Everton have achieved a lot. Since first emerging from a kickabout by the parishioners of St Domingo Methodist Church in the late 1870s, the club has amassed more stats and stories than you could probably contain within one book. But Everything You Wanted to Know About Everton (But Were Afraid to Ask), my new book released this week, gives it a go.

Within the pages of this miscellany (of sorts) is pretty much everything you could probably need to understand about our great club, the highs, the lows, the ‘good times’, the Mike Walker times.

To whet your appetite, and hopefully drum up enough sales to keep me in biscuits for months, here are a few excerpts from the book…

Some Everton Sayings

'Come on Everton, these are shite' – A claim applied to the opposition that spans the entirety of football, from the depths of the English pyramid to the heights of the European elite.

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'Everton That' – A lament applicable to any instance where Everton have, in standard fashion, managed to balls things up or suffered seemingly unlikely, yet somehow predictable misfortune. This can be both on and off the pitch.

'Here Comes Everton' – Commonly appears when the Blues are due to face a forward experiencing a lengthy goal drought or a team on a significant losing streak.

'We're dropping' – Usually uttered around five games into the season on those occasions Everton drop into the bottom six. Most commonly heard coming from the mouths of older Blues, those who still suffer from 1990s-induced PTSD.

'Booooooooooo' – Every set of fans boos its players. But nobody boos like Evertonians. Sometimes expanded to 'F**king Boooooooooo'.

1984-85 Title

It was the season that Evertonians had long been waiting for. But also one which at one point had seemed unlikely. It has been well documented how following the woes of the bleak mid-winter of 1983-84, with 'Kendall out' leaflets being distributed and the Blues being booed off following dispiriting draws against the likes of Coventry City, that the manager’s job was on the line. His two-and-a-half seasons in charge appeared to be going nowhere. But Howard Kendall had weathered the storm. And lucky for Everton that he did.

Form began to improve as something appeared to click. Everton advanced up the table and reached two finals during the 1983-84 season, eventually claiming the FA Cup, the club's first piece of silverware since the 1970 League title.

In the following campaign, Kendall's men picked up from where they had left off. Decent form moved swiftly into the imperious. In early November, the Blues beat Leicester City to go top and never looked like relinquishing that hold. As a parade of pretenders attempted to hang on to Everton's coattails, Kendall's men powered through the season, dominating all who came before them.

'There was a sense of invincibility about that side', recalls captain, Kevin Ratcliffe. 'We never went out on the pitch thinking it was possible that we could lose.'

Southall, alert, impregnable and domineering underpinned it all, the base upon which it was built. In front of him, the defence of Ratcliffe, Mountfield, Stevens and Van den Hauwe was fast and resolute. Within the centre of midfield, Peter Reid's combative nature blended perfectly with Paul Bracewell's exquisite passing. Out wide, Sheedy and Steven provided limitless ammunition for the front line and chipped in with important goals too. And up top, Sharp and Gray worked together to produce one of the most effective and difficult-to-play-against-strike partnerships Goodison has ever seen.

And that was just the starting 11. There were others, like Adrian Heath, Kevin Richardson and Alan Harper who contributed too, particularly Heath, who scored 11 goals before suffering a serious injury in December 1984.

'We got on with each other on and off the pitch. And that was important. There was a great camaraderie in the dressing room. So you had a group of players, (including those who didn't always feature in the starting 11) who wanted to fight for each other and fight for the shirt. And when you have that, combined with quality, then you are always in with a chance', Graeme Sharp recalls.

Everton would become Champions at home against QPR in early May 1985, a 2-0 win sealing the title with five league games to spare. They ended that campaign on 90 points, 13 ahead of nearest rivals Liverpool, from whom they took the crown. It was a season for the ages, the greatest Everton team to ever grace the Goodison turf turning the title into a walk in the park.

Five Recent 'Everton That' Moments

Everton v Newcastle United – 21 January 2020

After a rare complete Everton performance, which had yielded two goals and the total neutralisation of Newcastle, the game edged into injury time. A win appeared guaranteed. So certain in fact, that a proportion of the crowd had nipped off early. Which is exactly when Everton decided to shit the bed and concede in the 94th and the 95th minute, snatching a draw from the jaws of victory.

The Origi Derby – 2 December 2018

It was the goal that confirmed there really is something supernatural taking place when Everton play Liverpool at Anfield. Van Dijk's aimless lump of a ball into the box in the dying seconds, which Pickford parried onto the bar, defied both logic and the laws of physics to land at the head of the 'Reds**te Niasse'. Everton lose the game 1-0.

