Everton Is Nothing Without Evertonians

A chat with the Toffee Lady, Elizabeth France – the better half of Dr. Everton – about Evertonians, the fine biographical efforts of some of the club's most devoted fans, and the current state of the club.

Lyndon Lloyd 26/03/2015 50comments  |  Jump to last

During the good times and especially the not-so-good times, Everton Football Club is supported by some of the finest people on earth, a conviction that grows stronger with each meeting with Elizabeth France. Our paths have crossed on two occasions. Both memorable. The first was the Grand Old Evening hosted by her in San Francisco to herald the tiki-taka era. The dinner turned into a royal blue love fest. We met again during one of her I-5 commutes from San Juan Island to the Frances new home in the sunshine of Sedona, possibly the most inspirational place in the USA. Elizabeth enthralled me with her insights of living with an avid Blue. I recall her advice to all Royal Blue wives: "Never ever ask him if he loves Everton more than you!"

Last week, I had an opportunity to chat with the Toffee Lady by phone. I discovered that the good doctor was unwell and taking pain medication to deal with the aftermath of recent surgery and a severe bout of Evertonitis. She opened by discussing the impact of Evertons poor run of form on The Innocents. She joked that these women, children and other loved ones should consider reporting Roberto to Amnesty International to prevent further abuses of human rights in Walton.

LL: What about the mural at Goodison?

EF: The club does a fantastic job at dressing up the Old Lady. Like the Goodison Timeline, the mural concept is outstanding. I cant believe, however, that Roberto approved his mural. It was ill-conceived for a rookie yet to win anything. Akin to awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Michele Obamas hubby. In contrast, its replacement conjures up memories of Everton ruling British football. Some old-timers may disagree but I think that Derek Hatton first coined the The Holy Trinity tag. Back in 2000, I recall Davids discussions with co-author Becky Tallentire, Brian Labone and Derek Hatton. Brian had suggested a book cover proclaiming: The Only Three-Man Team to Win the League. Degsy countered: The Holy Trinity, proof that God is an Evertonian.

The book entitled Gwladys Streets Holy Trinity was published with the sub-title Kendall, Harvey & Ball. Fans often enquire about this order. Because it isnt alphabetic, they presume its by shirt number 4, 6 and 8. In fact, its by height. A tale that our old pal Alan never found amusing. Can you believe that next month itll be 8 years since the Everton family lost its red-haired, white-booted super-hero? Of course, hes still in our hearts.

Article continues below video content

LL: Read any good books lately?

EF: Once upon a time, the shelves at local bookstores were red. Today they are overflowing with good Everton books. Personally, Ive a soft spot for the volumes capturing the life and times of The Cannonball Kid and Harry Catterick. James Corbett, one of the smartest of the many bright Blues Ive met, did a fabulous job of completing the former after the death of our old pal. Dave and Pat Hickson were such a lovely couple. Thanks to ToffeeWeb, many readers know that Rob Sawyer is a gifted contributor and wont be surprised by the top quality of his first book. However, they may not be aware of the depth of his blue blood. His great-grandfather was Bill Sawyer, the Everton director and one-time chairman who had the distinction of welcoming Dixie Dean to Goodison. Robs biography of Harry Catterick brought national recognition to a manager who, love him like Brian Labone or not love him like Alex Young, accrued more top-flight points during the Sixties than Busby, Nicholson, Revie and Shankly. I must caution Rob that book writing is addictive. There is nothing quite like the smell of newly printed words.

As for Dr Evertons modest efforts? Everton Crazy was completed ages ago. Like a good pan of scouse, its been left on the step to cool down. During that time, hes expanded the scope of Toffeemen, its accompanying tome to the thickness of the Yellow Pages. The new ambitious goal is to include colour caricatures remember the ugly men with giant ears and pen-pics for every Everton player from pre-League to greedy League, including the war-time periods. Over the past 16 years he has commissioned 1,600 of them. Thanks to incredible support from football enthusiasts throughout the UK, David has unearthed legions of elusive men. Today, hes missing photographic references for only two players who made League appearances Walter Wilson, a one-game wonder in 1888-89, and Bill Thomas, a similar one-game wonder in 1892-93, and about a dozen men from the pre-League era. Thats all. The portfolio is as mind-blowing as the Everton Collection.

