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The Road from Rotterdam

By Larry Boner :  24/08/2009 :  Comments (45) :

It was almost 25 years ago that we took the long coach journey from Rotterdam back to Liverpool... to head then straight to Wembley for the Cup Final against Man Utd. The coach was alive with Evertonians bursting with pride for the Everton team who had just won the ECWC against Rapid Vienna, in one of the most complete football displays ever by an English team in Europe. We had found a common bond with the Rapid supporters, swapped scarves, etc and generally carried the reputation of our football club to a new level.

The discussions revolved around the game itself, Man Utd, the Super Cup (would it be Juve or Liverpool) but mainly Everton's chances in the following seasons European Cup. We had easily the best keeper in Europe, if not the world, a solid defence with plenty of pace, the best midfield four in Europe and two killer forwards in Gray and Sharp, with Heath to come back. The rumour was of a young fast forward joining called Lineker.

The Cup Final came and went in a blur, losing a tight game in extra time, disappointed we had not won the treble.... full of pride for the efforts of a clearly exhausted Everton.

A few days later, I found myself in a pub in Green Lane with a couple of mates and a room full of Liverpool supporters to watch the European Cup final against Juventus, eager to see what we would be up against next season. As I watched the tragedy unfold, I was disgusted by the fact that the game went ahead but, even more disgusted by the attitude of some of the people watching the game, laughing and joking as it became clear people had died.

I left the pub, leaving my mates behind and walked home through deserted streets reeling from the images of dead and dying men and children, little did I realise the profound and far reaching consequences the actions of these mindless hooligans and incompetent Uefa officials would have on Everton.

The headlines in the papers the following day were horrendous, with calls for Liverpool to be banned (I think they withdrew?) the ultimate hooligan Thatcher throwing her spin on the situation, then the thought that all English clubs could be banned from European competition for the foreseeable future.

Personally I was too upset with what I had witnessed to care about football and it was only after it became apparent that we would not be able to compete against Europe's best that the consequences sunk in.

The close season went in a flash, we duly signed Mr Lineker and we were arguably a stronger all round side, looking like winning the league and cup again, only to be foiled at the last by you know who. The following season, in spite of the loss of Lineker and a horrendous injury list post-Mexico, we managed again to win the League Championship, but no European Cup again.

Little did we realise this was to signal the demise of Everton as a power in English football; from that time to present day, we have won one FA Cup, watched the club battle against relegation, seen the ground fall into disrepair and the club lose all ambition after the Kings Dock fiasco. Our most famous days now included massive relegation battles, Wimbledon, Coventry etc.

We now find ourselves with a ground that was once the best in Britain, hosting a World Cup semi-final, left behind by the likes of previous shitholes like Anfield, Old Trafford, St James Park, Villa Park etc and a complete disregard for the history and tradition for this original Liverpool city team — founder member of the Football League — moving to a retail park in Kirkby.

Through all the above, I have remained loyal to the club, defending its honour against all comers, but I find now that the current Board of Directors has knocked the fight out of me. 50 years of support will not be transferred to Kirkby; my dad, who is 90 and a season ticket holder, was there when Dixie scored his 60th goal; my son, 16, my brothers have all sworn they will not go to Kirkby, but will support from afar. Every Evertonian I speak to says the same thing, we can take the lies, the defeats and the lack of progress, but we won't take capitulation.

The game I grew up with is not the game I watch now; every bum with the slightest connection to football earning a living throwing in their two pennyworth — I mean look at the Grobelaar advert ! How quickly things are forgotten.

The supporters are being fleeced by the authorities and the clubs; 25 years ago, all I needed was my season ticket money, a programme, and money for a pie! Everton and the rest of the clubs are earning unbelievable amounts of cash from every source but the managers, players and agents are basically taking it all. All clubs should be playing in state-of-the-art grounds paid for from these revenues... instead, Everton, as an example, still sell obstructed views... absolutely incredible.

I don’t see Everton coming back to where we were in 1985... or 1995 for that matter. There was a chance we could move on this season but we have the smallest squad in the Premier League, with no prospect of adding to it, in fact actually reducing it!

Ambition is not a word in the Everton dictionary.

Reader Comments

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Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
1   Posted 25/08/2009 at 03:49:55

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Poignant piece, Larry... and timely. Nice job. That is what I call real perspective. That, for me, is what Everton should be... but sadly is no longer.
John Maxwell
2   Posted 25/08/2009 at 04:45:17

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Blaming Liverpool for our demise is very wide of the mark.... ok there are many "what ifs" but is it all their fault ? Blaming Heysel is totally wrong... almost sick. Why does everything "Everton" have to be about Liverpool? I just dont get it..

The reason we didn't capitalise after our success was down to poor management and bad luck. I’m not blaming Colin Harvey in particular but he did sign Mike Milligan, Stephen Rehn and Ray Atteveld to name a few. We didn't build upon our success... Everton we up there in the late eighties, one of the big 5.

