I’ve been a supporter of Everton since I was about 5. My uncle and cousin took me to watch Everton away at Southampton, near where they live now. I can’t really remember the score but remember the atmosphere and have been an avid supporter ever since.
I’m not from Liverpool but when I had the chance I came to Liverpool John Moores. This was in 1997-1998, so after coming up for the open day my mum asked, “Are you sure you want to come here? It’s 4 hours away and you have never been to a big city.” My instant reaction: “Yes, 100%!” What I didn’t tell her was the 100% was purely to go and watch Everton. I didn’t care which Uni I was at as long as I got to watch Everton.
On the open day, I met Paul Clarke, a fellow Blue, from, believe it or not, Newcastle (I only say that as at this time I thought the whole of Newcastle only supported them) but, like me, he was a massive Blue as well so we clicked instantly. We arranged what day we were coming up which was the same Saturday in September and said we would meet in the halls that day as we were both getting up there early afternoon (I think his was an even longer trip about 8 hours on the coach).
I had a lift with my mum she dropped me at the halls and I took my few items and clothes in. Mum said: “Do you want us to stay and get you settled in?”
“I said no, I had to meet Paul as we had arranged to go to Goodison and get our very first season tickets. So off I went, said bye and that I’d see her at Christmas. From memory she was crying as I hadn’t been away from home. I was running out the door to meet Paul and make sure we got there before it closed.
We had a rough idea of where we were going before I had anything like a decent mobile to look at Google maps — how times have changed. So off we went. We were staying at Borden Court, I think. It was the big green building at the top of London Road, so we were about 3 miles from Goodison. Before too long we had found Anfield and knowing Goodison was only 400 yards away we were getting excited for our first sight of it.
We carried on walking for a bit and started thinking sure we have gone 400 yards and it must be round the next corner. Nope and we carried on a bit more. Two and a half miles later we finally saw Goodison. Going the right way for the 400 yards was the crucial bit here and in hindsight I wonder why we didn’t turn around. But, hey, we didn’t really mind as chatting away all things Everton passed the time and it didn’t really seem that long.
So, we get to Goodison and the ticket office, buy our season tickets (putting our student loans to good use already) — £110 as it was then for all 19 home games. Bargain, although I think we may have missed 1 or 2 before we got there but still good value — and duly went to find the nearest pub to celebrate.
Although we were pretty shocking that year I remember, I think, Mitch Ward trying to put the ball out and not reaching it; John Ostler with some horrendous shots, I assume at the goal, but I wasn’t ever really sure; Danny Williamson — same as John… in fact a lot of the side a lot like John; a dire 0-0 with Liverpool where before the game we were getting offered £150 each just for the tickets; turning that offer down and not getting drunk instead watching on Sky…
There were also some amazing moments. Being 2-0 up at home to Arsenal and, I think, it was Ball and Cadamarteri scoring and us drawing 2-2, me phoning my mate who I did play-by-mail with and saying how amazing they and in particular Ball were going to be. Damn injuries in Ball’s case and just damn Cadamarteri in his. The best of all: Coventry last game, scoring and feeling safe then, I think, Bolton conceding so feeling very safe, then Dublin scored a header with 10 to go and I think we then got a penalty and hit the post. So the joy of thinking this was it then feeling like the world is against you… I think Dublin may have had a header hit the post last minute from my angle looking in. Then we realised it wasn’t and then the whistle went with us knowing we were safe on goal difference, and only because the goal for Bolton when we drew 0-0 at their place wasn’t given but was over the line… phew! The pitch invasion ensued and me and Paul were loving it. What a day and season!
That season we travelled to about 10 away games as well. The most we could manage with Christmas and the cost as even then it was £40 or £50 for Chelsea. So we went to 2 different games instead for the same price.
We had a few scary moments as well, being not that clued up on bigger cities and especially best pubs to go in or the ones not to go in. We went to Elland Road and, as you do, went to the closest bar. We walked in and went to the bar, saw lots of Leeds fans, as you would expect, went to get a pint with our tops on and the landlady said: “You are brave coming in here with away tops on; we haven’t had an away fan for 2 years.” Paul and I looked at each other and turned around and were going for the door when a voice next to us said: “Don’t worry, boys, stay here. I’m buying you a pint.“
We were pretty shocked and didn’t really know what to do. The pint had been poured and he insisted we sat down… still shitting ourselves. We stayed and drank up as quickly as we could without making it obvious, but after a few minutes we settled in, got our man a drink back and stayed for another. Not wanting to push our luck, we left to find some Everton supporters in a different bar still in a bit of shock as didn’t think we were getting out of there at one point.
We also travelled to West Ham as we wanted to do a London trip as well, and in a way this one was a bit dodgier as we walked in to a bookies’ opposite the ground. (in East Ham, which we found strange, but it is London). So in the bookies’, we went to put a bet on Everton and first goal scorer. The whole place just stopped and stared at us. We just thought, place our bets quick and then leave as already we’d decided what we were doing (not that I can remember what it was now mind). We got to the counter and the lady then said once again: “You are brave coming in with those tops on,” and then, “You better get out I’m not serving you.” So we duly left and found another bookies.
