Why do we scream ourselves silly, be it in the stands, on the streets, at our screens, into our pillows? Why do we build ourselves up to get knocked down, and then do it all over again, week after week, dashed hopes after more dashed hopes? Why do we still wonder what happened to the Arteta money?
These are all fair questions. They aren’t really ones I’ve asked myself, and even if I did, I wouldn’t have an answer beyond “Everton – that’s why”. It’s a complicated relationship, the kind even a horde of Hollywood lawyers would struggle to unpick.
“Mr McCulloch, we noticed that, at 2:43 am on the night in question, you were watching a YouTube reel of, and I quote, “Steve Watson’s best bits”, before researching a hitherto unknown Danish winger that the club in question were tenuously linked to in the press. How do you respond?”
A shrug, a sympathetic look, “‘cos Everton”, I’d reply.
I’ve had conversations recently with folk who don’t share my love of the club, or football. I’m sure it comes from a place of kindness, or concern, as I mutter phrases like “Rodri handball” or “Leeds have a tough run-in”.
A misplaced analogy to my better half where I compared us getting relegated to her yoga studio being relocated to an industrial estate in Wigan, the nourish bowls nowhere to be seen, no sage, just a burning sense of injustice… well, it didn’t really hammer my point home. Namaste and all that.
Friends of mine who prefer other hobbies to the beautiful game seem similarly bemused. You might enjoy going to gigs, but do you spend Fridays lunchtimes – when you should be working – waiting for a press conference about a hang-nail injury the bassist has been carrying? Probably not.
Would you follow a band around the country for weeks knowing that sometimes they wouldn’t show up? Unless you’re still into Guns N’ Roses, probably not. So is that why we care? We’re invested because we’ve put the time in, done the hard yards, and we’re kidding ourselves about the good old days?
No, but there is something to be said for that emotional journey we all go on. “We never do things the easy way” is a common refrain, but those searing lows becoming highs do explain why we come back again and again. Football turns in an instant. It can be painful. You can find yourself appealing for a penalty at one end and then losing a man at the other.
It can also bring you ecstasy from the depths, a late winner, or maybe it’s where Pickford is doing that thing where he lies down on the ball for a bit. It can create instant pantomime villains but also brings us unexpected heroes. Myra the dog? Everton. Alex Iwobi? Everton. Fist bumpers at Finch Farm? Everton, Everton, Everton.
That collective spirit, that unity, that badge of honour is why we return, even when it hurts to do so. It’s the bonds it forges – be it the family who get us hooked in the first place or the new family we find as we all get bitten by the same bug.
My sister is expecting a baby in October - my own October birthday back in the day saw us humbled by Aston Villa 6-2. What was my dad thinking? And what will my sister’s new arrival have to suffer through?
It won’t matter though. Because we need someone else to get it. Whether it’s to console each other or jump around and forget everything except the noise, the lights, the Blues.
In the most recent, soul-searching, VAR-bashing, spirit-rallying edition of the ToffeeWeb podcast, the brilliant Paul Traill called it an addiction. And it really is that. And I don’t think it’s an unhealthy one.
Because, for all of those trying times that we’ve all no doubt felt this season and, let’s face it, many others, there is so much good that this club brings us. The new friends, old friends, work friends, that guy at the pub you run into, the people here on this site, spread across the globe, all sharing the same Spirit of the Blues.
Whatever happens tonight, whatever happens on Sunday, whatever happens in the years to come, we will continue to put ourselves through it. Because we would be lost without it and lost without each other. We have seen our stadium empty, our stadium turned as we watch the club we love being steered in the wrong direction, and we have seen our stadium a bouncing, blue-flare-bear-pit.
We will see that tonight and we will see it again and again with new friends, new family, new teams on the pitch and new managers in the dug-out, even in a new stadium. We will do it to ourselves because we have to, we need to, we were born, not manufactured, because we’re Everton. COYB.
Reader Comments (13)
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1 Posted 19/05/2022 at 15:38:56
Im early Ive decided to go and sit quietly in the midland, it just happened by chance, but Im picturing the time I first met a lot of great Evertonians, and Im sitting in the same corner, up those little stairs John Mc!
I went the toilet, I pictured Mike G, whom like every other Evertonian who cant be there in person tonight, will at least be there in spirit talking to that fella who joined us, but Im terrible with names.
You made me laugh thankfully Adam, because without the humour, Im certain that Danish winger was a cracker, and we would have all been finished years ago, and I just hope my mate is in the right spirits because hes one of the funniest people Ive ever met, when hes on form!
2 Posted 19/05/2022 at 15:46:01
3 Posted 19/05/2022 at 15:59:33
I'm in trouble tomorrow, but I'll take it.
I always get asked who do do I love the most.
I always diplomatically say that it's just different.
Everton is an unconditional part of my life.
I hope I'm on the 5:26am train from Lime Street with a huge smile on my face.
I hope that lady serves me a drink.
4 Posted 19/05/2022 at 16:05:44
I work from home. So far today I've called two wrong numbers and sent emails to two incorrect recipients. My brain is four thousand, six hundred and thirteen miles away. In my old seat in the Park End. Row EE, I believe.
5 Posted 19/05/2022 at 16:43:34
It was the day after my 80th birthday, also the day of the World Cup Final, Peter Mills and I were the first to arrive at 12 noon quickly followed by the rest, it's true to say that none of us was tempted to watch the TV coverage of the game.
Although I'm not supposed to drink, after 'one or two' bottles of Guinness, I staggered across the road with George at approximately 9pm, we all arrived as strangers and parted as friends, but isn't that what football is all about.
6 Posted 19/05/2022 at 16:49:06
7 Posted 19/05/2022 at 17:04:59
8 Posted 19/05/2022 at 17:23:03
9 Posted 19/05/2022 at 18:51:44
10 Posted 19/05/2022 at 19:13:22
11 Posted 20/05/2022 at 07:52:43
12 Posted 20/05/2022 at 09:41:03
13 Posted 20/05/2022 at 10:46:40
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