I have been an Evertonian for as long as I can remember, yet not once have I ever met a fellow bluenose of my own age. For I live in Ireland, a land were Manchester United and Liverpool shirts are everywhere you turn, but the sacred royal blue is a much harder sight to come across.
I am 17 years old and living in Cork, a city right at the southern tip of the island. I inherited my Everton genes from my father, who grew up at a time when the Mighty Blues were really mighty – but I need not go on about past glories.
Whereas that team of the mid-80s spawned a decent number of Irish Evertonians, fresh blood is almost extinct nowadays. Believe me, I know – I have been in the education system for over a dozen years, and not once have I shared a classroom with someone who called themselves an Everton fan.
But is that a curse or a gift? Sure, it’s impossible to find a scrap of club merchandise on the streets, and all of my jerseys had to be either ordered online or picked up on one of my annual trips across the Irish Sea (going off on a quick tangent, I’ll never forget the amazement I felt when first walking into the Everton Megastore aged nine, and being greeted by a sea of blue gear – Christmas morning never even came close to that). But there are real merits to being one in a million.
For one, the looks I get when I go somewhere wearing the famed blue shirt are incredible. People look at me as if I’ve descended from some alien planet and have two heads. But I also seem to get a lot of respect football-wise – it’s as though people acknowledge that I know my football, and that I’m not a product of adoration for some money-driven empire like the crowd in Manchester.
The one thing that tops it all off for me, however, is the ‘feeling’ – something that I can’t quite put it into words. When we pull off a prestigious scalp and turn over one of the big boys, it just feels so special. It feels like we’ve earned it, that somehow, however absurd it may seem, I’ve played a small part in the victory of eleven men dressed in blue running around a football field.
Whenever I see Phil Jagielka throw his body on the line for the good of the cause and earn a vociferous roar of approval from the Goodison terrace, it really is an incredible sensation. The pride of being in some way affiliated to this wonderful football club is second to none, especially when swimming in a sea of red.
One game in particular will always stand out in my memory in that respect – 6 December 2009, when Everton drew 2-2 with Spurs under the lights at Goodison Park . They were awarded a last-minute penalty, but were delayed for four minutes while the injured player was receiving attention. Jermaine Defoe was ready to take it, but while he was standing there waiting Tim Howard was going bananas, punching the posts, swinging off them and roaring at the top of his lungs. Defoe then missed the spot kick, and sent the support – including myself and my Dad – into raptures. That was a great night.
Again, it’s a very difficult thing to try and define. I just get some kind of enjoyment out of being the only one on the playground with Cahill on my back, standing apart from the countless other Rooneys and Gerrards.
Maybe I do just like going against the grain in some respects. Besides Everton, my other passion is attributed to Cork City FC, my local football club. It only draws around 2,000-2,500 for every home match, which by the standards of the League of Ireland is right at the top. Clubs in the league are still not widely accepted throughout the country, however, but that’s a whole other story.
So maybe it is an adolescent quest to be different; I really cannot say for sure. The one thing I do know is that I love Everton Football Club, and I love supporting it – even though it’s tough going into school the day after a big defeat and facing a plethora of Kopites, Mancs, and Gooners!
Just as a side-note, if anyone supports Everton and is from the Cork area, there is a supporters club based in the city centre. It’s free to join and gives Irish Evertonians priority access to tickets, as well as having the craic on match day whenever we’re televised! Anyone interested can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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550 Posted 17/04/2013 at 21:03:49
I'm 33 now and supporting them about 25 years. Wouldn't swap it for anything even though buying merchandise online is a pain in the ass.
People think I'm mad when I tell them I'm a an Everton fan but it's good conversation starter. I run a Facebook group 'Everton Irish supporters' if you wanna like that. There is also a good thread on Boards.... ie, Keep the faith. COYB
552 Posted 17/04/2013 at 21:30:27
The thing is, when out on my post round, a man noticed my hat and said not many Everton fans – they're normally Liverpool or Man Utd, to which I replied, "Yes, but I can think for myself and don't need the media to tell me who I should follow."
553 Posted 17/04/2013 at 21:45:44
I'd written a blog post back in August 2010 about how Everton could make top 4 (yeah, we Blues always have hope, don't we? :) and I remember the incredulous looks I got from everyone around.
Mind you, streaming all matches on the internet is so not fun.
