Up at 5:30 am for my first live match since Palace and my main hope( apart from a win) was that the marvellous support from the crowd would be maintained. I met my old mate PC and we took our seats on a beast of a coach at Taunton. A 77-seat double decker at full capacity – great support and a fine job done by the West Country Blues committee in impeccable organisation throughout the day and evening.

PC was clearly in the mood for food – family size pork pie, two sausage rolls, chicken sandwiches, a fistful of scotch eggs, box of biscuits, crisps, two yoghurts and a large tub of prawn salad- the boy can eat!! We had a very good trip and arrived at 12:50 pm so plenty of time for a beer at the Royal Oak and the Clock then on to the ground with PC just about resisting a hot pie!

Having read about Dele Alli boarding a private jet for Turkey it was somewhat surprising to see him warming up with the rest of the squad – just shows you shouldn’t believe what is on social media about transfers.

I was pleased to see Rondon on the teamsheet ( I think he is a lot better than people seem to think) but disappointed that Onana was only on the bench. We kicked off in a swirling wind and, 2 minutes in, I realised that we had one of those dreadful loudmouths sat behind us. Tom played a pass back to a centre back and this bloke let rip. He didn’t stop abusing players for the whole game and his language was atrocious, completely disregarding the two young kids sat in front of him (maybe 8 years old). Why people pay £40 for a ticket to just spout abuse for 90 minutes is beyond me but I guess it’s always been that way.

We started well and kept it going for half an hour, when we took our foot off the gas and allowed Forest some harmless possession. By this time we could and should have been three goals up. Tom was playing well as defensive midfield and Alex was in excellent form. What Frank has done to him, heaven only knows but he now tackles and wins the ball, his workrate is phenomenal, epitomised by a seventy yard flat out sprint across the pitch to stop a Forest breakaway. He has fine pace and an ability to find space and play good constructive passes. We have saved ourselves a fortune here and he now looks good value for what we paid for him.

Apart from a few loose passes, the defence was comfortable with Coady bouncing around the back like a baby Beckenbauer, demanding the ball and playing it out constructively into midfield. He looks a fine acquisition.

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The much-maligned Rondon was doing okay, holding the ball up, pestering their back four and providing a reasonable focal point. I couldn’t understand why he is said to be not match fit as he hasn’t been injured, so what had been going on here? I thought we missed him when he was taken off. He will never be a first choice but he does a decent enough job. Tom was undeservedly taken off too, probably to give Onana a run-out but Tom had played very well and looked a good combination with Alex. Maybe Frank can work the same magic on Tom?

We definitely dropped our level of performance with the subs on. Onana dallied again in midfield as he had against Villa and lost the ball, rugby tackled the Forest player for a yellow card, and could easily have seen red later on. He clearly has something but needs to be allowed to get up to speed in this league – maybe, just maybe, Frank knows better than us supporters?

I need to see their goal again as my immediate reaction was that Pickford should have done better – he does seem to shovel the ball out to the opposition rather than either hold it (as all the great goalies of my youth used to do) or at least palm it away to safety.

The crowd had not reached anywhere near the heights of Brentford or Palace last season but the roof nearly came off with our equaliser. A great ball over the top by Pickford left Gray with a lot to do but he did it with some aplomb for a very much-needed equaliser.

A point was very welcome as was a goal scored by our player and I really enjoyed the game. Frank has quickened up our passing and this will improve again once we get a striker and a midfielder. My theory is that Frank has been told he can have Borja provided Chelsea get Aubameyang... let’s see.

We had a very good trip home, PC saved his sausage rolls for lunch today but scoffed everything else, and Jane booked the boxing so it was the ring walk as I arrived home.

A great day and thanks again to the West Country Blues.

My ratings:

Pickford 7 – decent enough  but maybe at fault for the goal but great ball to Gray

Patterson 7 – did  well and looks a very good young player to me

Mykolenko 6  solid but not much help going forward

Holgate 7  playing very well

Coady 8  a centre-back who is comfortable on the ball

Tarkowski 5  needs time I think to settle on the left

Davies 7  much maligned but this was a good performance, much improved

Iwobi 9  hard to believe he is the same player now. Cracking performance.

