If life is an endless search for narrative, then supporting a football team is life. Actually, scrap that: supporting Everton FC is life. Football comes second to Everton, and in fact, often seems to run in a parallel universe to Football – that seems to be a world in which hopes, dreams and expectations are honoured on a cyclical basis. Everton, well they’re (we’re) something slightly different.
Cut to my dad here: “Son, they build you up to let you down”. And that truth hurts. If you sit in the Upper Bullens and you’ve heard that knobhead shouting “Let-downs… you bunch of let-downs” at least 10 times a season (this season, many times more), well, that’s me. And I shout that because they are, aren’t they? They’re a bunch of bloody let-downs.
And to move back to the search for narrative, well that’s all supporting Everton has ever really been for me. Rightly so, too. I was brought up on the story of the most beautiful narrative twist of all, that of the Kevin Brock backpass – the Act 3, Scene 5 of the first edition of The Reign of Howard Kendall. From which sparked the most glorious (albeit brief) period in our club’s history.
My formative years in The Family Enclosure gave me glimpses of what could be: could the return of Howard Kendall be the ‘turning point’? Could a glorious Mike Walker-inspired 6-2 victory over Swindon (remember that?) be the ‘turning point’? Could Limpar’s dive against Wimbledon be ‘the turning point’? Then a period of real hope (and silverware) that makes the mid-eighties glory look like an epic by comparison: Big Joe’s Royal Blue Army – Big Joe our saviour and Duncan and his “unplayableness”, and Unsy – the next captain of England, and signing Andrei and believing – really believing.
And then... nothing. And then, never quite in the same way as with Big Joe (but that could be to do with my age), David Moyes (when we all trusted him) and when he moved Mikel to the centre and gave him the Number 10 shirt and said stuff like “we can win the league”… and then we drew 1-1 at home with Wolves on the first day of the season.
So, finding that narrative... well, 20 years without a trophy proves that that’s not been possible. But we’ve always had the hope. Even given the very Everton way that Everton go about their business, there’s always been hope that things could be about to change. And that is why this season, bookended as it is right now by two 2-2 draws with Leicester City, is, without fear of using hyperbole, the single most miserable season I have experienced in my Everton supporting life.
The last couple of minutes of Saturday’s game encapsulated our season. An equaliser, a high, was followed almost immediately by a second Lukaku diving header that would have won it and – coming three days after a magnificent 4-1 victory in Europe, as it would have done – given us the turning point, the Kevin Brock moment in our season. Who knows where it would have ended, a late charge into the top half of the table, perhaps? And running around Warsaw with the cup.
Lukaku’s header was blocked, we failed to mount another attack and we played out the final minutes scrapping away Leicester corners. Now, it all feels a little late. It’s too late for a turning point in the league. And, I can’t see how we can do anything in Europe because, well, it’s illogical and does not fit any narrative.
So here we are, wondering where things stand with us and Roberto, hoping that we can sort things out but not truly believing that that’s possible. Where is it going to end for us?
If it’s the hope that kills you, that’s fine, give me some hope. Because one thing I’m sure of, it’s better than the limbo of 2014-15.
Reader Comments (40)
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1 Posted 25/02/2015 at 19:18:12
2 Posted 25/02/2015 at 19:39:17
As an aside, not sure if anyone knows this but if you open Google Earth and type ÂgobshiteÂ in, guess where it takes you. Very funny.
3 Posted 25/02/2015 at 20:30:17
A taxi for relegation Roberto is needed sooner rather than later, I donÂt think that I could stomach another season like this one (itÂs my 50th) I see no progress, quite the reverse both as a team and the players individually. Everything has gone backwards just like the passing on field.
4 Posted 25/02/2015 at 20:42:10
5 Posted 26/02/2015 at 05:54:49
Fans like you make me embarrassed to be a blue. So much for the twelve man. Next time you have the urge "support" the lads on the pitch, why don't you do them, us and yourself a favour and sit down and shut up.