Where it all went wrong was nothing to do with Liverpool FC, we shot ourselves in the foot.
Dan Brierley
3   Posted 25/08/2009 at 04:23:47

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I do fully agree. As a club with so much history and heritage, we deserve better. Unfortunately, there is no recognition for past glory in today’s game. It gives you bragging rights in a pub, but ultimately it accounts for nothing regarding future direction of a football club. History cannot pay for our future.

I respect anybody’s decision not to go to Kirkby, it is after all a choice. For me, Kirkby is far from ideal. I would love nothing more than for EFC to remain at the current location for the lifetime of the club. Some of my life’s most fond memories are linked with that area. Feelings and emotions that I have never discovered in other aspects of life.

But the reality is this. Goodison Park is considered as unfeasable to regenerate, and based on what I have seen I agree with it. All other proposals have also been assessed as unfeasable. If they were possible, then it would be done. There is no question. The value of the club would increase a lot more by putting a new stadium on the exisiting site, or within the city boundary just on land value alone. The only reason I can see for the board wanting to move to Kirkby, is because it is the only thing that is actually viable.

My reason for supporting Kirkby is not based on blind faith in the board. It is simply because all the indicators point at our current Stadium as severly holding us back financially. We are being financially overtaken by other teams around us, that have better stadium’s. Man City’s average attendances rocketed from 36K at the final year of Maine Road, to 46K at Eastlands. Just because of a new stadium, and improved facilities. The same thing happened at Sunderland a few years before. The move from Roker Park to the Stadium of Light yielded an increase of 4-7K per week. Both of these clubs were struggling at the time, yet the improved facilities attracted more people. They certainly werent going there for the football on offer....

If some of our fans are unwilling to travel an extra 4 miles to watch their team, then so be it. But the idea of remaining at GP while our financial situation remains poor, and those teams around us grow and attract investment, does not seem like an option to me.
Dave Wilson
4   Posted 25/08/2009 at 06:39:13

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John, I don't see where Larry say it's ALL Liverpools fault, he’s all too aware of the mismanagement of our club too. To deny the European ban had anything to do with the demise of Everton is just stupid.

Dan, Still the half-baked stats? You forgot to mention that the Sunderland and City supporters were delighted with their new stadiums, they both stayed in their City and even then both played in front of thousands and thousands and thousands of empty seats, it was major investment which put quality players on the pitch, that increased their attendances.

Remember City BEFORE the investment ? and how many times has Sunderland's attendance nosedived at the SOL — usually because they had been relegated through having no money left for players. If your going to talk new stadium effect, balance it, talk about the overwhelming majority of clubs who have been relegated AFTER they moved?

And imagine asking Sunderlnad fans to move to Durham? Then you really would be able to make compare apples to apples.

You can sit in front of your PC forever compiling a million irrelevant stats, but nothing will stop the ever growing number of people who know the facts, seeing the proposed moved to a tiny town as complete lunacy.

Tony Kelly
5   Posted 25/08/2009 at 07:03:21

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Once again, apologist’s for Kirkby come on trying to justify this nonsense move. "It’s only 4 miles away from Goodison" I don’t know we’re your’e from Dan, but that 4 mile argument won't wash anymore. It is all about accesibillity to get to the Tescodome.

As I have mentioned on these pages before, the vast majority of Everton fans come from Liverpool, Wirral and North Wales. I live in Liverpool city centre, and I can assure you it will be quicker and easier to go to an away match at Villa Park, than to attend a home match at Kirkby. Surely this can’t be right?

Neil Pearse
6   Posted 25/08/2009 at 08:19:42

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Very fine piece Larry, thanks for that.

I think the very unpalatable truth is that it started to go all wrong for us with Heysel - Rotterdam was our high water mark as a club in modern times, and we have not got back to that level since. We are not a big club today in any sense beyond our history and our support.

We missed the boat at the start of the Prem, and above all financially we then missed the boat with the Champions League. As we see now, buying your way into the Champions League fortunes is a very expensive proposition indeed (Chelsea, Man City now, and even Tottenham giving it a try). Unless some rescuer suddenly appears, we are effectively out of that game (Moyes miracles notwithstanding).

It is to be indeed hoped that Platini or somebody will do something about the financially unstable world that is now football. (Joleon Lescott on £95,000 a week? Not even a first choice international! Maybe this one day will be written up as the final sign that football had gone truly mad.) I suspect it will take something like Liverpool not qualifying for the Champs League and getting into serious financial difficulty to prompt any meaningful change.

Kirkby is unfortunately a sign of how we have fallen from our status in 1985. As Dan says, everyone on this site would want something better. The question of course is what we can afford, and whether it is best to go for what we can afford now, or to sit and wait for that hoped for rescuer and something more expensive.

Of course, full circle the final coup de grace from Liverpool Football Club may well be their refusal to entertain the prospect of a groundshare. You might have thought they would realise that they owed us something after what happened at Heysel.
Chris Matheson
7   Posted 25/08/2009 at 08:40:29

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Larry this is a fantastic piece and as MK says, very poignant.

