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Season 2011-12

Big Club? You Betcha!

By Paul Traill   ::  03/08/2011
 31 Comments (Last)

Though busy, it was quite a giddy half day at the office as I worked through the morning before heading off to Manchester Airport for the 2:35pm flight to Hamburg. There were plenty of Blues at the airport and after a quick pint watching a bit of the cricket we were away on a busy flight.

The journey was much quicker than I anticipated and we were landed in Hamburg in what seemed like no time at all. The train into Hamburg was quick and easy, finding the hotel was also straightforward...everything was just too easy really. It was quite a nice evening so I went for a good wander round the famous old city, grabbed some dinner and tucked into a few beers. Being on my own I was a little envious of some of the big groups of friends I saw travelling away together, though it probably wasn?t the worst thing in the world to not go out and get wasted with the big day ahead of me the next day. So a fairly quiet night and I was tucked up in bed by about 11.30pm?Family Guy in German sounds funny somehow.

As I?d had a quiet night I was up early for ?fruhstuck? the next morning and with plenty of time to kill I took a bit of time to do a bit more sightseeing. It was about 11:30am when I made my way to Bremen arriving at around 12:30pm following a short train journey. The first thing I noticed as I exited the train station was an Everton flag hanging out of a hotel window and some blues enjoying a few beers outside an Irish pub (unoriginally) named ?Paddy?s?. I noticed a banner which had been pinned up stating ?WE?RE NOT BITTER WE JUST DON?T LIKE YOU? which I thought was a bit rude until I realized whom it was aimed at. I stayed in a hostel for this evening and with my bed not available until 2pm I took a little walk through the interesting city and grabbed some lunch. There were quite a few blues about but you felt there were a lot more to come as it was still quite early. I grabbed a quick beer in Cotton?s Club by the main square whilst the sun beamed down?you sensed this was going to be a good day.

I got back and sorted my bed out for the evening and then I was ready to roll. Experience told me that many Blues tend to flock to the main square on such excursions so I made my way back there. A few Evertonians were indeed milling around here and the beers started to flow. The Becks pub on the square was nice and pleasant with good table service?everyone in good spirits. A banner for ?Shropshire Everton Supporters Club? was pinned up and was getting a bit of attention from the official Everton photographer and some other Evertonians. As I looked around and got chatting to a few supporters it really hit it home to me what big club we support and just how wide ranging our supporters are from. I got chatting to a couple of lads who?d travelled from Denmark, plenty of German Everton supporters were in town and also some Norwegian supporters. Most teams just can?t count on this support?for a friendly game in Bremen!

After a while I moved on, back to the Cotton?s Club where I sat with some top Evertonians who?d been in town a couple of days. They were chatting to a Norwegian supporter who?d even gone as far as to name his daughter ?Evert?. One of the lads was telling me he?d maxed out his credit card to come on this trip and was pulling a ?sickie? from work for a few days just to attend?also saying he had to duck away from the Everton photographer?the lengths people will go to?it really does make you proud to be a Blue.

I got on the Jaegerbombs with these fellas and before long I really was on my way to becoming a drunken mess basically. We got a taxi onto the impressive Weser Stadion. Outside the ground was good fun?Evertonians everywhere, the sun still shinning and a football getting booted around everywhere with everyone joining in?even the affable police getting in on the act.

We shuffled our way into the ground in time for the teams to take to the field. It?s been some time since I stood up at a stadium as I?d chosen the somewhat cheaper standing area. A lot of songs being sung by the noisy Everton faithful?everyone in good spirits.

Now I don?t know if it was the ale or if my eyes are not what they once were but I seriously struggled to see what was going on in this game. We were very far away from the action and I was rather drunk so much of this is a bit of a blur unfortunately.

We took to the field with Beckford up front and Anichebe ghosting between attack and the wing. Barkley patrolled the right hand side with Hibbert behind him at right back. Jagielka skippered and Mucha began in goal. Yakubu and Yobo again left behind?Fellaini and Arteta presumably still injured.