6 Posted 26/02/2015 at 07:22:01
7 Posted 26/02/2015 at 07:52:57
8 Posted 26/02/2015 at 08:32:20
Are you the type who will put up with any old crap put before them? We all pay very good money and people vent their frustrations in different ways, it doesnt make you any better an Evertonian than Jack Garrett.
9 Posted 26/02/2015 at 08:28:33
Just witness Barkley's rabbit in the headlights performances at home if you don't believe me.
Plus, you would you rather sit behind, a guy who joins in with the singing or some bell end who keeps jumping up yelling "you've let me down."?
How dare I? How dare you, sir, how dare you? You've let me down with that post.
10 Posted 26/02/2015 at 08:34:01
If Jack spends money to go and watch a load of shite,then he is entitled to shout whatever he wants.
How much did it cost you to come and shout your mouth off on here?
11 Posted 26/02/2015 at 08:58:18
There is a poisonous atmosphere at Goodison and it's definitely affecting Barkley, so whilst I can understand people's frustration shouting abuse is surely counter productive.
12 Posted 26/02/2015 at 09:10:43
However, this season is the first in a while that we can talk about poor domestic form, and separate that from European form. Our results, and all round play, in the Europa League has been superb. In Europe we have been the Everton of 2013/14 - solid at the back, confident and lethal going forward.
The mystery is why Roberto can't translate European form into League form - but I for one am more than willing to give him next season to try. I really hope I don't have to eat my words but I just don't think we'll get relegated. We'll finish between 10th and 14th, five or six points safe. But we have a good chance of winning the Europa if we maintain our continental form.
If you'd offered me two options before the season began - either (i) 4th place, no cup runs or (ii) mid-table and a Cup win - I'd have taken option two in a heartbeat. And if that Cup can get us a CL place anyway? All the better.
It's still a long way off, and there are still quality teams in the competition we'll have to beat. But we need to get behind the team. I was at Goodison on Sunday and the atmosphere was toxic. It affects the players. Leicester's fans were excellent and kept singing even when they went one down - and lo and behold their team fought back and took the lead.
Let's get Goodison bouncing tonight. All for one and one for all, as the old song goes.
13 Posted 26/02/2015 at 08:56:03
Personally I haven't got time for these fans who are only interested in having a 'boss' time at the match and being some sort of boss fan. The game may as well not be going on, they just want to sing and drink and be happy regardless. That's fine, but when they start telling other fans how to be a supporter because they are in some way ruining their match day experience then that's not ok. Yeah Barkley looks a quivering wreck but that is because of his mentality, he has had years of adoration from the fans and still would if he was performing. They'd even cut him a break if he was putting maximum effort in but he was just in bad form. The truth is they are getting on his back because he is swanning around, carelessly giving the ball away, not tracking back, being lethargic and drifting through games. Maybe instead of playing the woe is me card he should be looking to have a go back at the fans by proving them wrong on the pitch. Contrast him to Cahill who was probably a technically inferior player who played in worse teams playing at times hopeless football but his own relentless passion, drive, sheer effort, and will to win used to take the fans with him and could turn football matches. Barkley isn't even putting in the effort part. If you want to wet nurse him out of this stage with a bit of TLC then fine, but he will never become a top player that way if he can only play when the fans are on his side. The best players are often born in a baptism of fire and thrive in it. Barkley has to start performing this isn't a nursery or a development programme, right now is the difference between whether he will become a top player or just another also ran. Even if he leaves Everton he won't be a top player if he can't perform under pressure.
14 Posted 26/02/2015 at 09:36:09
But there is something about our passage through the EL which gives me faint encouragement. We look like a different side. It would be a wonderful twist to this horrible season if we could do it in the EL, assuming we also stay in the PL, and I for one have not abandoned all hope. Why shouldn't the narrative turn in our favour?
15 Posted 26/02/2015 at 09:48:27
Sometimes it's better to bite your tongue than unload a torrent of abuse. But if you think paying for a ticket gives you the right to harangue people than fair enough. But don't be surprised when there's a few empty seats around you because people are getting as fed up with the atmosphere as they are with Martinez and his unfathomable decisions.