554 Posted 17/04/2013 at 21:42:51
However, it amazes me how few Irish actually go support their team. I have yet to meet an Irish Evertonian who has not been to Goodison Park on several occasions or more. Compare that the time I was at Old Traff/Dingfied once... years ago... against Coventry/Bury... preseason.... great atmosphere.
Ireland has a great connection with the Blues and long may it continue.
556 Posted 17/04/2013 at 21:46:35
There is also a supporters club up here based in Belfast, ESCNI, which has a healthy membership base. Is there nothing similar down south?
562 Posted 17/04/2013 at 22:09:16
On a completely unrelated note, Gary Creaney, I'm a public announcer for some of the sports teams at my university. One of the sports I announce is field hockey and there is a girl on the team from Lurgan.
565 Posted 17/04/2013 at 22:44:00
There we simply met up every time the team was on the telly, in an agreed pub. Great bunch of lads expecially the O'Donnell family. One of the lad's sons was selected as ball boy for a home game, so I managed to get a pic of the teen and his dad in the paper I worked at.
It was great holding up a scarf in his Everton kit 1980's shoot style like he had just been signed as a player.
569 Posted 17/04/2013 at 23:04:03
571 Posted 17/04/2013 at 22:28:03
You mention the 70s/80s Everton's connection with the old sod but it goes further.
In the 50s I was a young teen ager when Goodison was nick named The Holy Ground.
Some said it was called thus because of the large number of Catholic priests that disembarked from that mornings 'Irish Boat' seated in the Gwladys St end sipping on their flasks of whisky and know for becoming more and more vociferous as the game and the whisky took effect.
Possibly the old lady got that title because of the number of Irish players in our promotion winning team. Hero's all, their names are forever etched in my memory.
In goal Jimmy O'Neil constantly patrolling his line like a cat on a hot tin roof. No nonsense full back Don Donavon, our midfield 'enforcer' was Cyril Lello alongside inspirational captain Peter Farrell, on the left wing was little Tommy Eglington who once scored 5 against Doncaster all with his right leg swinger.
Jock Lindsay who despite the 'Jock' in his name was also Irish (I think). The sound of Jocks leg when it fractured was heard by by the entire crowd and we correctly sensed what had happened.
On a lighter note it was amusing to see all our Irish players enter the field as one by one they made the sign of the cross accompanied by many 'God Bless you's in the Gwladys end.
573 Posted 17/04/2013 at 23:32:06
586 Posted 18/04/2013 at 01:25:04
I am originally from Dublin and growing up there in the 70s and 80s, there weren't a huge number of Everton supporters but there seemed to be a larger range of clubs supported. As well as RS and Manure, I had mates who supported Leeds, Chelsea (long before they had money), Arsenal, Spurs and even Forest. I guess that reflected the game at the time when the League was more open and the FA Cup was massive too.
I now live in Sydney and, like everywhere else, the majority would support the Manure etc. I guess for kids growing up they have only known those teams to be successful. The thing about being an Evertonian now is that it takes guts and determination as you know that it is never going to be an easy option. So, most Evertonians that I have ever meet are "quality" (fully committed, knowledgeable, etc).
I also know that, if I do bump into someone wearing an EFC top, I can go straight up to them and have a chat. I did this recently (much to the amazement of my daughter) and it was like meeting a long lost relative. Couldn't imagine a Manure fan doing that!
594 Posted 18/04/2013 at 05:56:10
I recently wrote an essay on a test about how supporting a football club, unlike supporting any other sports team, is like being part of a fraternity. The professor didn't get it so I'm glad you guys do.
596 Posted 18/04/2013 at 06:58:18
600 Posted 18/04/2013 at 07:52:10
605 Posted 18/04/2013 at 08:48:33
613 Posted 18/04/2013 at 09:25:26
We've always seemed to have an Irish presence in later teams – Mick Meagan, Tommy Jackson, Billy Bingham, Sheeds, Dave Clements, Bryan Hamilton, Big Dunny, O'Keefe, McDonough, Carsley, Kilbane etc.
Presumably, then, outsiders had to have an opposite and took Liverpool, incorrectly, to be a Protestant club (I've been told, though, that Liverpool's first Irish Catholic was Ronnie Whelan)
The main riposte when I congratulate kopites on their English and tell them they are a credit to the Norwegian education system is "Fuck off back to Wales!"