One factor that upsets me the most is that our board was very much the architect of our own demise in another way: John Maxwell is correct in that we were one of the Big 5 back then. But it was that big 5, and notably Everton Chairman "Sir" Philip Carter, who led the lobbying and the negotiations for a larger chunk of cash for 1st division sides. This settlelment lasted a couple of years before the Premier League breakaway took place, and this, along with the cartel that it the Champions League, has done more than anything to divide football and make it so money-centric.

It is a matter of shame to me that our club played a leading role in creating this division based on cash. And of the original Big 5, we are the ones who have suffered the most for this short term, myopic stupidity. In fact you could say we are the only ones who suffered.
Ciarán McGlone
8   Posted 25/08/2009 at 08:52:35

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Completely agree with John Maxwell...

I find it astonishing that Evertonians regularly criticise reds for being callous about Heysel - then reduce this human tragedy to the selfish notion of how it affected Everton.

Maybe it’s because I’m not a local -but our commitment to hating the other lot sometimes goes beyond the bounds of deceny. We’re better than that...or at least we should be.
Dan Brierley
9   Posted 25/08/2009 at 07:57:36

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Dave, you are right. These teams were not playing to packed houses once they moved as the teams were still not of a high quality. But their attendances still increased based on the new stadium and facilities. This proved that there are other fans who will go to the match, if the stadium offers the right facilities Even the relegated teams still got increased attendance. A new stadium doesnt make you play better football, thats for sure. But none of the relegated teams had a 3 time LMA winner as manager, and a decent first team if we are being honest.

And again, you are right that the attendances increased as the team was invested in. But the chicken didnt come before the egg. New Stadium first, then investment followed as they had a stadium capable of returning the investment. Only when we play the 1st match of the season, United or Liverpool does the ’obstructed view tickets only’ statement become disregarded by those wanting to go. Its no coincindence that our average attendance hovers around the level where the view is unobstructed.

But anyway, I know you are not arguing that we don’t need a new stadium. I think we all agree on that point. The difference of opinion is on if we hold out, will we get what we want. Which is a Stadium in the Liverpool boundary. This has already been reviewed by the club, and no site has been found that can be afforded. So the situation right now is: its Kirkby, or nothing. And by doing nothing, you have seen this summer first hand what finances are generated by Goodison Park. Last year, the club only broke even after a 5th place finish and a decent UEFA cup run. If you think that investors or buyers are queuing up to pump money into a business that performs like that, then I think you are sadly mistaken.
Dan Brierley
10   Posted 25/08/2009 at 09:27:53

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Ciaran, nobody is trying to say that Heysel was not a tragedy. Indeed, the real victims were those that lost loved ones that day.

However as the blame was officially directed by UEFA at Liverpool FC’s fans, it really does wind people up that we lost a chance to compete in the European with arguably one of the best Everton sides of all time. We effetively lost the chance of competing in the European Cup twice, and the Uefa and Cup Winners Cup once each. We might have lost all in the first round, who knows...

During the ban, we lost players like Mountfield, Heath, Gary Stevens, Reid, Trevor Steven, Bracewell, Psycho Pat and Lineker. Not to mention the Manager who assembled that side, Howard Kendall. It's all ifs and buts whether or not this superb side would have stayed together. Had Liverpool FC acknowledged their responsibility for their fans and made some kind of apology, then I think it wouldn't have been held with such bitter sentiment.

Personally, I think that team would have faired extremely well in Europe at the time.
Dave Wilson
11   Posted 25/08/2009 at 09:43:03

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Dan

Your problem is you get all your informaion from your PC. When you read that the Everton board consider GP as unfeesable to regenerate, you take that as fact, its not. Many qualified people have proved it, granted it would take longer, but it would cost less. The board however are bound — willingly I might add — to this ridiculous exclusivity agreement. Having no alternatives is not the same as not being prepared to look for alternatives.

DK may seem like a good idea when your based the other side of the world and only have the internet for information. Larry's story is a depressing one, but to the people here at the coalface it's an all to familiar one. Life-long Evertonians will refuse to go along with this betrayal. they will never be replaced.
Pablo Mc
12   Posted 25/08/2009 at 10:13:52

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I didn’t see the original post as blaming anyone, I read it as setting the scene in order to compare our hopes and expectations then to where we are now and what we have (or rather haven’t !) done since - and it certainly didn’t trivialise Heysel as anything less than the human tragedy it was.

The post to me just perfectly illustrates the way a lot of Evertonians feel - we’ve lost our way somewhere, we don’t feel that we "belong" the way that we did back then, it doesn’t feel like "our Club" any more, and clearly, for a lot of Evertonians, moving to Kirkby really would be the final straw - the final link between them and the Everton of 1985 would be broken.

The saddest thing is that I think if Bill Kenwright read that, the Evertonian in him would feel exactly the same way, it’s just that the Chairman in him has been convinced that it’s the only way forward.

My brother and I took my 4-year-old nephew (for his first ever visit) and my dad (for possibly his last ever visit) to Goodison Park for the Malaga game. My 7-year-old son has only been to a handful of games at Goodison, the most recent of which was the opening day of the season. As we went to take our seats and he saw the pitch and all the crowds again, his face lit up again and he said "I love it here dad — it feels like home and that we’re all one big family, doesn’t it?"

