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Forever Everton – The Story of the Song

By Rob Sawyer   ::  02/04/2013 Every Goodison match is preceded by the musical “Holy Trinity” of Forever Everton, It’s a Grand Old Team (…and if you know your history) and Z-Cars.

Most know that Z-Cars hails from Johnny Todd via the eponymous TV series whilst the origins of Grand Old Team are murkier with Spurs, Celtic and Everton all laying claim to it.

But what of Forever Everton? – 2 minutes and 36 seconds of Bluenose breast-beating with a brass backing? A recent piece by Joe Horrigan in the excellent When Skies are Grey fanzine (issue 174) highlighted that the song was penned, remarkably, by Graham Gouldman of Mancunian art-rockers 10cc. How so? Read on for the untold story…

The road to vinyl immortality begins with a visit to an Anfield nightspot by Everton’s First Promotions Manager, David Exall:

“Early in 1972, I went to the Wookey Hollow venue to see Neil Sedaka perform on what was, for him, a comeback tour. The band supporting him was called Hotlegs – whom I had never heard of.

The Wookey's compere was a rabid Red who, nonetheless, regularly tapped me up for Goodison tickets and, by way of returning the favour, invited me backstage to meet the great man.

As I recall, three members of his backing group, whom I later identified as Graham Gouldman, Eric Stewart and possibly Lol Creme, were deeply in conversation with Sedaka when we entered the dressing room. They were not best pleased with the interruption as, after a cursory shake of the hand, Sedaka dismissed me by adding, somewhat sarcastically, "I’m not a soccer fan but my daughter, Dana, plays a bit!”

The story might have ended there and Harry’s Boys would never have been recorded for posterity had Gouldman not been a budding football song mogul and sought out David:

“Imagine my surprise when I got a call a few weeks later, from Gouldman, who apologised for the Wookey incident and said he wanted to ‘talk business’ with me. He would not elaborate and until the meeting the following week; I kidded myself that he wanted a publicity manager!

When Graham came to Goodison, the receptionist, Toni, rang to tell me there was "a young curly haired lad" asking to see me. Strangely for someone in showbiz, he came over as very nervous although he later explained that as a Manchester City supporter, he was "just blown away by the magnitude of Goodison Park"!

He went on to say that he and Eric Stewart were partners in a Stockport-based writing and record production venture. Graham told me that it was really a posh name for `a music sweat factory` similar to the one that Sedaka grew up in in New York. Graham had been in The Mindbenders briefly but saw his role more as a songwriter and had already written hits for The Yardbirds, The Hollies and Herman's Hermits. And now... wait for it: he wanted to write a song for Everton!

Toni had been right: Gouldman did look like a young lad of no more than 14 and, had I not seen him performing with Sedaka, I would probably have dismissed him as a fantasist. I'd lost a packet on a similar enterprise at my previous club, Birmingham City, so in spite of one of Britain's most promising songwriters actually wanting to write for us, I was not immediately sold on the idea – I needed convincing that Gouldman’s song could at least `wipe its face` but the studio agreed to take on the risk as our song was seen as a market test for `a nationwide campaign to bring pop music to football`. He left my office with a copy of the club`s history and returned – just 10 days later – with Forever Everton. He even laid on the bus that took the lads to Stockport for the recording!”

Alt_Text

The threshold of Strawberry Studios has been crossed by many music legends: Joy Division, The Smiths, Paul McCartney, 10cc, The Stone Roses and… errr… St Winifred’s School Choir to name a few. However, in early 1972, a coach-load of footballers arrived from L4 ready to go to work. Jimmy Husband was one member of the ‘choir’ and takes up the story:

“We were handed sheets of paper with the words on and then we were directed and told what to do. It was hilarious really – you had 15 footballers together and so many of them were totally out of tune. I could probably sing Karaoke and not get booed off stage but some of the lads were so flat!

We weren’t there long – we did a few takes and then it was the coach back to Liverpool. It was a typical football song of those days; it’s petty awful but it has its time at a football match. I still have a copy but I wouldn’t put it on unless somebody said ‘have you got the Everton song?’ It only sold about a few thousand copies – that would have got you in the top 30 nowadays! I think we ended up with maybe £50 each.”

Although Forever Everton was never a chart hit, the Strawberry Studios team went on to record tracks with Leeds United, Manchester City and Lancashire Cricket Club that year. David notes that it would be 13 more years before the charts were troubled by the boys in blue:

“I seem to recall that the last statement I had from Strawberry indicated that only about 6,000 were sold. Here We Go by the Everton players got to No 14 in May 1985 but that was nothing to do with me – or Graham Gouldman!”

