Get behind them?

Fans barracking players who are not performing well is nothing new, as this piece unearthed by Patrick Murphy shows from early in Everton's 1956-57 season.

Patrick Murphy 15/11/2015 11comments  |  Jump to last

Some things never change do they? The fashions might be different the rewards are vastly different but the fans remain mostly the same, with similar expectations and similar demands today as they always have had, particularly at Goodison Park or similar previously trophy-laden clubs...

It was early September 1956 and Everton had failed to win a league match in only their third season back in the top flight. The attack was not quite functioning and the defence was leaking goals. The season had got off to a bad start with a 1-5 reverse at Elland Road, then Everton lost their opening home game to Blackpool 2-5, and their latest defeat, a 0-4 drubbing by Aston Villa, had started to see the patience of the fans stretched to the limit.

Six defeats and a single draw in their opening seven games saw the Blues languishing at the bottom of the table and the pessimists were anxious that Everton were headed for a relatively quick return to the Second Division a league that they had only barely two years earlier escaped from.

In light of this state of affairs, Rangers Notes in the Liverpool Echo had the following to say on the matter:

Give the Players A Fair Deal: Barracking Will Not Do Any Good

Most football clubs at some time or other suffer, from the thoughtless actions of an un-sportsman-like section of alleged supporters who vent their spleen upon certain players when things are going wrong. While sincerely hoping we shall see a vastly improved display tonight from the reshuffled Everton team, even if we do not I thrust there will be none of the jeers and slow hand-clapping we had from a handful of spectators on Saturday.

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The players can give of their best only if they have the crowds tackling. They may not all be successful. But remember that they did not select themselves and that several are young and inexperienced lads. The latter are facing a big ordeal coming into a side which has struck such a lean and unlucky patch. Give them a fair sporting chance to show what they can do.

Barracking destroys confidences more quickly than anything. The bating of players is no credit to those who indulge in it. To say it is the only way that spectators have of showing their disapproval is fallacious. Every player knows only too well when he is having a bad game. There is no need to rub it in. Express your approval at the end of the game if you must, but not while it is going on.

People who barrack are no higher intellectually than a lot of the modern rock-n-roll kids who are hitting the headlines just now. They remind me of schoolboys that throw fireworks among the girls and drop stink bombs in class or the bullies who twist the arms of kids a lot smaller than themselves. It isnt sportsmanship.

There have to be successes and failures in football as in any other game. One season your favourites may be on top of the world; the next down in the dumps. Most people who indulge in this malevolent pastime doubtless claim to be supporters of the team they criticize. They would do well to ponder what the word implies.

The clubs most in need of support are those passing through such a time as Everton are experiencing. Supporting a winning team is easy. But winning teams dont need support in that sense. It is the side which is having a sticky time and finding nothing going right which most needs encouragement.

Many so-called supporters are nothing of the kind. They do things which adversely affect the welfare of the club which they mistakenly think they are honouring by their attendance.

I dont want to say too much about this matter. To do so would put it in the wrong perspective, for Saturdays outbreak was comparatively mild. I am passing these comment solely with the idea of trying to nip in the bud any extension of what happened at the Villa match, if it should unfortunately happen that tonights display does not measure up to our hopes.

It is a fact that many a young player has been checked in his career some have even had it ruined through the cruelly and thoughtlessness of a comparative handful of over-critical and vociferous spectators. Not all footballers are thick-skinned. Some can be badly knocked off their game by the crowd, particularly those younger ones who are not yet hardened.

It is no justification of barracking to say that those who pay the piper have the right to call the tune. The mere fact of having paid to go in does not confer freedom upon every individual to mercilessly revile and abuse any player he dislikes.

What about the vast majority of people who are content to watch in painful silence if matters do not please them? These are entitled to see the best display possible from the men who have been chosen. They cannot get it if the heart is taken out of the team by people with the mentality of a school kids who scrawl "I hate teachers" on the blackboard when his back is turned.

Having got that of me chest, heres hoping that for a change you have something solid and encouraging to cheer tonight and that plea proves unnecessary.

