My Dad would approve

By Roy Johnstone 20/06/2016  0 Comments  [Jump to last]
Like a good many of us, my love of the blues was started and encouraged by going to the match with my dad. He was a lifelong fan who attended his first match in 1946. AJ, as he was called, attended regularly throughout the late forties (taking in the 1948 record attendance derby), the dire days of the fifties, up to the mid-1990s when his health started to deteriorate.

He started taking me with him in 1977-78. What followed in the next 16 or so years was a roller-coaster ride of brilliance and joy, and if I could go back to certain days for a moment, I wouldn't hesitate.

He was a big fan of Harry Catterick and the way he went about his business. Alan Ball was his hero of the time... "A genius" he called him. He loved Howard Kendall as a player and as a manager first time around. Never had time for Billy Bingham, or Gordon Lee from the moment he sold Duncan Mckenzie.

In short, he wasn't lacking a forthright opinion on any player or manager at the club. I remember his comment about Geoff Nulty: "If he was playing in my back garden, I would draw the curtains."

We went to over 300 games together in total, most at home, but a good few away games too. At my first, he jibbed me in to Ashton Gate in 1978 or 79 by squeezing me under the turnstile as he went in. We went to Villa Park and Elland Road for the 1980 FA Cup semi-finals. I'll never forget the 5 minutes of "Bobby Latchford walks on water" after we equalized at the replay, only for Beardy Lampard to send us home gutted after that.

Gillingham twice in '84, Wembley twice in '84, then the season in the sun, in which a very lucky me got to go to Bayern away, the Luton semi-final that we should have lost, Rotterdam and Wembley. He refused to go to Wembley in 86 (had a bad feeling about it – very superstitious man), so we shared that pain on our couch in Anfield.

I will cut to the chase now as I'm sure there are thousands of blues with similar tales. He was a pretty good judge of character, and called it right on each manager we had. He (like myself and many others) felt Moyes should have gone after the Liverpool FA Cup semi-final. He let the world know in no uncertain terms what he felt about Kenwright letting him stay for the last two games after his move to Manchester United was announced.

Although he was really ill during Martinez's first season, he clearly didn't fancy him. "Likes the sound of his own voice too much, that feller!"

As a businessman himself, he liked Everton to do their business in the Everton way. No fuss, just announcements when a deal was concluded. Let everyone speculate, but say nowt. I think he would be happy with: a) The choice of Koeman and b) How we have gone about it. He rated him as a player. We watched Euro 88 games together and he waxed lyrical about the way he brought the ball out and his no-nonsense defending. He also called him a dirty cheating bastard when Graham Taylor's team lost in Rotterdam, but added "we could do with one of those ourselves". As a manager, he appears to talk less and do more, which is a refreshing change for all of us.

My dad died in February 2014 on a Saturday around 4:55 pm. The general consensus of the family was that he was waiting for the football results before he went. It a shame he didn't live to see the Blues come out of their 'knives to a gunfight' stage. I am sure he would be as excited as me about what the future holds. As for Koeman, I think he would approve.

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