Funny old world, funny old game – you are lucky, Alan, to have been chosen. You are special – be grateful, pass on the flame and enjoy the ride.
615 Posted 18/04/2013 at 10:00:48
616 Posted 18/04/2013 at 10:06:56
James #615, That should read "pride" of Evertonians.
622 Posted 18/04/2013 at 10:58:09
626 Posted 18/04/2013 at 11:17:18
I get the respect thing to an extent. I think it comes from the lack of money in the game and also (in rural areas especially) the dominance of an amateur game in the GAA.
Most kids grow up supporting Liverpool or United but when they get older and given the effort given by GAA players for no reward compared to the ridiculous amount of money in the Premier League I think a lot of people look at a club like Everton and are glad when they do well with the finances they have.
Ironically (and I've made this point before), as frustrating as it is for the Blue to be so broke, I don't think I'd get the same thrill of them beating the likes of City a couple of weeks ago if they were being bankrolled by a millionaire.
By the way, see you in Tullamore on Saturday. I hope you understand.
628 Posted 18/04/2013 at 11:26:18
I am a Zimbabwean working in South Africa. The RS rule in Zim and in SA it is Arsenal and Man Utd. When I go out in my shirt, people have to squint to see the club name, the recognition level is non-existent. I have not met another Toffee in years.
A couple of years ago my wife was walking along the beach in Durban when she saw a guy wearing the shirt on the beach. She ran up to him and said "My husband loves Everton!" or something equally profound. Right there in front of his wife, he took his shirt off and gave it to her for me, he was from Liverpool, on holiday, a gift from one Blue to another. What other club produces legends like that? Thanks man, I still wear it when we play.
630 Posted 18/04/2013 at 11:37:00
Living in Australia and travelling in Asia on business I occasionally see a blue and white shirt and I make sure I say hi to them and have a quick chat.
Amazingly, although I was born in Birkenhead, I found out only a year or so ago that my family ties on my Dad's side (he died in 1974) are in Cobh (near Cork) and in Tipperary. With a name like Parrington we didn't really have a clue about the Irish connection on his side or the Dundee, Scotland side of my mother, maiden name Bowman. A niece has been researching the family tree.
I was in a craft brewery in a place called Brown's Bay in the north of Auckland at lunch time today and the young guy who served me was originally from West Derby...... with Nil Satis Nisi Optimum tattoed down his rib cage. We had a really good chin wag.
Just shows that none of us is alone. One thing you know when you meet an Evertonian is, as you mention. he or she knows their football and is a true supporter!
As I said. Good on ya, mate. Keep the faith.
639 Posted 18/04/2013 at 12:33:33
When I was little, I spent many happy times with my family in Bray and Enniskerry, only visiting for school holidays, but each one a true blue, each and every one. I think thats where I became aware of someone called the Golden Vision, I thought it was something to do with a trip to Lourdes..
Funny thing is my son now lives in Oldcastle, the kids are amazed that his 12 year old is a blue like his Dad, despite him only ever seeing the mighty blues once in Australia, teh local priest asked him what his religion was, he said, "Evertonian Father..." lord help us..
646 Posted 18/04/2013 at 12:51:20
I'm a fellow Irish Everton Supporter from Arklow, County Wicklow. I'm 42 and although I don't wear too many jerseys these days (I buy them for my 6 year old twin boys instead), everyone in town knows who I support and also know the 10 or 12 other Everton Supporters in the town (of around 10,000 people). Don't ask me why that is, its like we have blue heads or something, but we definitely are proud of who we support and wouldn't think twice of sitting in a pub with 150 red shite supporters and cheering on the blues..
I had to laugh at Christine Fosters post (639) and I was thinking being an Evertonian is different than having a religious belief because at the end of the day you can change religion but being an Evertonian is something you are born with and will die with.
648 Posted 18/04/2013 at 12:49:34
So what are the kids to do, if they can't even buy a shirt (except online at extortionate prices).
I remember growing up in the 70's and myself and my brother (a Utd fan) asked my father for a shirt each for Christmas. No internet in those days meant my brother got a Red Man Utd top with a crest and I got a Blue shirt with a white collar.
Was disgraceful then; even more so now.
