants to stay until the end of the season. MLS worked out such a deal with Beckham last year at AC Milan. Don’t see why it can’t work the other way around. Especially as Donovan clearly wants it.
12 Posted 23/02/2010 at 08:58:35
13 Posted 23/02/2010 at 14:31:20
UP THE BLUES
14 Posted 23/02/2010 at 16:29:04
15 Posted 23/02/2010 at 16:30:50
16 Posted 23/02/2010 at 19:59:49
Sorry to hear this news. I dont post as much as i should but I,ve been reading TW and your excellent posts for quite a few years now.
As an Evertonian for over 40 years I knew that when I eventially had my two boys which was the Leeds game were we drew 4-4 that the volume of the gwladys street would for ever be inprinted on their sole.
Good lock for the future and I cant help but think in terms of the great Arnie
"I'll be back"
17 Posted 23/02/2010 at 20:43:00
Don’t let the bastards grind you down
18 Posted 24/02/2010 at 02:41:53
Landon is done in MLS. He does not want (which means he will not) spend his prime years in MLS while Everton is calling. I can’t be the only one to notice that Moyes immediately plugged Landon into the starting team and has left him there. Something’s up between EFC and MLS. By the way, I hope all Toffee supporters in England understand that Landon has never played in the positions Moyes has assigned him. Never! Wait until next year when he has an Everton training camp under his belt.
Anyway, forget all the "SKY This or That". For one, whatever the finance is, those teams have produced on the pitch when it counted. Money aside, the players earned their place. Has this developed into some mythical "Sky 4, plus us" attitude? That’s too bad and, by the way, serves no good purpose.
I followed the Toffees since you signed our boy Tim in goal, but not closely. I just kept up on Tim. Then Donovan was signed and I had to follow our #1 player. What I see that that EFC is a loaded gun packed with talent.
I read so much back and forth about Moyes’ tactics lately. It seems to me that he demands the total game be played, which is correct. He’s conservative? Is that what the complaints are about? Michael Kenrick certainly went off about it after the ManU game and was attacked over and over. Whatever. I’m going with what I’ve seen. With that, thus:
• If Moyes is holding back his attackers, they’re certainly ignoring his instruction.
• Toffee ownership generally satisfied with “Top 6” generating funds has been met over the last couple of years.
• There’s a lot more money to be made.
• I love the EPL game.
• Kenrick is an EFC fanatic above and beyond (actually, those around him might help him discover other interests).
• He’s right in demanding the Toffees apply the pressure instead of only planting (correctly) firmly and resisting it.
• It’s crystal clear Everton is packed with talent everywhere.
• 2011. What will this be like when Moyes has everyone in camp for next season?
o Who will stop us?
o Multiple pieces of silverware lifted
• I’m American. Landon Donovan changed things at Everton. (Say I’m wrong, but prove it).
• Right now, EFC is the best football club in England.
• 4th place is right there for the getting and why not 3rd?
Up the Blues!!
19 Posted 24/02/2010 at 09:49:27
Hold horses a minute. I agree with all of you and well done that lads. But footie is a very fickle game and you re only as good as your last result. Defeat in Lisbon getting shafted by a next premeier team, maybe Hammers? ..and the glory will be a fading memory. Don’t want to be a JOnah but keep things in perspective. Manure went straight back and slaughtered Ham! They had an off day don’t mean we are going to win the league! But hey, keep it coming Blues maybe even beat Benfica now! Europa our last chance for success this season, maybe 5th or 6th in league. Remember Vialla and Brummie Spurs Shitty all pretty strong.
Best to all.
20 Posted 24/02/2010 at 10:25:23
Let them horses run buddy.
But be prepared for more than a few falls along the way. As you stated, you are new to the Everton family and we all welcome you with open hearts.
But as Alan said. " Footy is a very fickle game."
You will find that out along the very rocky road that is supporting Everton.
21 Posted 24/02/2010 at 16:53:28
Mostly, beyond Everton’s obvious talent all over the pitch, was the imposition of the team’s will on opponents such as Arsenal, ManU, and Chelsea. Arsenal’s goals were both fluke deflections. The Blues were clearly the better team that day.
Speaking of “Footy is a very fickle game.", I’m still pissed-off about the Liverpool result. Of course, there will be disappointments along the way. That’s competitive athletics. Maybe my newness to the team also comes "baggage-free" from not suffering the various frustrations over the years.
So, I’ll say again, thanks guys for the welcome and what I’ve seen with my eyes since following closely is that Everton is currently the best team in the EPL. Wait until next season when everyone is in camp together, injury free (fingers crossed) and the team comes boiling out the chute for a whole season of playing like they are now. Silverware raised in 2011, I’m telling you!!! We ARE that good.
22 Posted 25/02/2010 at 15:53:15
I remember your comment before it was deleted, but when I saw it had been I couldn’t for the life of me remember what it said. Bit strange.
Not sure why you’d take this stance though. Straw that broke the camel’s back?
23 Posted 25/02/2010 at 17:49:22
Why is the gap narrowing between the original cheating G14 group (Liverpool, Man Utd etc) and the rest of us also rans ?
Well there are only so many great players available in the world and if a lot of them come through a youth system, or the manager works on TEAM rather than reputation then you can get a narrowing of the gap.
What it needs is for Everton, Villa etc to stand firm and not sell at the first chance. Villareal did it in Spain, a tiny team but sticking to principals.
The situation now is that apart from Man City there is no money around, but they have a very average manager and average squad at the moment, so in my opinion for them to be successful they will have to start all over.
Add Your Comments
In order to post a comment to Column articles, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.
Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and MailBag submissions across the site.