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.
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1 Posted 07/06/2010 at 17:25:03
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!!
2 Posted 07/06/2010 at 19:01:30
3 Posted 07/06/2010 at 21:22:00
4 Posted 08/06/2010 at 05:33:23
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.
5 Posted 08/06/2010 at 11:05:58
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.
6 Posted 08/06/2010 at 13:08:46
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!!
7 Posted 08/06/2010 at 13:05:42
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!!!
8 Posted 08/06/2010 at 16:04:36
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.
9 Posted 09/06/2010 at 07:03:26
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.
10 Posted 10/06/2010 at 00:53:04
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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