Last year I ruined the beginning of a perfectly good holiday in the south of France by sitting in my rental car outside an Internet cafe stealing WiFi in order to listen to Everton against Queens Park Rangers. Full of expectation and excitement, about Everton’s season starting with a bang and Ross Barkley banging in goals at the start of the season, I sat with my ears glued to the Internet radio, glued with anticipation, glued because of melted ear phones, glued because of love.
I trudged home.
I definitely argued with my girlfriend, I very nearly cried.
This year however….. A new season and another chance for the Toffees. For a start I’d changed my pre-season training, I wasn’t in France. I was in my newly-opened local pub, listening to Z-Cars booming around Goodison Park hoping for a better start, again. Again. Again.
Despite my change in build-up, there were still the same old annoyances. Why must the media insist on forgetting that Everton FC exist? The top four has become the top eight in order to include a consistently faltering team in red from Merseyside and the new trendy teams in Newcastle and Finsbury Park — yet the team that has most regularly finished in that clique is never mentioned. This season was yet another example. We are the stealth team of L4.
Well this time it paid dividends. So involved were people in their discussions of Robin van Persie and the ’99-esque squad that Manchester United have assembled that they forgot about little old us. Little old us with our squad of talented internationals. Little old us with our team spirit and passion. Little old us with our track record and history. Well that didn’t work, did it?
After the Everton-Manchester United game, I left the pub so excited that I forgot everything I’d brought with me. After a five minute walk featuring some fist pumping and shouting, I turned round and casually strolled back into the pub. I got back to find it all still there and the score still up on the screen. It’d actually happened. We’d started playing like we can at the same time as everyone else (well actually Monday night, thanks Mr Murdoch; Revenue trumps tradition every time). We played with a game plan, we played with skill and we played one of the best teams in the world and won. Mitigating opposing-defense circumstances aside, obviously.
But still it comes as a surprise to people. Still we’ll get written off, still there’ll be surprise, still we’ll be last on Match Of The Day and still we’ll get called the ‘dogs of war’.
Well I’m a bit bored of it. I changed my pre-season and had my expectations exceeded. I hope that others can change their pre-conceptions and have their eyes opened.
The ‘dogs of war’ no more, the over-achieving underdogs no more — just Everton FC. Remember the name (you’d have thought being around for 134 years might help…) next time you talk about the teams at the top of the league.