650 Posted 18/04/2013 at 13:05:01
Was it not in the time of the much maligned Peter Johnson that we set up a feeder club type link with Home Farm ? Whatever happened to that ? I think Richard Dunne may have come through that way. And what happened to Martin Murray ? And where's me tablets ?
667 Posted 18/04/2013 at 14:28:31
669 Posted 18/04/2013 at 14:42:27
In 1966, I was behind the goal that Derek Temple scored the winner in, alongside me was a priest, who not only had a flask, but an emergency one tucked away.
Needless to say when the ball flew past Springett, and hit the net, both flasks saw the light of day, & I tasted my first Whisky that weekend.
A little coincidence happened over the 1966 final and our visit to Wembley in 2009,
And that was the ref in 1966 Jack Taylor(Woverhampton) and Howard Webb both went onto referee a World Cup Final. Taylor to charge of the 1974 game between West Germany v Holland. & Webb took the Spain v Holland match.
But it was the FLASKS that made my day, after our great victory.
670 Posted 18/04/2013 at 15:16:31
Yep, we had a deal with Home Farm 95-99 (I think) when they became "Home Farm Everton"
The best thing was you could get a Home Farm shirt with Everton emblazoned on the chest - a stylish alternative to an Everton shirt advertising Danke or One2One
I bet they are now collector's items
672 Posted 18/04/2013 at 15:53:28
shows how poor the marketing side of the club is and why there is such poor revenue streams from this area.
It is impossible to buy an Everton shirt in Ireland from a shop.
But the likes of..... Man U, Redshite, Spurs, Gooners, Chelski, Villa, Toon, City can all be found on sale in many shops
Anyway, I'm a proud Irish Evertonian. Best day ever was going into school in 1995 with the shirt on underneath the school jumper. I got more thumps from the redshite fans that day - was worth it.
I'm still living off that win
As a teacher, my students cannot understand how I support Everton when they all follow the red shirted herds...
674 Posted 18/04/2013 at 15:54:46
"The one thing that tops it all off for me, however, is the ‘feeling’ – something that I can’t quite put it into words. When we pull off a prestigious scalp and turn over one of the big boys, it just feels so special. It feels like we’ve earned it, that somehow, however absurd it may seem, I’ve played a small part in the victory of eleven men dressed in blue running around a football field."
The above quote is EXACTLY how I feel when it happens!
I have to read an article when I get up or when I go to bed, I have to read something relating to Everton (whether it be on this site, which is the majority of the time or on a news aggregator (even if it is a stitch up of an article)!
675 Posted 18/04/2013 at 16:20:24
Like Alan, nobody else in my school supported Everton. Indeed, I never across another fan in Cork until I met Alan’s dad Frank on a building site circa 1984. When we held our first club meeting in 1994 about 40 people turned up. Unbelievable! We never realised that there were so many fellow blues suffering in silence for years.
In the interim our numbers have fluctuated from a high of 100 to about 60 at present. From a personal point of view, I cannot put into words the camaraderie and banter that I have shared with some of these people, whether it is in the pub watching a game or travelling over to Goodison/London or wherever. Incidentally, the barman had to ask some of us to modify our language last Tuesday night when Arteta started waving an imaginary card at the ref in order to get Gibson sent off.
Finally Alan, while I can't take any credit for your writing skills, I want an acknowledgement for my part in your conversion to a being true Evertonian. It was my childish persistence (your mother’s words) in instilling in you a true hatred of the red shite. Roll on the derby for my next lesson. COYB.
694 Posted 18/04/2013 at 18:51:36
695 Posted 18/04/2013 at 18:44:39
Everton is one of the greatest decisions I ever made and I am now lucky enough to pass that love onto my two sons. Everton keep you grounded and also let you dream. You will never be accused of being a sheep and will have great moments of comraderie with random strangers due to a shared love of the blues. Keep the faith Alan. Coyb
701 Posted 18/04/2013 at 19:26:29
768 Posted 18/04/2013 at 21:59:25
Stories of priests in the seats with Whiskey. Hilarious.
And Christine Foster I think I now have a hernia after laughing:
Supporting Everton in America is like being on a deserted island. Fortunately for me, just by happenstance, one of my best "mates" is a True Blue. Born and raised in greater Liverpool and his wife as well, they've helped my "learning curve" and indoctrination immensely. He lives in the same sub-division as I do and plays on my 7 a side team. Absolutely a quality human being.
