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An Everton 'Fool'

By Michael Evans :  07/06/2010 :  Comments (10) :

Since my first match as a young boy (Martin Dobson's debut, 1973-74?), I've calculated that I've successfully "survived" 35 seasons as an Everton fan.

I use the word "survived" intentionally because being a blue is... well, not easy, is it? For me, it's the "road less travelled" territory with frustration, anger, despair etc often more prevalent emotions than euphoria or joy. So,why do we do it?

Well, at this point, I could wax lyrical in an OTT sentimental way about what it means to be an Everton fan. However, before you reach for the sick bucket... don't worry I'm not going to. Others have attempted to define it in words far better than I ever could.

I guess we all deal with this time of year in different ways. Some prefer to "put away" Everton for a couple of months. Others rejoice or rage at the latest media speculation of player comings and goings. Others twitch and convulse as they experience Everton "cold turkey".

I guess I always see this time as metaphorically speaking the "eye of the storm". Yes, I know what you're thinking and you're right. Some seasons are insipid, mediocre affairs which would barely metaphorically register as an odd shower. However, others have had the power to grip our every thought, emotion and fibre of being in either a positive or negative way.

Relegation battles? Who will ever forget the Wimbledon match? European campaigns? As one of those lucky enough to be at Goodison for the Bayern Munich 2nd leg, I felt I was going to burst with pride.

So, as a "storm veteran", what have I learnt? Surely by now I must have such wisdom and knowledge to pass on, Guru like, to any who would care to listen to my teachings? You seek enlightenment about Everton? Ok, here goes...

Develop a sense of humour because you'll need it. Because that's my personal truth. I've realised that, the more I've experienced the storm, the less I've understood about the complexities of the forces that comprise it.

Of course, I didn't always have this humility. By the early 1980s, I thought I'd paid my dues and knew my footballing stuff. Whatever I didn't know, my father (an Everton "storm" veteran from the 1930s onwards) was there to back me up. So, as "Our Howie" quietly assembled his team, we watched with our collective, expert eyes.

As residents of Shropshire, we had read speculation that Everton were interested in Trevor Steven. So we watched him play for Burnley against Shrewsbury. He played alongside Martin Dobson who was then in the twilight of his career. Our Verdict: Promising but could he hack it in a higher division? Doubtful in our opinion. Mountfield we felt also fell into that category.

Reid — well, that was different. He could have been a good player but was too injury-prone. Sheedy — An embarrassing signing, after all, if he was any good then Liverpool wouldn't sell him, would they? Pat van den Hauwe — A footballing liability who would be sent off every game. Southall — a former hod carrier would hardly be agile... Of course, what happened next "If you know your history" is, well, glorious history!

This next season ... questions, questions, questions. Can Beckford really hack it against better, faster players? Will Saha spend all his time on the treatment table or may we, just maybe, get one fantastic season out of him? Is Billy just too lightweight, all promise, or is there a really good player who is about to blossom? Coleman surely couldn't do it consistently... could he?

Sense of déjà vu perhaps — but then, what do I know?

I'm just a fool.

Reader Comments

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Art Jones
1   Posted 07/06/2010 at 17:25:03

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D'you know what, Michael... my first game was a few years earlier than yours: 2 - 2 draw v Arsenal, Alan Whittle getting our goals. But going back to 1984 when our team started to click, admittedly winning the FA Cup but starting that season not very well at all.

I can definitely see parallels from then and now... underestimated players who we know can match the best on their day; promising youngsters and seasoned "Arl Arses" just needing a bit of luck.

We've proved we can live with and even beat the best... Maybe I'm too optimistic and my blue tinted specs are getting too blue? But then isn't that part of being a blinkered hopeful fan We can but hope ... well I am anyway!!

Andy Crooks
2   Posted 07/06/2010 at 19:01:30

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My first game was 1967. What I remember is that the players looked like men. Now, I know that policemen, doctors etc appear to seem younger as one gets older but look at old pictures of Dixie, Tommy Lawton, Ray Wilson and many others — they look like my dad. Can anyone explain this phenomenon?
Joe McMahon
3   Posted 07/06/2010 at 21:22:00

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My first game was 81-82 season. 1-1 at home to Spurs. Everton with two new players: Sharp & Southall, I still remember Southall grabbing the ball from Garth Crooks's feet, as the Spurs fans were celebrating what they thought was a goal, and Sharpy's 25-yard volley screamer of a goal. Sadly I seem to have lost the programme. I was there however when Andy Gray scored his 2 headers against Sunderland — Happy Days!!
Mike McLean
4   Posted 08/06/2010 at 05:33:23

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1963. Charity Shield at Goodison. beat Man Utd convincingly.
Like you, Michael, what do I know? Couple of things I think I do know: Tim Howard isn't world class, and we don't have either a striker or winger who can do the job well enough over a season to make us a threat in the title race, or (here I become really unpopular) seriously threaten the top four places.
Dave Thompson
5   Posted 08/06/2010 at 11:05:58

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1982. Redshite at Goodison, twatted by Ian Rush. Surprised I went back.