It’s not about 4 miles, it’s about years and years and years....
Phil Bellis
13   Posted 25/08/2009 at 10:24:05

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Ciarán
You can’t deny history and shouldn’t rewrit it
Heysel certainly was a human tragedy and it didn’t matter who caused it; the fact it involved Liverpool FC and they have never acknowledged nor accepted any blame is immaterial - as Dan says, the result for Everton was a ban from Europe, losing the chance to become a major European club and the subsequent loss of its manager and better players
Did you hear the (alleged) story about the overheard conversation between the LFC directors at a Littlewoods function shortly after the tragedy?
Neil Pearse
14   Posted 25/08/2009 at 10:31:37

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Dave, you are tireless on this, but I think it is totally unfair to tilt at Dan for taking his info from the PC.

The points about GP are that it will not cost much less than Kirkby to transform it (and transformation is what is needed); that time is money here, and so ’slower’ is not good - we need more revenues NOW; and that transforming GP is less likely to attract a new owner (if it was, one could have made a public bid already).

On other alternatives. Seriously Dave, just answer this: do you believe there is a site inside the city boundary where we could build a ground for less than £100M? Because that is all we can afford. If there isn’t, you don’t need a PC (or indeed Everton Football Club) to tell you that in reality we do not have any affordable alternatives right now.

As I say, I think sitting and hoping for a rich new owner to transform our position is a perfectly debateable strategy. I happen to think it’s a bit risky.
Neal Sutherland
15   Posted 25/08/2009 at 10:37:52

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A nice historical piece with a few decent points Larry, but to be honest I prefer to look back fondly on the past, rather than set it as a depressing benchmark.

After all, there are a couple of things to remember in football, nay, life itself....

1. Swings
2. Roundabouts

Back in the 1980s, Man U were happy enough to win a couple of FA Cups and the other reds were dominant at home and in Europe; Chelsea had Kerry Dixon and thats about it; Arsenal had a title coming but not much else.

Just look how it’s changed. But glory can’t last forever. Sure enough their places are cemented by the vicious circle that is 4 places in the Prem getting into the Champs League, but things will change again.

Maybe it will be our time soon, maybe we’ll have to wait a bit longer. Frustratingly close at the minute it has to be said, but I dont want to turn into that Blue club at Eastlands, or the Yank joke at the Reds, or Portsmouth for that matter. Careful what you wish for in takeovers is a must.

One major thing though Larry, where we were in 1995!? A dogged but fairly fortunate FA Cup Final win, and repeated relegation fights. Please, don’t go overboard on the romance with that one.
Dave Wilson
16   Posted 25/08/2009 at 10:57:51

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Neil

My intention wasnt to have a dig at Dan for getting his stuff from his PC the guy lives the other side of the world and while I disagree with just about everything he says on DK I have great admiration for him, having to chase information that readily available to us cant be fun.
My point is this : and it applies to you too, the only people who really count in this ground debate is the people who go now and the people who will go to the new stadium ( whatever or wherever that may be ) if you cant get there now, your unlikely to get there then, so when I hear of Evertonians like Larry say they will not go near the place, I think the people advocating DK as "our best option" would do well to stop and listen to him.

Without the Larry Boners the Evertons dont exist
John Barnes
17   Posted 25/08/2009 at 11:23:55

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Around the time of the post Heysel ban we had the choice of staying at the top in England by buying the best available, and paying top wages. But no. We acted as though the ban would last forever and cut our cloth accordingly( mediocre players mentioned in earlier posts) LFC, as much as I hate them, got it right and continued thinking as a big club and weren’t in too bad shape when the ban finally ended. You reap what you sow
Dave Wilson
18   Posted 25/08/2009 at 11:32:21

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And Neil

I’ve just about had enough of the way the Sky are able to alter the days times and dates of kick off.
They are totally unfair to me (a fan) which means to get to games, I have to be totally unfair to my emplyers and my nearest and dearest.
If I’m going to be totally honest, My last season as a ST holder may come before any ground move, so I cant say with 100% conviction that my own opinion counts.

I’ll have one of course, but I’ll accept, it doesnt count
Ciarán McGlone
19   Posted 25/08/2009 at 12:42:12

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Dave,

Unfortunately Sky keep us afloat!
Dan Brierley
20   Posted 25/08/2009 at 12:04:20

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Your right Dave, its the paying public that truly have the deciding factor. And I guess the question is, will enough people go to Kirkby to make it a success? A question that can only be answered if and when it opens.

But if the Stadium is a 100% certainty, I would expect investment to come in before it is even finished. On the basis that the team is ready for CL football when we move in. Whilst the Stadium alone wouldn’t justify filling it every week, the signing of top players playing attractive football certainly would. The board are surely aware of the amount of people against it. The same applies for potential buyers, they will also know that it is an unpopular move. Thats why I would expect the investment in the squad to happen long before the stadium is finished, this would sway a lot of people into continuing to follow EFC.

