Season 2011-12
The Mail Bag

Size matters

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I am usually what many of you may know as a ?lurker?. I spend a lot of time looking over websites like this but never actually contribute myself ? until now. I have finally been compelled to put pen to paper ? or rather finger to keyboard ? after seeing a number of discussions on these pages in relation to the supposed ?size? of our club.

There is a very vocal element of our support who like to point out to others that ?we are Everton?, and allude to our famous motto whenever there is any hint of a fellow fan suggesting that they are not completely apoplectic at the very thought of Everton not being top of the league and tearing the opposition to pieces with casual disdain in each game.

In contrast, there are others who appear prepared to resign themselves to defeat before a ball has been kicked and bemoan that our lack of financial clout means that we should count ourselves lucky merely to be allowed to grace the same pitch as some of our more illustrious rivals.

So... are we a ?big? club who should not accept anything other than being top dogs? Or are we a ?small? club who cannot ever hope to achieve anything?

The main argument for the former tends to be our undoubtedly distinguished history. We have, after all, collected an impressive 9 league titles, no less than 5 FA Cups, and a European Cup Winners Cup. The fourth most successful club in England, don?t you know? Certainly not a record to be sniffed at. Add to this the fact that some of the biggest names in British football have pulled on the Royal Blue jersey, and our remarkable longevity in the top flight, and you can certainly make a strong argument for us being one of the big boys.

What prompted me to write this article, however, was a statement made by a supporter of this theory. "We ARE a big club," he proclaimed; "I?ve seen us win titles." This, for me, highlights an important issue. Many fans are of the belief that we are deserving of a place at the top table because they?ve seen us there, they went to Wembley as often as they had a bath, they saw us put United, Liverpool, Arsenal et al to the sword, and they thought Chelsea was a type of bun.

Others, however, haven?t. An ever increasing number of Blues have never seen these days, and they can?t relate to them at all. I, much as I would like to deny it, am fast approaching 30 years of age. I grew up hearing tales from my dad and his match-going mates about Sheedy?s left peg, Andy Gray?s diving headers, the Holy Trinity, and the Golden Vision. My dad saw Championship winning sides in ?63, ?70, ?85 & ?87 and boy did he like talking about them.

I was born in 1982, meaning that I was too young for the glory years of the 80s. After being allowed to tag along to a few games here and there, I finally became a regular in 1992. Since then, we?ve won one solitary trophy. That?s it, one FA Cup. If we don?t win anything this year, that trophy will be our only silverware in 25 years.

And it?s not just a lack of silverware; in the time that I?ve been going, we?ve had two final-day escapes from relegation, lost to the likes of Shrewsbury, York and Tranmere, and won just once at Old Trafford.

It?s fine for some of you older fans to say that we have too many unambitious, defeatist supporters but you have to realise that our perceptions are totally different. Many of you will see a fixture against, say, Blackburn and say we should be beating ?clubs like that?, but we have an entire generation of fans who can remember Blackburn winning the Premier League title, but not us.

The point of this rambling is that I am fed up of people telling me I shouldn?t accept mediocrity. For me, I have to accept mediocrity, it?s all I?ve ever known. I have no right to claim that Everton are a bigger club than the majority because in my life they haven?t been. In my opinion it?s the other way round, people who claim that we shouldn?t be accepting mediocrity are deluded, unable to see that times have changed and we can?t compete anymore.

There is an important distinction between accepting mediocrity and being happy to accept it. I yearn for Everton to conquer all before them, and to do so in a style that has the football world purring, but I am realistic enough to know that it ain?t happening anytime soon and that the reasons for that go far beyond Bill Kenwright?s perceived shortfalls and David Moyes?s supposed negativity.

Jimmy Kelly, London     Posted 28/09/2011 at 23:47:27

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Peter Bourke
1   Posted 29/09/2011 at 05:07:10

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I am over double your age Jimmy but I find it hard to argue with your point of view. Sometimes people are accused of "accepting mediocrity" for simply being realistic. It is easy for passion to cloud ones judgement when it comes to the team we love. Similarly some people are called apologists for defending Moyes regardless of the merit of the arguement.
Russell Buckley
2   Posted 29/09/2011 at 05:24:21

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We have won one FA Cup in my lifetime. So yes I may not be able to relate to other fans when they bring up our past glories, but that doesn't mean I'm not just as proud to bring them up.