I hope the ale has induced some blackouts for me in this game as otherwise Everton really didn?t do anything noteworthy throughout the 90 minutes. I recall Barkley creating a good shooting opportunity for himself which was well held by Mielitz but I remember precious little else by way of an Everton attack in the first half. By contrast Werder Bremen, fresh from an humiliation at the hands of third division Heidenheim at the weekend, were rather lively. One of their strikers (Bargfrede apparently) missed an unbelievable chance before they took the lead?

A lazy clearance from Distin was seized upon by a Bremen midfielder and the ball was played back into the box, was headed on?took a bounce, neither Distin, Jagielka or Mucha able to clear and Wagner somehow headed in. Was a really poor goal to concede from what I could make out.

Everton offered little in response, in both the remained of the half and the entirety of the second half. The glut of substitutions obviously didn?t help but you have to be worried by our lack of creativity and I wonder how much we?ll notice the lack of pre-season available to Fellaini and Arteta might affect us come the season start?though I did stay downstairs a little bit too long for the second half enjoying a beer.

Saha was at least lively for the second half but our best openings both came from outside the box and both in the form of Baines free kicks. From what I can tell the same problems are still prevalent in the squad?nothing in the final third and a worrying knack of conceding really silly goals even though we?ve got some decent centre backs available. It seems to me with stood still?not just in terms of lack of transfer activity but also maybe not working hard enough with what we?ve got and learning from the mistakes of last season?the last action of the game came when a deep cross was played into the box and you felt Bilyaletdinov might have at least had a stab at connecting with the ball with his head.

Presuming a bit of a crush for the tram was imminent I followed the crowd making the long walk back towards the city centre. God knows how long it took me to get back. I had a few beers in town though was really far too drunk by this point and probably missed all the fun as I was in bed at around midnight.

Awakening the next day I realized I?d left my toothpaste in Hamburg and asked a gentleman in my room if he had any. That he did and we got to talking?he was an Nuremburg supporter whom since our Europa League encounter in 2007 has also been an Everton fan having got chatting to some Everton supporters on the night. He also attended the Wolfsburg game last pre-season and a Europa League fixture against Sigma Olomouc in Czech Republic in 2009. He?s also been over to Goodison a few times and is over again with 11 fellow Nuremburg-come-Everton supporters in October for our fixture with Manchester United. I had a good chat with him and even went for breakfast with the fella?goes to show what great Evertonians you can find?all over the world.

Once I left Stefan to it I took a little wander around Bremen though inadequate footwear had left my feet blistered rather painfully so took to sitting on a bench and watching the world go by for a while. I had plenty of time to kill until my 5:45pm flight so duly took my time?and was still about as early as I?ve ever been for a flight...though was grateful to be at my gate sprawled out over some seats in all honesty. Plenty more Blues turned up on the same flight back?home and back to normal again after a great trip.

These journeys really hit it home to me just how much I miss Everton not being in European football anymore as the trips are better yet if the games mean something?hopefully (though I don?t really see how its possible) we can remedy that this season.

No player ratings for this one, though my man of the match (from what I remember!) would be Ross Barkley?God I hope he can handle the pressure this coming season as a lot seems to be expected of him.

Roll on Saturday 13 August? with trepidation.

Reader Comments

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Gerry Quinn
1   Posted 04/08/2011 at 14:24:49

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Cracking story, Paul, and yes, I too am always amazed and proud of the lengths that some supporters will go to for our team. Through thick and thin - there are very few clubs that have such a fanatical family. I often wish our "newish" fans could go back in time to savour the success we once had - unfortunately, I do not think they will ever see such fun and happiness in the near future - but, as always, I hope that this squad and manager can prove me wrong and somehow defy the obscene money-saturated odds of being able to win a trophy of any kind!
Dave Lynch
2   Posted 04/08/2011 at 14:46:55

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The bit about the Nuremburg lad got me.

It goes to show the message and attitude our fans take with them about our club. If only the board exhibited the same qualities we do as supporters, the mind boggles at what we could achieve.

