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Fan power at Goodison Park (or lack thereof)

By Rob Teo :  23/11/2010 :  Comments (26) :

I'm a Melbourne-based Everton fan. I've been a fan for the past 25 years, ever since the days of Dave Watson, Pat ven dan Hauwe, etc.

Last year, I went travelling through Europe for the first time, and while I was there, I made sure to stop by Liverpool (the city, I mean) to catch Everton's opening home game of 2009-10 against Arsenal. Imagine travelling halfway around the world to see your team live for the first time on a ground that you've only seen through the TV screen since you were a kid and feeling all excited and elated like a kid again, only for your team to let you down big time and be humiliated at home. That was one of the worst days of my life as an Everton supporter. Even my friend, who was a West Ham supporter, felt sorry for me that day.

Nonetheless, apart from the humiliation, one thing that really struck me that day was how subdued Goodison Park was. It was as if all Everton fans on that ground were meekly giving in to the scoreline, even though with every goal scored by Arsenal, it was as if a dagger was being plunged into our collective heart. That's something that has really perplexed and troubled me, and it's also an question that has been raised now and again on this website: why aren't Everton fans more demanding and vocal at Goodison Park?

I remember watching a game involving Man Utd once a few years back, where a kid was holding up a sign at Old Trafford with a simple but clear message to SAF: 'Please buy Rooney'. I'm sure it wasn't for that reason alone that SAF went on to steal Rooney from under our noses, but it was something that was caught on the TV cameras and screened halfway across the globe, and (to me) it reflected a sense that Man Utd fan, even those as young as 6 years old, were passionate enough and had the gumption to articulate (in their own way) what they as fans wanted. More importantly, it told the whole world (as well as SAF) what the fans wanted and the standards they had. (I'll get back to this point later.)

When I think about that sign and about my experience at Goodison Park (and, indeed, all the times I watched Everton games on TV or on the internet), I can't help but wonder if there's a big gulf between the supporters of other football clubs and Everton supporters. I mean, on this website alone, there has been enough rumbling and discontent and opinions raised to suggest that a large proportion of Everton supporters believe Everton could and should do better. Yet, from what I can see through the TV (and laptop) screen whenever I watch an Everton game, there's hardly any signs or banners or even angry supporters in the grounds letting Kenwright and Moyes and the players know that their 'best' is nowhere near good enough. Is there a reason for this? Is there a reason why fans seem so ready to accept football mediocrity at Goodison Park but not online?

For example, I would love to see, week-in, week-out, signs or banners held up in Goodison Park stating: 'Please buy Landon' or 'Where is the 24/7 investment, Bill?' or 'Moyes: grow some 4-4-2 balls' or 'Stop playing favourites, Moyes' or 'Make tactical subs, not clockwork subs, Moyes', etc. Instead, apart from the occasional half-time boos when the team is truly, truly shocking, most of the time, Goodison seems content to accept whatever the team dishes up so long as it's sort of acceptable or if we're not losing by too big a margin. Even the players and Moyes seem to accept this. (For example, if Man Utd had lost to Arsenal the way we did last week, I cannot imagine SAF to come up with a response as meek as that offered by our very own David Moyes ? see http://soccernet.espn.go.com/report?id=292895&league=ENG.1&cc=3436)

I truly believe that we, as supporters, need to start letting Kenwright, Moyes, Round and the players know that more, much more, is expected of them. But we need to let them know vocally and visually, both online and at GP ? especially at GP. Now, I may be wrong or there may be certain prohibitions against banners/signs at Goodison Park, or they're just not being captured on the TV screen. If so, please feel free to correct an overseas-based Evertonian who does not have the privilege of being at GP week-in, week-out to verify this and cheer his team on. But if I'm right, then it's time we stopped pussyfooting around and voicing our displeasure only on ToffeeWeb, and start letting the world know that, as Everton fans, we expect more.