16 Posted 26/02/2015 at 10:15:33
In response, a local scribe opined that it was a very knowledgable crowd's reaction to having to watch dross .Nothing as changed apart from the faces.
17 Posted 26/02/2015 at 09:56:29
"You've let me down".
Quality. I wouldn't wanna be stuck behind that guy!
Goodison crowd has been awful for as long as I've supported Everton, even when things are going well. They wait for a goal, cheer, sit down, same half-hearted, intermittent chanting, clap at the end, then go home.
One of the worst set of home supporters I've experienced (and I've been to a lot of grounds).
18 Posted 26/02/2015 at 10:26:42
19 Posted 26/02/2015 at 10:30:11
20 Posted 26/02/2015 at 10:32:16
I don't agree at all that Everton's home crowd is poor just because they won't grin and clap like chimpanzees.
21 Posted 26/02/2015 at 10:46:58
it's not just at the ground the supporters F and C, boo and vent their frustrations.
When I've been away I've had to watch some games on the telly or laptop and they've had the same stick !!
Actually lost a Sony Vaio to a defensive fuck up - yet another defensive fuck up !
22 Posted 26/02/2015 at 10:45:16
23 Posted 26/02/2015 at 11:36:10
The fans are quicker to get on a players back than they are to get behind the team. The 'atmosphere' at Goodison is probably more daunting to the home players than the away team, to the extent that players are afraid to make a mistake.
Then people come on here and complain about lack of invention in final third.
How do a few thousand away fans consistently out-sing 35k Blues? Why can fans only get up for a few select fixtures each season?
Yes, I understand that not everyone wants to or is able to bounce and sing for 90mins, but I just find it all very grim and uninspiring.
That being said, I do enjoy away trips! Each to their own, I suppose...
24 Posted 26/02/2015 at 11:54:06
Just wait until we meet a team that has watched videos of how bottom of the league sides close us down and European games will be a tad different.
25 Posted 26/02/2015 at 11:13:17
Nothing to do with Jay Woods @ #7. Someone being a bit mischievious, methinks.
That said, I read and enjoyed Jack’s OP yesterday and could relate to his frustration.
Just the other day I posted my defence and support for match going blues who some (like John Gee, seemingly) criticize for the manner of their support. Some even go so far as saying the team’s poor form is principally due to the critical match going support - an opinion I personally find absurd.
As others point out in this thread, particularly James Martin, it’s a 2-way symbiotic relationship... and this season the team have given very little to the fans to cheer about.
Goodison has ALWAYS been a tough audience to please, but they are also very forgiving, very tolerant, if they see, at the very minimum, effort and application. And that particular ingredient has too often been lacking this season.
As I have said previously, I’m sure many of us sat at home watching a live transmission of a game, have expressed many an explosive, spontaneous expletive throughout this season as we witness another Groundhog Day performance with the team, individual players and the manager repeating the same errors and game plan over and over and over again.
How then can anybody realistically demand a different level of support by match going fans who have paid their hard-earned, possibly travelled huge distances and sacrificed time to attend?
To expect them to be stoic, silent Trappist monks, carefully reflecting on their chosen words before uttering anything, in the white heat and emotion of a live game in the stadium ... well, as I said previously, it’s absurd to make such demands.
Match going blues deserve our respect, not scorn, all the more so in a season such as this with so little to cheer in terms of performance or results.
26 Posted 26/02/2015 at 12:10:29
Because those 3,000 fans are all concentrated in one section of the away ground together but at Goodison they're intermingled with the 35,000
27 Posted 26/02/2015 at 12:20:10
How many false dawns have we had down the years?
I remember the season when we had Andy Johnson and we thumped the RS at home thinking our time had come. Similarly, when Jelavic signed and couldn't stop scoring. Being 1-0 up at half-time in the semi-final against the RS. Scoring after 30 seconds in a cup final. The Villareal comeback that never was. Wayne Rooney emerging. Big Dunc returning from Newcastle. Breaking the transfer record for Tony Cottee and him starting off with a hat-trick against Newcastle. Lineker etc. etc.
