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Season 2011-12
The Mail Bag

Granddad's Axe etc

 25 Comments: First  |  Last

Recently a friend and I were discussing various matters Everton-related, and my friend raised an interesting philosophical question. It concerned the tipping-point at which one would say 'this is no longer my football club', and was framed in the form of the 'Grandfather's Axe' debate: ie "This axe has been in our family for 100 years. My dad had to change the handle in 1975, and I changed the head myself in 1995, but it's still 'Granddad's axe'."

Now imagine the following series of events, plausible even if not likely in the very near future (I hope):

(i) Bill finds his billionaire and we are taken over by an American who had a few years earlier bought a Baseball club and relocated the 'franchise' 300 miles away;

(ii) Our new stadium is built in Knowsley and the naming rights auction results in it being called The Asda Stadium;

(iii) The new owner decides to rename the club 'Knowsley United'

At the end of this process, could any Evertonian say it was still the same club? What, other than geographical location and name, represents the 'soul' of Everton FC?

Brian Denton, Liverpool     Posted 08/10/2011 at 23:02:40

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Shaun Brennan
1   Posted 09/10/2011 at 00:27:15

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Like MK Dons or Triggers broom?

Definitely a different team.
Nick Entwistle
2   Posted 09/10/2011 at 00:21:21

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If your father kept the original handle, and you kept the original head, there would now be two axes. One more suitable for the job, the other your Grandfathers. You tell me Brian.

(If your mind reads this with a Jewish accent it sounds so much more philosophical)
Derek Thomas
3   Posted 09/10/2011 at 00:51:13

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It's a slow week with no footie so why not debate this.

If you change your name, have a face job and move house are you still you.

I suppose it depends on your views about Souls; people for the use of and Football Clubs, do they have one.
Gerry Morrison
4   Posted 09/10/2011 at 03:36:42

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If me uncle had tits would he be me auntie?
Victor Chang
5   Posted 09/10/2011 at 05:04:18

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My uncle does have tits, but he definitely aint no lady.
Chris Bannantyne
6   Posted 09/10/2011 at 06:59:52

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Well no, technically it probably wouldn't be the same club.

But if you follow Everton to Knowsley, its just a relocation.

Five years later the stadium is renamed, oh well.

Five years later the name is changed. You've sort of organically followed the same club through an evolution. Had everything happened at once then it would be different, but as it progressively changed, whilst it would be now a different club, it would still carry Everton as its history. What you make of that is up to you.

One could argue (and some do) that LFC is just Everton Mk II. I disagree, but it's how you interpret history I suppose.
Stewart Oakes
7   Posted 09/10/2011 at 11:42:51

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We've changed name once and moved grounds twice already, so what would be different if we did it again? It's our history that makes us what we are.
Derek Thomas
8   Posted 09/10/2011 at 11:41:55

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Sad fact is, Chris, that winners get to interpret history and the current winners are Sky and who ever the Sky darlings are this and other seasons.

It's also about perception and, rightly or wrongly, we are no longer perceived as a big club.

The thing we are talking about is the difference between MUTATION and EVOLUTION.

As set out in the OP, I think we are talking Mutation, rapid change. Most poeple are conservative with a small c, so no, it would not be the same club.

But a point to ponder: if you get to a point through slow evolution, is it any different if you arrive at the same point due to rapid mutation?
John Daley
9   Posted 09/10/2011 at 11:45:24

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"If you change your name, have a face-job and move house, are you still you?"

Of course you are. You just can't tell anybody in case someone tracks you down and cuts your balls off.

How long have you been in the Witness Protection Program for Derek?
Lee Courtliff
10   Posted 09/10/2011 at 15:40:58

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What a horrible thought. I feel a bit sick now.

I can't possibly imagine sitting there in The Asda Stadium shouting "come on United"!

Whether it was gradual or rapid it doesn't matter. The Axe would have fallen for me.

I know Goodison is old and crumbling and we probably need to move but the thought of us anywhere else is a bit heartbreaking.
Brian Denton
11   Posted 09/10/2011 at 16:08:31

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Lee (10), yes leaving Goodison will be a big wrench for me too. I can't imagine life without the old girl.
Anthony Jones
12   Posted 09/10/2011 at 16:12:09

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Brilliant "debate"!

Breath of fresh air with all the end is nigh stuff dominating the site's articles.
Brian Foley
13   Posted 09/10/2011 at 16:02:52

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Lee (10) heartbreaking - bang on - that's why when we move and I mean when probably not (if) it has to be absolutely right.The only thing that EVER made any sense to me was the 2003 Kings Dock fiasco (THE STADIUM OF KINGS) - my choice in the name poll at the time, and we blew it. The only other thing I can think of is to re-house the householders and re-locate the school (brick by brick if necessary) - or a new school LOCALLY from the BULLENS ROAD. Knock the BULLENS down inch backwards (a few yards) and go for it. Open the Carisbrooke and Tramways pubs sell Bily coach EVERYONE to shoot onsight ....................and dream on ETC ETC
Alex Kociuba
14   Posted 09/10/2011 at 16:51:17

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The supporters of the club is the only 'soul' of Everton FC. And the Grandfathers axe example it would probably be the keepers of the axe. Its knowing what was before that matters. The axe to anyone outside your family would be worthless and its history meaningless, just as Everton would be worthless without its supporters and history.