In recent years, the song has enjoyed something of a renaissance through frequent airings at Goodison and singing by supporters at away matches; it also has a healthy following on YouTube but, as David recalls, not everyone feels the same way:

“It's one of my most cherished Everton memories. I reminded Graham Gouldman about it when I went to see 10cc last year and he said `Oh dear, they don't still play it do they?’”

So now we have you in the mood… altogether now:

Everton, Everton, We're Forever Everton,
All for one, one for all,
Everton's the team that plays beautiful football.

We've got the best supporters on any football ground,
As long as they're behind us, we'll never let them down,
The men who go from Merseyside to sail the seven seas,
will hear the call of Everton come riding on the green.

Everton, Everton, we're Forever Everton,
All for one, one for all,
Everton's the team that plays beautiful football.

We're the kings of Goodison, we play in Royal Blue,
The home of all the Toffeemen, we play it sweet for you,
We play it on the carpet, we play it in the air
Whichever way we play it, we play it fair and square.

Everton, Everton, we're Forever Everton
All for one, one for all,
Everton's the team that plays beautiful football.

We're after the league, and we're after the cup.
Everton’s on the up and up!

The story that is Everton from the days of Dixie Dean
The story we will carry on for the glory of our team
In every land and continent wherever football's known
We'll play the game that's Everton and bring the honours home

Everton, Everton, we're forever Everton,
All for one, one for all,
Everton's the team that plays beautiful football,
Everton's the team that plays beautiful football!

Music & Lyrics: Graham Gouldman

Thanks to David Exall and Jimmy Husband for their recollections along with Joe Horrigan of WSAG for the inspiration.

Reader Comments

Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer


David Ellis
645 Posted 03/04/2013 at 06:48:11
Still sends shivers up my spine.
Back in the 70s my Dad always used to annoy me by singing
"We're out of the league and we're out of the cup"
at the relevant moment - boringly usually correctly!

At heart he was Port Vale and only a converted Blue.

Tony I'Anson
646 Posted 03/04/2013 at 07:17:46
Brilliant. I always thought it was "we're up for the league, we're up for the cup". It is a sublime tune that bonds all Evertonians together.
David S Shaw
652 Posted 03/04/2013 at 07:57:34
Grand Old Team by Everton is from, at least, the early 60s. It went into a pub song throughout the 70s then was revived on the terraces home and away about 83/84, but was regular on the Gwladys St from then on. It wasn't sung as much on the aways probably until more late 90s it got going again.

There were another couple of Celtic type songs that we done back then in the 60s.
Does anyone know our words to the Holy Ground once more or Black Velvet Band?

Peter Healing
655 Posted 03/04/2013 at 08:26:41
I've got the single,just need a turntable
Eugene Ruane
668 Posted 03/04/2013 at 09:20:36
Great piece - I remember buying it and playing the plums off it.

(wasn't my first single though, that was The Pioneers with Let Your Yeah Be Yeah).

As for Grand Old Team, I went home and away from 75/76 on and never heard it until the 90s

(I still think the feller singing it sounds like a big soppy tart)

My (late) mam had a Celtic album in ours in the 60s (think it was a 'present' from a Northern Ireland girl she worked with) and the song was definitely on there (along with a load of other jaunty, accordion-backed tunes in praise of Celtic, sung by a Glasgow feller who seemed very pleased with himself).

Craig Walker
673 Posted 03/04/2013 at 10:22:14
Everton's the team that plays beautiful KITAP1
Graham Mockford
675 Posted 03/04/2013 at 10:29:41
Eugene, I completely agree, a great piece. I am the proud owner of all three singles recorded by Everton and Forever Everton is by far the best. However, it performed worst in terms of chart position. That honour goes to the 1985 'Here We Go' which reached the dizzying heights of No.5.

I always thought there was a book to be written about football singles which one of these days, assuming no-one has already done it, I plan to get around to. I just need to get to level 290 on Candy Crush first.

The picture on the OP is driving me mad however because I can't identify all the players.
I think I have: Dave Lawson, Terry Darracott, Rod Belfitt, John Connolly, Howard Kendall, Roger Kenyon, John Hurst, Jimmy Husband and Joe Harper. Two missing I think.

Derek Thomas
677 Posted 03/04/2013 at 10:56:40
Eugene #668 I think that the Celtic / Irish provenance is the winner, see Gibson being word perfect after the Man U game.

