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Why I am an Evertonian
What is it about being an Evertonian? What sets us apart from that other lot?
WHY I AM AN EVERTONIAN
|Cyril Hughes, Boys Book of Socccer, 1970|
The point is that if you were born in Liverpool, as I was, you have to be
either an Evertonian or a Liverpudlian. There is no room in Scouseland for
dithery, sitting on the fence neutrals.
To put it in a nutshell, if you were born in Liverpool and your football education has been somewhat neglected, you are a Red; if your football education has been completed with honours, you are a Blue, a graduate of the School of Soccer Science at Goodison Park.
It is the existence of such great rivals "just across the park" that makes support of either club such a spirited affair.
Stories are told of young women from Evertonian families being forbiden to marry young men from Liverpudlian families, and vice-versa, on the grounds that such mixed marriages never work. Or the Liverpudlian headmaster who, every Monday morning, asks all the Evertonians in the school to put their hands up, and then canes them. (The point of that story, in case you don't get it, is that knowing the consequences, they still put their hands up)
Such stories are only slightly exagerrated, if at all.
This local football rivalry is a terribly serious business.
It is not so much the fact that Everton or Liverpool lose a match that upsets their fans -- it is the thought of the terrible ribbing that they can expect from the other lot during the coming week.
Naturally, therefore, the initial choice of the team to which one will be expected to give a lifetime's devotion is also a very serious matter. Where, that is, any choice exists. For many supporters of both teams the whole thing is decided by heredity.
Generation succeeds generation, with total predictability, as Evertonians or Liverpudlians, and any freakish departure from the true faith is dealt with by the influence of environment. Liverpudlians descends through the genes, like haemophilia, though with different symptoms (e.g. all Liverpudlians have red eyes), while their thoroughbred inheritance course through the veins of Evertonians like the blue blood of aristocracy.
I can claim to be a voluntary Evertonian, because despite heredity, I was lucky enough to be allowed some choice in the matter. Although a traditional Evertonian -- or rather, because of that -- my father was a fair-minded man, and he introduced me to professional football as a small boy by taking me on successive Saturdays to see first Everton, then Liverpool. Then he stood over me and asked me to choose my allegiance.
Unhesitantly I chose Everton, and I can still see my father's smile of pleasure and relief as he put the hammer down.
Thus began a long, hopeless and infinitely rewarding addiction of which I still show no signs of being cured. Indeed, this is the sort of addiction of which nobody wants to be cured.