For the first time ever in my life, I'm bored with football. I play three times a week and love the game but I find Premier League football boring and predictable.
28 Posted 26/02/2015 at 12:31:54
We then have to accept Martinez's piece of nonsense about that players performance since he came back into the side, simply beyond belief.
29 Posted 26/02/2015 at 13:16:50
Others (particularly) have given great explanations as to why the crowd is so glum.
The fact remains that the atmosphere at Goodison is awful, and that makes me sad. I doubt it will ever change.
How about a singing section for Goodison? Get all the rowdy fans in one part of the stadium to make a good racket? I know the police would probably object on some stupid public safety reason, but Rangers and Celtic have done something similar, to good effect.
Just a thought...
30 Posted 26/02/2015 at 13:37:35
Twenty years of waiting to see a trophy will inevitably take its toll on supporters, also being very astute, most fans realise that Everton gaining CL qualification in any given season is more than likely beyond the club and its staff but the crowd is more than justified in giving stick to the players when it sees fit - it may not be productive in the long-term but at least it shows that they care about the club and its fortunes which is something that the players should be doing on their behalf out on the pitch.
31 Posted 26/02/2015 at 13:46:44
@ John Gee: My view is that supporting a team does not equate to endless toleration of poor form. That in turn means fans have every right to express discontent, either verbally or through abstinence from attendance until the malaise is being properly addressed. The problem with dutifully showing up and playing the cheery, clappy, grinning idiot is that it tells the club that we're just fine with mediocrity and endless failure, in which regard it undermines the team and the club's long term health.
32 Posted 26/02/2015 at 14:30:15
Also, if you think that there are only two choices and that a fan has to be either happy-clappy or (ahem) entitled to vent their frustrations (Oi, you fucking waster/You're shit you c**t/you're not fit to wear the shirt/you've let us down again) then maybe you need to look up bi-polar in the dictionary and ask a shrink to introduce you to other emotions.
33 Posted 26/02/2015 at 17:44:47
That all said, I don't condone expletive abuse directed at players. But by the same token, I'm not going to tell anyone to "sit down and shut up" as you, in your own words earlier, put it earlier. However, the players are paid absurd amounts of money to perform to a very high standard, so as supporters of the club we have the right to be critical of them (short of being abusive, obviously) when they consistently and collectively fail.
34 Posted 26/02/2015 at 18:34:59
35 Posted 26/02/2015 at 18:53:19
I just think of Barkley: born a blue, dream come true to play for the first team. How must it feel when he hears his tribe turn against him? I knew I'd be in a minority on this subject. People would rather moan than take their share of responsibility.
36 Posted 26/02/2015 at 18:57:25
Stick with us and a whole lifetime of disillusion awaits you - with the occasional happy day just to keep you hoping.
I'm a miserable bugger so being an Evertonian suits me just fine.
Apart from all that, I am not sure about the comments about GP. Don't visiting players describe it as an intimidating place to play at?
37 Posted 27/02/2015 at 15:33:56
Does it affect players? If it does to the extent that you are suggesting in the case of Barkley then I would suggest that the lad doesn't have what it takes to become a top player. But I don't think it does. What's more likely to impact upon him is the mass support he enjoys on the terraces. Or haven't you yet seen the videos of the half time scenes at Bern?
38 Posted 27/02/2015 at 15:42:56
Evertons is a man's home support. Grown up, experienced, knowledgeable, telling it like it is, appreciative of its players rather than routinely adoring, truly hostile when roused.
The ground has lost much of the intimidatory factor with its decline in capacity and loss of terracing. Some worthy initiatives such as the giving over of the length of the enclosure to youngsters and the incorporation of the disabled section into the church end of Gwladys St have been amongst other causes.
But the old place remains an absolutely unique place to watch - and, I'm sure, to play - your football.
39 Posted 27/02/2015 at 16:27:09
40 Posted 27/02/2015 at 17:09:53
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