Gray 8  final pass was lacking but he was skipping past players with ease like he was this time last year. He has so much ability and just needs consistency.

Rondon 6  did the basics well and unlucky not to have scored when he rolled his man and hit a good shot just wide

Gordon 6  flatters to deceive. Worked hard, ran with great pace but no end product. He, Tom and Gray need to be taught how to shoot as they all tend to try to pass it into the net rather than welly it full blast. Only the natural strikers can stroke it home consistently. For £50M, I’d let him go.

Onana 6  needs time but so much potential

McNeil 5  another who needs time. Took dog's abuse from the idiot behind me but he is out of position in a team which is not yet sorted.

Dwight reminds me of a player in the seventies – John Connolly. He was bought for a big fee back then, £70-80k I think, as a left winger but was put straight into the team as a centre-forward. He was a similar build to McNeil, not tall, a bit scrawny and not blessed with great pace. He was totally out of his depth all game apart from one moment when he chased a ball to the left corner flag. He pirouetted on the ball and effortlessly beat two men and put in a wonderful cross but of course the centre-forward wasn’t there because he was crossing the ball!!

Next game, John was on the left wing and a totally different player who was a pleasure to watch until he had a bad leg break against Altrincham in an FA Cup tie and he was never the same again. McNeil looked good against Kyiv and needs to be judged once he has played a few games in his natural position.


Reader Comments (41)

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Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
1 Posted 21/08/2022 at 14:36:51
Apologies, Dave, the system ate your original title. Let me know what you wanted, and if anything else needs fixing.

Thanks for the report!

Danny O’Neill
2 Posted 21/08/2022 at 14:41:36
I got a call from Ian from the West Country Blues in the week, Dave, kindly seeing if he could help out with travel.

As it happened, I managed to navigate the country by trains, Uber and coaches, but the sentiment and offer was genuinely appreciated.

The effort you guys put in, week-in & week-out, is not lost. Respect.

Dave Abrahams
3 Posted 21/08/2022 at 16:30:18
Glad you had a good day with your mate following the Blues from afar. I enjoyed the game and thought we deserved to win, we had enough chances. As you say, we will get better when the newcomers eventually arrive.

I've said it a few times but you Everton fans never cease to amaze me with your support, up at the crack of dawn and home at all hours following a team that has given you very little in terms of silverware, over many years.

You really are the cream of our support, especially when I look at the way the day pans out for me on match days. I'm ready to go at 2:30 pm, my wife usually drops me off at the ground 5 minutes later and, after a chat to fellow Blues, I stroll in The Upper Bullens 5 minutes before the game starts.

After the game, my granddaughter picks me up at the Taxi Club, a 5-minute walk away from Goodison, and it's "Home, James" – a lot different to your efforts. Mind you, it wasn't the same sort of day when I was alive!!

Martin Mason
4 Posted 21/08/2022 at 16:35:56
Great supporters and a great report, very much my view of the game.
Tony Hill
5 Posted 21/08/2022 at 16:41:08
Yes, I echo Dave @3. Your group – and many others – are an absolute credit to the club. West Country Blues always seem particularly well set up.

I envy you your balance, Dave; I wish I could be so calm and resolutely optimistic.

These bulletins are great and it would be nice to hear from some of our other supporters' groups – Northern Ireland, the Republic, Wales, South Coast, Scandinavia, North America, Asia, Africa etc.

Brent Stephens
6 Posted 21/08/2022 at 16:48:20
Nice report, Dave. Not sure I'd want to meet PC in a dark alley, him equipped with all his pies etc.

Paul Jones
7 Posted 21/08/2022 at 16:53:49
Echoing what Brent said about your outstanding commitment, Dave.