Do you remember his declaration? "Blues versus Reds is humility versus arrogance, loyalty versus entitlement and art versus porn." Well another old pal there are a lot of them - the late Jackie Hamilton, known as the Pele of Comedians, was more tactful. He advised David that the real difference is our willingness to laugh at ourselves. If we can laugh at ourselves then well never cease to be amused. As a result, my other half has detoured into the world of chuckles. In collaboration with Peter King, who has received awards for his work for Punch and Private Eye, theyve told the Everton story via gag cartoons. Ill email a little taste of their 150 so-called 'Evertoons'.

LL: Tell me about the EFC Heritage Society

EF: David believes that our heritage separates us from the Johnny-come-Latelies in the Premier League and was concerned that its richness had been diluted and air-brushed. So back in 2008, he invited a dozen Blues who felt equally as passionately about the club's history to pool their know-how and educate the wider football community. In recent times, the Society has gone from strength to strength and been embraced by the clubs hierarchy. Much of its success can be attributed to Paul Whartons enthusiasm. David prefers to kick things off, make sure that a proper organization is in place; then leave it to youngsters like Paul, Brendan Connolly, Billy Smith, Steve Johnson, Rob Sawyer, James Corbett, Peter Jones, Richie Gillham as well as other older pals.

The Society has done a remarkable job honouring some forgotten Blues. I understand that the memorial service in the Erquighem-lys churchyard for Wilf Toman, a casualty at the Western Front, was attended by the French media who lauded Everton as a compassionate club. Today, through its hard work, the Society enjoys the reputation of the first place for people to go in order to learn about Evertons true history.

LL: And his initiatives?

EF: While there is still no museum to showcase the Everton Collection, David continues to discover items. Its a disease. An addiction. As for recent gems, Paul Wharton unearthed a publication for the fixture at First Vienna in 1905 which was acquired subsequently by the Everton Collection. As for the Former-Players Foundation, Im aware that you dont hear much about its deeds. Thats by design. The charity maintains a low profile to protect the privacy of the old timers. Sadly, Rev Harry Ross has retired. Ive never met someone with such genuine compassion. Theres that word again. His efforts in caring for our former-players were immense and changed lives. His support to both Sandy Brown and Mick Buckley made me proud to be part of the Everton family.

LL: I understand that you have picked up the baton?

EF: Thats right. Back in 2010, on behalf of the Shareholders Association, I funded the memorial plaque installed at Goodison to commemorate Fallen Blues the players of the Everton Clubs in England and Chile who perished in battle. Last year, Robert Elstone asked to relocate it closer to Dixies statue. I agreed as long as I could provide an identical plaque to honour the ordinary men and women of the Everton family who lost their lives during the World Wars. It is my heart-felt belief that Everton Football Club is nothing without Evertonians. I hope that the memorial provides a place for reflection for Blues of all generations.

As a club and as a family, we excel at good deeds. Denise Barret-Baxendale has worked tirelessly to convert Everton In The Community into a top local charity. I was delighted that she was honoured with an MBE. Thoroughly deserved. David told her that when she met the Queen she must enquire about a knighthood for Bill Kenwright. Its long overdue. Few of our good deeds would have happened without his unswerving support. My Everton may be different than the Everton of your younger readers. I like the fact that we have a die-hard Blue as chairman. Also I prefer to see local lads in the starting line-up.

LL: Whats your take on the current state of the club?

EF: First tell me, why do we allow something we cant control impact our lives to the extent that it does? Its been a disappointing campaign. Even in Sedona, dark clouds hover over the France household. Its been a campaign with too many unfortunate, bordering on embarrassing, performances. Two wins in 16 League games! But perhaps no loss was more significant than the capitulation to Swansea in the League Cup. Believe it or not, David dreamt that, after 50-odd attempts, we would win it this year. I know its a modest target but we need silverware. Any bit of silverware to hoist through the streets of Liverpool. The only things weve won in the past decade are the MLS Cup and the Friendship Cup. And I understand that we paid for the latter.

Talk of the MLS leads me to the man whose saves against Belgium made him a national hero. Our American neighbours know of Everton Football Club because of Tim and, of course, Landypants. The two most popular soccer players in the land. With hindsight, if we had paraded Tim and Landon around all 50 states immediately after the World Cup, we would have been embraced as Americas Club and sold 100,000 Everton shirts. Then we should have left our loyal No 24 and genuinely nice guy in New Jersey to enjoy his retirement in the MLS. Try telling your American neighbours that hes not one of the best keepers on the planet...

