Having just turned 24, I've missed out on the glory days of the 80s. Being from the Blackpool area, which is infested by Kopites and Mancs, I caught the Everton bug from my father who of course lived through the glory days.
At the start, I hated football and me and mum would cheer when football season finished... but for one great day ? and I remember it vividly. It was Everton v Spurs and I think it was at Elland Road, the FA Cup Semi-Final changed all that. My dad sat me down and made me watch the game on tele. Amokachi's brace had me beaming that day.
Being 8 or 9 at the time, I came away thinking Everton were the best team in the world. Not even realising the terrible season we had had that year. But, by the day of the FA Cup Final I was a fully fledged fan, sat there in my newly aquired Everton shirt, cheering the boys on to a 1-0 victory over the Mancs with a Paul Rideout header that had come off the bar from Graham Stuart's shot. I still even remember the Southall double save late on in the game.
That was it. I was in love and still am. We proceeded to get season tickets in the Kevin Campbell & Franny Jeffers era, and I was also there when Gareth Farrelly crashed in that volley against Coventry, brought me to tears that did. I was witnessed the awful Earl Barrett and Craig Short 'hoofball' era. Andrei Kanchelskis was awesome and I cried when he left. Also when Big Dunc got a brace on his Newcastle debut...
We unforunatly gave up the season tickets around the time Everton decided to become a half-decent team but I still follow the blues intensely.
In all my life following the Blues, I have been so grateful that that I have experienced the highs and lows of football in the way that the kopites and fans of the Sky 4 haven't. I appreciate every win, whether it be Fulham at home or Chelsea away, whereas most my Liverpool or Utd mates take victory for granted. When they won the Champions League, it was like "Ah yeah good win that", whereas, if we won the League Cup, I'd be jumping around the living room whilst ringing the boss up and booking the next two weeks off.
The point that I am making today is that being an Evertonian is so much more of an adventure than being a fan of a team who never never experienced a relegation dogfight, an unlikely European adventure, sudden rise or fall of fortunes, and their club operating off a shoestring.
I honestly believe that Everton are the best club in the world to support and I don't envy any other team or supporters in the land. I mean who else would stay up till 11:30 to see the highlights of a hard-earned point away at West Brom on MotD? Any of you chaps agree with me when I say that no other club has the soul or the passion that we have for our team.
Anyone else enjoying the adventure as much as me?
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1 Posted 21/04/2011 at 20:40:34
2 Posted 21/04/2011 at 20:47:04
3 Posted 21/04/2011 at 21:08:06
I think one of the great tragedies of the Sky era is the way that clubs are deemed to have the place in the footballing hierarchy & it's ever more difficult to progress upwards ? especially when reach sight of the summit!
When I was young a football club's fortunes could ebb & flow, meaning that clubs could get promoted and immediately make their presence felt without years of yo-yoing and then consolidating. Also, clubs could challenge for honours merely because they had built a good team ? there wasn't a billionaires' closed shop.
4 Posted 21/04/2011 at 21:23:22
5 Posted 21/04/2011 at 21:36:49
They are correct in saying that money rules football and money dictates who wins the trophies, but I really do believe that at some stage in the not too distant future "poor old us" will get some financial backing and will ram it all down the throats of those "mutant" fans ? it WILL mean something those fans would not understand.
Keep the faith, we may not be the best team in the world, but we certainly are the truest supporters in the world...
6 Posted 21/04/2011 at 22:08:09
I dream of a future for us where we solve the ground problem (it has to be a share with Liverpool) and FIFA make all clubs operate on sound finances. A future where our ability to develop young players and see value where no others see it puts us at a massive advantage.
Gerry is spot-on, Lee; keep the faith and you will be vindicated. Once we solve the ground issue, we are a mega buy, we have a massive future because in the end a club is the sum of its fans (even though we are only customers now) and we are genuinely the best. I'm as proud to be an Evertonian now as I was in 1970 when the footballing world was at our feet.
7 Posted 21/04/2011 at 23:36:32
Picture the scene: On the far side of this earth, 12,000 miles from my old home, in the early hours of Good Friday morning, in one of my many Everton tops and cap that I will wear to the beach as soon as the sun comes up. The license plate of my car is EVERTON 2. A nod and smile to my minature Everton Father Christmas that is propped up just the right of the computer, with its Everton mouse and pad.
Surrounded at every turn by Everton bric brac, note pads, pens and a rubber blue nose.... I could go on and on about my passion for all things Everton and I have to admit it is a bit over the top. But hey, what better thing to go over board about?