We also had one bad experience in Liverpool when, after a home game, we walked back our usual way and 2 kids came up in Liverpool tops and started throwing a few insults at us and Everton, which we thought was a bit of banter so we started back. Then 3 more came out and 4 more. Soon there were about 30 kids in Liverpool tops taking the piss all, only about 12 or 13 but a lot of them. We decided to take the sensible approach and move a bit quicker within a minute or so most had then given up and we found a bar with some Everton fans in, so was all good in the end.
Sorry, that was completely off my topic. The original piece was purely going to be about what I wanted from our next manager so I started to think, how would I deal with the players, the fans etc? What would I want them to say and do while in charge so I started day dreaming at work.
My first thoughts were about what the fans want to hear and see from you and the interaction with them because if you get the fans onside and if things aren’t going well, they will back you to the hilt. So, first things first: do what others have said on here. If a player isn’t giving 100% in training to show me he is committed, then he doesn’t play. Tell him if he isn’t giving 100% on the pitch to show the fans he is committed, then he doesn’t play, whoever they are — 17 year old or alleged star player. They can train with the reserves until they do this.
I would also look to introduce more performance-related pay — play better, get paid more. Don’t play or play badly, get less but still get an amazing wage. Anyone who doesn’t want this can leave. No one is bigger than the club. (I completely understand that most players wouldn’t want this and it would be almost impossible to succeed with but I’d give it a go.)
The next bit I thought of was getting the fans onside from day one and saying I want what’s the best for you not — for me or the board because if you are happy then I’m going to be doing a good job and the board will be happy so they would at least in part look after themselves.
I’d be saying I want every fan to be behind the players 100%. No slagging off, no name-calling — get behind them. If they aren’t performing that’s what I’ll deal with. I’d want Goodison to be the bear pit it can be. I want songs, chants constant noise and encouragement. Go 1-0 down, get behind the team for them to come back. No insults or groans. Go 1-0 up and make even more noise to look for the second, make it the hardest ground to come to because of the fans who support the team.
I’d be explaining to the fans on a regular basis what I’m trying to implement without details of how but let them know what the team has been doing to improve each week, explain my formations and selections without helping the opposition as to why.
I’d have regular meetings with the fan base such as ToffeeWeb to give interviews and become part of the club and city, not just a figurehead in charge who isn’t immersed in all things Everton and the city. I’d make the players interact with the fans at events, sign autographs and appear at community events and make each of them give a day’s wages a month to projects in the city so fans can know they are giving back and hopefully they will support even more.
I’d be changing tactics if something isn’t working, have different styles of play for different teams and be proactive to situations not reactive when it’s too late. Not sitting on my hands in the dugout looking forlorn, and looking like I don’t know what to do.
I’d be giving youngsters a chance and having at least 2 on the bench each week and giving them minutes if we are 3-0 up or down as need to get the experience of both and how they affect you in different ways.
I’d talk to the press (apart from the Sun; no need to explain that I’m sure) and make them feel welcome to come to Goodison and show them what a great club this is, how we are different to the rest. I think this is crucial to getting our name out there more, rather than 3 lines on how bad we were/are or lucky if we win. I’d work out ways to get stories in papers about the great work we are doing and how we are building back up to a great club again, the great work EITC do and how are players and staff are helping support that.
Basically I want a manager who gives a shit like we do, be gutted if we lose and over the moon when we win, frustrated when things don’t go our way, but realistic and honest either way when dealing with the press not be bitter or demeaning, admit when they were better and not rubbing it in when we win, unless against them of course as that’s different.
Lastly, so you know I want to play fast attacking football i’d even consider 4-4-2 again as think it has its place at times or be 4-3-3 and really attack teams. I would be working in triangles and get them working daily in different groups so Digne, Bernard and CM, then same the other side with RB/RM/CM on best way of getting the ball forward. So working on runs to make where to put the ball in general, what do we do if they figure this out in the game, so working on two ways so then mix it up. I’d have two forward working with the attacking midfielder and wide men — so what runs they will make if in this position pass here or cross here, do I want it with my back to goal or runs in front if so how far/wide what run ill make after, who tracks back in different positions, ways of beating men or do I shoot first time.
I’d definitely be working on fitness and asking, is it a lack of this or lack of effort? I’d want us to be the fittest team in the league. I’m not saying the more you run the more you win but it helps and especially if you keep it up for 95 mins. Getting late winners or equalisers in the last min when other teams are tiring.
Zonal f - -ing marking wouldn’t even be mentioned. Our best defensive player against their best and so on, everyone knowing where each other is and when to go, when not to. Work on this a lot, then have different types of free-kicks and corners. Some knocked in, ways to lose your marker and block opposition fairly so still get given. Being inventive on all of this to try and gain even a 2% advantage, score more and concede less. I realise this is all basics and there’s far more to it than this but this would be my starting point.
I understand that many of these things may be hard or impossible as I’ve never been involved in running a football club apart from the local side I set up, “Appletree”, but don’t think that really counts and will probably get run down on each point by someone as is the way often on here but I wanted to put it out there. So I accept this and everyone may have a different point of view or way they would go; it’s all fine. Basically I want Everton back to they were when I started watching them, which I’m sure we all want and I appreciate there are many ways to skin a cat.
Evertonians are born not manufactured, those that know need no explanation those that don’t, don’t matter.
Thanks for reading if you did. Look forward to the comments if anyone wants to… COYB