One thing I do not follow is, why the board would want to move to Kirkby, if they can redevelop Goodison for less money.
Ciarán McGlone
21   Posted 25/08/2009 at 13:14:24

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Thats why I would expect the investment in the squad to happen long before the stadium is finished
------------------

Dan,

You really are an optimistic little bunny...Good luck with that one..
Dave Wilson
22   Posted 25/08/2009 at 13:27:57

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Ciarán

of course your right, sky do keep us afloat and lets face it, to exiled fan or the neutral they are a Godsend, but they are no friend of the matchgoer.

Dan

I dont for one minute believe we can invest in a stadium and on the pitch, sorry mate, its either or, thats already been demonstrated elswhere and is the reason that they all - with the exception of Arsenal - have struggled to avoid relegation

Besides, as Ciaran points out, its the sky money that makes any real difference, not another 4-5 thousand 30 quids
Phil Bellis
23   Posted 25/08/2009 at 13:43:59

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Dan,
My big fear is that money which should have been invested in improving the team has been and is being ’slushed’ away to pay for Kirkby (whatever this week’s figure may be)
If Kirkby gets the nod and suddenly (Wow!) Bill finds millions down the back of the sofa, that’ll be QED, I rest my case, your honour and Kenwright convicted
Ciarán McGlone
24   Posted 25/08/2009 at 14:02:25

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Dave,

On more than one occasion I’ve had to abandon plans for ’getting over’ due to sky rearranging the kick offs..
Dave Wilson
25   Posted 25/08/2009 at 14:11:07

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Even worse for you guys who dont live here, to be honest I’d have quit going long ago if I had to book, planes/ trains/ boats/ accom etc
Its difficult enough getting time off
Carl Roper
26   Posted 25/08/2009 at 15:04:25

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Good article - although I’d never stop watching Everton. I support the team not the ground.

Rather than blaming Liverpool, its more help to compare us to them from about 1970.

We of course won the leage that year and they won nothing. But over the next 7 years they’d added 3(?) League Titles, a European Cup, 2 UEFA Cups and an FA Cup to their honours list. As for us, we only managed a couple of FA Cup Semi Final appearances (’71 and 77) and a League Cup Final.

Why did this happen? Well being football luck played a large part and Liverpool were also blessed with two of the most inspirational (Shankly) and gifted (Paisley) managers the game in this country has ever seen.



But I think that Liverpool were even more fortunate in the boardroom, John Smith the Chairman and Peter Robinson the Club Secretary, were great adminstrators and steady hands.

As for us, we had to cope with (following the departure of Sir John Moores) various Littlewoods salary men who had no real vision for the club. (Just what has Sir Phillip ever put into EFC to justify his ominipresence over the last 30 odd years?)

Whilst Liverpool built a team that conquered Europe, we built the Main Stand that had, well the 300 and 500 club. Liverpool’s assests were on the field and ours in the catering facilities.

Carter in many ways typified the complacency that infected the Goodison board room. Happy to stay in the (then) First Division but not really that bothered about challenging for honours and certainly not up to making the decisions that would keep/make Everton genuine contenders for honours.

After our golden period in the mid-80’s ended with the departure of Kendall (how on earth did we lose him to Athletic Bilbao?) the board reverted to type with series of lazy (Harvey) and flawed (Kendal’s return) managerial appointments.


Larry bemoans the current lack of ambition displayed by the present board but this is nothing compared to when the Dr David Marsh was at the helm. I recall how my heart sank when I read, in the aftermath of Blackburn’s purchase of both Chris Sutton and Alan Shearer, of him declaring that the days of Everton spending milions on players were over.
Phil Bellis
27   Posted 25/08/2009 at 15:50:02

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Carl,
Speaking from memory, just a few thoughts
post 1970 we...
had Wright, Newton, Ball, and Labone returning drained from Mexico
went crushingly out of 2 cup competitions in a few days, beaten by a weak Panathinaikos on away goals
lost Tommy Wright and Labone retired through injury
sold Bally for club profit
lost Catterick through ill-health
I’ve always felt that Harry lost his grip through his illness and the club lost the chance to forge a management dynasty
Brian Lawlor
28   Posted 25/08/2009 at 16:11:11

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Our demise from a major footballing force started directly from the European ban.

We lost our best players and our manger - FACT

The cause of the European ban, the heysel disaster - FACT

The cause of the heysel disaster, misbehaving Liverpool fans - FACT
Phil Bellis
29   Posted 25/08/2009 at 16:49:48

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Game, set and match to Mr Lawlor
Ciarán McGlone
30   Posted 25/08/2009 at 17:19:10

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Strange game.
Carl Roper
31   Posted 25/08/2009 at 17:21:21

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Not saying that Heysel wasnt a factor in ending mid80’s success, but the complete failure to ready the club for the Premier League and capitalise on the new money is more of a factor in where we are now.

Manchester United and Arsenal were all in a worse position than us around the time of Heysel but have prospered since.

