West Country Blues

Dave Williams 07/02/2018  11 Comments  [Jump to last]

I moved to the West Country in 1990 and live, believe it or not, in a place called Liverton. Strange because at school on Merseyside we formed a football team made up of reds and blues and decided Liverton was a better name for us than Everpool.

Anyway, last week (before the Arsenal game) I sorted a ticket out for this Saturday and booked a seat on the West Country Blues supporters club coach from Taunton. It's a 550-mile trip starting at 6:45 am and getting home around 10:30 pm and it's a long way home after a poor performance. Ron, Mike, Becky and the rest of the team provide a welcoming atmosphere on the coach and do sterling work.

The name of the club is very apt as I have had the West Country Blues since the disgrace at Arsenal and I am wondering if I am actually looking forward to this. I started going to Goodison in 1963 and most seasons there has been something to look forward to.

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First it was the brilliance of Alex Young and a favourite of mine Alex Scott who was a world beater of a winger when in the mood. They gave way to the utterly wonderful Alan Ball and his cohorts. Whoever we played I always had the feeling that if Bally played well we would most likely win. Even if he was suspended Kendall and Harvey along with Whittle or Jackson would give us a great chance provided two of the three played well.

An incredibly poor couple of years followed with a collection of local lads who weren't good enough – Darracott, Kenny, Sargent, Scott – and some dubious buys who weren't good enough – Harper, McGlaughlin, Belfitt, Clements – but then the arrival of the man who walked on water. The great Bob Latchford was always likely to score a goal or three and again I would go to the game with justifiable hope.

Once Bob and the very entertaining Andy King faded and moved on there was another poor period followed by Kendall's great team. I loved to watch the vastly underrated Peter Reid, the majestic Kevin Ratcliffe and my favourite, the effervescent ball of energy and skill that was Adrian Heath. Great days, always expecting a win but knowing the entertainment would be good regardless of the result.

Another few poor years followed then we saw Arteta and Pienaar arrive and once again there was entertainment and skill on view even though the team was a top goalie and striker short of being a top side. Moyes moved on and we had the marvellous transfer deals bringing Lukaku and Deulofeu to the club. The hammering of Arsenal when Lukaku played wide right was marvellous entertainment.

That brings me up to the present and that word "entertainment" which has sprinkled this post has been sadly absent all season. There was a sign of it maybe against Leicester, Watford and West Ham but we had plenty of good fortune in those games. What can I get out of Saturday to make me think the trip will be worthwhile? The coach journey is good. I always enjoy hearing how others view the team and our situation. I will be reading Peter Reid's autobiography and will likely have a snooze too!

The day then picks up in excitement when we park alongside Stanley Park and a scornful glance across to the meccano display in red is replaced by a look of nostalgic pleasure as my eyes feast on the beauty of Goodison Park. Old she may be but there is a stately and dignified look about her that never fails to get to me. I have spent so many great days there in the last 55 years, so many marvellous memories and at that moment I will know that come what may between 3 and 5pm my trip will have been worthwhile.

I hope that Sam plays the team which started against Leicester, perhaps replacing Niasse and leaving him to come on after an hour. Seamus and Wayne may give some moments of excitement and Sigurdsson is capable of something out of the ordinary. I hope that the fans get behind the team and make an unholy noise. Not easy to ask for that after the couldn't-care-less approach of many last week but a good crowd will help the team; abuse and silence will just make them play worse. We need to start playing a settled team but only once he drops half a dozen players to make room for the ones he rested after Leicester.

I will arrive home pretty knackered, having a 45-minute drive from the coach drop to home and my wife, who doesn't understand why I do such a journey after a week at work, will inform me for the umpteenth time that it is only a game and I shouldn't blame the manager. Bless her, she tries but just doesn't get it. When I tell her that it was all worthwhile because I saw the old lady again she will crease up with laughter but I repeat she does not understand. It's like seeing a much loved friend and it's going to be a great day out.

But please lads, score some bloody goals and get the win!

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Reader Comments (11)

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Dave Abrahams
1 Posted 08/02/2018 at 19:26:43
I hope you and all on the coach have a safe trip down to Goodison, I think I am a decent Evertonian and then I read your story and also of dozens of Bluenoses who travel from all over the place to follow our team and realise I am near the back of the queue when it comes to great supporters.

I live a five-minute bus ride from Goodison and will, most probably be sitting down to my tea before you all start your long journey home, well I hope you are all happy and enjoying a good result and performance to help you relax getting home. Here's to a happy day, lot's of respect to all fans like yourself, Dave, you all have my admiration.

John Keating
2 Posted 08/02/2018 at 19:38:18
Dave I second Dave Abrahams comments.

Always amazes me the time, effort and money spent by our supporters travelling from all over to see us week after week especially in these last few years of less than mediocrity.

Also to all the Blues all over the world who support us through thick and thin, mainly thin, most who weren't born here or been to a game and yet are as ardent as the local born Blues

Real supporters.