As it happened Everton won that evening's game at home to Burnley; Lesley Edwards reports on the game for the following morning's edition of the Daily Post:

Everton won this, their first victory of the season, the hard way. Not only was the penalty award by which they won disputed, there was doubt for a moment whether Tom Jones's scoring shot from the penalty spot would stand. The crowd behind the goal cheered; they saw the ball cross the line between the posts but everyone else round the ground saw the ball careering far from goal and outside the net! Referee Pickles of Bradford was called to investigate the mystery and found of course that Jones's shot had passed through the netting.

Trainer Charles Leyfield, of Everton, was left to make running repairs while the new-youth Everton side made the best of the way home with many a Burnley corner to tease them in the final minutes. Everton did more than gain victory; they deserved it. With a team which had youthfulness at every turn they fought hard and for their second half endeavour alone are worth their places again en bloc.

Odd that this duck breaking win should be at the expense of their former managers team, Burnley. For one awful moment when Burnley turned out ten minutes before the kick-off time, it looked as though Everton were facing as they did on Saturday the claret and blue of Aston Villa.

One of the greatest benefits of a first victory is the promise of success to come. Here the ancients of Everton linked well with the moderns and, praised be, there was a spirit of resolution all round.

The win didnt propel Everton on to much greater things that season as they continued to have an uphill battle to remain in the First Division. In the end they managed to do so reasonably comfortably. Ian Buchan didnt fare quite as well as just over a year later he would be replaced by Johnny Carey in the managerial hot-seat.

Whether it was Rangers notes that had influenced the crowd to be a little more patient or whether it was the boo boys and their barracking of the players which had caused a positive reaction, well probably never know. More likely it was the players performing to the required level and getting the bounce of the ball which helped to gain the all-important first victory of the season.

Details of teams etc at Everton Results website

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Reader Comments (11)

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Michael Kenrick
1 Posted 15/11/2015 at 20:55:21
The only thing missing in that first piece is its delivery by Mr Miles Cholmondley-Warner in a grainy black-and-white public service video!

But it tells you something when the same phenomenon needed commenting on almost 60 years ago. Tells me we’re looking at fundamental aspects of human nature — both the barracking of poorly performing players and the reaction of do-gooders to say it’s just not cricket, chaps!

Perhaps in another 60 years the Echo will have figured out that different personality don’t all react the same way to things, and that this leads to conflict in terms of how thinks the other should or shouldn’t respond.

Dave Abrahams
2 Posted 15/11/2015 at 21:09:33
Remember the game very well, especially the penalty which went right through the net.

The reporter who went under the name of Ranger had a funny way of "not wanting to go on about it" the barracking that is, because he had a really good go of it.

When you think of the crowds Everton and Liverpool got, they both spent very little in the transfer market so maybe the crowd having a grumble was justified, as a young lad then I wouldn't have been one of them, I was in love with football and The Blues, I'm a bit different now and sometimes a lot different, justifiably so in my opinion.

Brian Denton
3 Posted 15/11/2015 at 23:13:55
Wow - six defeats and a draw in the opening seven. I think Mike Walker did better than that...!
Patrick Murphy
4 Posted 15/11/2015 at 23:38:22
Brian (#3):
Still without a victory this season, Everton F.C. directors have made drastic changes in the team to meet Burnley at Goodison Park this evening K.O. 6 p.m.) The directors responsible for team selection have completely changed the entire forward line following Saturday’s 0-4 home defeat by Aston Villa. I’m not certain if Mr Buchan ever had full control of choosing the team during the remainder of that season, but I’m sure someone will inform us, when or if that occurred.

A letter to the Echo, from a punter at the time wrote:

Football today is big business and the essence of success in any business big or small is management – good management. In the case of Everton versus "the big drop" it is impossible to overstress the urgency of this need; Everton’s first step in their effort to regain their place as a leading club in the First Division must be the appointment of a manager. In his terms of contract, the manager should be allowed full control of the club’s players and playing policy. If Everton are to regain lost glory, they must introduce greater skill into management and into their playing than is being shown by present results.

Roberto Martinez may or may not prove to be the best man to manage Everton FC but imagine if it was left to the current board of directors – cold sweats all round.

Eugene Ruane
6 Posted 16/11/2015 at 08:51:46
Early September 1956.

A man wearing a mac and a trilby enters the Adelphi bar - a cursory glance at him is enough to know it’s pouring with rain outside.

Barman: "Evening, sir, and what can I get you?"

Man: ’Scotch please."

Barman: "Large one?"

Man: "Mind your own business!"