In reality, during my 45 years of watching Everton, weve had a half-dozen better than him. Tim has never been more than middling. Not as good as Southall, Martyn or West but better than Wright, Simonsen and a few others we no longer speak of. Nowadays his signature facial hair deflects attention from his lead feet. Have you noticed that, once he plants them, he struggles to move them again? Hes lost his spring. The same thing happened to Big Nev. If the club is to progress, we must take a leaf out of Cattericks book and recruit a top-class keeper. Did you know that he wasnt satisfied with Gordon West then Englands back-up? And negotiated to buy Gordon Banks, Englands No 1, until the deal was scuttled by a leak to the press.

While Tim has enhanced the brand on this side of the Atlantic, his deeds were diluted by Roberto. Do you remember him being stripped of his World Cup accreditation? An Everton manager banned by Fifa... Try explaining that to your American neighbours. I remember Robert Elstone soliciting Davids thoughts about the new man in San Francisco. My husband waxed: "I just hope that hes a lucky manager. I worry that his reputation is built on a cavalier cup run against mostly lower League sides. The highlights of which were 3 goals in as many minutes at Goodison and a last minute winner against 10 men at Wembley." Indeed, Roberto has proved to be a lucky manager lucky to have such a loyal chairman. Bill Kenwright has shown great composure. It would have been easy to justify replacing the manager last month the cost of paying him off pales in comparison to that of relegation. Now the gaffer should repay his loyalty. He should be set targets of a top-half finish this season and regaining some momentum to propel us to the big time, whatever that may be. Perhaps the League Cup next season?

Ive witnessed some shocking team performances over the years but not since the days of Mike Walker have I noted such displeasure with team selections and tactics. It wont be easy for Roberto to refine his vision of how the game should be played. I wish him well. Our friend Neville Smith, the man who penned The Golden Vision screenplay, says that when under similar pressure Catterick listened to the fans, swallowed his pride and reinstated West, Gabriel and Young into what he called The Hooligans Team, which went on to win the FA Cup in 1966.

I may be mistaken but I detect that Roberto shows less than complete understanding of the soul of a football institution like Everton and the fans who know about the game. Roberto is young. Perhaps he needs a mentor who empathizes with rather than irritates the most loyal supporters in the land. Certainly, he needs to employ his immense charm to re-engage them. Everton Football Club is nothing without Evertonians. And he will achieve nothing, not even the League Cup, without their backing. What do I know? Not much. But I do know that Howard, Alcaraz and Barry are too old for regular first-team duty. You can't blame them for ageing. You can blame Roberto for selecting them.

Its been a bleak winter. Ive come to terms with the gloom and transitory silence that greets every disappointing result. I no longer need to ask: "How did the blue boys get on?" I can detect the outcome by the behaviour of our Cocker Spaniels. This season theyve spent too many Pacific mornings hiding under the dining table. While Robertos Everton prepares young fans for the curve-balls that life will throws at them, I would appreciate him easing my pain of living with a disappointed Blue. Im confident that things will get better. Remember if we can laugh at ourselves then well never cease to be amused. Unless, of course, Steven Gerrard lifts the FA Cup on 30 May...

Share article:

Reader Comments (50)

Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer

Tony Sullivan
1 Posted 26/03/2015 at 19:27:39
Outstanding article. With some fascinating comments regarding our current manager and chairman. All without resorting to foul language or insulting personal remarks.

What a remarkable lady.

Alan Rodgers
2 Posted 26/03/2015 at 19:22:52
Fantastic article. I read it once then re-read it slowly to take it all in. Thanks.
Darren Hind
3 Posted 26/03/2015 at 19:32:08
As Tony says, Remarkable Lady.

I bet you couldn't wait to get this article out, Lyndon.

You've made my day!

Kevin Elliott
4 Posted 26/03/2015 at 19:02:19
Really enjoyed reading that, and the cartoons are fantastic. Especially the one where our beloved manager is picking the positions out of the bowl. Good stuff.
Harold Matthews
5 Posted 26/03/2015 at 19:38:21
Great stuff.
Andy Crooks
6 Posted 26/03/2015 at 19:22:38
Congratulations, Lyndon, on a thoroughly entertaining piece. Great insights and some superb cartoons.

Steve Carse
7 Posted 26/03/2015 at 19:47:29
It's nothing but a disgrace that the club didn't acquire the France Collection in its entirety. The Board members helped but in money terms they gave so little.