I'm sure they don't practice it at Finch Farm, like the All Blacks practice the Haka; come to that what DO they practice at Finch Farm??

Phil Bellis
678 Posted 03/04/2013 at 11:09:59
I quite like "Spirit of the Blues"... But for raucous, up the lot of yer, drinking in the kitchen at parties anthems, you can't beat the Battle Hymn of the Everton Republic

We're the lads from Goodison that you all know
We're the boys from the banks of the Mersey...

Chris Hockenhull
679 Posted 03/04/2013 at 11:14:52
Graham (675) I had them as the following: Lawson, McLaughlin, H. Newton, Conolly, Kendall, Kenyon, Hurst, Husband, Harper, Harvey and Bernard.... but I could be wrong??
Alan McGuffog
681 Posted 03/04/2013 at 11:21:31
We must have been one of the first teams to put out a naff, sorry, iconic song. Who of my generation can forget.... Oh yes it's E V E R T and O and N in case you didn't catch it then I'll spell it out again.....etc etc . Believe it was penned by Lennon and McCartney.

Our next song is in the pipeline — being put together by Leonard Cohen and Morrisey.

Ray Roche
733 Posted 03/04/2013 at 17:09:29
Chris, I think you're correct in identifying most of the players, although it looks very much like David Johnson next to Kendall.
Ray Atherton
744 Posted 03/04/2013 at 17:50:15
I remember the song that Alan said:

"Oh it's E V E R T and O and N it was played often on the pirate ship Radio Caroline anchored off Ramsey, Isle of Man. I'm not sure if the D J was Bob Stewart; this was in 1966.

Paul Ferry
760 Posted 03/04/2013 at 18:37:03
Eugene is right about the song going missing for a fair while, although we used to sing it in the minibus/car/coach/plane when going home and away mid-70s on. I'm with Phil on 'Spirit of the Blues', it's our hard-hitting 'White Riot' by our standards; an inanely foot-tapping intro.

Ha, 'Here we go'. Anyone else remember the lads on the Terry Wogan show, running down the aisles to the stage bouncing balls!

My 1st single: T-Rex 'Children of the Revolution'.

Paul Ferry
762 Posted 03/04/2013 at 18:46:56
Sorry Rob, forgot, great piece, you have a real knack for picking up nuggets from the past that make us 40/50 and up lads muse on days gone by.
Paul Holden
765 Posted 03/04/2013 at 18:47:06
We sang it at the Man Utd semi-final at Wembley a few years back — never heard anything like it... deafening. Man Utd fans didn't know what hit them.
Peter Mills
783 Posted 03/04/2013 at 19:52:05
Alan #681, I think I am of your generation, but I can't remember the 2nd verse, I think it was about where everyone comes from to support the boys in blue. I think the first verse was:

"There's West and Parker, Wilson, there's Gabriel and Labone, there's Kay and Scott and Stevens they're the pride of Everton.
Young, Pickering, Vernon, Temple and victory's there for sure, with 60,000 Everton fans who roar and roar and roar".

I guess that makes it vintage 1964. I suspect it was Starr rather than Lennon or McCartney.

Alan McGuffog
800 Posted 03/04/2013 at 20:51:15
Peter... if my memory serves me well...

"They come from Dingle, Prescot
And all of Merseyside
They travel up to Goodison Park
And loudly shout with pride
Oh ye, it's E V E R T and O and N"

And I suspect Freddie rather than Ringo...

Best wishes to Charles.

Stewart Oakes
823 Posted 03/04/2013 at 21:52:03
With regaurds to the Oh Yes It's E-V-R-T-O-N song, I've put it up on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hiXM5wmGYE

Peter Mills
826 Posted 03/04/2013 at 21:54:24
Cheers Alan. He's very busy being a grandad these days, but still making it to the match!
Karl Masters
836 Posted 03/04/2013 at 22:04:11
Eugene.

It's a Grand Old Team reappeared at the match about the time we got successful in the mid 80s. I have an old VHS video of Everton v Watford at Goodison in Feb 85 and you can hear it being sung... along with a song with a chorus of 'Here they come and they won't go home' every time John Barnes took a corner... but we won't dwell on that one!

Ray Roche
843 Posted 03/04/2013 at 22:26:21
Karl, didn't Watford also use "Grand Old Team" as well?
Eugene Ruane
850 Posted 03/04/2013 at 22:33:54
Stewart - Thanks for that, never heard it before.