NB: I'm not trying to make this another debate about whether Moyes is the right man for the job or what alternative we have. What I'm trying to raise as a question/issue is whether we as fans should be happy to accept being 14th in the league table, and, if not, whether we're actually going to do anything about it at GP. Even in Melbourne, I can see that Roy Hodgson has been under a fair amount of pressure from Liverpool supporters for his team's performances and results ? and he's only been in the job 3 months... and his fucking team is above us. If we can't generate the same kind of pressure to lay to Moyes after 9 years on the job and being 14th in the table, but are content with what we have, then we have to seriously wonder: what is the point of being an Everton supporter?

Reader Comments

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Gavin Ramejkis
1   Posted 23/11/2010 at 13:19:44

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From personal experience, anything anti-BK is asked to be quickly removed by stewards. I was one of many holding a KEOIC banner at the end of the season prior to DK being bin-bagged which was also asked to be lowered but as the players were doing their round-the-pitch job at the time and a large crowd of fans in the Park End told the stewards where to go, it was held up for them all to see including DM.

Visually if it was to get onto TV it would have more potential impact but so many folk are just there to watch the match and grumble to themselves and those regulars around them, it's a shame.
Peter Warren
2   Posted 23/11/2010 at 13:33:38

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I disagree, EFC supporters are vocal - last night, anger directed at Moyes for not taking Saha off earlier and chanting for Yak as many can't understand why Saha is being preferred.

I think fans believe holding banners saying Please buy Landon is cringworthy and not what our supporters are about. As to Kenwright, views are mixed.

However, any points where vast majority all agree, fans undoubtedly make their feelings known with protests, chants and banners.
Tony J Williams
3   Posted 23/11/2010 at 13:53:50

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We are not more vocal because we are simply waiting for the overpaid feckers in the middles to give us all something to be vocal about. It is that simple.
Kevin Hudson
4   Posted 23/11/2010 at 14:48:34

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Yes but the support at Goodison veers between apathy, laziness and anger. I have a theory that our players actually prefer playing away,( where the following is always top-notch ) as opposed to the stagnant, stressful atmosphere generated at home games..
Derek Turnbull
5   Posted 23/11/2010 at 14:58:30

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We don't because we prefer to make up excuses.

If we have a personal grievance we'd prefer someone else to do the work and shout them down.

But most of all we're just too fuckin self conscious to do anything
David Price
6   Posted 23/11/2010 at 15:04:40

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Just finished my banner for trying to get what i want. Tied it to the kitchen door for the wife to see.
"Steak and chips for tea and some horny sex later"
Think it'll work?
Charles King
7   Posted 23/11/2010 at 17:44:09

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David @ 6

Can Kenwright cook?
David Price
8   Posted 23/11/2010 at 18:04:28

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Just the books and not very good at that..
Jimmy Hacking
9   Posted 23/11/2010 at 18:02:12

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Anyone who genuinely believes that Goodison isn't a very very quiet stadium is delusional. Face it, we just don't make a lot of noise compared with other sides.

Whenever I go, we are outsung by the 3 thousand away fans. Us lot only seem to sing directly after we've scored.

I watch Man City at home several times a season (it's a family thing) and Bolton (get free tickets) and both those sets of fans never seem to STOP making noise, positive or negative.

I don't like to criticise our fans, this is just my honest observation.
Kunal Desai
10   Posted 23/11/2010 at 18:10:01

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It'll never happen, Rob. The hardcore matchday goers (a large proportion I would think) are happy with the football being dished up at Goodison and I would imagine those are mainly all pro-Moyes and believe BK is the best thing since sliced bread.

Any form of demonstration would never happen as supporters wouldn't want to be looked at as kopites. IMO, for change to take place, you have to swallow your pride and forget what those think you are, no matter whatever you're labelled ? especially if it's in the long-term interests of the club.