I recall seeing Grantchester at one fundraising event. Christ, he could have purchased the whole collection with what he was carrying in his back pocket probably. Big Blue my arse. It was not a massive expense then, it would have been peanuts now given all the money in the game.

IF we ever build a new ground or revamped GP there must be a sizeable area given over to an Everton Museum.

Lyndon Lloyd
8 Posted 26/03/2015 at 19:53:08
Glad you enjoyed the piece, folks. None of the credit belongs to me, though – I'm just the conduit.

Darren: "I bet you couldnt wait to get this article out Lyndon."

Yeah, hopefully it'll provide a little levity while we contemplate the medium- to long-term future of our great club.

I'm just glad that we got to give a sneak peek at some of the "Evertoons" that David has commissioned. I've been privileged to see quite a few of them and they're great.

Ray Said
9 Posted 26/03/2015 at 20:05:26
What a great Lady! What a great couple and how lucky is the club to have them associated with it.
Colin Glassar
10 Posted 26/03/2015 at 21:05:09
Excellent article, well worth the read.
Tony Draper
11 Posted 26/03/2015 at 20:33:05
Breathtakingly honest and keen-eyed insight into Everton.
Sid Logan
12 Posted 26/03/2015 at 21:07:36
Lyndon, great article and how lovely to hear her comments – honest, topical and yet completely without malice.

A very enjoyable diversion to read and yet touching on many of the issues that are draining the joy out of our footballing lives at present.

I always believed the Holy Trinity was correctly described as Ball, Harvey and Kendall. Not sure why but that's the way I remember it. Whenever I hear their names, my memory goes back to one particular game that I see clearly in my mind's eye. It was the the season before we won the League Championship.

Can't remember who we were playing but our season tickets had been obtained for us by Jimmy Gabriel who lived in the same road as me in a club house Bobby Collins (great guy) had lived in before Jimmy and because he knew I was a blue – always went out of his way to talk to me. Jimmy was my mates brother-in-law. And sometimes he would take us to the game in his car.

We were moving are season tickets from Gwladys Street to the brilliant new stand - or so we thought. They were the worst season tickets I've ever had in my life - in the top corner of Goodison Road. At the press box end. The players looked like ants.

They were so bad that, today, If I want I want to know whether it's a full house days I look to see if all those seats are occupied it means. Because if they are it means it's a full house since as the worst seats in the ground they are the last to be sold.

Anyway I remember us attacking and the Holy Trinity were flicking the ball to each other like it was radio controlled. It was for me football at its very best and was a sheer joy to watch. I remember thinking – I was about 14 or 15 at the time – life can't get any better than this.

Andrew James
13 Posted 26/03/2015 at 21:41:15
Love the cartoons, especially the lottery one and the Moyes/Kenwright one. The attention to detail is really good.
Matt Geraghty
14 Posted 26/03/2015 at 22:03:28
That was a very good read, thanks.

ps: The cartoons by Pak are amazing. I have searched for him, but the link to his site doesn't work.

Does anyone know where I can buy them?

Paul Traill
15 Posted 26/03/2015 at 22:17:25
Nice one, Lyndon, that's an amazing article. Love some of the 'Evertoons' also. You can always rely on Elizabeth and David to bring some cheer in bleak times. Thank you.
Colin Grierson
16 Posted 26/03/2015 at 22:13:29
Thanks, Lyndon, a thoroughly enjoyable read. The Evertoons are great. I'd love to see the full collection. Much needed levity, as you say.
Paul Thompson
17 Posted 26/03/2015 at 23:21:51
That is one knowledgeable and insightful lady. Don't think I disagreed with any of her judgements. Any chance of a regular column?!
Michael Winstanley
18 Posted 26/03/2015 at 23:30:44
Thanks, Lyndon. A wonderful article and well done for being able to get it. As for the Evertoons - ... Number 21 Leon Osman.
Patrick Murphy
19 Posted 26/03/2015 at 23:51:17
Love the Evertoons, if the collection came out in book form I would buy a copy. Perhaps Everton should abandon the Golden Goal ticket or whatever it is these days and start Bobby's Big Lottery, if you can match six of the players in the team in the correct position on the field, you win a prize – good luck with that.
Peter Laing
20 Posted 27/03/2015 at 00:05:40
Howard, Alcaraz and Barry. The whole piece summed up in one sentence. Sat on the bench against Kiev – Robles, Stones and Besic, along with Garbutt who in his brief time this season has outperformed Baines. Roberto needs to swallow his pride and demonstrate a little mea culpa.
Jason Davenport
21 Posted 27/03/2015 at 01:01:11
A wonderful article, Lyndon, thanks so much. It reminded me why we are Evertonians – we have "class" which cannot be taught. You either have it or you don't.
Darryl Ritchie
22 Posted 27/03/2015 at 04:40:00
A very Blue Lady, giving very honest answers to very pertinent questions.