Dave Lynch
3   Posted 04/08/2011 at 15:03:12

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Forgot to add: Great read Paul and I too have been drunk on Jaegerbombs, it's not a pleasant experience.
Graham Brandwood
4   Posted 04/08/2011 at 15:26:17

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We will be hosting Stefan and his mates when they come over. It will be Stefan's 3rd or 4th visit since our Uefa Cup game in Nuremburg. They have given the lads great hospitality on the 2 occasions members of our group from block PK 4 have been over there. We will be in the Ship and Mitre after the United game if you want to come and meet Stefan and his crew.
Peter Laing
5   Posted 04/08/2011 at 15:34:35

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Fantastic story, Paul. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your encounter. It's stories such as this which make me proud to be an Evertonian, the comradeship and camaraderie that seems unique to the Everton experience. In times of trouble its great to see the spirit and friendship of Evertonians (see Graham @4).

I unfortunately cannot get away on European sojourns due to family commitments but also remarked to a couple of mates at Wembley in 2009 how 'big' a club Everton still remain. It's such a shame that this remains untapped in terms of an investor / investment to allow the fans to experience many more big days / nights and happy occasions following our grand old team.

Dennis Stevens
6   Posted 04/08/2011 at 15:48:13

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Everton are very much a sleeping giant, we just need a Board that can wake the giant as the current incumbents are more likely to induce a coma!
Elaine Riding
7   Posted 04/08/2011 at 16:26:35

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Great post Paul..
Could you imagine the satisfaction of seeing a us play BIG competitive matches in Europe again ?
Everton away at Real Madrid ?? We would appreciate it a hell of a lot more than some sides I am sure..
And by that, yes I do mean Liverpool, and your Heysel denying, Michael Shields shithouse fans..

One day, it may just happen for us again..
Jon Beck
8   Posted 04/08/2011 at 17:50:48

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Brought back some happy memories Paul, thanks.
Tim O'Connell
9   Posted 04/08/2011 at 18:04:49

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Excellent read - keep up your travels, belief and posts!
Brian Waring
10   Posted 04/08/2011 at 20:23:17

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Good write up Paul.

I know it was only a friendly, but for me it was like deja vu. No movement off the ball, to many passes going astray, no link - up play. Also, considering its not long before the real work begins, we looked knackered.

One more thing, and this really gets on my fucking wick, why does Moyes still persist with getting everyone back for corners? In a friendly as well FFS!
Joe McMahon
11   Posted 04/08/2011 at 20:27:36

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Sadly there are plenty of sleeping giants Dennis: Shef Weds, Nottingham Forrest, and to an extent Wolves. Kenwright is nearly solely responsible for the situation the once great Everton FC are now in, I hate the man.
Joe McMahon
12   Posted 04/08/2011 at 20:30:40

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Sorry Pal, I forgot to add, great write up! When will we be back in Europe?
Mike Green
13   Posted 04/08/2011 at 21:05:17

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Great read Paul - that's what itd all about! Nice one.
Kevin Sparke
14   Posted 04/08/2011 at 21:16:40

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Thanks Paul - really good reflections; sounds like you had to be pissed to enjoy that effort.
Richard Farrington
15   Posted 04/08/2011 at 21:30:51

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Excellent post and some really positive comments to follow, we are a sleeping giant - the blue revolution must come at some point. COYB.
John Conaghan
16   Posted 04/08/2011 at 22:57:08

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That's a great post Paul. It's great to see something positive on here for a change.
Kevin Hendrick
17   Posted 04/08/2011 at 22:24:29

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Stefan, the Evertonian from Nuremberg is also an ardent 1FCN fan and goes to all their away matches.

As Graham (4) mentioned, there are 4 or 5 of us who have been to Nuremberg at their invitation the last couple of years, and this October sees 12 fanatical Nuremberg fans come over here for a long weekend at our invitation, and to watch our home match v Man Utd. Realising the difficulty of sourcing 12 tickets, I contacted Graeme Sharp, but the best advice he could offer was "Try contacting the ticket office" . I was disappointed that, despite many of us acting as ambassadors to the club on our european travels, and FC Nuremberg having supplied us with tickets, who incidentally, didn't charge us for them on both visits there, as their fan liason manager tries to develop ties with other fans clubs, and since 2007, many Evertonians have nurtured friendships with Nuremberg fans and exchanged visits. i felt embarrassed that our club doesn't feel the same way, and offers no assistance to long standing season ticket holders like us in our hour of need.