Actually, like the Celtic album my mam had, seems a snare drum and an accordion was all that was needed for the 60s football song (come to think of it, the singer sounds a bit Scottish too).

Karl, I'm sure you're right but I have no memory of hearing it (GOT) or singing it at games until sometime in the 90s.

The memory DOES play tricks though (every single day in my case).

Rob Sawyer
857 Posted 03/04/2013 at 22:42:38
I recall the "and if you know your history" bit of Grand Old Team being sung at games games circa 1985 and hearing Spirit of the Blue being played for the first time whilst in the Lower Bullens in 1984 (against Ipswich as I recall - I think Mountfield scored). I once read that Grand Old Team song originated in Ireland (and presumably travelled to Celtic from there). Spurs definitely sung a version in the late 60s/70s according to my brother-in-law.

I also recall that around 85 the Street-end used to give the away goalie abuse every time he took a goal kick... a crescendo of "Ooooh... you're shit haa!...Fuck off, haaaa!" When did that stop?

One fact I missed in the article was that Gordon West negotiated the player's cut of royalties for Forever Everton!

Eugene Ruane
860 Posted 03/04/2013 at 23:00:39
Rob - "One fact I missed in the article was that Gordon West negotiated the player's cut of royalties for Forever Everton!"

Presumably the pooled the money and bought a sausage dinner.

Anto Byrne
883 Posted 04/04/2013 at 03:16:39
Found it next to my copy of Argent's "Hold Your Head Up" It has a 50p sticker on it so not sure when I acquired it. I do have it as an MP3 so it's on my player. 40 years on and it's still a classic.
Brian Denton
942 Posted 04/04/2013 at 13:27:15
I thought it was "Come riding on the breeze" (to rhyme with ''Seas" previous line) not "Come riding on the green".

The first single I bought was Hello Goodbye/I Am The Walrus, cost 7/4 from the record shop that used to be on County Road by the corner with Spellow Lane. can anyone remember its name? Creases?

Never heard Grand Old Team, not even once, home and away during the sixties and seventies. It's Celtic's song not ours.

Eugene Ruane
945 Posted 04/04/2013 at 13:42:20
Brian - "I thought it was "Come riding on the breeze" (to rhyme with ''Seas" previous line) not "Come riding on the green""

Me too.

Chris Hockenhull
948 Posted 04/04/2013 at 13:58:23
Some great stuff on this thread. I must say I have no recollections either of 'Grand Old team' until shall we say more modern times. I must say I always did (and still do) dislike 'Forever Everton'. ...thought it awful way back then. Nice to hear Jimmy Husband's comments..what it must have been for him a Bob Dylan fan singing those lines???. And my first single was Peter Sarstedt's 'Where Do You Go To My Lovely'....
Matt Traynor
949 Posted 04/04/2013 at 14:26:09
The only time I ever bought an Everton song was "Altogether Now" for the '95 Cup Final. I was living and working in Lewes, East Sussex, and surprisingly the song was in the top 30. I went into an independent record shop, and much to the incredulity of the owner, asked for it. The CD in the window (where they had all the top 30 singles) was the only copy he had, and he was reluctant to sell it to me as it would mess up his display.

It was only after I told him I had a ticket for the final that he relented. Turned out he was a Tottenham fan and was still pissed off over the semi final!

Kieran Carr
956 Posted 04/04/2013 at 15:12:46
As an Evertonian from late 60s and growing up in Stockport, a lovely story for me!!!
Ged Simpson
050 Posted 04/04/2013 at 19:11:30
Love the other two but this one used to embarass me years ago and still does. Awful song.

This bit " We're after the league, and we're after the cup.
Everton’s on the up and up!"

Prefer the birdie song

Phil Parker
222 Posted 05/04/2013 at 13:34:42
They come from cross the water,they come from Dingle too,
they come from parts of Huyton to cheer the boys in blue,
they come from Bootle, Prescot, the whole of Merseyside,
they travel along to Goodison Park and loudly sing with pride
[for Alan #800]

There's Rankin Brown and Parker, Hurst, Gabriel and Labone,
there's Kay and Scott and Stevens they're the Pride of Everton,
Young Pickering Vernon and Temple on the victory trail for sure,
for 70,000 Everton fans that roar and roar and roar
[for Peter #783]

I got this record off my dad when I was 7. I still have it – one of my most treasured possessions. It has an old football as the centre on both sides with the names of the players on it.