Elizabeth, I don't know if you follow TW, but I have to let you and David know that the "blue flu" that you infected me with, is still raging. It's chronic and incurable.

David, I don't think you will have to lock yourself in the bathroom this season, although it was a close thing for a while. Get well soon!

Eddie Dunn
23 Posted 27/03/2015 at 07:44:19
Thanks mate, I really enjoyed the whole piece. Marvellous!
Danny Kewley
24 Posted 27/03/2015 at 07:52:26
Lyndon, one of the best Everton articles I have read in years!

What a character Elizabeth France is, great sense of humour and spoke honestly on all things Everton.

The Evertoons were spot on!

Peter Mills
25 Posted 27/03/2015 at 07:51:03
Really excellent article, Lyndon – it's a pity you couldn't have done it a few weeks earlier, you could have passed it to the club for sending out with the season ticket renewal forms!

Respect to Lady Elizabeth and best wishes for a speedy recovery to Dr Everton.

John Hughes
26 Posted 27/03/2015 at 08:33:21
Great read, a true insight to all Evertonians. I also remember The Holy Trinity as Kendall, Harvey. Ball. I also think we were slow in not capitalising after Howard's popularity in the USA along with Landon Donovan (East Coast to West Coast and all in between)... perhaps Blood Brothers wasn't on Tour but that's another story!
Rick Tarleton
27 Posted 27/03/2015 at 09:31:48
Thanks for a marvellous read. Agree particularly in your assessment of our current keeper, never better than a good shot-stopper, he has never compared to Southall, West and Martyn and reminds me of Albert Dunlop in that he makes great saves and real schoolboy errors.
Jim Hardin
28 Posted 27/03/2015 at 14:35:51
Outstanding! The fishbowl team selection cartoon is my official favorite of all time – even beating Far Side cartoons. Thank you for making me laugh today!
Dave Abrahams
29 Posted 27/03/2015 at 16:47:27
Lady Elizabeth is a great Blue, proves it with every sentence she utters. I loved the way she described the late Jackie Hamilton's (Johnie Kearns) take on our ability to laugh at ourselves; we've certainly needed that ability this season.

Great article, Lyndon, get her back on as soon as possible.

Harold Matthews
30 Posted 27/03/2015 at 17:07:29
Jeeps, Just shows. I always thought everyone had it Harvey, Kendall and Ball. Can't say it any other way. Doesn't sound right.
Dave Abrahams
31 Posted 27/03/2015 at 17:50:57
Harold, that sounds right to me, I've always said that way, maybe because Colin was here first.
Ray Atherton
32 Posted 27/03/2015 at 17:18:34
One of the best reading of our beloved Blues. Elizabeth France appears to have a wonderful sense of humour.

I would love Martinez to read this, as I don't think he has grasped the true feelings of the Everton family.

Wishing a speedy recovery to Dr France.

Tony Hill
33 Posted 27/03/2015 at 18:08:04
A lovely article, thank you.

This woman has the grace and humour which are, or should be, at the heart of our club. I find her words deeply encouraging after such a poor season and when it is easy to give way to Sky-fuelled despair about the value of being a football supporter, in particular of Everton.

Eric Myles
34 Posted 28/03/2015 at 00:42:21
Steve #7, I recall that the good Dr. did not want the Club to own the collection; after all they were the ones that had binned a good portion of it.

He specifically set it up as a charitable trust so nobody could claim ownership of it and sell it off or break it up.

I also recall Grantchester putting up around 15% of the funds and the Club making it up to 50%?

Mike Price
35 Posted 28/03/2015 at 06:59:00
Great article and obviously true Blues that we can all respect and identify with.

I'm sure that the very diplomatic description of Howard is considerably more 'blue' in the privacy of their own home though. It certainly is in our house, and has been for a lot longer than just this year!