Yes there is a big gap between us and Man Utd, yes we have no money or a chance of winning the league. But this is still Everton. Don't ever let another fan tell you we aren't a big club.

Derek Thomas
3   Posted 29/09/2011 at 06:09:43

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Jimmy; You are in a "can't see the wood for the trees" situation.

Just because you've never seen us do it (win stuff) and maybe you never will. (I know if it doesn't happen within the next 12 to 20 years, I mightn't be here to see it either.)

We can accept where we are, we can remember where we've been. But if we don't at least TRY to in some small way live up to the motto, try to win every game try to improve last years position... and this is what the current schism(s) is all about, well we might as well pack it in.
Robbie Shields
4   Posted 29/09/2011 at 06:56:36

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This Big Club debate really winds me up. It was Rodney Marsh I believe who first started to categorise clubs as being big or small all the bloody time on Soccer Saturday, his criteria, how much money the club had!!!! What a knob!

Big Club - One which has lots of supporters, real supporters, that go the game, hence make the club BIG (United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea (now), City, Newcastle)

Rich Club - One that has lots of money (Chelsea, United, City, Liverpool)

Successfull club - One that has won lots of trophies (United, Liverpool, Everton, Arsenal) However this is more subjective, over what period of time, short, medium, long??????? In the short term, then even Arsenal are out of this list, they haven't won anything in the last 5 years.

The above definitions aren't mutually exclusive. United, Liverpool and Chelsea are in all three categories, we alas are only on 2, now if we just had lots of money, bingo! We would instantly become a big club again in Rodney Marsh's eyes.

Utter crap!

WE ARE A BIG CLUB, just NOT Rich or successful recently.
Mike Hargreaves
5   Posted 29/09/2011 at 09:09:32

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I think a better term would be Established Club and then we are certainly one of the top ones!!
Ryan Holroyd
6   Posted 29/09/2011 at 09:11:08

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I yearn for Everton to conquer all before them, and to do so in a style that has the football world purring, but I am realistic enough to know that it ain?t happening anytime soon

It will Jimmy. Just sack Moyes and we shall concur Europe playing free flowing football by spending 3 million per season.
Kevin Tully
7   Posted 29/09/2011 at 09:13:45

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Jimmy, the shite haven't won the title for 21 years. As far as their fans are concerned, they are the biggest club on the planet.

I know where you are coming from, and partly agree with you. We can't buy a player, it is embarrassing. But on Saturday when we beat those fuckers, I feel like we are the biggest club in the world - skint or not.
Lee Courtliff
8   Posted 29/09/2011 at 09:19:37

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I am the same age as you Jimmy so i fully understand your point. I do agree with you. My Dad can't understand why i think we are not a big club because,as you mentioned,he was there during the 80's.

I think Mike Hargreaves came up with the best description. We are an Established club. That is in no doubt.

I just find it hard to believe that we are STILL a big club when we have achieved so little for such a long time.

But i do understand why older Blues like my Dad cannot possibly see us as anything other than a big,successful club.

Either way,it doesn't make us any less/more of a supporter.........it's just different opinions based on what we have seen during our time supporting this wonderfully infuriating club!
Howard Don
9   Posted 29/09/2011 at 10:03:11

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Some good points there Jimmy. I too am twice your age and so was fortunate enough to see the glory years, and although I would balance that with some of the dross I watched along the way, there is no doubt I felt I was supporting a "big" club. The difference in the past, when football was more cyclical, was you always felt we would be back up there eventually as we could compete for the better players/managers etc and it was just a question of getting it right. We weren't alone in this of course, a whole host of clubs eg Villa, Leeds, Spurs, Forrest etc felt the same and then there were the surprise packages like Derby County who dominated for a few years, I even remember, as a youngster, Ipswich being Champions. Also let's not forget Man U went 25 years without winning the title.

Football was undoubtedly more enjoyable in those days before the Sky 4 (now probably 5) dominance. I often find myself asking a question others have raised here which is - am I still a real football fan or just an Everton fan because it's part of who I am. I suspect the latter, certainly as far as the EPL is concerned, although I'll still take pleasure from stopping to watch a game in the park. The fact that there appears to be this almost impenatrable mini league at the top of the EPL is getting boring as hell and hugely frustrating for me and I supect many other football fans all over the country. It is, I believe, this frustration, even though historically we are one of the big boys (I like Mike's description of "established") , at being unable to compete which boils over into a lot of the anger seen on sites like this.