Josh King – 23 October 2021

After playing for Everton for six months and barely featuring, let alone scoring, a fired-up Josh King takes to the Goodison turf to score a hat-trick for his new club Watford. He ended up playing an integral role in a match that saw Everton give away a 2-1 lead to eventually lose 5-2, with four of those goals coming in the last 15 minutes.

Usmanov

After years of Russian money poisoning British football and British society, Everton decide to park their morals and dine at the Devil's table. Via his useful stooge and bezzy mate, Farhad Moshiri, the club starts taking the Oligarch rouble of Alisher Usmanov. But importantly, Everton do so just as the good times are coming to an end. The war in Ukraine places sanctions on the Uzbek-Russian investing in the club, unspooling the financial plans of Moshiri/Usmanov and putting the Blues in a FFP black hole.

West Ham Shit Show – 5 March 2016

During the dying months of the Martinez era, fans were starting to realise no amount of the manager's positive vibes could paper over the deep fissures that had appeared, specifically defensively. In March 2016, West Ham came to Goodison. Everton, on the front foot, found themselves 2-0 up. With a penalty awarded on the 70-minute mark, they should've put the game to bed. But that's when everything began to unravel. First, Lukaku missed the penalty. Second, Martinez decided to bring on Oumar Niasse to shore things up. And third, West Ham scored three goals in 12 minutes to secure the win. Phenomenal.

Everton Mascots

Dixie

Back in the mid-1990s, when Peter Johnson came in as chairman, it was decided that Everton, a club whose commercial arm was run with the same energy as a charity shop in a fading seaside town, needed hauling into the age of modern football. Part of this revolution included the creation of a new mascot. The result was Dixie, a giant foam boy. If the idea was to tap into the family market that was growing in the game, the design choice was an interesting one. Dixie looked like a kind of homunculus Nicky Tilsley (Coronation Street circa 1981), possessed with soulless black eyes, a rictus grin, and an overall energy that could be best described as 'stabby'. He didn't last long.

Changy the Elephant

As part of Everton's sponsorship deal with Chang Beer in 2004, Goodison saw the arrival of a brand new mascot, Changy the Elephant. Whether having a mascot with an enormous trunk who also had a name synonymous with cocaine was necessarily a good idea when chasing that all-important family market, didn't seem to harm his popularity. Changy ended up becoming a well-loved addition to the Goodison backdrop, amongst young and old. It probably helped that he had two faces, a smiley one and an angry one, the former better suited to the kids, the latter more akin to the average adult Evertonian's standard match-day experience.

Mr Testicle

A special mention here to a fleeting presence that briefly graced Goodison during the Moyes era. Introduced to promote the Male Cancer Awareness Campaign, Mr Testicle was a giant pair of bollocks with a happy face. Imagine Ian Dowie on a bender and you get the rough idea. Mr Testicle briefly became famous in 2010 when John Terry refused to be pictured alongside him after Chelsea's game at Goodison, probably reasoning that two cocks in one photo would be more than the public could stomach.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Everton (But Were Afraid to Ask)
Paperback available here
Kindle version here


Reader Comments (14)

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Barry Rathbone
1 Posted 05/12/2023 at 21:56:33
Is the story about Everton doctoring the gate income to avoid tax in it?

I either dreamt the tale or read it in another Everton book years ago. The period I'm going to guesstimate was in the 20s or 30s.

Ian Bennett
2 Posted 05/12/2023 at 22:00:40
They were all at it. Saved paying over the VAT to HMRC, and bit of cash to avoid income tax & National Insurance contributions.
Jack Convery
3 Posted 06/12/2023 at 06:44:28
Love the Mr Testicle story. Though I don't remember Roger Hargreaves' ever writing a book about him !
Derek Thomas
4 Posted 06/12/2023 at 07:10:22
Barry @1; season70-71and onward...that new main stand had to be paid for...Allegedly.

The ground was 3/4s full, so mid 40ks at the end we were treated to; and today's attendance was 36,473.

Some weeks it was the only laugh we got.

Ajay Gopal
5 Posted 06/12/2023 at 07:24:05
This should be an enjoyable read! This wasn't available on the Amazon India website, but got it from the US website.

I must take issue with you, though on the 'West Ham Shit Show'. I always liked Martinez, so I will defend him here. You haven't given the full story of the match, I am afraid, so here is my (more complete?) version:

Lukaku scored the opener in the 13th minute. Then, in the 34th minute, Mirallas stupidly got sent off for a 2nd yellow foul. So, Everton leading 1-0 with 56 minutes left to play with 10 men. Then, Lennon scores a 2nd goal at the 56th minute to make it 2-0. Then comes the crucial turning point of the game. Everton get a penalty in the 70th minute, and if Lukaku had scored, it would have been 3-0 and even with 10 men, it would have been an unlikely turn around for West Ham. But Lukaku shoots weakly which their goal-keeper saves, and this fires up West Ham to try and get something from the game. Yes, a bad game to lose from 2-0 up at home, but you can hardly blame Martinez for the blunders committed by the 2 Belgians. Losing 2-3 playing with 10 men for a majority of the game is not the most shocking result.