2 gruelling coach rides in one day can't be easy. Especially when it sounds like PC needs 2 seats just for himself!

Peter Mills
8 Posted 21/08/2022 at 22:33:19
Dave, great effort, from someone who became very familiar with the M5 and M6 journey in the late 70s.

My favourite trip up that route, in a dilapidated van, was for the Andy King derby.

Mike Gaynes
9 Posted 21/08/2022 at 22:46:59
That's a fun report, Dave, thank you!

What did PC eat on the way home?

Dave Williams
10 Posted 21/08/2022 at 23:17:29
Mike- he scoffed half of it on the way up and the other half on the way back.
Oh, and he nicked a few of my crisps too!
Neil Copeland
11 Posted 21/08/2022 at 23:35:08
Dave, thanks. I really enjoyed your post and I saw the game pretty much the way you did too.

It takes a lot of dedication to put in those miles and organise the trips for every game. Full respect from me too.

Steve Daniells
12 Posted 21/08/2022 at 23:57:52
Dave, also saw the game the same way you did, albeit from a sofa in Chicago. Thanks for the report!
Kieran Kinsella
13 Posted 22/08/2022 at 00:51:41

Nice report mate. Pretty much how I saw it. I was a bit surprised to see Tarkowski struggle but as you say maybe it was being on the left.

Mike Gaynes
14 Posted 22/08/2022 at 05:05:30
Steve, you're in my old home town. Are you a member of the Chicago Evertonians of the AJ Hudson Tavern?
Duncan McDine
15 Posted 22/08/2022 at 08:23:57
This made for an enjoyable read, Dave.

I went regularly for a few years with the WCB, starting back in 97 when a fella from Yeovil called Pete Russell ran the club (anyone know what happened to him?) - he was quite a character.

Met some lovely people - Bill & Jackie, Ian and his son, the Maxwells, a guy that always wore a Hibbert shirt (don't know his name!) and many more.

They've obviously done well to fill a double-decker… back in my day, a minibus was often big enough apart from for the ‘big' games. I still see Bill and Jackie at the games, but your post has made me think that I should perhaps join up with the club again and make life easier (driving M5 &M6 has been a pain for many years).

I might even tempt my kids to join me. Looking forward to your next report, if only to see what PC stuffed his face with! 😆

Rob Halligan
16 Posted 22/08/2022 at 09:01:48
Duncan, if it's the same Bill and Jackie that I know, then odds are I've bumped into you.

I met Bill and Jackie years ago at an away game, and still see them at most away games and also sometimes in The Brick before home games.

Bill works in the crematorium down where they live, and Jackie is only small, about five feet, but boy can she neck some ale.

Dave Williams
17 Posted 22/08/2022 at 09:19:05
Duncan & Rob,

Yes that's the same Bill and Jackie and she hasn't grown! Nice people and stalwarts of West Country Blues. I well remember the days of no more than a dozen travelling in a coach owned by one of the members – Royal Blues Travel!

It's incredibly popular now and heaven knows what will happen if we start to play decent football and get into contention for a trophy!

Duncan McDine
18 Posted 22/08/2022 at 09:21:49
It certainly is the same couple Rob. They're awesome mate, and chances are I probably have bumped into you.

I generally get to away games much more often than home games these days but, back in the day, I was on that bus all the time. Many of those guys don't miss a game home or away, and haven't done for years… even before I had a family of my own, I never had that level of commitment!

From what I understand, you're one of those guys – fair play, mate.

Dave Abrahams
19 Posted 22/08/2022 at 10:39:41
Dave (17),

Out of interest, how many of those who travel with you on the coach are Liverpool or Merseyside born and brought up in our area, including your own story of following the Blues?

Dave Williams
20 Posted 22/08/2022 at 11:02:13
Dave #19,

Judging from the accents, I'd say most are local lads. The amazing bit is that there must be 40 or 50 who are season ticket holders!