Mike Allison
11   Posted 23/11/2010 at 18:26:28

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The Goodison crowd isn't necessarily very, very quiet but it can be.

It always seems to depend on the day, the opposition, the game etc and I think it takes more to get a Goodison crowd going.

Positive reasons for this include that there are lots of familes, women and children who tend not to be screamers and shouters, and it is also genuinely a discerning, knowledgeable crowd, who go to appreciate football.

Most 'atmosphere' in stadiums comes from people who go to the game to get pissed and scream and shout. We don't have as many of them comparatively and they're quite dispersed, with only the Lower Gwladys having any kind of concentration. Maybe we need a section for them at either end, as when they do get it going the older guys and the families will join in.

I've also got a personal theory that they should play decent, blood pumping music in the stadium in the build up rather than pop shit. I'm no psychologist but I'm convinced it'd make a difference.
David Hallwood
12   Posted 23/11/2010 at 18:45:16

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David (#6) ? I've asked her many times but she just isn't having it...
Charles King
13   Posted 23/11/2010 at 18:14:05

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You need success to get the fans at it. A few years ago, Portsmouth at little old Fratton Park was the best atmosphere simply because they were in the Prem and having a right go. The same thing is happening at Stoke and Blackpool.

Us, Liverpool, Man Utd, Arsenal, Villa, Spurs need to win stuff or at least be challenging to get the fans blood up.

Let's be honest here, we neither challenge or have a go.

The play-by-numbers predictability is dire and, unless we're two-nil down with 10mins to go, we're one of the most uninspiring teams you'll ever see.

The fact that nearly 40k turn up, silently suffering the purgatory of watching a club become a shadow of its former self, is the real story.
Ray Robinson
14   Posted 23/11/2010 at 19:16:36

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When Goodison is pumped up, it rocks like nowhere else... but the style of play has become so predictable, it's kind of hard to get excited. No pace, little movement and no cutting edge... it's like watching waves lapping up against rocks. You know that eventally the water will erode the rock, but you have to watch aeons of repetitive activity for it to happen.

The only recent time that I can recall when Goodison vented its collective spleen was a night match against Tottenham when we should have pushed on for a win against Spurs and Moyes, with his safety first hat on, brought on Hibbert at right back. We duly conceded a last-minute goal and lost 2-1. The atmosphere that night was as positively angry. Apart from that, it's usually apathetic.
Stephen Kenny
15   Posted 23/11/2010 at 20:02:57

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It'd be nice to have something to shout about occassionally. When we play well, beat one of the other big sides, get had off by the ref, it's a bear pit. When we're getting beat by Bolton with one striker on the pitch with 10 mins to go, it is dead as a doornail, as every other ground in the world would be.

I would say we have one of the most reactionary crowds in the league: when they gave us something to sing about, ie, a Wembley trip, we were singing all the way down County Road.

David S Shaw
16   Posted 23/11/2010 at 22:02:30

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Mike Allison, No 11.

Good post, so sorry to pick up on one line: "genuinely a discerning, knowledgeable crowd, who go to appreciate football."

Hmm, not too sure about that one!
Gerry Quinn
17   Posted 23/11/2010 at 22:31:46

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Once upon a time, there were Everton fans who used to go to Goodison Park to see their favourite team. They went because they enjoyed themselves and made a hell of an atmosphere... ONCE a fortnight.

At that time, of course, there weren't 25 matches a week on Sky Sports in between their home games and no over-hype and over-saturation by the "big 4" media... no internet, no live commentaries, just the sheer enjoyment of screaming at the boys to give it 100% and win ? thinking that they were the greatest ever.

One or two big names to watch, but all the players were big names to us ? even the visiting players were great ? hence the "appreciative fans" that Goodison was famous for.

Now, I'm told that Arteta is a legend... gimme a break ? once upon a recent time the Back Street Boys were legends!!!!!

No wonder the atmosphere has waned ? football over-saturation ? the Saturday afternoon of atmosphere is lost.