8 Posted 22/04/2011 at 01:07:01
9 Posted 22/04/2011 at 01:27:51
10 Posted 22/04/2011 at 01:41:40
I also have a royal blue chopper motorcycle with the licence plate EFC-78, which is the best I could do given the 'three letters, two numbers' constraints.
Lee, great article. I feel just like you. I don't understand why anyone would want to support any other team. In saying, I am starting to become bitter and also have a good negative bitch-fest from time to time. I got (what doctors call) "everton induced bipolar syndrome" and unlike regular bipolar, I think it might be contagious. Watch out guys!
11 Posted 22/04/2011 at 03:16:37
Like Dick and Chris, I have all the stuff. It makes me pretty easy to buy for at Christmas and Birthdays.
So long as it is Everton related or contains the words Havanna or Single Malt, that's me sorted.
And also, it would take CSI to trace a trace of red in anything I own or use.
12 Posted 22/04/2011 at 05:56:11
13 Posted 22/04/2011 at 07:21:10
14 Posted 22/04/2011 at 07:52:23
15 Posted 22/04/2011 at 08:48:56
16 Posted 22/04/2011 at 08:59:52
17 Posted 22/04/2011 at 09:02:27
EFC is an institution that has for too long suffered with debt and totally inept board management... quite how we've stayed up defies any sense, when you consider some of the terrible managers we had in the past.
I wouldn't say relegation was exciting, exhilarating or any of that stuff... Nevertheless, EFC is a special club, with real fans and a passion all its own. There is no other club quite like Everton, the rest of the Premier League is made up of revenue streams and small clubs who will never amount to very much or, dare I say, never win a thing, there to keep the numbers.
Everton on the other hand are capable of defying the odds even in the face of adversity. I believe we are overdue a title-winning side, and you know the funny thing? This very team is capable of delievering it, if they can ever start a season on form.
Once a blue always a blue; we are not manufactured... through adversity and hardship, we grow stronger. Our love for everything Everton may wane at times, but we'll never truly walk away... it will always be in our blood. :)
18 Posted 22/04/2011 at 08:20:29
Seriously though I completely agree with Lee about the ups and downs ? those fans of teams who are always at the top expecting to win or have bought success will never be able to appreciate the god times as much as those on a rollercoaster ? even this site bears that out (eg, see the consistent griping because we haven't improved upon our 'expected' top 6 finish to break the top 4 this year ? I still remember when staying in the top flight was an achievement).
I started my own journey as a 10-year-old fan in the mid-80s, so to be fair I did start on a pretty amazing high watching the likes of Sheedy, Steven, Sharp, Reid, Ratcliffe, Bracewell (briefly) Lineker playing gorgeous football and trading domestic (and European) titles with Liverpool.
Suffice to say it took a while before I had similar reason to celebrate, shouting my head off and boozing the night away before my final Uni exam after the United final in 95 with Rideout, Amokachi, Hinchcliffe, Watson, Limpar and Co.
Even when we weren't winning trophies, I counted myself lucky enough to appreciate some brilliant individual players or those I considered legends, the likes of Kanchelskis, Beardsley and Big Dunc plus others who may not have hit quite the same levels but just wore their heart on their sleeve for the cause, like Beagrie, McCall, Campbell, Carsley, Gravesen and Parkinson).
Of course I've seen some almost very lows; I was stood in the Gwladys on the last day win against Wimbledon and saw 4 of the 5 goals go in (including that Horne screamer and the slight (ahem) softer winner ? thanks Hans!), I was in amongst the clutch of away fans at Highbury as we 'celebrated' our Champions league slot by being thrashed 7-1 (still kept singing "Champions League, you're having a laff" mind) ? one of many fruitless away trips (being whipped by Spurs on New Year's Day, losing after going ahead at the Emirates and more recent capitulation at Craven Cottage... made all the worse by having to watch Jô in an Everton shirt).
Right now though I can honestly say I'm somewhere in-between. I'm immensely proud of what we've achieved over the last few seasons in raising our starting expectation to a European slot, of a first team squad featuring genuine sought-after stars (Cahill, Felliani, Arteta, Howard, Jags, Baines), some exciting youthful prospects (Rodwell, Coleman, Beckford, Gueye and Vellios plus prospects like Duffy, Baxter, Barkley and Mustafi) as well as homegrown locals (Osman and Hibbo) and a manager who's regarded by pretty much everyone else (outside Toffeeweb) as one of the best young talents in the league.