My own story? Born just around the corner to the old Allinson nightclub and moved to the Wirral when I was 3. My cousin came over one Sunday and he had a glossy souvenir brochure about our title win, so it was the summer of 1963.

We played football in the garden – he was Roy Vernon and I was Alex Young – and it all started! My uncle had season tickets to entertain business colleagues and he took me and my cousin to the opening game of the next season which I think we lost 3-4 to a very good Burnley side boasting the likes of Lochhead and Pointer.

Over the years I spent 12 years in London, then 30 now in Devon, but my love for the club just gets even worse with time! I just cannot understand why some people either stop supporting or feel that they have to abuse players (unless they clearly are not trying) – for me, you support regardless because it's in your blood and you just can't help it.

Brian Murray
21 Posted 22/08/2022 at 11:08:56
Dave @17. One of my older brothers (Everton's first ever mascot, see ToffeeWeb archives) lives in Burnham-on-Sea.

While not quite well enough to go on the West Country Blues bus, we all chip in to get him to a game once a month or so. As you can imagine, he sticks out like a sore thumb in Burnham, being a scouser and very well liked in his locals.

Dave Abrahams
22 Posted 22/08/2022 at 12:05:15
Dave (20),

Thanks for your reply and your “My love for Everton just gets worse” sums up the way I continue to follow the Blues with never a thought about stopping.

I remember that loss 3-4 loss to Burnley, trying to think of the Irish international inside forward who played in that game, think his name was Hill, Catterick bought him after the title win, didn't pay a lot for him and he didn't last long at Goodison.

Chris Williams
23 Posted 22/08/2022 at 12:17:11

Jimmy Hill. Signed from Norwich?

Dave Abrahams
24 Posted 22/08/2022 at 12:26:41
Chris (23)

That's the man, honestly thought of “Jimmy” but dismissed it because of the famous Jimmy Hill who revolutionised the wage structure of professional footballers in the sixties and also became a football pundit on TV.

Thanks, Chris, I hope you are keeping well, you don't post as often as you used to.

Chris Williams
25 Posted 22/08/2022 at 12:34:42
Hi Dave,

So far so good, mate! I hope you're keeping okay too.

I was at that Burnley game too, with my old mate Steve. I think Jimmy scored. From memory, West and Labone had stinkers, and Blacklaw kept launching howitzers up towards our penalty area. Big lad, Adam Blacklaw.

No, I tend to give TW a bit of a miss these days.

Danny O’Neill
26 Posted 22/08/2022 at 12:35:26
It never gets worse, it just matures like a good blue wine Dave.

That's what I keep telling myself anyway, although they send me to the depths of despair on more than many occasions. But we can't deny it and can't stop. And when they do deliver, it's one of the best feelings in the world and why we do it.

I got asked why I bother yesterday. I didn't need to answer. My son, 27 years old (figure his Everton experience out), chipped in. He doesn't go because he thinks they"re going to win every match, he goes to follow and support was his response.

One day our reward will come. Reward for those who live in walking distance or a short drive. For those who get a local bus or train. For those who travel long days the length of the country and back. For those who watch and follow from afar but can't be there. For all of us.

We're all the same and want the same thing.

Dave Abrahams
27 Posted 22/08/2022 at 13:11:57
Chris (25), yes I’m keeping okay although the lockdowns and the virus have changed the way we usually lived our lives and not for the better.

I keeping that Burnley game was a night match but not sure that it was.

Danny yes we all the love the Blues no matter where we come from near or far but it’s definitely a lot easier for some fans, like myself, to get to the game and when the day finally comes when we win something I hope I haven’t forgot how to enjoy it, although that Crystal Palace game brought an incredible crescendo of joyful noise at the final whistle and for the rest of the night around Goodison Park!!

Brian Murray
28 Posted 22/08/2022 at 13:25:16
Dave, We was all there under false pretences and obviously I was relieved but it’s still disgusting the standards a lot of fans settle for never mind the board.
Danny O’Neill
29 Posted 22/08/2022 at 13:50:40
It makes you realise what it will be like when we win something Dave. Without wanting to change the good nature of this thread, I just hope the current Chairman isn't in his current position to witness and applaud it. He doesn't deserve it.