Gerry Quinn
18   Posted 23/11/2010 at 22:49:34

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Tell a lie ? there was the Footie Pink Echo to grab hold of when I got back home to Crosby after the match ? now THAT was yer media...biased as buggery, but when the Toffee Lady was dancing and the Koppite Shite was crying ? brilliant!
Mike Allison
19   Posted 23/11/2010 at 22:51:17

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Depends where you sit I suppose, but I always got that impression in the Top Balcony.

Also, a couple of other incidents spring to mind, the standing ovation for Paolo Di Canio when he caught the ball with Paul Gerrard down injured and the respect he got whenever he came back, and the standing ovation for a newly promoted Ipswich team that had just beaten us 0-3 playing quality, attacking football.
John Maxwell
20   Posted 23/11/2010 at 23:12:13

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What a great topic to discuss, Rob.

Even in the late 80s when we were successful, I found the atmosphere at Goodison dull and lifeless, I couldn't work it out, we were Champions that season (87-88).

I went to most games up until 95 and we only really got going for two games a season, the RS and Man Utd.

I think all seater stadiums are partly to blame, it's also true that the fan who has a few drinks before the game is generally noisier.

I miss the terrace days when you had to get into the ground at 1:30pm to get a decent spot, then the signing would start around 2pm up until kick-off, those days are unfortunately gone.

I've been to plenty of other grounds where Everton haven't been playing and found the atmosphere to be lot better than Goodison, particularly when I lived in London and went to Highbury, maybe it's a cultural or social thing, who knows.

I remember going to Millwall when we played them in the cup a few years ago and walking down the alleyway especially built from South Bermondsey station to the away end to avoid the home fans, you could hear the singing and it was only 2:15pm, once inside the ground the atmosphere was amazing with both fans giving it to each other.

Football has changed and the distance between the fan and the player is as big as it's ever been, footballers are far too overpaid.

Most grounds these days are having the same problem: OT, The Emirates all have the same problem and supporters are taking action and now have sections for supporters who want to sing.

Goodison does have a unique atmosphere on its day but why does it take us so long to get going???
Rob Teo
21   Posted 23/11/2010 at 22:36:50

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Wow, thanks for the enlightening comments, everyone. It?s good to get a sense of the reality of being a supporter there from those who are there.

Quite a few of you have suggested that Goodison can rock like no other ground if there?s something worth cheering about. I can sort of understand the rationale and psychology behind that. The main thrust of my article, though, is to question why we don?t jeer when precisely the opposite happens (i.e. when the football is dross and uninspiring). Are our standards so low as Everton supporters or is football now truly a passive spectator sport where we meekly accept whatever it is we?re being served? (And before anyone questions the rationale behind my suggestion that we jeer our own team when their football?s utter shite, please re-read the last paragraph of my submission.)

Ray Robinson (#14) mentioned the night match against Spurs where Everton fans ?vented their collective spleen? over Moyes?s defensive tactics which ultimately led to a loss. If I remember correctly, the subsequent few games saw Moyes adopting a more adventurous approach which actually saw us go on a pretty good run. That is what, I feel, fans at GP need to be doing on a regular basis ? that we are not content to accept the dreadful football and tactics dished out by Moyes and his players week-in, week-out, but that we expect and demand better.

To my mind, a significant proportion of ToffeeWeb readers can see the various problems (e.g. poor tactics, lack of pace, poor substitutions, team selection, etc) that continue to mark our team and are sufficiently disgusted by them. But being disgusted online is not quite the same as being disgusted at GP. Instead, it seems as if our passive acceptance of mediocrity at GP is itself feeding into the mediocrity being served up by the club management and its players.

It?s easy to criticise Moyes?s body language or tactics or the players? lack of effort. But if we don?t convey our disgust at these shortcomings in a visual and vocal way at GP, it?ll simply continue to feed into the mindset of mediocrity that pervades our club today.