Where we go from here is anyone's guess. Clubs like us would, I guess harbour hopes that the whole house of cards of the present unequal structure comes tumbling down and we get back to a level playing field, either that or there is one more Sheik with a bottomless pit of money out there who might take a shine to EFC. Trouble is I'm not 100% convinced I want to be a Man City - others may differ.

What I do know is a lot of the vitriol slung around on sites like this is unbalanced and counter productive. Yes BK has made mistakes - who hasn't? Yes it's all gone stale and we do need someone more dynamic at the helm. Yes I don't always agree with Moyes tactics/selections etc but that's football. All of that misses the essential point that currently we are not able to compete with the big clubs and are probably amongst the most skint in the PL. If all of the above lumps me in with the unambitious defeatist lobby you mention then so be it, from my perspective I'd call it realism.

Given the above Moyes does an outstanding job of at least holding the line of keeping us in the top 10 and often the top 6, and yes I fully expect the sarcasm to come pouring out and the tired old Moyes acolyte/apologist nonesense to rear it's head. Lookmat the facts is all I'd say. If big money from whatever source ever arrives at Everton, then the people supplying it may decide he's not the type of manager for them. But until that happens the man is a major factor in keeping this once "big" club in the running as a still "established" PL club rather than the nightmare scenario of us dropping through the trapdoor to become a "small" club like Leeds, Forest etc.

As a footnote, I remember discussing with my mates after a match in the early '80s when we were in the doldrums and Liverpool were sailing high whether a depopulating City like Liverpool could sustain two top teams and were we with falling gates and little to shout about going to fall away to mediocrity. I shouldn't need to tell anyone here what happened a few years later, so never lose hope Jimmy. I'll keep turning up and I hope you do as well.
Ryan Holroyd
10   Posted 29/09/2011 at 11:27:19

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Brilliant post Howard.

I agree 100% with everything you say.
Brian Denton
11   Posted 29/09/2011 at 12:00:10

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I'm probably a similar age to your dad, Jimmy (perhaps a bit younger.....!) and would echo Howard's post above. We are a big club fallen on hard times, but whether we'll ever climb out of those hard times given the current EPL set up is impossible to forecast.

As an old git, I just hope that your generation of younger Blues gets to have that feeling of finishing top of the pile and seeing the Final Table knowing it can't change ! The Cup, while nice, is nothing like as good. Fingers crossed.
Paul Johnson
12   Posted 29/09/2011 at 12:02:31

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Great thread...

Dont care what anyone says, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I have seen some really poor Everton teams as well as a team that would beat allcomers.

Dont be fooled we are a big club. anyone who thinks different must watch to much sky sports.

Roll on Saturday and as Kevin (7) put it for 90 mins we will be the biggest club in the world.
David S Shaw
13   Posted 29/09/2011 at 12:14:29

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I don't mind us being crap as long as there's a vision to be great.



Eugene Ruane
14   Posted 29/09/2011 at 12:04:39

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An excellent piece Don (9) and the only bit I would in any way 'counter', I would only do so from a (for want of a better word) 'philosophical' standpoint.

You say..

"Yes I don't always agree with Moyes tactics/selections etc but that's football. All of that misses the essential point that currently we are not able to compete with the big clubs and are probably amongst the most skint in the PL. If all of the above lumps me in with the unambitious defeatist lobby you mention then so be it, from my perspective I'd call it realism"

First a quick(ish) point - although absolutely agreeing re us not being able to compete with the big clubs (which we obviously can't), I personally see this as (kind of) unrelated to Moyes selection/tactics on Saturday.

Not because I expected a win, but because I KNOW that though NOT probable and NOT likely, it IS possible on any given day for 450 million to lose to 50 million (or whatever we cost).

However for that to occur, you have to first want it and then make some sort of plan.

On Saturday, Moyes may have wanted it, but only in a wishful-thinking type way.

He certainly made no plan

My main point though is regarding 'realism'.

From a realistic and logical perspective, you are of course spot on.

