The football world is full of rumours, isn’t it? In an era of fake news, false promises and Steve McClaren, you could easily be led to believe that what you see is what you get. After a rough night of questioning by Merseyside Police (during which a Belgian translator may or may not have had to be restrained after they accused him of being French) Romelu Lukaku confessed that he would not be signing a new contract with Everton, maybe.
The reason he was taken in for a bit of roughing up in the Z-Cars cells in downtown Newtown was because it had been alleged that he would be signing it, and most of the local scuffers – or at least those who weren’t at their GCSE German evening classes – were a bit upset that he hadn’t proceeded in a Goodison direction to do so yet.
Of course, this is football satire so nobody believes a word I say (Ross McCormack has the same problem, but that’s his own fault for being Ross McCormack) so it’s easier for me to look back into football history to see what might really have happened.
If I said ‘Rupel Boom’ many of you might have misread the first word as Rupert. Our minds play tricks on us and try to fill in or substitute missing letters.
Football managers do this all the time by trying to convince opposition managers and fans alike that, by substituting exciting, local youth products with players who possess endless and seemingly incomprehensible names, they are somehow modern, progressive and, well, good.
So, am I talking about ‘Rupert and the Nutwood Nail Bomb?’ Is this a modern reference to ‘Rupert and his Success on Social Media?’ Actually, no; Rupel Boom is the first side that Romelu played for in his native Belgium. You couldn’t make it up, could you?
If I were to mention Alex or William Ralph and say that they were among the greatest strikers Everton fans have ever seen, you might think I’d said Leicester City would one day reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Except that everything in the previous paragraph is true. Alex Young was also known as ‘Sandy’ back in the 1900s. He definitely did not appear in Grease but he is the club’s fourth highest scorer and scored the winner in the 1906 FA Cup Final against Newcastle United (no, Geordies losing cup finals is not a more recent phenomenon, known popularly as following the ‘Shearer’s Sheep’).
William Ralph Dean was also known in the 1930s as ‘Dixie.’ He became one of the greatest strikers the world of football had yet seen, despite starting off with Tranmere Rovers. When he signed for Everton it is suggested that he possibly hoped for an expected £3,000 signing-on fee which would have made the world of difference to his parents during these Depression years. He may, in the event, have received only £30 but, and (this is obviously the key bit) the Football Association thought it was fine and didn’t think it was right to intervene – they may even have discussed it over a couple of gins at a local football hotspot such as Henley.
Joe and Duncan were also fine strikers for Everton in the classic centre-forward mould. I don’t need to give you their surnames because Everton fans will fill in the blanks which, frankly, is always better than shooting blanks.
So, what it is with Romelu?
Farhad Moshiri (majority shareholder in both Everton and ‘The Gwladys Goldfish Bowl’ chippie in Litherland) is reassuringly positive, “No-one should worry, he’s our player,” which, to be fair, is a good spot.
Reassuringly negative, former spray tan salesman, Phil Neville, thinks that Everton can’t afford to lose Lukaku and is advocating an electronic tag as a helpful solution and one which might cost much less than, say, a big number with lots of noughts attached to it.
Maybe the truth is in the fact that Alex, William Ralph, Joe and Duncan all won things with Everton. Belgium is in Europe – even if Everton soon won’t be (apparently) – and Romelu might not be a fool to cry (sorry, that’s a Rolling Stones song) … a fool to believe that Ronald won’t run like the wind to join Barcelona in the summer.
If everyone else wants to play in Europe, then why shouldn’t Romelu? No weekly contract the size of Sefton Council’s annual budget – along with all the toffees you can eat and still beat Neville Southall in a sprint – is ever going to perhaps match that?