What's amazing is he lives literally a couple of healthy tee shots with the driver away from me, and I think there's all of 5 Blues in the entire state of Florida...
It's just nice to be able to text someone mid week about "football" and they don't chime back about the NFL.
His indoctrination last week was to tell me what the "L8" was.... I know now, didn't before. His license plate reads: EFC 1878.
Without him around I'd be in complete and utter isolation.
Great article Alan. Superb.
772 Posted 18/04/2013 at 22:19:48
777 Posted 18/04/2013 at 22:14:09
The White Horse in Kinsale had a few shouting for us when I watched a game there and also a pub under the four faced liar but I cant remember its name.
Cork top night (and day out on the piss).
805 Posted 19/04/2013 at 01:10:28
I have recently moved to Skerries in north county Dublin and have already found two other blues, the butcher and the barber. I know were I'll be buying my meat and getting the fro cut from now on.
824 Posted 19/04/2013 at 07:49:56
Yes, the reason you have so many Man Utd and LFC supporters in Cork in because of the colour Red - same as the local GAA count colours... and because they have no creativity and courage like you to be different - all blind sheep following the same as everyone else in the class- not wanting to stand out and be different.
But if you look closer, the Toffee fans wear their colours in their royal blue blood, close to their heart. You are a rebel, always fighting the system, standing up to those who think they are bigger and better- because you know in your blood that blue is best and always will be a royal mile classier, prouder and more genuine than all the other crap you see every day in the shop window.
Yes of course EFC should get their act together and their merchandise in all shops etc... that is widely acknowledged to be a very weak point at Goodison - but that does not mean that the fans are not out there. You'd be very surprised to know I have met many many blues in Cork & Dublin over the years – you can spot them a mile away, not loud-mouthed, but genuine and fair football fans.
At 12 I had the 'pleasure' to travel to Anfield from Cork with a bunch of LFC mad twats, was very proud to be in Liverpool, see Goodison if only from the bus – and very proud to be different.
It sets you apart.Never let it go.
837 Posted 19/04/2013 at 09:21:46
840 Posted 19/04/2013 at 10:11:57
972 Posted 19/04/2013 at 20:17:51
He's currently being congratulated by his "new family" of Blues every day as he wears the shirt with pride on honeymoon. We were also helped out by a bluenose we met the day before the wedding. We may be fewer in number than Irish supporters of any other top 7 side, but Evertonians know and understand what we are part of.
007 Posted 19/04/2013 at 23:26:24
Just goes to show what a bad job our commercial people are doing - we have a great story, a story of history, honesty and passion - it should sell itself. Isn't it an absolute shame that one cannot buy an everton jersey in any shop in Dublin, this is the everton of Farrell, Sheedy, Carsley, Kilbane, Gibson and Coleman - the story should sell itself....
036 Posted 20/04/2013 at 06:51:56
Sod Mourinho - We are the "Special Ones".
Some great stuff above - and a really interesting article Alan.
081 Posted 20/04/2013 at 10:58:43
Oh, and I now live just outside London, but probably have about as much chance of finding Toffees merch in the shops here as you do in Cork!
186 Posted 23/04/2013 at 13:23:03
One thing is for sure: I don't care what others think or say when the Blue jersey is on me... I have the Everton Blood in my veins. My wife and son are following me... COYB.
The advantage of being lonely is that, when Everton plays live on local channel, many football fans remember me...
283 Posted 23/04/2013 at 20:42:18
I live in Widnes about 12 miles from GP and I can't buy a Blues shirt anywhere local !!!!!!!!!
831 Posted 25/04/2013 at 23:49:56
The Ryan Air flights make life a lot easier that the old cattle boat, leaving at 10pm, arriving 7am, stinking and smelling of gargle, spend a day in Liverpool and head back again Saturday night, arrive home, get an hour or two kip, then get up and play a match. They, funnily enough, were great memories.
When I was in school, funnily enough, there were no RS, as their glory hunting fans arrived later. They tried to rewrite history at every attempt, trying to lay claim to some kind of Irish connection. I can appreciate genuine RS fans, but the Irish ones are just Johnny-come-lately glory hunters who don't know their history, and would just as easily support the Blue side of Glasgow if it suited them.
Ireland's association with the RS is borne out of easy, lazy options rather than any genuine love of football. Fuck them all.
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