My problem however is looking at and supporting Everton through logical/realistic eyes.

And why?

Because there are a million logical questions that could be asked regarding Everton (and supporting Everton) and if ANSWERED logically, 99% of the answers would have you/me thinking 'Well why bother?' or 'What's the point?'

What I will argue for and bitch and moan for, probably IS unrealistic, but (perversely) logic tells me I can't be SELECTIVELY logical.

I either am or I'm not and my concern is the day I AM, it's....over.

I therefore feel it's important, even essential for us to be UNrealistic.

Anyway, like you I will keep turning up (I'm shortly returning to the UK after 6 months in Sweden and have a ticket for the Fulham game - oddly, I can't fucking wait)
Marcus Kendall
15   Posted 29/09/2011 at 12:58:23

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I love Everton and Athletic Bilbao, beyond that football leaves me cold with the way globalisation and capatalism have overtaken the beauty of what essentially to me is the common mans/womans game.

I used to love Internationals and World Cups but again thats being ruined by capatalism (Qatar clearly should never be hosting a World Cup)

Looking at other sports like Formula One tells me where sport in general is heading and it breaks my heart so see it
Adam Luszniak
16   Posted 29/09/2011 at 14:20:52

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Howard #9 i think that's the most intelligent post i've seen on here in ages.


Kevin Tully
17   Posted 29/09/2011 at 14:41:08

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Sorry to burst your bubble Howard, we finish where we should be in the Premier League, according to our wage bill. It has been proven there is a direct correlation between the two.

Moyes is not performing miracles keeping us in the top ten-far from it. We should be finishing in 8th according to this.

http://www.sportingintelligence.com/2011/03/20/the-1-4bn-match-why-soccernomics-says-that-chelsea-and-manchester-city-should-be-in-a-two-horse-race-for-the-title-200301/
Mark Boulle
18   Posted 29/09/2011 at 15:14:07

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Great piece Jimmy. I'm a fellow 1982 Blue so I know how you feel!

I'm also in London (SW). Where are you? Only know one other Bluenose down here, would be good to catch a game sometime...
Ian Smitham
19   Posted 29/09/2011 at 16:16:42

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Jimmy, really good post, thanks, and Howard, pretty well my view also.
Andrew Gilbert
20   Posted 29/09/2011 at 17:02:47

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Nice one Howard (9).

Thanks for the sense!

Jimmy OP. I was very lucky born in 1964 and of working season ticket age for the best seasons ever (83 to 88). I do feel sorry for the fans that came too late to see us do so well and I hope it will happen again under circumstances that would allow us and clubs like Derby, Villa, Huddersfield etc etc.to do the same. Fairer times ahead for all is what I wish.
Howard Don
21   Posted 29/09/2011 at 19:34:17

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Eugene (14) you're right of course, where football is concerned logic often flies out of the window. I think what has changed for me this season is the romance has gone, and dour logic has taken its place. The old feeling in bad periods always was that better days could be just around the corner if we just got a decent couple of signings in positions X & Y and with a fair wind, we'd be up there challenging. Nine times out of ten of course you were wrong but it was sustaining until a '69/70 or mid '80s team came along. Even at the start of last season I was daft enough to let myself get carried away by the potential we had and, whisper it just between you and I or they'll all take the piss, I actually thought there was an outside chance, given luck with injuries and our great spirit,, of us being dark horses for an each way bet on the title. Dreamed of us being everyone elses second team as we took on the established hegemony. Well what a plonker I was because of course I ignored the obvious logic of our lack of a real (and fit!) goal scorer, tiny squad (good as it seemed on paper) and, although several of our players would have fitted into the top 4 squads, lack of real quality in depth.

This season I couldn't even contemplate being so optimistic. In short I guess I've come to accept that (logically) we don't have the resources to compete. But hey who knows maybe logic will turn on its head and we'll have a good season, maybe Landon will come back and Drenthe will be a sensation, the two of them feeding El Tracca to a bag ful of goals - top six maybe, FA Cup, even League Cup - sod it there I go again thought I'd got my feet firmly on the ground and you've got me romancing all over again. Logically it's mid table mate.
Colin Wainwright
22   Posted 29/09/2011 at 20:26:09

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Howard. Meet your mate.