Tony Abrahams
36 Posted 28/03/2015 at 09:17:33
Lyndon, the time and effort you and Michael, put into running this site is unbelievable. Great read, and although she might be far away, Lady Elizabeth really does seem to have her finger on the pulse.

The title is brilliant, because of the interview, proving what they say about "Once you have been touched by Everton, it just never leaves you!"

John Keating
37 Posted 28/03/2015 at 12:46:59
Just to echo Tony, Thanks Lyndon and Micheal.
James Martin
38 Posted 28/03/2015 at 14:28:55
That is what Everton should be. Respect for its heritage, class in its actions, a social conscience for the community, but never forgetting that it belongs with the elite and that this should never be compromised.

Above all else, though, it is about respect for the fans. Too many of these have been missing in recent times.

John Keating
39 Posted 28/03/2015 at 14:41:54
James spot on, particularly your last sentence.
Jim Hourigan
40 Posted 28/03/2015 at 14:34:08
Fabulous read – and what an honest, formidable lady she must be.
Jay Harris
41 Posted 28/03/2015 at 18:49:51
Great article, Lyndon.

Thank you for that.

Doug Harris
42 Posted 28/03/2015 at 19:17:34
That goes down for me the most heartwarming and touching thread I have ever read about our club. Love it. Everton that!
Victor Jones
43 Posted 28/03/2015 at 20:28:41
Great article. Loved the Evertoons. Especially the one showing Martinez's team selection as a complete lottery. As for "the Holy Trinity", I always said Harvey, Kendall and Ball. No real reason. Just the way I thought it was meant to be said.

Very insightful comments about Howard, Alcaraz, and Barry. I think that every Everton supporter on the planet knows that Everton will win nothing with those three in the team. Nothing.

Howard was never a goalkeeper. Don't care what he did for America. He's made far too many blunders, all through his Everton career. Barry is far too slow. Games pass him buy. And he is stifled by always getting booked. Don't care about what he did last season. That is irrelevant. And Alcaraz is not even worth mentioning. He brings nothing to Everton. But we have a manager who see's things different. Here's hoping that, in the near future, someone at Everton has an Eureka moment, and those three players are shipped out, along with Martinez and his useless Wigan hanger-ons.

As I have said, that was a very good article. Really enjoyed reading it. Sorry for going of topic and having a pop at our resident genius. But does anybody really think that this clown will turn anything round next season? Does anyone think that he will guide Everton to silverware? He got lucky in the FA Cup. Lightning doesn't strike twice. Although I live in hope.

Victor Jones
44 Posted 29/03/2015 at 02:38:56
I know that the "Holy Trinity" was used to describe Harvey, Kendall and Ball. But I'm sure that I read somewhere that "the trinity", also was used to describe Best, Law and Charlton. I could be wrong on that. But if right, then DH copied Sir Matt Busby, who I believe coined that phrase first... I think.
Ian Jones
45 Posted 30/03/2015 at 07:40:22
Slightly off topic but if we decided to group the fans current favourite three, Howard, Alcaraz and Barry something on the lines of the 'Holy Trinity', I wonder what would it be. Something like 'Wholly Inadequate'. Perhaps a bit unfair as they have all had good moments this season but just not enough.
Mike Childs
46 Posted 30/03/2015 at 16:30:46
Simply excellent, thank you, Lyndon.
Ray Roche
47 Posted 30/03/2015 at 17:27:14
Victor, I've never heard of Best, Law and Charlton,or indeed, any other trio of players called The Holy Trinity apart from Kendall, Ball and Harvey. I think that one is definitely our own.
Ernie Baywood
48 Posted 02/04/2015 at 12:06:41
Someone should really update Wikipedia.

Melbourne Storm... Got to be kidding me!

Gerry Quinn
49 Posted 07/04/2015 at 19:33:12
My wife and I were in San Francisco last year and we were privileged to be invited along to the Grand Old Evening to join Dr David France and his lovely wife Elizabeth for dinner along with a few other terrific Evertonians.

The evening started off in the bar and loads of Toffee-nosed chatter. Eventually, I was introduced to this guy called 'Bob' and, because his face looked more than familiar, I asked him politely and nonchalantly if we'd met before. "No, don't think so," came the reply from 'Bob'. It wasn't until we sat down to dinner that I suddenly became aware – FRIGHTENINGLY EMBARRASSED with myself - that our 'Bob' was, in fact, Everton's Chief Executive, commonly known to all and sundry as Robert Elstone! No wonder he looked familiar – ha!