If he's as big a supporter as he suggests, he can come and sit with me and try to get a drink at half time on the cramped and overcrowded concourse!! I'll pay for his ticket.

Dave Abrahams
30 Posted 22/08/2022 at 13:55:07
Brian (28), No Brian I think we were all there to show how much we love and care about the club and it all helped in that game and a few previous games.

I doubt many, if any, are happy about the terrible plight the club is in but, yes sure, nowhere enough fans care or don’t want to see the back of Kenwright to do anything about it and if we get out of this predicament a lot will relax and wait for those “ good times “ to roll back again.

Steve Daniells
31 Posted 22/08/2022 at 14:41:42
Mike #14, I've been to AJ's a few times over the years, and I'm in the Chicago Evertonians FB group. I'm a Brit, moved to Chicago in 2013 and quickly found AJ's, and then we had kids and it just because trickier. Haven't been since before the pandemic.
Brian Murray
32 Posted 22/08/2022 at 14:43:13

If many or, as you say, any care about the club and getting to the next level, why was or is any protest quickly shot down and derided?

I have seen and heard with my own eyes every home match as soon as his name is brought up, the fans go quiet or put their head down and say what's the point of complaining?

Now that other loser is under pressure at West Ham, we will be hovering to get him if this 3 games turns into 5. Unless the dream team gets in there first (Dunc and Unsworth).

Nick Page puts it better than me.

Dave Abrahams
33 Posted 22/08/2022 at 15:07:17
Brian (32),

I don't know the reason but I have stated for a long time if you get 10 Evertonians in a room and ask them how they feel about Kenwright, at least six will say he is okay. You see it on ToffeeWeb, he has his supporters who try to defend his time as owner and chairman.

The tide seems to be slightly turning against him after last season and the slow start to this season but it will revert back again if things turn brighter again, which is obviously what we all want.

I agree with you Everton, would be a much better club and team if we had some professional business people running the club from the boardroom instead of the self-centred chairman and his hand-picked clique.

We can only hope and dream that becomes the reality as quickly as possible for the sake of the biggest asset the club has got — the fans spread far and wide.

Duncan McDine
34 Posted 22/08/2022 at 15:13:38
Dave Abrahams @19,

Most of us Evertonians down here in the West Country were born down here. A lot of us will have family that started supporting in the '50s and '60s onwards (my Dad is to blame in my case) but no link to Merseyside whatsoever.

You'd be astonished just how many Blues I know in my town… we're everywhere! We're still a massive club, and not just in L4… I'm dreaming of the day we start to play football like one!

Dave Abrahams
35 Posted 22/08/2022 at 15:39:45
Duncan (34),

Yes, I am astonished that a 72-seater double-decker bus was mostly filled with Everton supporters with no local links to the club, astonished and immensely proud that fans from so far away think so much of Everton Football Club. That is amazing and brilliant for me to read and I bet that applies to a lot of us local born fans.

As soon as I win the lottery, two state-of-the-art modern coaches will be sent down for the benefit of all of you wonderful fans!!

Martin Mason
36 Posted 22/08/2022 at 16:43:02
Brian @28

And what do you do to not accept the standards that you falsely claim that others do "accept"?

The answer, I believe, is that you complain on here and others don't do so as badly. Complaining on here doesn't change anything, to change anything, you need to be in a position of power at the club.

I'm sorry to break this but you're no different to any other fan in that you accept everything they do. My apologies if you actually do something that is different to those who offer different opinions which aren't necessarily accepting what is offered.

Some fans absolutely accept what is offered without condition. I've never met one but they are absolutely entitled to do that.

Brian Murray
37 Posted 22/08/2022 at 16:54:17

I'm no super fan, better or worse, and I care for the club like you. All I'm saying is that I came away from the last protest very deflated as the message didn't really get across.