Kendall didn't leave until two summers after Heysel — not sure if Brian forgets that we won the league again in 1987 and neither Dalglish, Ferguson or George Graham went abroad because of the ban. I might also add that, in leaving for Bilbao, HK was hardly guarenteeing a good go at the European Cup.
Brian Lawlor
32   Posted 25/08/2009 at 17:33:58

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Carl, Of course I remember. It was only the last time we won the league!!!

The ban was for 5 years. Kendall left after 2 years. What was his main motive for leaving? Do you remember?

He was frustrated with the European ban and wanted to manage in Europe — FACT!

A demise happens over a period of time. We also lost Stevens and Steven also to play in Europe with Rangers around the same time.

Not sure if you remember but United and Arsenal (it wasn’t till 1989 that they won the league) were pretty shit during the mid-80s whereas we were the best team so losing our players has a much more significant impact.
Larry Boner
33   Posted 25/08/2009 at 17:31:09

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When I wrote the article, I was trying to make the comparisons between the demise of Everton through no fault of theirs and the destruction of the hopes and aspirations of honest football supporters (like myself) by mindless fools and uncaring administrators, by the successive boards of Everton FC and the anihilation of football as a working class sport by Sky, FIFA, the FA etc.

At no time did I lay the blame at the door of Liverpool FC and its supporters, but with the lunatics who attach themselves to all sporting situations; however, I do feel that if it had been Everton playing Juve that night the tragedy would not have occurred.

Liverpool FC had attracted some very unsavoury elements due to their success in Europe and during that season had been involved in some serious incidents, some around Anfield itself. My reference to 1995 was to give a point of reference not to indicate this as a high point.

I did not write the article to depress people or myself, it was to align Everton's demise with the alienation of the traditional football supporter because of these circumstances. The game probably has never truly belonged to us, its supporters, but witness the 60,000 Singaporeans all wearing Liverpool shirts when Liverpool were on tour to see that even Liverpool FC does not need its core support... the game now is money.

James Boden
34   Posted 25/08/2009 at 21:11:56

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A sad article considering what the whole point of it is. And how anyone could criticise fellow Evertonians for blaming Heysel is beyond me. Sorry but this European ban had a terrible effect on us. Do you think Stevens and Steven would have gone to Scotland were it not for the ban? Do you think Lineker would have been sold to Barcelona were it not for the ban? Do you think Kendall would have left were it not for the ban? No to all 3.

Our players and managers had done such a marvellous job of getting to the European Cup and then these cunts robbed us. They also tarnished what should have been Juventus's finest hour. It was because of them that this ban was imposed. Because of them that the city of Liverpool received a bad name. English football receieved a bad name. This meant that clubs lost out on lost revenue not only through the European ban but also because of the television dispute on the back of Heysel.

I honestly believe the long term effect of Heysel was The Premier League. Money was thrown about to change football's image. And it is beyond obscene now. In short, the effect Liverpool supporters had on football should not be forgotten.

As for Carter being an influence in the breakaway from the Football League... well, do you really expect anything else from this shitbag?

Jason Broome
35   Posted 25/08/2009 at 23:13:46

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That was deep Larry. You really hit it home. That left me feeling like an ’old man’ street walker from an Alexander Millar painting. I remember those days well.

However, I feel that we created our own reality. We can blame-shift on Liverpool for losing our big name players to European football, but we failed to replace them. We also appointed the likable but ’soft’ Colin Harvey and failed to develop our youth back then.

However (unlike Leeds) we’re still here. Something has to go right eventually.
John Maxwell
36   Posted 25/08/2009 at 23:52:02

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Dan, regarding those players leaving, sure some left to play in Europe... but all great sides split up eventually... it's how you recover and build up another great team that matters, that's how you become a world renown club. Look at Liverpool, Man U and Arsenal in recent years, it's called "continuity"...

Lots of mistakes were made post Kendall... we should've built on our success after this period. Signings were made to replace those who had left but fell way short of the standards previously set.

We turned from League Champions from 1987 to relegation fodder in 1994, 7 seasons!!! That's not a long time. As long as Moyes has been our manager...

That's some major fucks-ups I’m afraid... All made by us.
David Johnson
37   Posted 26/08/2009 at 01:52:29

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Great article. Just a couple of points. Kendall thought he was getting El Tel’s job at Barca so had already given all his long pants and wooly jumpers to the Sally Army. El Tel was flavour of the month at the time and Howey wanted a bit of that. Reckon he was pissed off when it fell through and pissed when he accepted the Bilbao job.

As for the ban, those fucking clowns at Uefa and the British Govt needed shooting for banning some of the best behaved supporters in Europe and leaving badly behaved Juventus fans free to cause trouble. They fucking rioted at Heysel too. What were we guilty of besides being English?
Kenwright Out Now.

