Everton’s fans like myself have always suspected that the media have always been stringently anti-Everton.
Most fans today don’t seem to realise that League football first started in 1888 and not in 1992 as Sky Sports would like us to believe. Since 1888, Everton have played more games and spent more seasons in the top flight than any other club. They have won the league title nine times, four more than Chelsea and five more than Manchester City. In other countries, clubs with such a rich footballing history and tradition are rightly revered and treated with deference by the media. In Italy, Juventus are known affectionately as the “Old Lady”. But tradition counts for nothing in modern English football.
Everton do not reflect the image of a modern club that is so beloved of the media. Howard Webb, last season, referred to Goodison Park as the most intimidating ground to be a referee. It was so heartening to hear a top class referee acknowledge that the passionate Everton fan base can exert such pressure on a match official. What I love about visiting Everton is that I am not going to be surrounded by football tourists wielding their selfie sticks and sporting their fifty fifty scarves. I am in the company of real fans, most from the local area. We know our History and we are proud of it. It is a pity the coverage the BBC provides about Everton never seems to convey this.
The running order of Match of the Day has always been a mystery to most Evertonians. We have reluctantly come to the conclusion that even if Everton were to win 13-0 away at Chelsea, we would still would not be the first match shown. Saturday night was no exception. Every week, without fail we are the last or second last game to be shown, regardless of our performance. When in February, we beat Bournemouth six – three in a thriller at Goodison, we were still not the main game! Last Saturday, when only three games were played in the Premier League, we were still the last game shown, despite winning three- nil!
Yet again, despite a four- nil win, Everton slipped down to fourth spot in the running order. But Saturday’s Match of the Day was a landmark as punters and commentators alike plunged new depths in their lack of knowledge of all things Everton. The script had obviously been pre–written before a ball was kicked to reflect the focus of the commentary. Within a few minutes, we were hit with the strapline. “No crowd reaction as yet to Lukaku’s failure to sign a new contract ?” Except, there was a reaction from the crowd. A very positive one. But you would never have gleaned that from the commentator Steve Wilson as he chose to tow the party line and ignore it! In fact, from the minute Lukaku entered the pitch, he was cheered by all four sides of the stadium. He had his name chanted throughout the game and every supporter in blue got behind him. Why? Because, we actually agreed with what he said about the club. I know the BBC has gained a reputation in recent years for ignoring poor behaviour from fans, I didn’t realise that positive behaviour was now also not worthy of mention.
However, more was yet to come from Steve Wilson. Everton scored a well worked goal opening goal. But Steve had spotted something. Apparently Schneiderlin had pulled the shirt of Hull’s Hernandez at the start of the move and “seconds later” Everton had scored. I timed it. A total of thirty one seconds elapsed from the alleged foul to the ball being in the back of the net. I know from checking my son’s Maths homework that I will never understand this new -fangled Maths but I am still sure that thirty one seconds is more than a few seconds. Seems more like half a minute to me?
During my years spent in Education, the importance of undertaking thorough research and checking your facts was hammered home to me. Apparently, in the era of fake news such old fashioned qualities are now deemed to be expendable. To be a footballing researcher for Match of the Day nowadays, you only have to show a selfie of yourself wearing a fifty – fifty scarf to get the gig. So I sat stunned as Steve Wilson revealed his deep lack of football knowledge by stating that Enner Valencia scored his first goal for Everton against Tottenham last month. Probably got this drivel from Twitter. Enner scored his first Everton goal against Southampton on the second of January. He had actually scored his first goal, a whole two months before Steve Wilson claimed. I know. I was there. I guess the BBC has never heard of performance management reviews? Just not good enough. Channel Five football commentators are better informed.
The post-match summary was a masterclass of misinformation and omission. Everton’s first goal had been scored by Dominic Calvert-Lewin, 20, scoring his first ever Everton goal in only his second appearance. Young Dominic had probably asked his family to record this momentous occasion for him as a permanent reminder of his first Premier League goal. I wouldn’t have bothered Dominic. The pundits didn’t even discuss it. Two seasons ago, young Dominic was plying his trade for Stalybridge Celtic in the National League North, now here he is scoring on only his second full appearance in the Premier League. Last season, we had wall to wall coverage of Marcus Rashford suddenly bursting onto the Premier league scene. If Rashford had played for Everton, you would still not have heard of him.
Everton’s first goal was worthy of discussion for other reasons. Ross Barkley, 23, played a defence splitting pass to Tom Davies, 18, who played a perfect ball across the area for Dominic Calvert-Lewin, 20, to score. Three young English players proving themselves at the top level. At a time when the cocaine snorting, 27-year-old Jake Livermore was called up for the England squad, surely the emergence of particularly Davies and Calvert-Lewin was worthy of some discussion? Ross Barkley’s performances have been drawing rave reviews recently. His consistent displays since the start of the year have earned him a recall to the England squad. If you had watched Match of the Day, you would never know. Even stranger when you consider England are playing next weekend.
In December, I remember having to sit through hours of analysis on Match of the Day praising the free flowing scoring of Liverpool and the tactical genius of their manager Jurgen Klopp. Liverpool were a joy to watch, their football was mesmerising defences across the land and Liverpool were about to become the first ever team to win the Premier League in December. Plus, they were always the first or second game on Match of the Day. But when it comes to Everton? The average viewer might be unaware that since the start of 2017, Everton have played six home league games , scoring 3, 4, 6, 2, 3, 4 goals respectively and conceding 3. That is 22 goals in our last six home games. Worthy of some comment? Worthy of some discussion? Apparently not – because it is only “plucky little” Everton after all?
Match of the Day devoted a whole seven minutes of highlights to the Everton game. The same amount of time that was dedicated to that nail biting thriller of a match between Sunderland and Burnley. The Everton game had five minutes of post-match discussion, of which half was devoted to Lukaku’s failure to sign a new contract, rather than the game itself. No detailed discussion of Everton’s tactics or the impact the young players have made.
But then the coup de grace. The pundits agreed. Lukaku needs to move to a bigger club. Chelsea were mentioned, fair enough, but then Manchester United! A team, who at the time of broadcast, were below Everton in the league. Or maybe I am missing something here. Do “star” players now look at the clubs below them in the league before they consider their next move? Finally, and I had to check my calendar to make sure it was not the first of April, someone suggested Liverpool! There is more chance of Theresa May inviting Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond around to number ten for a menage a trois. So, let me get this right, there are no big clubs in Europe? Barcelona and Real Madrid rank below United and Liverpool in Shearer’s and Le Saux’s eyes?
Like most people, I pay my licence fee and in return I expect a quality provision from the BBC. I demand expert insight into football, I expect unbiased analysis of a club’s performance, I expect my team Everton to be treated fairly.
I noticed at the weekend that Spartak Moscow fans unveiled a huge banner mocking the BBC for their documentary on Russian Hooligans. Perhaps the next time the BBC cameras are at Goodison we need to do something to let the BBC know that we are Everton and we demand to be treated with respect by our national broadcaster.
Rumours are rife in the city that Everton will announce on Thursday that their new stadium will be constructed at the site of the former Bramley Moore Dock, on the banks of the Royal Blue Mersey. If the BBC wants continued access to Everton games, they need to get their act together.