You say only people in a position of power can change things. Well, Man Utd fans have the owners running scared, trying to finally appease them after fierce protests. A bigger example, them other shower actually achieved it.

There's no way they would have a fraud as owner or even a chairman. Same with Newcastle, albeit took longer. Admittedly maybe not now but not long ago, his face came on the big screen and got clapped by the fans and the Blue Union got shouted down.

I know it's a no-win because any upturn and he thrives and lives for another day. If we are on the brink, then maybe the pressure will mount but I'm a Blue so obviously don't want that.

John Raftery
38 Posted 22/08/2022 at 16:55:02
Dave (27) That 3-4 Burnley game was on a Saturday afternoon in September 1963. I remember listening to Bill Bothwell’s report on Sports Report. It was our first home defeat in two years. We were reigning champions but Burnley were a decent footballing team at the time. They led 1-4 at half-time. Shocking!

We had signed Jimmy Hill the month before as cover for Roy Vernon. I still have the Saturday Liverpool Echo with his photo on the front page and the headline ‘International Deputy’.

Martin Mason
40 Posted 22/08/2022 at 17:43:15
Brian@37 Sorry mate, I wasn't trying to be a dick but a lot here complain that others "accept" less than them. United fans are a massive force and have been fighting the owners for years even forming their own new club and it may be that it's the protests themselves that are dragging United down. I agree that there are things that we should protest about at Everton and that Kenwright is number 1 now but we have to remember that many fans support their club for what they are not what they could be in a perfect world. Thing is that we could be on an upward path now even with BK on the board. I'm sure you'll agree that as fans we've been instrumental in bringing down a lot of managers now and yet some may just have been given a longer chance. Anyway, you're a great supporter, never stop it but please pick the fights you can win.
Dave Abrahams
41 Posted 22/08/2022 at 18:13:36
John (38),

Thanks for that, I was at the game but couldn't make my mind up whether it was a night or day game, I think the European Cup game versus Inter Milan was around the same time.

Dan Saleh
42 Posted 30/08/2022 at 03:43:12
Hi all,

Sorry for the late addition to the forum but I too have fond memories of the WCB bus. Admittedly, it's been just under a decade since I last ventured but, from the age of 5 years old to my early teens, I was a regular attendee on the bus with my old man (Paul).

I met some amazing people, lifelong friends. Including memories of the aforementioned Jackie, Bill and the Maxwells. Especially Andy, or as I historically liked to call him, the handshake man.

Back then, Everton were in a lot less precarious situation... ahh, the David Moyes days. Utterly underappreciated at the time but what we would all do for that now, eh!

One of my most strong memories was being an all-around Everton fountain of knowledge, at age 7 or 8 years old, being quizzed by fellow WCBs about Everton's goalscorers and shirt numbers and being able to comfortably recite them from memory, much to the surprise of those around.

Also, coming home one day sitting round the dinner table and blurting out "Kopites are gobshites". My mum horrified and bemused, my Dad mesmerised and amused, "Paul, what are you teaching him!!!" my mum would exclaim. It was as all part of the Goodison experience growing up.

Oh, and how can I forget. Walking round the coach asking everyone for their MotM, only for the coach to come to a sudden hault and for me to near enough break my nose on the arm of a seat, the nostalgia. My mum was livid but the Toffees won so who cares!

In retrospect, being able to experience this was sensational. A privilege that not many people my age at the time would have had access to, and I am forever grateful my dad (a born and bread scouser btw) introduced me to this way of life and a football club that has become so influential in my life.

They say Evertonians are born and not manufactured but fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your perspective) I had it ingrained into me from a young age. Ketchup was even banned from our house growing up, purely due to its colour.

I hope Frank can go on to be the figurehead we as a fanbase deserve, and 27 years of hurt can eventually come to an end. Like I said at the beginning of this post, I have fond memories of the WCB and hopefully my Dad and I will be aboard again one day.

All the best.

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