David Hallwood
38   Posted 26/08/2009 at 14:43:39

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Like everyone else I want to stay at Goodison park, but it isn’t feasible, but one thing that baffles me about the KEIOC brigade is their anomosity to Kirkby. The only reason why Kirkby isn’t in Liverpool is because of boundary changes. Prior to DK is always thought that people in Kirkby were scousers, I’ve never heard Alan Stubbs or John Conteh being referred to as anything else. But the craziest logic is the amount of people hostile to DK but wouldn’t mind a ground in Speke! Anyone that knows the history of the city will tell you that Kirkby & Speke were overspills of the city and are mirror images of each, and Speke like Kirkby is populated by scousers.
Karl Masters
39   Posted 26/08/2009 at 23:10:40

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Very perceptive, Carl Roper.

Everton’s demise began in the 70’s with poor leadership in the Boardroom. Very conservative as I recall.

To be fair they did continue to update the Stadium, but got complacent in the 80’s, only finally bothering with a roof on the Gwladys Street after winning 2 Championships.

No vision, no driving force pumping the Club on, the 90’s were even worse, as the Moores connection went forever in 1993and with that doughnut Chairman, Dr Marsh, the crap Park End also built for a net cost of about £500k.

PJ had it for a while, but fucked up allowing others to get too involved ( Cliff Finch trying to sign Nigel Martyn in a Hamper assembling warehouse??? ) and selling Ferguson was the stupidest thing he could ever have done.

Now we have the Fantasist with no money, just when we really need money, being puppeteered by a couple of Spurs fans looking to make a killing at Kirkby with a silent Director in Jon Woods and the cautious Philip Carter applying any bromide needed to stifle any adventurous thinking. And we have Elstone, a nice fella, but not a dynamic force and not a man with enough zeal and ambition to see beyond accepting 5th as being as good as it gets.

Really, it’s the Boardroom that’s let us down for a very long time.
Richard Watts
40   Posted 26/08/2009 at 23:17:57

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This is an article that shows real love for our club. All of us are angry at the start we’ve made to the season, the lack of signings and the lack of money from the board.

But let’s not let our anger make us loose perspective. We are much better team now than we were in 1995. The Dogs of War had a great cup run - as we did last season - but that’s all they had. They were a poorer group if players collectivly and indevidually than we have today. Their play resembled the School of Science even less that we do now.

The last three years have given us our highest consecutive finishes since 1988. The fact that, despite this, we are not challenging for the title says as much about modern football as it does about Everton.
Brendan McLaughlin
41   Posted 26/08/2009 at 23:26:55

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I have to concur with Carl as well. The big mistake we made after HK1 was appointing Colin Harvey to succeed him. Now I was only in my early-20’s but back then even I knew that appointing the No 2 to the position of manager very rarely worked. I mean at that point we must have had our choice of any manager within the British Isles and yet we went for the "soft option". Managers come and managers go: the European ban may have played a part in Kendall going but we fucked up the choice of his successor totally on our own.
John Smith
42   Posted 28/08/2009 at 10:03:33

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Good article, however I think far too many of us try and blame Liverpool for our decline, and the reason why, is that it’s the easy option to blame them. Liverpool contributed to our decline of course, but so did alot of things, not signing the right players in the years after the title win in 1987, Howard Kendall and co leaving etc etc.

I think alot of people forget the Heysel disaster was actually caused by Juventus fans and their actions leading up to the wall collapsing, if it hadn’t been for their ’Ultras’ spitting on younger Liverpool fans, throwing chairs and flares into the Liverpool section, then none of it would of happened, the Liverpool fans reacted in I’m pretty sure, the same way any set of English fans would react to that, and you can’t tell me we wouldn’t of done the same?

I do however understand it was downright unfair to ban every other English club, and despite Liverpool fans being provoked to cause what happened, I do think it should of just been Liverpool that were banned from Europe, but I suppose with everything else that had gone on in the past before Heysel, i.e. Birmingham v Leeds riot in 1985, United in the ECWC in 1984, they couldn’t take that chance.

Alot of people also forget that, Liverpool themselves could of went on and won a further two or three European Cups themselves, just like we had a brilliant squad at the time, so did Liverpool between 1988 and 1990.

Everton fans need to look at the wider picture when it comes to Heysel, we could of still been a successful side had things after Heysel been managed correctly, I mean, we still went on to win the championship two years after, so obviously Liverpool didn’t ruin us that much.

Poor judgement from the Everton board and mis-management in the years after Heysel were what really sent Everton into decline. Like someone else said above, we was one of the top three clubs in England between 1984 and 1989, so why did we go and appoint our assistant manager to become the first team manager? we really could of had the cream of Europe to manage us at that time, maybe things would of been alot different had we took our time to appoint a proper manager.
James Boden
43   Posted 28/08/2009 at 11:03:20

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John Smith while I agree we should have appointed someone astute to replace Kendall that fact of the matter is he never would have left but not for the european ban. In the long run Heysel ruined Everton Football Club. You see all that Kendall had done to build Everton up had been wiped away because of the supporters of Liverpool Football Club.

As for Juventus fans to blame, sorry that doesn’t wash with me. Didn’t Liverpool fans target Juve with endless gibes when Juve fans reacted in smiliar manner? Before Shite supporters decided to reacted in an unwelcome manner. Since then they have literally blamed it on everyone from Italians to the Police to Uefa to Margeret Thatcher. But Liverpool supporters have not been to blame once.