Thought we had a shout last season. Age apparently doesn't improve your judgement.
Sean Patton
23   Posted 29/09/2011 at 20:30:34

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My take on the big club debate is that it's all rather childish like two 5 year olds in the playground saying "my dads bigger than your dad".

Everton are certainly a club that stands up with any in the country and we will come again most definitely, who knows when Jimmy but hopefully you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Howard Don
24   Posted 29/09/2011 at 20:32:30

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Kevin (17) I take your point to some extent, but the article gives the top six payers and only puts us in the "chasing pack" with no figures given, unless I'm missing something. During the period analysed we finished 4th once and qualified for Europa league several times, which has to qualify as overachievement.

That aside you can't deny we lack resources also I wonder where we stand in the wages league now after shedding some of our big earners?
Steve Smith
25   Posted 29/09/2011 at 20:54:44

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Of course we're a big club, it takes me about 20 minutes to walk around it !
Dalziel Kane
26   Posted 29/09/2011 at 23:27:40

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I pulled out the official history of Everton FC last night and sat through it'sentirety. From the fundamental stages of moving to Goodison after the Houlding dispute, through to Dean and Lawton, on to Ball, Labone etc and right up to time of release and players like Sharp, Sheedy and Nevin, it was to state the obvious for any Evertonian, an eventful and fun filled ride.

Is it still a big club?, I think so, most definitely, OK, it's been pretty bare the last 20 years but this club will for as long as I draw breath, still be classified as a club of grand stature, maybe not in terms or recent accomplishment, while plastic charlatans such as Chelsea and more recently Manchester City have come to the fore, but in overall size in terms of past achievements, accolades and significant players this club is a giant amongst others, no matter what Benitez famously said or any red shites or anyone else for that matter may dispute.

Nine league titles, F.A. cup victories, European honors, a list of ex players of grand recognition, the best damn center forward soccer may ever see in Dixie Dean, not to mention the longest time spent in the top flight all added up, no matter how banal or mundane it got at any given time under Moyes or Smith in recent years the decades and decades of past achievements will always be there and no-one can take that away.

Maybe no longer a big club in terms of recent accomplishments, but Everton Football Club alone dictates that it has it's place in the hall of fame of English soccer, Chelsea can have their post 1997 honors list and City there recent days in the sun, but where the fuck were they when we were already long recognized before that? .Proud to be an Evertoninan, even more so after watching the club history again last night, sadly all that may have been a thing of the past, but what a past..
Wayne Smyth
27   Posted 30/09/2011 at 08:38:23

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Who cares what other people perceive us as? Whether we are a "big" club or not a "big" club doesn't have any say on whether 11 footballers can beat 11 others over 90 minutes......unless of course you start out with an inferiority complex which is reinforced by your manager, perhaps.

Life for me has all been about raising expectations. I grew up to a single parent on benefits on a deprived council estate. But I knew I could be better than that. 35 years later I'm a well educated, successful businessman. Perhaps I should be doing smack and robbing houses instead?

When Moyes arrived at the club, there is no doubt he changed expectations. Looking at him now though he looks demoralised and beaten. I can't imagine him talking the way he talked last weekend, when he first walked into the club.

You could almost argue a lot of the stuff he is coming out with is designed to boost his stock by reminding people that we can have no expectation of competing with City. Wouldn't be surprised if he plans on walking when his contract is up.

Well, in my mind this isn't something which is acceptable for a manager to be saying behind the scenes to the players, or especially publicly. Even if we were a championship side going there for a cup game, I would expect the manager to get his team to compete in other ways than just raw talent, work-rate perhaps, and intelligent tactics.

What we saw last weekend was an attempt to park the bus, with no effective outlet. No attacking intent, no plan to nick a win. Then after the game, we heard the manager lower the players expectations of what they can achieve by telling us all that we had no business beating city.

We still have good players in the club, very good players. We can beat richer clubs, on their turf, especially rich clubs with squad unity problems. But we can only do that if we believe we have a chance of doing it. David Moyes needs to start believing again soon, or he should go.
Richard Dodd
28   Posted 30/09/2011 at 09:04:37

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I find myself in agreement with you, Jimmy. Whilst there can be no doubt that Everton WERE a big club, it`s not been so in my lifetime but that hasn`t prevented me from getting 20 years of enjoyment from supporting them.