See you at Spurs — and get yourslves down to Goodison tonight for the kids...

Come on the Moonlight Dribblers!

Carl Sanderson
246 Posted 05/04/2013 at 15:08:42
Brian 942:

You are right, "Breeze" it is. My favourite Everton song, that, and what an excellent article.

Eugene Ruane
252 Posted 05/04/2013 at 15:40:28
Ged (050) - "Love the other two but this one used to embarass me years ago and still does. Awful song. This bit " We're after the league, and we're after the cup. Everton’s on the up and up!"

Kind of know what you mean although it doesn't actually grate on me now.

Years back though, the lines you quote were, after a shit home display, like someone rubbing salt into an open wound.

So many times I remember the final whistle would go after a shite draw against..erm..Coventry or Bristol or whoever.

Then there'd be a load of boos and "FUCK OFF LEE/BINGHAM!" (whoever) and then...

"We're out for the league and we're..." which would have people (like me) insanely screaming "FUCK OFF!" at a 1950s Tannoy.

Paul Washington
317 Posted 05/04/2013 at 19:04:30
Forever Everton has never been sung better than at the Wembley FA Cup Semi-Final against Man Utd.

Re Grand Old Team, I never heard it on my late 70s early 80s travels, but seem to recall it being sung after a Celtic testimonial (up there) in early 90s.

As for the E-V-E-R-T-O-N one, we from Hough Green (Widnes) regularly sing it when pissed up, but our version goes:

GIVE US AN E-V-E-R-T-O-N,
The greatest team in Europe and we call them everton,
We come from over the water,
We come from Old Swan too,
We come from Houghy Green to support the Boys in Blue.

Peter Bell
478 Posted 06/04/2013 at 08:58:02
That picture from left to right is. Lawson McLaughlin
Newton Connolly Kendall Kenyon Hurst Husband Lyons Telfer Bernard.

No Rod Belfitt and No Colin Harvet

Peter Bell
479 Posted 06/04/2013 at 08:58:02
That picture from left to right is. Lawson McLaughlin
Newton Connolly Kendall Kenyon Hurst Husband Lyons Telfer Bernard.

No Rod Belfitt and No Colin Harvet

Michael Coffey
485 Posted 06/04/2013 at 09:16:58
My father bought the record at Goodison before a home defeat by West ham in 1972. When he got back, he dropped the disc on the kitchen table and said " well, they can't sing...and they can't play football either".

That's Terry Darracott next to Lawson, by the way.

Peter Bell
516 Posted 06/04/2013 at 11:36:31
Michael, that is definitely John McLaughlin next to Lawson. Darracott still had hair in 1972, in fact still had hair when I saw him playing for Maghull in 1982
Peter Bell
518 Posted 06/04/2013 at 11:36:31
Michael, that is definitely John McLaughlin next to Lawson. Darracott still had hair in 1972, in fact still had hair when I saw him playing for Maghull in 1982
Ray Roche
574 Posted 06/04/2013 at 16:26:21
Peter Bell, that looks like David Johnson next to Kendall and Hurst. And you're right, it's Tiger McLaughlin next to Lawson.
Peter Bell
585 Posted 06/04/2013 at 17:01:26
Ray, definitely Roger Kenyon between Kendall and Hurst, David Johnson was not that tall
David Pearl
712 Posted 07/04/2013 at 09:10:51
I love this song.. One of my earliest memories listening to this and the 1966 cup final (and semi v utd) on vinyl. Until my sister bit it... and I had to settle for the second verse onwards
Jamie Yates
733 Posted 07/04/2013 at 10:25:36
Speaking of which. (ish)

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/121089238778?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

Michael Coffey
931 Posted 07/04/2013 at 19:51:05
Peter - I've had a closer look, and though I also think there is a credible case for Max Wall or Gerald Ford, I agree that "Tiger" it is.
Phil Parker
147 Posted 08/04/2013 at 15:10:30
I think the player between Howard and Colin is Billy Kenny senior — the other lad it could have been is David Irving but not sure he was with us then.
Tommy Jones
895 Posted 30/04/2013 at 01:14:35
We've got the best supporters on any football ground,
As long as they're behind us, we'll never let them down,

The men who COME From from Merseyside WHO'VE SAILED the seven seas,
will hear the call of Everton come riding on the BREEZE.

I thank you.

Tommy Jones
917 Posted 30/04/2013 at 06:54:47
What about Mike Buckley. He was in that team. Bit of a shorter fella with black hair. Midfielder.

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