Everton 2 - 0 Norwich CityMy first live game since Covid and out of bed at 5:30 am. A new puppy to sneak past as well as the 4-year-old. I thought I’d managed it but the pup started crying as soon as I closed the front door and poor old Jane had to get up too!
A quiet 45-minute drive to Taunton and the coach was waiting. So far, so good, but – to cut a long story short – we were presented with road closures on the M5, M6 and M57 and, because of the requirement for our driver to take a 45-minute break, I was forced to cancel my plan to meet up at the Royal Oak with Steve Vincent and his pals – apologies again Steve, I’ll do it next time!
At least the 45-minute break took place at a pub which seemed delighted at the sudden influx of 57 thirsty Everton fans and the San Miguel was very good. Traffic was heavy once we were back on the road with lorries everywhere. We drew up outside the ground at five to three and my troublesome calf muscle restricted me to a quick hobble to the Park End where the whistle went to start the game as I arrived at the turnstile.
The game itself? I was clearly watching a different one to most Toffeeweb posters as I thought we played very well. Our passing was the best I have seen in a long time – quick, incisive and to feet (ours not theirs!). Allan and Doucouré had a decent grip on midfield and the much-maligned Iwobi was doing quite well too though his final ball was suspect a couple of times.
I thought Digne was much improved while Godfrey is clearly still recovering. If he has actually had Covid, it might take him a while yet but, whatever the problem was with him, he is clearly below par at the moment. Keane was okay apart from a couple of loose passes and allowing one ball to drop over his head in typical fashion.
Gray? What a buy – he must be worth £30m if he can keep this going and Rafa has not had the credit he deserves for getting him and developing him.
Likewise Townsend, who I thought was top class, very determined and works himself into the ground while showing considerable leadership too. I feel sorry for Rondon – yes, he is a big lump of a player and lacks match sharpness, but he tried; I thought he held the ball up well and kept going.
There is of course no doubt that Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison will transform what is developing into a decent team and I would lay money on one of them being back for Old Trafford.
For me, the Man of the Match was Mina, who ran the back four (supported by a vocal Pickford); his passing was faultless all game and he got his body in the way of a number of goalbound shots or movements. He is developing into a top-class centre-half; if Ben can get back to full fitness, or if Branthwaite breaks through, we will have a very strong central defence.
Young Dobbin looked sharp when he came on and was comfortable with the sharp passing game we employed. It was by no means perfect but, if that’s what I wanted to see, I would follow Man City. As a passionate Blue for 59 years now, I want to see my team win, first and foremost. I then want to see a good goal to excite everyone and then some decent moves to get me off my seat.
Some passion from the team is good to see and Rafa has them “at it” from the opening whistle. This performance, especially missing some £160M or so of striking talent, was decent and I left feeling I had been entertained and that the slog since 5:30 am had been worthwhile.
The journey home was much better taking a different route and one of the lads on the coach had access to the Joshua fight with a very sharp picture. That performance was the let-down of the day, lacking punch, power and passion but I won’t go into that as this is a football site!
I got home at a quarter past midnight – a hell of a long day… but worth it.
A word for the West Country Blues who provided entertaining conversation, good alternative route planning and as always a pleasant and safe mode of transport to the game – the delays were no ones fault!
If anyone tries to excuse shortages of food and other stuff on a lack of lorries, tell them to drive the route we took on the way up – there were hundreds of them, and on a Saturday morning too!
Roll on Man Utd!!
Reader Comments (18)
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1 Posted 26/09/2021 at 15:26:29
The M5 near Worcester is nearly my second home so big respect for making the journey from the South-West enduring Midlands and Staffs traffic to reach Goodison – not the easiest journey.
Thank the lord we won – what a distance to ruminate over a loss!!
2 Posted 26/09/2021 at 15:35:24
Pickford: couple of decent saves and a much more solid presence, 7.
Godfrey: not yet fully fit, 6.
Digne: better but crossing still not great, 6.
Keane: scary when he allowed one to drop over him but solid, 6.
Mina: superb performance, 9.
Townsend: love his attitude and skill too, 8.
Allan: solid, good on the ball, and earned the penalty, 7.
Doucouré: outstanding game, must be allowed to attack, 8.
Gray: super player, defences must hate him, 7.
Iwobi: has his detractors(!!!!!) but I thought he did quite well, 7/.
Rondon: slow, lacks sharpness but clearly needs a lot of training to get fit, 6
Davies: chased around and nearly scored, 6
Dobbin: looked quite sharp and comfortable with quick passing to feet: 7
Gordon: one decent run and looked up for it, 7.
Doucouré took the Man of the Match award on the coach, getting 39 out of 57 votes!
3 Posted 26/09/2021 at 20:28:47
4 Posted 26/09/2021 at 21:03:03
I take my hat off to Dave and fans like him and realise how lucky I've been following Everton all my life and never living more than a 5-minute bus ride away, or a 15-minute walk away from Goodison Park.