The worth of any inanimate object is invented by the people that use or own it I suppose.
John Welsh
15   Posted 09/10/2011 at 17:52:42

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Think of the club's identity as composed of thousands or millions of frames of the same great movie, with each frame existing in its own time and space. The "new" club would indeed share its identity with the old club, as its identity over time and space are all linked together, just like the frames of the movie.

It's called Perdurantism! :-)
Tony McNulty
16   Posted 09/10/2011 at 18:10:36

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Rearrange the letters of Asda to form "a sad" (as in bastard). That's what we would be under the scenario you set out.

Or were you thinking "Asad" so it is an Arab billionaire?

Yes a slow news weekend, although ....

On my Sky box the Shite channel is still free (I think someone in Head office watched my viewing patterns in the old pay per view days and decided to give me access to the Shite channel so as to take the piss).

Anyway, I saw the under 18s' Derby yesterday. We have some good prospects (although probably the best player on the field was a Shite attacker, a dead ringer for Wright-Phillips).

But the most interesting bits were: (1) they got a non-existent penalty, so their pact with Beelzebub continues; and (2) the Shite under 18s play exactly like their first team i.e. the big-hoof-up-the-centre-Wimbledon-with-a-few-bob style of play.

Derek Thomas
17   Posted 10/10/2011 at 02:09:27

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Everton as a classic movie, that makes us...

The ' Citizen Kane ' of Football Clubs.

Q ) Do Football Clubs have Souls?

A) Yes, at least based on the anecdotal and visual evidenceof the rs having sold their's in 1969.
Mike Allison
18   Posted 10/10/2011 at 11:27:49

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The original of this is Theseus' Ship and the basic answer is that no matter how many small changes occur, the continuity is what keeps it the same thing.

In the case of a football club I might argue that changing the name is a single event that breaks continuity significantly and so might make it a different thing, but my real answer is that there is no outside or objective answer, it is entirely in the minds of those who perceive.

The ship, axe, broom or football club is only what it is because people think it is what it is. A ship is a bunch of wood arranged a certain way, we call it a ship and accept Theseus' ownership of it as a conventional way of living our day to day lives in a practical way. A broom is a wooden shaft with a wooden 'head' with bristles sticking out, we call it a broom because... and so on. A football club is a hugely complex collection of factors, any one of which could change and yet it could be perceived as the same entity.

If your scenario happened (and I contend that the name change never would as it would never, ever make financial sense) then people would simply have to make their own choice and they would be neither wrong nor right. Whether or not it was still the same football club is a subjective truth. This is because the idea of Everton Football Club is a 'conventional reality' contained in the minds of those who perceive it, and what exactly that consists of might be different in each of those minds. We are able to operate on a day to day level using that term (and any other like it) because our ideas are similar enough to use the same word to refer to.

Ultimately there is no such thing as Everton Football Club, it is a conventional construct to refer to a large collection of different factors which currently include a specific playing and coaching staff, a particular stadium, particular fans and much more besides. These things are constantly changing, and always will, but we still choose to refer to the club in the same way. If the changes were as dramatic and quick as you suggest, many might choose not to refer to them in the same way.
Alex Kociuba
19   Posted 10/10/2011 at 16:16:52

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That last paragraph sounds like the script Bill Kenwright reads from to deter any potential investors.
Brian Denton
20   Posted 10/10/2011 at 19:03:10

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Alex Kocluba - brilliant observation. As my kids would say, lol !
Drew O'Neall
21   Posted 10/10/2011 at 19:30:56

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Difficult to say but one thing is for certain, none of these metamorphosise would be covered by the Echo..
Tony J Williams
22   Posted 11/10/2011 at 12:18:13

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Change the name and I am done. I know we used to be St Domingo's but change from Everton and it's goodnight from me.

(One good Everton thing, I went to a charity ball on Friday and there was a wine there called Everton, it was lovely....unfortunately it was a red...booooo)
Mick Davies
23   Posted 12/10/2011 at 04:32:40

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Newton Heath, Ardwick, Small Heath, Thames Ironworks, Jordan, Marathon, Abbey National, Ian Moore, the League cup etc.

Not always a bad move to change a name and just think, the refs would have no EFC to vicimize.
Peter Fearon
24   Posted 12/10/2011 at 21:06:04

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Everton is no longer the School of Science, no longer the "Mersey Millionaires" or the "Mersey Maestros"... No longer a club focused on victory but one aspiring instead to mediocrity.

It's no longer the Everton of my grandfather, who traveled as a child to the 1906 Cup Final, or my other grandfather who bought the first radio on his street to listen to the 1933 Cup Final.

It's not the Everton of my late father who took me to the 1966 Cup Final. But it is still Everton. And I have no doubt everyone on this thread, everyone on this site, will always be Evertonians.

It's easy to support a team just bought by a Middle Eastern oil tyrant and who can buy any player on the planet. It's harder to support a club that has to exist in the real world. COYB
Peter Hall
25   Posted 12/10/2011 at 22:08:04

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Enjoyed Mike @18. Reminds me of the problem of personal identity in philosophy ? since every molecule in your body (so they say) changes every year, how do you remain the same person?

It IS a matter of history ? memory ? the things that have happened to you and not anyone else, the habits and shape into which matter is bent by your habits and personality ? this is your identity ? and so it is with Everton. (That's why seeing a loved one with Alzheimers is so terrible. They're here but they've gone.) And who cares about Frankenstein City?

If we lose our memory and history then we can be like Americans and support anything this year and something different next year. Or some people in this country ? "I used to support so-and-so but now... " ? we've stopped listening, we don't care what he says, he's got no football identity.

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