Growing up surrounded by Evertonians Andy Robinson experienced the initial kinship of both supporting great sides which soon turned to envy as City slumped into lengthy doldrums. Meanwhile Everton won silverware aplenty. Now however the tables have turned and he’s noticed a shift in the attitude of his Bluenose mates towards both himself and his club.
While playing football in the street and on the school playground it didn’t take me long to realize that I was different. All the other kids were wearing red apart from me and another boy in blue, but his blue was a much deeper, darker shade than mine. His name was “Goose” and he was my first ever experience of Everton.
Brought up in a suburb of a rugby league town – half way between the two major cities of the north-west – is not ideal for a City fan. While the Manchester based City fans over the years have only had to deal with the scorn and abuse from United fans I was like Israel and surrounded on all fronts. “Armchairs”, “Dippers” and “Sockrobbers”.
The abuse at this time was one way. From the ages of 7 – 10 – between the years 1968 -72 – I had the glory years with Bell, Lee and Summerbee but yet this was the first time that Everton stuck a fly in my ointment. Somehow and from nowhere they managed to construct a side that actually went on to win the first division with a teenaged centre forward called Joe Royle and a manager Harry Catterick who, just like Joe Mercer, was a “Grandad” figure if ever there was one. Somewhere in Merseyside tomorrow at lunchtime in a boozer there will be a gang of old “Bluenoses” talking about the “School of Science” midfield of that great team. So let’s take a scientific approach to this itch that I am destined to keep on scratching.
If you’re a City fan you don’t ever want to go and research Everton’s roll of honours and compare it to ours like I’ve just done. If you were 14 when the “King of all Geordies” banged in the overhead kick in the 1976 League Cup Final it means you were pushing 50 this May as Yaya ended our long wait for a trophy. Not so for the “Grand old team” who enjoyed numerous visits to Wembley, a European trophy and two title winning sides. There’s even plenty of semi – final near-misses. I gave up counting at the end.
Hans Segers threw them a couple of goals and let’s face it an undeserved lifeline.
Next point, and this is a cracker this one – relegation. Six times City have been involved in a relegation fight and five times we have lost. By my account, Everton endured four and won the f***ing lot of them!! Including the infamous events of the Wimbledon game where the dodgy dealings of Hans Segers threw them a couple of goals and let’s face it an undeserved lifeline. Now that is a slice of luck of epic, Hollywood proportions. Blackburn hitting the post 23 times in the first half of our famous promotion game doesn’t even come close.
Moving on. Let’s have a look at managers and players. From the dismissal of Tony Book to the appointment of Joe Royle my God we had some bums. A “Time Machine” would have been nice and I would have liked to have put Walter Smith in the “Maine Road extremely hot seat” for all those years in between. Even the nasty, Fergie-clone they have now wouldn’t be a bad shout. As for the Kendall story – well documented, but I felt a great deal of indifference at the time and still do now. How can you have faith in a manager who picks Adrian Heath over Clive Allen? Whilst on the topic of rubbish players how come we always seem to come worse off when dealing with them as a club? They seem to get great players off us – Asa Hartford, Andy Hinchcliffe, the legend Paul Power; and in return we get Alan Harper and Wayne Clarke !! Even when we secure a good prospect we have to pay massively over the odds for him such as with Joleon Lescott.
Perhaps the wider truth in all this is that in my eyes Everton are finally beginning to take notice of me and they can’t stand me now. My opinion of them is built from the geography of my rugby league town mentality. I have never felt inferior to a United fan – ever. No matter what they win. Whereas the truth of the Everton supporter is that they have always felt inferior to their neighbouring rivals.
Please God, don’t let them slide down the leagues and have 27K for a league game at Goodison against Mansfield. Don’t take this off me as well.
Our new found wealth we know really hurts them but don’t I deserve it more for the 43 football supporting years I have put in? It really offends me that they begrudge me so much. They always considered me and City as an irrelevance…well not any more.
“Goose” from the start of the story left for America around the age of 12; but he has been cloned over the years with Howard from sixth form, and Kevin from St Benedicts Old Boys FC and my mate “Piss” and my shop steward Derrick and countless others and here is my darkest football secret just for them.
I am and always will be frightened of Everton and jealous of Everton. But right now as well as the MONEY (ha! Take that Mr Kenwright) – the one thing I have over them is “The Moral High Ground”. I was there in the dark days. I was in a crowd of 27K watching Dickov score a hat-trick against Lincoln. Please God, don’t let them slide down the leagues and have 27K for a league game at Goodison against Mansfield. Don’t take this off me as well.
It’s this “Bitterness” they now have for me and my club that’s my final reward, along with the cups and trophies that we are going to win from now on. Just like the chubby girl on a hen night they’re getting overlooked and left behind.
Anyway, on to Saturday; if I see that f***ing Aussie punch my corner flag one more time…