PS – we actually met him again outside Goodison on my visit there last year for the Man Utd game and HE recognized ME. How could he forget? Anyway, I diverge – the Dinner Evening – and the purpose of my story.

I had always had so much true admiration for what our devoted Dr David has done, and continues to do, for the history of our football club. I wanted to take such a rare opportunity to explain something to him that has been haunting me for almost 30 years.

Towards the end of the dinner, when pudding spoons were in hand, I requested the good Doctor if he would object to me standing up to tell a little story that concerned him and his Collection. He agreed, but looked at me, looked at 'Bob' and then glanced towards Liz, giving each of us that "What the hell?" look!

Up I stood (thinking "Quinn, you and your big gob!" – Lyndon to my right, my wife Cathie and the now cheeky young Liz to my left, along with a much, much, much more familiar-faced 'Bob' opposite me next to a really tense looking Doctor. Nervous, but determined to let the Doctor know, off I rambled, tainted slightly with the Stella and the white wine (deliberately avoided ordering THAT other colour in the presence of HIM!)...

"There are two years embedded into an Evertonian's memory – 1878, of course, but also 1985 – not one of you present here tonight will argue with that. Which Evertonian could ever forget those days of '85? Well, I was probably the only Evertonian in the world who missed the lead up to and the glorious run-ins for our success in both the League Championship AND the European Cup Winners Cup? Oh, the joys that we all experienced in that too short a time period. Well, let me correct that – not experienced by me!

"Unfortunately I was serving in the Royal Navy on a Frigate just almost 8,000 miles away in the Falkland Islands – and in those days there was no Internet, there was no 'Live' TV, no nothing other than the Atlantic bloody Ocean and 'shitehawks' by the thousands. Not even an Argie to take the piss out of! All we had, thousands of miles away was a ship's radio – that played music, but only during the daylight hours! Yours truly found out that we had won each trophy by reading a print-out of the BBC News when they were sent a day after.

"However, not to feel left out, I asked my wife before I left the UK to video-tape as many matches as she could and then mail them to me... and yes, just over 17 days after our 'once-in-a-lifetime' (?) magnificent triumph in Rotterdam, I received the parcel with a video recording of the match. Brilliant, Cathie, love you so, so, so, so much – you're brilliant, girl – used her Dad's Recorder up in Glasgow...

"Once my Bridge Watch was over, now 17 days and 3 hours after the final whistle, I ran down to the TV Recorder with video-tape in hand, removed whatever crap was in there and pushed, and pushed – and better pushed. 

"WTF? The tape wouldn't go in at all!

"Not sure you are aware, but in those days, people who could afford it had VHS, and those who were less fortunate had BetaMax. Guess what the Navy could afford? And now guess who got their BetaMax machine off the back of a lorry? Boy, was I pissed – 17 frickin' days of drooling and anticipation... 

"What the hell has this got to do with Dr David France, you ask yourself? Well, I'm getting there.

"I sat down with the BetaMax tape in my hand – sitting right next to the VHS machine – feeling worse than if we had come runners up for both tournaments.

"I looked down at THAT BetaMax one more time.

"I went to my cabin – shoulders shaped like a Stella bottle.

"I put on my foul-weather jacket – shoulders still shaped like a Stella bottle in a 'coosie'!

"I walked out of cabin, up the stairs.

"Opened watertight door, and walked through hangar/helicopter onto the Helideck.

"One last look at THAT videotape.

"Pulled arm back.. and flung that F*****G Beta F******G Max as far as I F*****G could, shouting F**k Off.

(PS – didn't use that language at the dinner in front of everyone, but certainly DID at actual event)

"And so, to you, Dr David France, I apologize sincerely, as that is one item which is now 2 miles deep, that will NEVER, EVER be part of your Everton Collection! So bloody sorry!!!"

Gerry Quinn
50 Posted 07/04/2015 at 19:34:44
...and Liz and David, a beautiful and heartfelt thank you from Cathie and I – delightful company, sorry we never got the chance to say it in person.

Hope you stay healthy and happy, forever-ton!

Add Your Comments

In order to post a comment, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.

» Log in now

Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and Talking Points submissions across the site.

About these ads

, placement: 'Below Article Thumbnails', target_type: 'mix' });