Fortunately, Stefan, whilst in Olomouc watching our Uefa Cup match there, met some other Evertonians who were the Taxi Club Blues from Walton, who are an affiliated EFC Supporters Club, notably Phil O'Rourke, their chairman. This week, when they met up again in Bremen, Phil said he would try to arrange 12 tickets for the Nuremberg guys, so basically the fans have to rely on other fans to organise these matters which, i feel, is a sad inditement for our great club. The club should support the fans as the fans support the club.

Dennis Stevens
18   Posted 05/08/2011 at 00:26:04

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I'm sure there are many other clubs supporters who also consider them to be sleeping giants, Joe, & although it's all somewhat subjective, I just don't think they really compare.
Robert Moore
19   Posted 05/08/2011 at 00:59:37

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The Best and most Honest read I have had on here for a while... excellent. COYB
Derek Thomas
20   Posted 05/08/2011 at 11:03:08

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Dennis Stevens; Sleeping Giant indeed.

Yamamoto, after Pearl Harbour stated...' I fear all we have done is awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a steely resolve'

Where will our pearl harbour come from...the Championship??

The Japanese had Mitsubishi Zeros

All our Zeros are in the credit column of the bank balance and the competance of the Board and Marketing dept.
Eugene Ruane
21   Posted 05/08/2011 at 12:14:27

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A really interesting read Paul.

When I originally read the post, I was (despite the result) quite 'lifted' by it.

However at the time, there were no comments below.

In Brian Waring's post (10) he says..

"No movement off the ball, to many passes going astray, no link - up play. Also, considering its not long before the real work begins, we looked knackered".

This comment immediately 'UN-lifted' me because it's so, SO familiar.

How and WHY can we look/be knackered?

The sub-standard movement and passing I can (kind of) rationalise - ie: it's the kind of movement and passing you get from a team that cost what they cost (or to reverse it, what teams WITH money get for their millions spent, is touch, movement, passing, pace and goals).

The knackered bit however is unforgivable.

I've come away from a lot of games where the main complaint after was "They looked fucking goosed".

Is it too much training before the season, is it too much during the week?

Too much or too little training?

Most worrying is that I reckon that DM is not the kind of individual to see a problem and make any big (revolutionary) change to the way he does anything, so it sounds like 'roll on Groundhog Day'.


Dave Lynch
22   Posted 05/08/2011 at 12:48:22

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For all those interested....

To put you at ease, the wall at the back of the Park End is now ¼ rebuilt.

Adam Bennett
23   Posted 05/08/2011 at 12:17:25

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Hi Paul, I was one of the lads who were smashing the Jagger?s in with you at Cotton Bar; it was good to meet you. My mate is the one who pulled the sickie and shall forever remain nameless!

We got there Monday morning and took a trip up to the stadium in the afternoon so see about stadium tours. It was conducted in German, and unfortunately neither me nor my sick mate can speak a word of it! However, the lady who done the tour translated the main bits for us, which was very good. We stood by a wall showing every home shirt. All green and/or white, apart from two in the mid 70?s. One red one blue. This was because a company sponsored the club and said they want the company colours as the kit, and she told us that the company in question made tinned fish, which resulted in a nickname, ?Fishheads?! The first team were also having their team photo took on the pitch, at which point the other members of the tour got very excited! At 4 euros, it was a very good tour.

We then went back into the city centre and drank the finest beer the worlds best beer country had to offer. Which, unfortunately for me, resulted in a favourite drunken pastime.... running for a tram, kicking a kerb, and going flying about 20-odd foot in front of a load on-looking Germans! Didn?t hurt though!

The day of the game, a bratwurst sausage for breakie then back on the finest of fine ales. At which point at trip to Cotton Bar and smashing the Jagger?s became the order of the day!