Like everyone else, I'm frustrated by the fact we haven't ben able to get those one or two extra players (striker/winger) to complete the team, by the fact we started the season so terribly (again) saving our run of form until it's slightly too late to challenge for top 4 and by the fact that we have no money to improve the squad in the summer and will need to sell to buy.
Ultimately though I'm still enjoying the ride and believe that things can and will get better (albeit with the sacrifice of 1 or 2 'stars' this summer) and that plenty more thrills and spills (ideally including a CL campaign or a shiny new trophy) lie ahead.
Err, so in summary, I'm with you, Lee, great post!
19 Posted 22/04/2011 at 09:07:44
I fully understand what it is like to be surrounded by glory-hunting fuckwits who know nothing about football.
I have this wonderful daydream where one day I am walking through town with my Everton shirt on and some random stranger starts having a go at me for being a glory hunter!
"You're only wearing that shit shirt 'cos Everton just won the League and Champions League, you glory-hunting twat!"
Then I can start lecturing him about how my first game was back in 1990, how difficult it was being one of only 2/3 lads in the whole school who supported Everton when we were fighting relegation every season. Then I can end by saying that I have earned this... 'cos I was there when we were shit!
Like I said... it's just a daydream but, fucking hell, I would love it to happen.
20 Posted 22/04/2011 at 10:04:02
To me, emotionally, if not rationally, we are still "The Merseyside Millionaires", "The School of Science", I expect us to compete and beat Liverpool, United et cetera. I find it hard to be content with the odd good defensive performance and sneaking a goal at Man City. I expect us to be there and to win trophies.
In my way, I am another kind of Romantic to young Lee.
21 Posted 22/04/2011 at 10:09:14
Good on yer... I hope you see the 2nd coming!!!
22 Posted 22/04/2011 at 11:14:42
23 Posted 22/04/2011 at 11:31:29
I also was a fan of Johnnie Carey and the marvellous team of footballers he assembled. Win, lose or draw I would leave the game feeling satisfied with our standard of play.
Despite Cattericks success, I never quite reached the same level of satisfaction. There always was a longing for what might have been under JC.
24 Posted 22/04/2011 at 12:27:02
Andy @25 - look out for that on the ladys' t-shirt
God help us when we finally win something ? the street party to end all street parties.
25 Posted 22/04/2011 at 12:42:12
Being from Stoke, I also have to field questions of Why Everton? And as you say, with all the ups and downs, I cannot imagine the boredom of supporting anyone else.
26 Posted 22/04/2011 at 12:35:51
Trevor (#23): I am the same age group as yourself; while I agree in what you say about Johnny Carey, it's all about opinions, and I for one will be forever grateful to Harry Catterick, in winning the Championship twice, and the FA Cup.
I would like to think that in my lifetime we might see the glory days return, Lee has time on his side, but I don't want to go into the problems, because they have been well documented on this website.
27 Posted 22/04/2011 at 13:09:11
By the way I'm from Mauritius ? we do have diehard Everton fans.
28 Posted 22/04/2011 at 13:18:12
Certain times in my relatively short time as an Evertonian have summed it all up: Fiorentina was the game that showed me that no-one ? and I mean no-one ? was more passionate about their club than the Evertonians; the Rooney saga told me that, no matter how much we love certain players or how important they are to our success, no-one is bigger than the club.
The days out at Wembley showed me the togetherness the supporters have and the atmosphere just blew me away and left me hungry for more. I believe we have the best supporters, the best ground (believe it or not, I love the atmosphere and look of the place) and, God help me, I'll never stop supporting this club.
29 Posted 22/04/2011 at 14:16:49
30 Posted 22/04/2011 at 16:31:19
Catterick injected steel but his style of football waned after 1963... that title-winning side was the best we ever had!!! Most of them were signed by John Carey who was also a great player.
I'm afraid that most of Catterick's football was played in a very poor EFC side (he fitted right in).
31 Posted 22/04/2011 at 17:38:31
Great article, Lee.
I'm not from Liverpool or even the North and since the 1973 when I started following the Toffees, I have continually been asked, 'Why?' I think it would be good to keep some copies your article on me to hand out as I really could not have put it much better myself.
32 Posted 22/04/2011 at 20:41:20
33 Posted 22/04/2011 at 21:22:39
My house is called "Goodison", the front parlour is the "Blue Room" and my dog is called, "Dixie".
I'm nearly 45 years old!
34 Posted 23/04/2011 at 09:51:26
Most teams have fans/ supporters, Everton have devotees and I am for the most part proud to be associated with my like minded fellows.
35 Posted 24/04/2011 at 00:48:50
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