What grinds my gears is the plethora of adverts for feminine products like Vagisil or Thrush-Away, or God knows what else.

Also, the spelling of 'loosing' for 'losing', and 'truely' for 'truly'. And why does the word 'fact' have to appear in capitals?

(Note to Ed.) I wanted to have a rant in the gay thread, but comments had been closed.

Roll on August.
Trevor Lynes
6   Posted 08/06/2010 at 13:08:46

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I'm from Mike McLean's era, only a little bit earlier, so I remember relegation when we had Farrell, TE Jones and Lello at half-back and centre-half... and of course the glorious side Carey assembled before Catterick's team won the league... so I have experienced a real upside or two but too many downsides.

I also fully agree with Mike's observations on our defects and hope that DM puts things right before the start of the next campaign. Perhaps wishful thinking but I hope not!!

Michael Brien
7   Posted 08/06/2010 at 13:05:42

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1964 — I think it was against Nottingham Forest, we won 1-0. For several years I thought it was against Blackburn Rovers but there was no 1-0 I think around that time against them. My Dad used to tell me about a Cup tie he had taken me to against Sheffield Wednesday that finished 2-2, with Everton equalising near the end — we won the replay quite convincingly 3-0.

The first game where I can actually remember the opponents very clearly was the opening game of the 1965-66 season when we beat Northampton Town 5-2 at Goodison, I had just turned 8 years old.

My worst ever moment as an Evertonian? I would have two as being equally bad: the 0-5 match v Liverpool and the moment when Wimbledon scored to make it 0-2 in THAT match. I have to confess, I couldn't watch when Graham Stuart took the penalty to make it 1-2.

Best ever moment: you are going to think this odd I know, so I will apologise now... It was Adrian Heath's goal that won the 1984 FA Cup Semi Final v Southampton. It was so near the end of the game, we all knew that it was the winner. I had been to the 1969 Semi-Final, when Man City beat us in the last minute, the 1971 Semi-Final, when in my opinion the loss of Brian Labone to injury cost us the game, both 1977 Semi-Finals when Clive Thomas cost us the game, and both Semi-Finals in 1980. After getting so near, and having so much bad luck in Semi-Finals, to know that we were going to Wembley was a great feeling.

Roll on August for another rollercoaster of emotions to begin!!!

Norman Merrill
8   Posted 08/06/2010 at 16:04:36

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Micheal, Come this August, I will enter Goodison for my 60th season.
My first game was in 1950, and the late great Ted Sagar was in goal.
I was eight years old, and although I cannot remember anything about the match that was the start of my love affair with Everton.
Since those far off days, I have seen ups and downs, trophy's won, and great players come and go, as with managers.
The darkest moment was the game
versus Wimbledon, when we were minutes away from repeating something that last happened, all those years ago in the early fiftty's when we last dropped out of the top flight,
I have enjoyed my time supporting the Blues, and long may it continue.
David Ellis
9   Posted 09/06/2010 at 07:03:26

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Best moment? There are two of them. I have only attended two FA Cup semi finals and we won them both.

Highbury in "84 — we all knew the game was over when Heath scored. And we were the underdogs that day — Southampton finished 2nd in the league that year.

Wembley in '09 - Jags penalty and the quiet and resigned way that the Man U supporters just ebbed away. Something the Southampton fans did not do in '84!— Pitch invasion, bottles thrown etc

I had tickets to the 0-5 Derby (in '80) but suffered a migraine headache in the morning so could not go. Probably caused by stress or some kind of premonition. Completely recovered when told of the result, and very pleased I had missed it. Went to see "The Wall" in Magull cinema that evening and wore my blue scarf — looking for pity.
Andy Crooks
10   Posted 10/06/2010 at 00:53:04

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I became an Evertonian at half-time in the 1966 FA Cup Final. My Dad was an ardent, life-long Sheffield Wednesday supporter. Up until that day, I had supported whatever team was doing well. I told my Dad that I wanted Everton to win.

Perhaps through disappointment he told me that I had made a committed irreversible decision. His palpable despair at the end of the game confirmed to me, even at eight years old, that something life-changing had happened.

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