Don?t remember too much of the match, although I do remember at half time saying that I didn?t want a pint and ended up having one in my hand anyway! We went back to Cotton Bar after the match, where I told the very friendly barmaid, in depth, at how amazing Everton are. A few Jagger?s later I was telling her how Oasis are the greatest band of all time. Then, suddenly, Champagne Supernova came on! I asked her if I could take a Jagger glass, and she said to take it when she wasn?t looking. I left the bar without it and she shouted me back, gave me the glass, then looked away! I then proceeded to forget it when we left the next bar! At which, I decided to try my luck on a very pretty German lady who was sitting with her, also pretty, friend. To my amazement, my tried and trusted technique for this type of thing didn?t work. Apparently, the chat up line ?Hi I?m Adam, will you be my Eve?? does not work on German women! They asked for the bill soon after.

The next day our flight was at 10pm, so we hung around Cotton Bar all afternoon and all the workers where saying hi and asking if we had a good night. I think we did.

All in all, a fantastic trip which re-affirmed to me two things. One, Everton has some of THE best supporters in the world. Two, after the amazing time I had in Nurnberg too, Germany is the best country in the world.

Hamburg away next pre-season anyone? I?d have some of that!
Craig Wilson
24   Posted 05/08/2011 at 14:13:51

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@22 Dave

But we will have all the bricks in place for the start of the season or will we require a lasy minute panic buy to finish of the top layer!!!

Paul, a great post but there are more serious issues here regarding the Park End wall!!!
Anthony Doran
25   Posted 05/08/2011 at 14:23:14

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Well written article Paul, kept me reading start to finish!
Dave Lynch
26   Posted 05/08/2011 at 15:01:20

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Being official Toffeeweb wall watcher.
I can now tell you it's a bit more than 1/4 built.
Nearly 1/2 built but not quite.
I have to drive past again on my way home from work so will keep you informed.
Eugene Ruane
27   Posted 05/08/2011 at 15:36:29

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At 8.27PM, the two official Everton FC brick-layers finished.

They wiped their brows, shook hands on a job well done and headed off to the Bernie Wright Suite for beers and sandwiches - guests of a relieved and grateful Bill Kenwright.

As they relaxed and chatted (BK: "So, ha ha ha, there I am in the boys pen, ha ha ha, bag o chips and a hole in me kecks...") it became apparent that the result of their effort had not been viewed from Stanley Park.

From there it confusingly read 'EV__TON'

Bill, squinting his eyes through the window could only see it from the other side.

"I like it lads!" he says "Blue-sky forward thinking! If we ever get a royal visit, 'ER' is already in place".

Smiling he turned but, like the sandwiches and the crate of Chang, they had vanished.

As a small boy sprayed 'GO YOU GRINNING TWAT! FOR FUCK'S SAKE GO!' on the new wall, it collapsed once more.

A dark grey cloud on the horizon seemed move very quickly in the direction of The Grand Old Lady.

(From 'Forgotten But Not Gone' - by Sylvie Krin)
Phil O'Rourke
28   Posted 05/08/2011 at 17:04:30

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I'm the Phil O'Rourke as mentioned by kevin in post 17. I arranged to meet Stefan in Bremen, indeed I got his ticket.

First met him at Olomouc, then at Benfica and Wolfsburg and on his last visit to Goodison. Getting him tickets for Wolfsburg etc.

He is a thoroughly good guy and it's an honour to call him a friend. I will have his tickets for the "Liverpool Invasion" by IFCN for the Blues v Man Utd game.
Phil O'Rourke
29   Posted 05/08/2011 at 17:04:30

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I'm the Phil O'Rourke as mentioned by kevin in post 17. I arranged to meet Stefan in Bremen, indeed I got his ticket.

First met him at Olomouc, then at Benfica and Wolfsburg and on his last visit to Goodison. Getting him tickets for Wolfsburg etc.

He is a thoroughly good guy and it's an honour to call him a friend. I will have his tickets for the "Liverpool Invasion" by IFCN for the Blues v Man Utd game.
Richard Farrington
30   Posted 05/08/2011 at 19:07:07

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Dave - you can't leave us dangling like this?
Conor Feeney
31   Posted 05/08/2011 at 22:35:34

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Was it finished in time for that thriller at Goodison this evening? Any Toffeewebbers that were at the game confirm please?

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