Danny O’Neill
6 Posted 06/12/2023 at 07:55:05
A great trip down memory lane.

The planets aligned and I was lucky to witness the 80s. From the dark days of winter 83, the the euphoria of what happened next. Alongside the tales of the 60s, it's what keeps me going.

On "Everton That" moments. I have my own.

The Ian Rush Derby at Goodison. Still scarred. The 86 FA Cup Final. I was inconsolable. It took me weeks to get over that.

Tranmere humiliating us. The Wigan capitulation. That Semi-Final when we equally caved in when the game was there for the taking.

But let's finish on a positive. They've given me more happy memories and still do. Nothing beats being in the stadiums and amongst the atmosphere. That will never go away.

Final point on mascots. I'm not an advocate of these Disney like dressed up characters. To use the Scouse vernacular; it looks shite, is down right tacky and a Sky generated thing.

We have our own original mascots.

Brian Murray's brother John, who should be brought onto the pitch again.

And of course the Toffee Lady. We don't need gimmicks. We have tradition.

1878 Originals.

Steve Boardman
7 Posted 06/12/2023 at 09:57:41
Danny (6). in the same spirit, my Everton That moment was standing on the Kop with RS supporting school pals in the 70-71 season.

We went 2-0 up, looked comfortable and then inevitable happened and we lost 3-2. I think Heighway was their star? Some Toffewebbers with better memories can correct me?

For me that was the start of the slippery slope, before then I always expected us to beat them. That's now a distant memory.

In retrospect it must have been the last days of the 'Friendly Derby' and never felt worried being on the Kop and cheering on the blues

Dave Abrahams
8 Posted 06/12/2023 at 10:38:29
Steve (7), Yes you got that right, Heighway ran amok, John Hurst dived in at him instead of jockeying him on the touch line and he was away, don’t know if he scored or made a pass to someone else to score, Liverpool never looked back, waves of attacking moves and I think, not sure, Chris Lawler, the quiet assassin, scored the winner.

What a twat of a night I had in the Goblin after that match and the next day, don’t think I went on my usual bender that Sunday afternoon and night.

Barry Rathbone
9 Posted 06/12/2023 at 10:54:29
Ajay@5,

My brother from another mother.

Despite Martinez's record season unequalled before or since plus 2 cup semi-finals all on 5 bob and a packet of crisps (relatively speaking) he was another Allardyce and Benitez who never had a chance no matter what he did -"he relegated Wigan" y'know. (but don't mention the FA Cup).

He needed the Moshiri money but even then the cabal would have seen him off. His first season success was down to Moyes's remarkable defence according to them - talk about rewriting history.

Kim Vivian
10 Posted 06/12/2023 at 16:05:18
Looking forward to getting my (signed) copy of this for Christmas.
Stephen Vincent
12 Posted 06/12/2023 at 17:25:56
Barry #1,

Derek is correct: early '70s, I can remember standing on the Gwladys Street terrace singing 'There's more of us than that'.

My eldest daughter once applied to 'Jim'll fix it' to be the Toffee Lady, fortunately he didn't!!!!

My strangest mascot memory is going to Blackpool in the 60s (it may have been Joe Royle's debut). Blackpool's mascot was a large live duck whose feathers had been dyed tangerine.

Tony Abrahams
13 Posted 06/12/2023 at 18:18:39
I still shake my head at Barry R’s favourite manager bringing on Niasse to shore things up.
Mark Murphy
14 Posted 06/12/2023 at 19:02:17
At the Wolves away game last season, late on, a Wolves player shanked a ball high and wide into touch.

“Come on, Everton, these are shite!” I shouted, more in exasperation than anything.

“Shut up, you fucking nonce!” Shouted a very angry-looking individual with a lobotomy scar over his ear.

Still not sure why that made him so angry but he looked bloody furious!

Danny O’Neill
15 Posted 06/12/2023 at 19:15:40
Mark, as I said in my report on that Wolves match, I was resigned to the inevitable, but was told by the very studious supporter next to me looking at his watch that there were 30 seconds left.

Next thing I knew, the ball was in the net and the away section alongside the entirety of the side of pitch erupted.


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