Once a Blue, Always a Blue
Thursday August 15, 2002
THREE Everton pennants and an Everton car registration plate are on show
in the front bedroom window.
And, inside the Croxteth council house, live three Everton-mad
boys aged 16, 14 and 11 - together with their Everton-mad parents.
It could be one of any number of Blueblooded families on Merseyside.
But this is a very special house. This is the house where Goodison
Park wonder kid Wayne Rooney lives.
"Young Wayne" shares it with his proud-as-punch parents,
Wayne senior, 39, and Jeanette, 35, together with younger brothers
Graham,14 and John, 11.
If you adopted Loyd Grossman's voice and asked a Blue "Who
would live in a house like this?" . . . they'd tell you in
about three seconds.
All they'd have to do is look at the framed pictures on the wall
and the trophies on top of the TV.
And this is before mum and dad dig out more photographs from the
bulging Rooney scrapbook.
One framed picture stands out. An 11-year-old Wayne is standing
in the Anfield centre circle alongside then Everton captain Dave
Watson and former Reds skipper John Barnes - the youngster was the
Blues' mascot for the derby which took place on November 20, 1996.
The game ended 1-1 (Robbie Fowler scored for Liverpool and Gary
Speed for Everton). Another photo from that night, of a smiling
Stan Collymore and unsmiling Wayne Rooney, is kept on the floor
behind a chair.
Meanwhile, Duncan Ferguson, a second-half substitute in that derby,
is pictured with his arms around Wayne and his brothers at the Blues'
Bellefield training ground the following season - it's probably
fair to say Big Dunc wouldn't have predicted that he'd be playing
alongside young Wayne just a few years later.
As we arrived at the Rooney home, Dad was reading the ECHO - while
the ECHO's well-thumbed pre-season special was on the coffee table.
It was the second time ECHO photographer Martin Birchall had met
Wayne senior - Martin having taken the first Press picture of young
Wayne and his two brothers in March 1998, when all three were at
the Everton Academy.
Knowing that Everton, quite rightly, wish to protect Wayne as much
as possible, the ECHO first approached manager David Moyes to ask
if we could speak to him - "Yes . . . when he's 37," came
Fair enough. But there is also a story to tell about the people
who have helped him get to where he is today - the brink of the
big time at sweet 16.
"A wonderful story," as Everton owner and deputy chairman
Bill Kenwright told me on the phone on the day we called at the
Rooney home (he wanted to berate me for my "snotty" column
about the new club song - and then play it to me over the 'phone.
My ears are still stinging - from both Kenwright and the song).
Wayne's unassuming mum and dad were kindness itself, as they dismantled
various photograph frames for us and recalled facts and figures
about their three talented lads.
Graham, a pupil at De La Salle, is now concentrating on his boxing.
John, who is about to start at the secondary school, is still at
the Everton Academy - a promising midfielder in its under 12s team.
Recalling the ECHO's 1998 photograph, when Wayne was 12, Graham,
10 and John, seven, and his hopes that one or more of them may one
day play for the Blues, dad says: "You don't really think it's
going to happen at the time."
And about Wayne, he says: "He began to kick a ball as soon
as he could walk. And, like me, he has always been an Evertonian."
His first game at Goodison? "I can't remember, but he was
probably about six months old!"
Now Wayne senior and the rest of family (Main Stand season ticketholders)
are looking forward to watching young Wayne PLAY at Goodison Park
- in the Premiership.
Jeanette says: "We're really excited about seeing all the
games Wayne plays in - home and away."
Sadly, all requests to see - and print in the ECHO - pictures of
Wayne as a toddler kicking a ball were politely declined: "He'd
go berserk!" says his mum, who, herself, was too shy to be
photographed: "Tell the ECHO readers I was out," she jokes.
But she was more forthcoming when recalling Wayne's exploits on
the football field: "They didn't play football at his primary
school, Our Lady And St Swithin's, and he played his first proper
game when he was seven.
"It was for an under 11s or under 12s team from the Western
Approaches pub in Storrington Avenue. Despite only being seven,
he came on as a sub and scored!"
And the goals just kept on coming . . .
Jeanette adds: "He also played for the Copplehouse pub team
in Fazakerley when he was nine and other teams, including East Villa
and Pye FC. He won the Golden Boot for them, after scoring the most
goals in the BT Challenge Cup competition.
"He also scored loads of goals in his first year at De La
Salle - he won a league and cup double with them - but then stopped
to concentrate on playing for the Everton Academy.
"He actually scored 99 goals in one season for the Academy's
under 10s. And he broke the goalscoring record for Liverpool Schools'
FA under 11s, which he still holds." (Jeanette thinks he scored
80 odd goals, although Wayne's then manager, Tim O'Keeffe, thinks
it was 72 from a total of 158. Whatever, he's a record-breaker!)
Wayne's brother, Graham, 14, is equally proud, saying: "I
knew Wayne would do it. And I think John could follow in his footsteps,
As for himself, he explains: " Although I'm doing boxing now
and don't play for the Everton Academy anymore, I still have a team
- Crosby Stuart in the Maghull and District League."
If the Wayne Rooney bandwagon continues to roll, his family could
soon be under siege. But the idea of seeking sanctuary in a more
anonymous part of Merseyside doesn't seem to have crossed his down-to-earth
parents' minds: "I think we'll try and stay here," says
At home with the Rooneys, things seem pretty ordinary at the moment
- but you sense that once Wayne starts scoring goals in the Premiership,
things will never be the same again.
© Trinity Mirror Plc 2002