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She's Still A Grand Old Lady

By Sean Williams :  25/05/2011 :  Comments (13) :
This article is in memory of Mark Hanson, a massive blue who spoke with lots of sense and a shedload of passion when it came to Everton. Unfortunately, in March this year, he lost his long standing battle with depression; however, he will always live on as part of the Top Blue group which includes ? Sean Williams, Jason Lloyd, Scott Bryon, Alex McCurry and Kevin Gore.

Mark wrote the following copy in an email just days before his death. He intended to write it up for ToffeeWeb, as you?ll read, but didn?t ever get the chance to ? so Top Blue is doing it for him. Mate, you?re very much missed. RIP.

Mark Hanson on the future of Everton:

It's not right to say we've stood still while other clubs have progressed. You just can't argue that results, league positioning, quality of the squad or coaching staff is anything but radically better than it was seven or eight years ago. It just is. Also, we've got a modern training academy, which is a really boring thing to point out... but this is really crucial for our future ? look at the recent talent we?ve built.

Some of you pay your money week-in, week-out to watch Everton. I don't and can only get to a game every couple of months. That means you have much more of a right to express an opinion about the team than I do, but, if you stand back a bit from the emotion and frustration, you see that there are real fundamental issues ? not at Everton, but in football generally.

The economics of football are screwed. There is this frantic clamour each week for a result and that suits the agents just fine. Lots of money has come into football in recent years but it drains straight out again, without touching the sides, straight into the agents' and players? pockets. Phil Neville is a great professional. But £50k a week??? If you take a stand on these issues, the club will no doubt get left behind and the message boards will scream blue murder with charges of directors/management living in the past, lacking ambition, risking the future of the club and generally being hated for doing what, in the normal world, makes true business sense.

Everton FC are fighting against several economic challenges of their own. Our catchment area is one of the poorest in the UK in economic terms. We have an ageing stadium that is hemmed in by streets and streets of terraced housing. If you think it's easy to just buy those houses and shift people out, just take a look at areas in Liverpool where housing is earmarked for demolition by government to improve the economic wellbeing of the area by creating genuinely better housing. Compulsory purchase is secured and then the process is dragged out for years and years in the media glare as even just one stubborn householder refuses the leave his/her ?lovely home?. Which is fair.

We need a new stadium ? ideally within the boundaries of the city but, to be honest, we need one desperately or the club will disappear because of ?lost potential revenue?. That's how we'll generate a higher income. Even then, though, we'll struggle to compete with what is now a Big 6.

The club has been imaginative with finances to 'punch above its weight'. We've bought younger, less glamorous players and turned them into coveted Premier League players: Lescott, Jagielka, Baines, Pienaar, Arteta, (you could add Fellaini) have been spotted, developed (been given bigger contracts after they've proved themselves) and been subject to serious offers from 'bigger clubs'. We've securitised against future income to afford this and now we're running out of road.

I think we need a bit of a freshen up. We'd have gone crazy if we hadn't 'shown ambition' and kept Arteta last summer but now I think he needs to be sold to the highest bidder. For the benefit of the club ? look at Rooney (and yes I know, we?re not talking multi-millions like that deal) as an example of actually aiding the club get to the next level.

We also need a billionaire. Of course we do. But, as a group in Top Blue, we've talked about other clubs that have gained backing while we haven't. And the list of names includes: Portsmouth, Notts County, West Ham, Newcastle... Liverpool!! I also remember in the early days of Top Blue we were asking "Why can't Everton be run along the lines of Southampton, Birmingham, Middlesbrough?" ? when you look back at that now, it seems ridiculous... but so many things in football are like that. It's worth remembering stuff like this when we say we've stood still.

Anyway, I might get back to work now, or write this up for ToffeeWeb!

In the same week as Mark?s idol, Duncan Ferguson, was collecting the legends award (well done lad!!!) at the annual Everton bash, it was MIND week which aims to raise awareness and lessen the stigma attached to mental illness such as depression. No-one knew that Mark suffered from depression and he managed to hide it for 20 years, becoming extremely successful in his professional life. Thoughts go to Clare, his wife, and the rest of his family. Donations to Mark?s MIND fund are very much welcome:?

Reader Comments

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Nick Entwistle
1   Posted 25/05/2011 at 15:35:58

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If he kept his illness a secret, its a shame. I never felt a stigma about mine and learnt that the more people knew I had it the easier it became.

So I'm going to out myself as agoraphobic. Anyone want to add to this and show its no big deal that people know?
Brian Denton
2   Posted 25/05/2011 at 16:26:26

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Would not recommend somebody outing themselves with anything more serious than a fear of spiders. There is still, alas, a great stigma attached to depression etc.
Mark Billing
3   Posted 25/05/2011 at 17:11:08

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I didn't know Mark but, having read many tributes to him back in March (see link below), it appears to have been my loss.