I don`t know whether it`s the stick I get on here and in my local but I do find myself getting a bit cynical of late. The club`s inane PR has a lot to do with it and as for no forwards, well..........

Eugene Ruane
29   Posted 30/09/2011 at 09:16:48

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Wayne, I agree we CAN beat bigger clubs and am still dismayed by the negative and defeatist approach taken last week by Moyes/Everton.

However I also know the reality it's only possible to beat 'big' teams VERY occasionally.

We need to be at our ABSOLUTE best and they need an off day.

I remember us losing to Chelsea a few seasons back at Goodison (when Drogba scored the winner).

We played really well and they looked shite..but their money spent meant that even when they had an off day, there was still enough skill there to beat us.

I am ABSOLUTELY for 'giving it a go' but sadly, money DOES ultimately win.

Paul Burns
30   Posted 30/09/2011 at 10:49:11

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Utter garbage. Is there a chemical in the water nowdays that turns people into sheep?

Of course Everton are a massive club but it's the pathetic Sky generation of newer fans that undermines us. What happened to "and if you know your history"?

I've sat in the ground and watched us win more leagues than Spurs and Man City in their fuckin history.

Success is an attitude that permeates clubs and it seems Moyes's negative bullshit is having a corrosive effect on our support. The sooner this loser leaves, the better.

Wayne Smyth
31   Posted 30/09/2011 at 11:26:13

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Absolutely, Eugene.

If, when we go to the richer clubs, the manager sets the team out with the belief that we can win and applies appropriate tactics, and the players give 100% effort I don't think any of us can complain at the result if the richer clubs beat us.

We do need them to play at less than their capability if we are to win, but City last week didn't play like they can. They were there for the taking and I thought we gave them far too much respect and didn't have enough confidence in our own abilities.

If you go with a defeatist attitude that you are not good enough to beat them, then you're setting yourself up to fail. That attitude is what galls me, not the result.
Jimmy Kelly
32   Posted 30/09/2011 at 14:10:21

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Thankyou Paul Burns for illustrating my point far better than I managed myself.

I am not a 'Sky fan', and I certainly hope I'm not 'pathetic' either. I have had a season ticket for 18 years, followed the club far and wide and currently travel up from London for every home game. I know all about our history believe me, I've read the books, watched the videos, seen the memorabilia. The point is, thats all I've done.

I agree with a number of other posters who have disagreed with the idea of pigeon-holing clubs into brackets. I am not saying we are small, I will ? and do ? shout loud and proud about my team, I will defend them to the hilt. My issue is with the idea that we should be beating 90% of the teams we play just because we have been better than them in the past.
Ciaran O'Brien
33   Posted 30/09/2011 at 23:02:25

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I am one of the younger generation of Blues at the tender age of 20. Everton are a massive club. We are bigger than Shitty, the Chavs and the Spuds. Before 1992, only one team had won more league titles than us and that was the Shite. The majority of fans of the Chavs, Shitty and Manure are plastic, glory-hunting fans who have never gone to see a game at their respective grounds or even any friendlies such as ours against Bohemians in Dublin.

We will always be a big club and also I believe that our time will come when we will become Champions of England again and to finally get a decent run in the Champions League. All you have to look at the Manures example. Before 1992 they last won the title in 1968, 24 years previously, which is very similar to us. Now they have become the most successful club in England due to having a fantastic yet annoying manager and a great business plan and a great youth system.

We already have two of these in our fantastic youth setup and a brilliant yet defensive manager who has quite frankly worked miracles with absolutely zilch to spend. We just need to get a new board who not only have the best interests of the club but have a great business nous. Our current board have done all they can and our genuine people but we need new and younger blood in their.

Although it doesn't look like we are getting any investment, I believe we will at some stage in this season. Then it all depends on the stadium situation. I prefer we stay in Goodison and renovate it but that doesn't look possible. If only the Kings Docks plan happened and our situation could be much, much better.

But I remain positive and will be watching us teach the Shite a lesson tomorrow and show Sky, the BBC and the rest just how overated that bunch are. COYB

Andy Crooks
34   Posted 01/10/2011 at 01:01:23

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Good stuff, Jimmy, however, I believe we should be capable of giving 90% of the teams a proper game. Also, we should be treating 60% of the teams with the disdain they deserve.

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