They both laugh at the crude, Carry On-style comment.

Man: "Yeah why not."

Barman: "Bells ok sir?"

Man: "Bet you wouldn’t say that to Quasimodo!"

Again they laugh.

They are then joined by another gent who arrives shaking himself like a wet dog.

Barman "Nice weather for ducks eh, sir?"

2nd Man: "You’re not wrong, my word yes, awful!... Half pint of Rickets bitter please.’

The two men look at each other and nod politely.

Our first man lights a Capstan Full Strength and looks at his ciggy.

Man: "You know smoking actually cures TB – been scientifically proved, Ronnie Reagan advertises them in America."

Suddenly, when the barman’s back is turned, our first man is quickly handed an envelope by the second feller. However the barman has caught the whole thing in the mirror.

The two men finish their drinks quickly and leave ’saying things like "Well, once more into the breach" and "Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do."

As they hurriedly leave, a 3rd man enters.

3rd Man: "Those two were in a big hurry weren’t they?"

Barman: "Probably a little nervous sir, one of them was the Echo sports reporter Ranger and he’d just received a bung from the other chap, who was a director of Everton Football Club. Basically Everton are hoping he’ll write a piece to help take the pressure off, what with results being fucking woeful right now."

3rd Man: ’You’re rather well-informed aren’t you?"

Barman: "Well I’m an Evertonian sir, so although I understand the club and the local media have nothing but disdain for me, I make it my business to know what’s going on. I just wish I could live long enough to see the internet"

3rd Man: "To see what?"

Barman: "Oh... nothing sir (offers ciggy) Capstan Full Strength? They’re very good for TB apparently, been scientif...."

(winks at us).

Dave Abrahams
7 Posted 16/11/2015 at 09:09:31
If my memory serves me right, the season got better. We beat Charlton 2-0 away just after that Burnley game and signed Jimmy Gauld from Charlton. Gauld was later involved with the match-rigging scandal.

In the autumn of that season we beat Man Utd 5-2 at Old Trafford and in the next game Arsenal 4-0 at Goodison Park, I went to West Brom the following week full of confidence but Everton being Everton you know the rest, we got battered 3-0.

Being young, you knew things would improve and we would eventually win the league or cup; they did in 1963, that was 15 years after I had started watching my team,

That’s the way it has always been with the Blues, some good times and plenty of bad, but the good times have always been well worth waiting for, and they will come again... just don’t hold your breath waiting.

Derek Thomas
8 Posted 16/11/2015 at 10:09:58
Dave @7 is that the same Gauld that later helped set up Tony Kay
John Raftery
9 Posted 16/11/2015 at 10:36:26
Barracking players is sometimes understandable but rarely helpful, especially when focused on individuals. Some of our all time greats have suffered. Colin Harvey took loads of stick around 64-65 and I recall Derek Temple being booed less than 18 months after he scored the winner in the 1966 Cup Final.

The 5-1 defeat at Leeds was the occasion when the coach, Ian Buchan instructed the players to get off the team bus and run the final few miles to Elland Road. His theory was that this would demonstrate how much fitter they were than their Leeds counterparts. At half-time with Everton trailing 5-0, Tommy Eglington quipped "Well it’s a bloody good job we’re fitter than them, boss."

Dave Abrahams
10 Posted 16/11/2015 at 11:05:30
Derek (8) yes that's the same player, although I don't think he was at Everton very long.

He was one of the leaders of the football throwing scandal, I don't think he set Kay up, Tony got involved and a reporter from The Sunday People interviewed Kay and he blew himself up, all he had to was to deny the whole affair, but he admitted to the reporter the truth of the matter and that was that, the end of Tony's career, sad for him, sadder for us and the club who were the innocent party.

Dick Fearon
11 Posted 16/11/2015 at 19:37:00
Some sweet and not so sweet memories posted above.

Jimmy Gauld with his lightening fast swerving runs into the box. Tony Kay who would trip his opponent then escape punishment with the most profuse ’genuine’ remorse. Midfielder Ken Birch with a kick like a mule and about the same kind of accuracy.

Please excuse this dribbling old timer while I wipe a tear from my eye.

Ged Simpson
12 Posted 17/11/2015 at 10:47:14
It is all about how ya see life. Thankfully we will always have the optimists and pessimists.

Be crap otherwise.

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