I think it was Lord Byron who once famously said “The English winter – ending in July to recommence in August”. Most Everton fans now have a variation on this gloomy message, – “Everton’s hopes of a winning a trophy this season, starting in January and ending in the very same month.”
Most Everton fans grow up treating feelings of optimism with extreme caution. When we won the league both in 1914 and 1939, a World War broke out on each occasion and our best teams were decimated. However, many Evertonians do make the point that this means we have held the league title for longer than any other club in history! When we thrilled to Howard Kendall’s team winning the League Championship and European Cup Winners cup in 1985 and looked forward to an era of footballing domination, fate dealt us yet another cruel blow as English clubs were banned from Europe and the team gradually fell apart. Fate can be a cruel taskmaster.
So, last Saturday I entered Goodison Park, feeling optimistic that this was going to be our season to lift the F.A. Cup and finally nail that curse of not having won a single trophy for twenty one years. Everton, as per normal this season, did not turn up for the first half but that does not worry me unduly these days. The introduction of Gerard Deulofeu led to Everton taking the lead. Quickly, myself and several friends were checking Booking.Com on our smartphones to make our reservations for both the semi and the final itself. No sooner had I clicked PAY than Leicester had equalised and before my screen turned blank, Leicester had scored again and the Wembley trips were off and my credit cards had been debited.
Leaving the stadium my fifteen year son forlornly asked me “Dad – why did I have to be an Everton fan?” The guilt a parent feels on being asked this question is indescribable. Around me, I could hear several other distressed teenagers asking their parents the same question. In the United States, I am sure that some children would have taken their parents to court by now for having made them support Everton. When, I was in education, I came across many depressed and troubled teenagers. Only now do I remember that most of them were Everton fans.
Even worse, seated to my right was a young father who had brought his two year old son to his first Everton match. A treat not a punishment, he assured me. The young boy spent the whole match crying. I think he had quickly realised that a lifetime of suffering lay ahead of him.
For people of my generation, when away fans come to Goodison and chant “You’ll never win the league” we look bemused – don’t they know their history? But to the Sky TV generation Everton have achieved nothing. The truth hurts.
My son, like many of his friends, has never seen Everton lift a single trophy during his lifetime. In this he is not unique. Most Everton fans under the age of twenty five have no recollection of Everton having been a power in the game. My son is jealous of me, I have seen Everton win the league four times in my lifetime. He views his chances of doing so on a par with Jeremy Corbyn winning the next election and running off with Nicola Sturgeon. I can offer no words of consolation. The Everton motto “Nil Satis Nisi Optimum”- nothing but the best is good enough- should be withdrawn under the Trades Description Act.
We play Manchester City on Sunday at Goodison. For years Manchester City fans have suffered misfortune far worse than ours. We are still one of only two clubs who have remained in the top division continuously since 1954. But, ten years ago, who would have predicted the resurgence of Manchester City. Who would have thought they would pay us a total of £61 million pounds for Jack Rodwell and John Stones?
But twenty two years is an excessively long time for the new generation of Everton fans to wait for a trophy and something needs to change and quickly! If Manchester City can do it, then why can’t we?
Mr Moshiri and Mr Koeman – it is over to you!
Starting on Sunday, please.