5 Posted 26/09/2021 at 21:03:32
6 Posted 26/09/2021 at 22:44:40
What was it the Ginger wonder said "... once Everton has touched you nothing will be the same".
One da,y Dave, one day we will meet before the game. My kids are already saying I have to take the grandson before we move (the lad is less than 4½ at the moment so attention span will not be great!).
7 Posted 27/09/2021 at 04:06:34
A very enjoyable read, thanks.
8 Posted 27/09/2021 at 05:21:24
Glad you got to see a win.
9 Posted 27/09/2021 at 08:03:15
Your comment re your grandson's age struck a chord at the match at the weekend. I was sitting with my son who is now 32 and was telling my neighbour in the next seat, who was talking about his children attending, that my son's first game was the infamous Wimbledon game when he was circa 4½.
We had always told our kids not to stand on the furniture at home or when we were out; when the 3rd goal went in and Goodson erupted, I ended up dancing on a seat about 3 rows from where I was sitting.
When I got back to my seat and the place had quietened down a bit, my son, who was still sitting on his, thankfully unharmed, was sitting with an angry face and proclaimed at the top of his voice “You told me not to stand on the chairs!” – to which the section of the Lower Bullens I was sitting in were in hysterics. Still makes me smile now.
10 Posted 27/09/2021 at 08:12:44
I just about made my train and got back to London in time to watch the last 4 rounds in the sports bar in Marylebone Station before heading off home. Long days, but worth it, right!!
Taunton, now you've invoked many a good memory having spent a few months there on a training course many years ago!
11 Posted 27/09/2021 at 08:21:20
12 Posted 27/09/2021 at 09:41:32
Which also applies to Mr Danny O'Neill's oft travels from the smoke, although I'm inclined to think this is more to get away from the dogs and to see how many pints in how many different places he can put away! – Sorry Danny!
Steve Wissett – great post!
13 Posted 27/09/2021 at 10:13:34
"Rondon: slow, lacks sharpness but clearly needs a lot of training to get fit, 6 Davies: chased around and nearly scored, 6"
Davies: chased around and nearly scored, 6"
Rondon at best, even given you liberal marking was a 3 or 4 – I reckon that's close to about 1 for each touch!
I think (certainly hope) that he's got it in him to improve markedly but, as someone said somewhere on a different thread, by the time he gets up to speed, Calvert-Lewin will likely be back so we'll not see much of the guy.
I do hope he can make it as a solid back-up but he must improve from what we're seeing so far.
14 Posted 27/09/2021 at 10:59:25
If I could take the dogs I would as it would get rid of the fuss they make when I get home sometime past midnight, before settling down on the couch with the two of them. Doesn't sound too bad, but they're Rhodesian Ridgebacks, so it doesn't leave for much space.
Still slept with a smile on my face though! As did they!!
15 Posted 27/09/2021 at 12:23:46
I was in a pretty happy mood when I did the ratings so fair point!
Sneaking in and out without disturbing two dogs is not easy, is it! Mine are much smaller than your two but they can really make a racket if disturbed!
Must sort something before we get too old!
16 Posted 27/09/2021 at 20:25:33
17 Posted 27/09/2021 at 20:54:18
Phil #6 thanks for letting us know what a distinguished alum Dave is! And keep those proprietary statistics coming, sir.
Steve #9, you gave me my first belly laugh of the week. Great story.
18 Posted 28/09/2021 at 10:36:50
Nice article and thank goodness you have managed to bring some humour and positivity into what was a dreadful travel day for the Westcountry Blues.
Whilst it was difficult, and we missed the start of the game and I failed to marry up with some people to get tickets to them the fact that there was a fatality on the M62 the night before adding to the problems sort of puts it into perspective.
I have contacted the coach company and we have set up a meeting in the near future to discuss the problems we are having this season.
It is absolutely all to do with driver availability it seems and the company who as a well established one simply cannot run their day to day business and fulfil weekend excursions with the limited driver pool they now have citing BREXIT and the Furlough scheme as reasons.
We will see what solutions we can find at our meeting that Ron and I shall attend.
For anybody reading this the Westcountry Blues Official Everton Supporters Club travelling regularly by executive coach to Goodison Park from the Westcountry on match days. Why not join us and experience the match day live…its far better than sitting at home and waiting for Match of the Day! The Westcountry Blues offer a friendly and ‘hassle free method of getting to Goodison Park. Why not sit back and relax, meet and catch up with friends on the coach.
For the journey to the match from the Westcountry we have 4 main pick up points at Taunton, Bristol, on the M5 motorway near Junction 13 and our final pick up point at Strensham Services.
Westcountry Blues members travel regularly from many parts of Avon, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire to these pick up points and the furthest season ticket holder land regular attendee lives 26 miles from Lands End!
You will see some of us at all away games of course and we have made lots of friends from all around the country sharing this passion we have.
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