John McFarlane
3 Posted 08/02/2018 at 19:56:24
Hi Dave, I can only echo what Dave Abrahams has written, he and I are of the same generation (knocking on 80) and we've done enough travelling up and down the country (quite a bit in pre-motorway days) to appreciate the feelings you experience, when there's a 200-mile journey to sit through, after watching your team take a pounding. I often wondered if the players felt the same pain that we did.

I know how you feel when you enter Goodison Park, it hurts me when I hear people describing it as a dump, it holds so many memories... some less pleasant than others, and if God spares me and I see the new ground, I shall walk away from Goodison with a heavy heart.

Have a safe trip Dave.

John G Davies
4 Posted 08/02/2018 at 19:57:43
It's easy for the fans of Man Utd, Chelsea etc to travel hundreds of miles to home games. When you are winning trophies and competing in the Champions League, the journey is nothing.

You and people like you Dave are the exception to the rule. True supporters to your core. A credit to Everton FC. Have a great day mate

Steve Hogan
5 Posted 08/02/2018 at 20:03:32
Hi Dave, think I'm a similar age to yourself, and know the roads down in the West Country quite well as we travel down to Devon or Cornwall at least twice a year on holiday.

I remember in my 'mad' Everton days getting the family up and out of our holiday accommodation in St Ives in mid August at 5:30 am, so we could 'beat the traffic', in the knowledge that I would be home in time on Merseyside to watch the mighty blues start their new league campaign.

As for Taunton, well, stayed overnight there a couple of years ago and strayed into the town centre on Sunday afternoon, found a pub showing the Sky game featuring 'you know who', and thought I'd wondered onto Priory Rd on match day!!

Hey ho, I bet most of them had never been to Anfield, probably got their shirts by mail order.

Hope you sail up the M5/M6 on Saturday, and have a safe journey.

Tony Abrahams
6 Posted 08/02/2018 at 20:05:35
I hope I enjoy Saturday's game, as much as I've just enjoyed reading your thread Dave mate.

I keep saying it, but the fans, the lifeblood of the game, are often taken for granted. It's something we begrudgingly accept when it comes to kick-off times, but when the manager picks an awful team, or the players don't appear to be trying hard enough, it really is soul destroying, but it's just a job to most of them I suppose, whereas for the supporters, it obviously means a lot more.

I hope everyone enjoys Saturday's game, and hope Sniederlin doesn't play, because if he does, the players will have to start very well, just to stop the agitation setting in. Sad really, but It really is that bad.

Steve Barr
7 Posted 08/02/2018 at 21:21:49
Dave, what a great article which brought back many good memories of our different teams through mention of some key, and not so key players from each era.

In particular, you've captured the feelings a lot of us obviously have for Goodison Park. I like John @#3 am always upset when I hear it referred to as a dump. Never feels that way to me, even when I've been stuck in seating with obstructed views! It just looks sensational, particularly at night with the floodlights illuminating the pitch and spectators around the ground.

I've never been one of our regular away fans but have always had great admiration for you all. Losing a close, well fought game is bad enough, but you deserve a bloody medal having to trek back home after such a gutless display as that dished up at Arsenal!

However, I have made a few treks of note in my time, like the FA Cup semi v Liverpool back in 2012. I along with my two sons, who had never been to the new Wembley, flew over from Washington DC on the Thursday night. Arrived in London Friday morning. Had a few bevvies Friday night. Up early and were in the Green Man Pub outside Wembley for 9am on the Saturday, then on to Wembley for our usual negative display! We could have/should have won with a bit of conviction. Out on the razzle Saturday night and flight back to DC on the Sunday morning. Knackered, but well worth it as a bonding session with my lads, regardless of the score!

Surely we'll turn the corner .soon??

Michael Williams
8 Posted 09/02/2018 at 07:15:34
Great article and I too will be on the bus from the West Country on Saturday.

Anybody reading this article and is interested in travelling with us please visit our little space on the www

www,westcountryblues.org.uk

we are also on Facebook and Twitter

Mike Williams
Treasurer WCB

Dave Williams
9 Posted 09/02/2018 at 23:04:56
Thanks for the very kind comments chaps.
Up at six so must get off to bed!
Fingers crossed for three points.
Jay Harris
10 Posted 09/02/2018 at 23:49:35
Dave,

A great and very enjoyable post that us old timers can relate to.

I used to travel back home from Cambridge in the 80's but nowadays it is a bit too far from Florida so I only manage it twice a year but to me Goodison Park will always be a temple.

It is a great shame, in fact a disgrace, that the younger kids do not have the memories of success and the joy it brings but have a safe journey tomorrow and hopefully you witness a turnaround in the football, desire and achievement.

John Wright
11 Posted 10/02/2018 at 21:38:29
Dave, very enjoyable article and your efforts were rewarded with three points today. Like you, I travel from Devon albeit from the North to service my season ticket. I'm fortunate that my Mum is still alive so I can stop over for most games. I also moved here in 1990; I just wonder how many other exiles travel on such a regular basis from Devon?

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