And to demonstrate that they haven’t learned it was only in Athens the other year that their fans were jumping fences to get into the stadium with forged tickets. Are Everton Football Club or any other for that matter to blame? Certainly not!

Declan Brown
44   Posted 29/08/2009 at 13:29:35

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Phil Bellis

What was the alleged conversation between the Liverpool directors? I never heard about that and would be more than interested to find out!!!
Michael Reichardt
45   Posted 04/09/2009 at 00:18:02

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One thing is annoying and probably always will be. Everytime we speak about Everton (negative or positive), Liverpool FC are bought into the arguement. Let's forget what happened 25 years ago because, like many people have already commented, we have to look inside the club to realise where it’s gone wrong!

Founder members of the first professional Football League way back in the 1800s. Founder members of the Premier League at the start of the 1990s... but yet, apart from 1 FA Cup win and a miracle season in 2004-05, nothing to write home about. We can say the European ban allowed clubs like Manchester United to catch up but still I have no time for that being the MAIN reason behind Everton’s demise.

Howard Kendall’s first spell at the club eventually leading us to what should be rightfully happening at a club like Everton. We won 2 league titles, 1 FA Cup and ECWC. Possibly could have been more but Howard left us for greater things... sorry I mean he left for Athletico Bilboa! Yeah that massive club in Spain!

Whether you believe or this or not, Kendall was set for the Barcelona job but Venables ended up staying on and left Kendall in a bit of dilema. He had just sold Lineker to the Catalans as well so from that moment on we not only lost our leading goalscorer (becoming a selling club) but then lost Kendall.

Now at this time, Everton Football Club was a massive attraction to a lot of top managers! We had our pick of whoever! So who do we go for? Colin Harvey... Now I do like Harvey and I’m not having a pop at him — but why him? I personally believe we tried to create the same thing that had been working at Liverpool and keep the job in house. Only difference was it never worked out at Everton!

So, in the space of 3 years, we have gone from being feared throughout Europe to losing our most sucessful manager and top striker. Now at the turn of the decade, English football was poor! It was boring and countries like Spain, Italy and Germany all benefitted from this. Obviously the 5-year European ban didn’t help in attracting top players to the league but still it was bad. We got Howard Kendall back and like the saying goes ’never as good second time around.’

We need to remember that Everton behind the scenes ever since the Premier League started has been run like a small club. Mike Walker... Howard Kendall AGAIN... the continous cycle of mistakes throughout the club from top to bottom were endless. Our attendances dropped to an all-time low! I’m blue through and through so I have the biggest tainted glasses when I say this but where Manchester United are now is where Everton should be!

When I say this as well I’m not blaming the playing and coaching staff, but I am blaming the backroom staff! The vision throughout the 90s wasn’t there! Proof being that when Joe Royle needed reinforcements to kick on after missing out on Europe, he was found wanting! Obviously I’m pointing the finger at the poor business man in Peter Johnson! He never had the funds or the heart to take the club back to the top and how this wasn’t seen when he made an offer for the club. It’s just one continuous mistake after the other and has now cost Everton dearly.

We all love the club and would back them to the end. Everton could be playing in the Blue Square Premier in ten years and I’d be there! Still believing that one day I’ll see them where they belong at the top.

A club with our fanbase, history, heritage and tradition should be challenging for honours every year. It hurts seeing clubs like Manchester City and Chelsea spending money and attracting top players to their club. They’re not in the same league as Everton (except finances).

We also have to face the fact that Kirkby is in the best interest of the football club. A lot of you will disagree but I don’t care because, as far as I’m concerned, I’d follow Everton wherever and whenever! We are leaving Goodison Park because financially we are losing money every week and it’s not a modern football stadium! As much as I love the place and will be sad to leave it’s all about keeping with the times.

A lot of you think we’re leaving the city boundaries! How many Everton fans from Kirkby class themselves as scousers? Bet every single one of you do! The Liverpool Council keep saying we need to sit down with Everton FC blah blah! Rubbish! They’ve had plenty of time and oppurtunities to come up with suggestions but can only come up with The City Centre link road and redeveloping Goodison!

The city centre plan was never going to work. The sheer traffic and build up on a saturday afternoon would be immense. Redeveloping Goodison is not financially positive for Everton FC. Oh yeah and groundshare with LFC... Do you want that? Because I certainly don’t!

A major company in the world have offered to fund us in a ground move. Now I do believe Everton FC have received offers to take over the club. But Kenwright mustn’t think it’s in the best interest of the long-term future for the club. I wish this was the case when Johnson made an offer! But the ground move that will eventually happen will bring that billionaire investor we want and need.

Do you think Man City would have got the Arabs if they still played at Maine Road? Soon as that ground move happens you will see vast amount of change at Everton. Let's face it, getting away from Liverpool City Council is also another plus.

Whether we go another 14 years without a bit of silverware, we all know that we’ll still be madly in love with a club that has seen more of the bad, average times than what has seen the good times. Let's keep doing what we only can and believe!

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