Peter Warren (#2) states that ?any points where vast majority all agree, fans undoubtedly make their feelings known with protests, chants and banners.? If what I can gather from ToffeeWeb is any indication, I would say that the majority of fans already agree that our football is lethargic and uninspiring.

And if what Mike Allison (#11) says is correct, all it needs is a little spark to get the rest of the GP crowd going to let the club hierarchy know that better and more is expected of them. I?ll go on to add that perhaps, just perhaps, the ?older guys and families? within the GP crowd needs to be reminded again that ?Nil Satis, Nisi Optimum? is more than just a slogan.

Rob Teo
22   Posted 23/11/2010 at 23:48:54

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Hmmm, that last bit about "older guys and families" didn't quite come out right.

I don't mean to say that older fans or families do not have similarly high expectations of Everton.

I was trying, instead, to tack on to Mike's comments that they're a less vocal group within GP compared to the fans who "scream and shout", and that maybe what they need is a bit of a push to be more vocal.

I hope I've not offended anyone, and my sincere apologies if I have.
Tom Hughes
23   Posted 24/11/2010 at 09:09:51

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Goodison Park has a very high threshold for generating atmosphere, in that the vast majority of fans are quite distanced from the roof due to the multi-tiered arrangement. In other words, the place needs majority crowd-participation to really get the place rocking. However, the flip side of this is that overall the fans are much closer to the action for the capacity. Therefore when that threshold his met, and the majority of fans are going for it, the place really reverberates into a bear pit that few other stadia can match.

Over the years several commentators and ex-players have commented on the ferocity of the Goodison crowd. Extensions of the upper tiers and the Park End could give us the best of both worlds..... Intimacy with acoustics.

David S Shaw
24   Posted 24/11/2010 at 10:13:10

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Just like to expand on a few points made above in particular John Maxwell's.

The more vocal fans are too dispersed aroung the Gwladys Street to get the songs generated. Some of those fans approached Everton for help. Eveton said no.

Other clubs fans when approaching their club they received help. Everton do not want our support, just our money.

Tom Hughes ? Goodison needs high participation to compensate for the shite acoustics, that Everton have not ever bothered to improve.
Phil Bellis
25   Posted 24/11/2010 at 12:18:06

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I grew up with a gang of mates who congregated 2nd barrier back, behind the Gwladys Street goal. Due to lack of cash and foresight in season-ticketing our specs, we are split up all over the stadium, some, still, spread around the Lower Gwladys.

I sat there, Rob, at the Arsenal game, furious with both the team and the attitude of a lot of supporters around me; I really do think age is a factor in this. Many of us who've experienced success and the likes of the Holy Trinity, Bracewell, Reid and Alex Young will never be satisfied until we reach that standard again ? unrealistic? I don't care ? we should be striving to that end, whatever.

Coming out the ground that day, I heard younger (25-35) fans coming out with inanities like "well, at least it was Arsenal". In my day, Rob, there'd have been a fucking riot, cushions raining down on the pitch and a ring of protection around the tunnel and Directors' Box.

It seems for every `nark' like me (and certain other ToffeeWeb posters), there's a Richard Dodd ("we used to be worse under Walter" "I'm realistic, we don't have the resources" etc) ?That's one of the problems.

Chris Sillett
26   Posted 24/11/2010 at 18:11:24

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I would say the only matches at Goodison that have an 'atmosphere' now are the derby and maybe Man Utd (as long as we are drawing or winning) and going by last season's encounter, Man City. For virtually every other game, the atmosphere is negative or non-existent.

I can predict that the only time we will get a half-hearted 'EVERTON, EVERTON, EVERTON' from a small section of the crowd is if we score in Saturday's game against West Brom. The only other noise will come from the away section and the groans if we are not winning. Even night matches are 'dead' now, as the Bolton fans who sang 'its just like being in church' about ten times will tell you.

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