There are several other sites and individual tributes in a similar vein. From a selfish perpsective, it was/is a pity that his talents, and those of other Evertonians in different areas of expertise, were not/are not marshalled for the benefit of Everton Football Club. Clearly, however, the infinitely bigger pity is that he's now departed from the lives of those he loved, and who loved him in return.

Belated condolences to all who knew him.
Dave Wilson
4   Posted 25/05/2011 at 18:56:44

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I`m sure everyone who reads this will be close to somebody who has/does suffer this awful invisible illness; some may suffer themselves. I think we would all share your desire to see a clearer understanding of all forms of mental illness.

A moving and dignified tribute to a pal you were obviously very proud of.

Well done, lad.
Tim O'Connell
5   Posted 25/05/2011 at 20:39:32

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A heartfelt post.

I must state upfront that I am involved with on-line mental health treatments. Mental health illness is a major problem. Over 20% suffer (including depression, anxiety, phobias, insomnia etc).

Our experience is people are becomming more aware of it and that it is an illness not a weakness. The real problem is that there is a lack of awareness of potential treatments that don't involve drugs or councilling and poor government implementation and funding. In Holland they spend 4 times the amount we do on mental health treatment (with less than half the population) and they will have a major push on on-line treatments. These are proven to work (NICE recommends our FearFighter for example).

So my advice is look out for evidence based on-line treatments which you can do privately 24/7? they can really help either for yourself or people you know who need it.

Dennis Stevens
6   Posted 26/05/2011 at 00:34:51

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Thanks for that, Tim. Just looked FearFighter up & reckon it might help one of my family members. I'm going to suggest they talk to their GP about it.
Chris Bannantyne
7   Posted 26/05/2011 at 01:08:56

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I'm a manic-depressive with obsessive compulsive disorder. It happens. It can be genetic. I don't know why I have it (it's not environmental, I.e. I was never abused as a kid or anything like that) I was just born with it.

Yeah there is a stigma assosciated with mental illness, probably because it is still a relatively new and experimental field of medicine.

More than 50% of the entire world's population will suffer from depression at some stage of their lives. The more of these people with understanding friends and family, the better.
Nick Entwistle
8   Posted 26/05/2011 at 12:33:10

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My GP tried to have me do an online CBT course but none of the companies involved would tell me exactly how it worked and what was involved, sending me round in circles.

I couldn't make the judgement call on whether it would be good for me so my GP sent me to an NHS psychologist. She was superb.

Before going I remember always having a feeling that to see one you somehow have failed or it's something Yanks do, but I really can't see why that was the case now. CBT (cognitive brain therapy) simply allows you to talk further, prompted by the questions from the shrink, than you would normally would have, had you just been discussing it with a friend. You then uncover the problems and by doing so are able to work with them and gain control.

Not saying the online courses don't help of course, it's just I know people think strangely of attending a shrink session.

Peter Warren
9   Posted 26/05/2011 at 13:32:12

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The article by Mark cheered me up and may he rest in peace. Great what you're doing, Sean.
Tim O'Connell
10   Posted 26/05/2011 at 13:30:40

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Nick makes some good points. It should be and is not a stigma to go to a clinician. Also, it should be up to the patient whether to have face to face or on line CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) ? the point is that both are proven to work clinically equally as well.

The difficulty is that there is not awareness of the treatments and, more importantly, there are not enough clinicians and the NHS have cut budgets so they are not making available the on-line treatments when they should (per the Health Act) they are looking at short term cuts not mid to long term benefits.

If for example you went to your GP and asked for FearFighter and the GP said it was suitable for you then legally you should be provided with it but most PCT's won't. Rant over but the positive thing is mental health illness is getting far more press and people are accepting that it exists so ultimately more treatments should be available.

Nick Entwistle
11   Posted 26/05/2011 at 18:26:01

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Thought my explanation looked a bit dodgy.

Best thing about agoraphobia is that you can leave bad parties immediately. 'Sorry, agoraphobic, byeeee!'
Dave Lynch
12   Posted 27/05/2011 at 09:05:07

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I have been a mental health clinician for longer than I care to remember.

CBT is always something that should be done face to face, the individual often needs guidance and reassurance and you can't get this from a computer screen.

Awareness of mental health issues and their impact are a lot more publicised, but working within the NHS and still being a frontline nurse I can tell you this.<>Mental health is the arsehole of the NHS when it comes to funding; always has been and always will be.

Mike Owen
13   Posted 29/05/2011 at 22:55:30

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Sean, sorry to hear about the loss of your mate.

Depression is something more prevalent than many people may think.

And as this country gets more corporate and bland (certainly something that gets me down), and as fewer people are needed by the economy, I can only see more people succumbing to depression.

I am an admirer of the work of Everton in the Community. A quick glance at its website suggests that it is aware of mental health issues but is yet to do as much as perhaps it could in this field.

Sean, perhaps you might wish to get in touch with EiC chief executive, Denise Barrett-Baxendale, with a view to exploring what more EiC might be able to do in this field. Could conceivably be, in a way, a tribute to your mate.

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