The Big Yin... and Yang

Matt Woods 03/01/2020 11comments  |  Jump to last
I love Duncan Ferguson. Okay, it’s virtually universal love from Evertonians for the Big Fella, but I’ve got a tale to tell.

October 1994 and news that the Toffees had signed Ferguson and Glasgow Rangers team mate Ian Durrant on loan had created a buzz of interest among Blues fans. Durrant had been a very classy midfielder before rupturing his ACL and was looking to reignite his career away from Ibrox while Ferguson was carrying baggage as well as bags of raw ability. Mike Walker would be praying they could arrest his sides poor start to the season.

Everton were down the bottom of the table in the league and had lost the first leg of their League Cup tie at home to Portsmouth. The second leg at Fratton Park would be Ferguson’s debut and this would be followed by a second game on the south coast at Southampton on the Saturday.

“Fuck it, we’re going Woodsie, am gonna get James to find us a weeks work down there” said Wayne nephew of James one of my oldest friends. This was 1994 we were 22 years old, bullet-proof; we lived for going the match, all-nighters at Cream and playing Sunday league footy. Oasis were breaking out and we were just mad for anything. I don’t want to talk about James’s business, but I will say that everything we were doing was legit!

So off we went, in search of the Pompey Chimes. Everton playing away were in a white kit from memory and Ferguson just looked like a skinny beanpole. Obviously a few tidy touches but there was not a great deal to get excited about if I am honest. I can’t even remember if Durrant played.

Everton drew the game and Dave Watson scored but we were out, heaping more pressure on Walker.

As young still pretty optimistic Evertonians who had seen the great 80s sides we had a feeling that things would get better and always saw the League Cup as Mickey Mouse, to be honest. So game over and we are staying down for the Southampton game so we mill around after the match to go and speak to the players.

Ages after the game, we find Neville Southall stood outside the team coach. Arms folded, Nev is a colossus. He is just thick set, totally solid. Absolutely amazing how agile he was, even then as an ageing keeper.

“Hey Nev, where are you going later? Are you going for a pint?” I say.

“Fuck off, going out? We just got beat. I’m going to fucking bed lads,” replies the Welshman.

“Fucking hell, are you going to bed?” Me taking the piss.

“Yes, I’m fucked,” Southall confirmed.

“What about the lads?” I ask.

Southall by now is warming to us, he knows we are a couple of clowns down on the south coast, but I think he senses we are not trouble.

“Look we are staying in Bournemouth and I know Waggy is meeting his brother with some of the lads.”

“Thanks, Nev, that’s all we need to know, we’ll do the rest…”

22 years old. You don’t give a fuck about anything.

“That’s us, Woodsie, follow that coach!”

So we tail the Everton Team Coach to a hotel in Bournemouth and then 5 mins later two taxis turn up and half a dozen footy players still in tracksuits jump in with a couple of older blokes who look like either directors or players' parents?? So off we go again and follow the taxis into Bournemouth and eventually we end up in a nightclub.

The players are in two groups: Vinny Samways, Graham Stuart, Durrant and Ferguson are in one. Durrant is absolutely mental, even before a drink, while Ferguson appears quite shy. In the other group is Dave Watson with his brother who played for Bournemouth at the time, Ian Snodin and a couple of suits. It looked clear that Watson was top fella, a quiet unassuming guy with a massive physical presence.

We speak with the young Scot, Ferguson. He’s pleasant and makes a complimentary comment that’s it’s great we are down there supporting the lads. Naturally we are buzzing.

We then got into a mad convo with a Matt Jackson. He had just turned up, was bevvied, and was wearing a suit. He told us he got news at a team meeting he wasn’t in the squad and had packed a sad, went straight into the bar at Fratton Park and had been bevvying since kick off!!!

Where did this all end?? Well, it never has. The love affair started that night and Duncan Ferguson has been in our hearts ever since.

Fast forward to April 1997 and Duncan was at it again. This time at Upton Park. This was to be my last match before I headed away to travel around the Indian Himalaya for 3 months. (This will become relevant later.) 2-0 down and fighting again for our lives down the bottom of the league. A last-minute Ferguson goal grabbed a vital point and sent the travelling hordes into ecstasy. Southall had saved a penalty to turn the game on its head and Micheal Branch had reduced the deficit before Duncan hooked into the roof of the net.

On 1st May 1997, it was Election Day in the UK. It was brilliant sunshine as again Wayne drove me to Manchester airport and I departed to spend the next 3 months in India. I had long wanted to travel, but I was also very unhappy. I had been hit in a car crash in London 12 months prior although not seriously injured I ended up getting some compensation. It wasn’t a huge amount but was enough for a flight to India and although I was terrified heading towards the airport, there was no backing out!! Wayne god bless him sneaked some photos of the lads into my backpack and the joy of this discovery while in India was overwhelming.

So I left the UK. Labour swept into power and I took off on an epic adventure that would transform my perspective on life forever. In the foothills of the Indian Himalaya I had a direct experience that made me become aware of the power of spirit. I had one evening where I slept in a cave with some local goat herders. The following day we walked off the snow line and into a dense forest with two of the guys and we went to his family home.

The home was very simple, super basic. Inside the house there was no furniture there was a cupboard with some rolled up mats that the family slept on.

In this empty room his wife brought in some bowls and a stove which she had been working with outside. His daughters then appeared who had also been preparing food outside. Then we all sat together and they shared their food with me. These people had nothing really materially in a western sense. But what they did have was love. Love for not only each other but a loving nature. I could feel this. They were also happy, there was no stress or anxiety. They lived a very simple basic life, but it was enough.

Now, what does all this have to do with Everton and Duncan Ferguson??

Well a couple of weeks ago when Everton lost to Norwich I felt the lowest I have ever felt supporting Everton. It seemed to me a collective feeling of hopelessness. Another complete fucking let down, money down the pan, just a nightmare. The defeat at Anfield was expected and lead to Silva’s exit. Next there are rumours Davey Moyes is in line for the job, and that’s it for me. If Moyes comes that’s me done, is what was going through my mind.

Now hopefully this is where I can bring things together. That collective feeling among Evertonians was very real. But that enormous dark cloud was lifted by a giant blue heart. Only one man could have lifted this club from that nightmare. Duncan Ferguson has let himself down a number of times as a young man but what is not in any doubt is what an unbelievable Evertonian he is. His big heart, his big LOVE, his passion connected with the players and fans and we resurrected ourselves from hell. Make no mistake, this is the power of LOVE.

Carlo Ancelotti has now moved into the top job and Duncan has been given a role as his assistant. Interestingly one of Ancelotti’s first comments was that the club needs togetherness, the patience and support of the fans. I completely agree, but how can we practically help with this?

Duncan Ferguson has already shown us the way. Through love. The hard part comes on Sunday. We are so desperate to beat our neighbours in the FA cup but I believe we never help ourselves due to the hate we have for them. The amount of hate we have for them ruins all our own positive energy we can give to the team.

The universe is made up a waves and partials of electromagnetic energy and the heart is the greatest creator of this energy in the human body. We need to direct all our love towards Everton on Sunday. FFS you only have to watch Star Wars to see hate drives you to the dark side!!!

We simply have to accept Liverpool are where they are. To be honest, it’s a disgrace that it’s taken them 30 years and billions to win the title again. More than anything the only way they are gonna start taking notice of us is if we start winning.
One team, One Love, we are Everton!!!

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Reader Comments (11)

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Dave Abrahams
1 Posted 03/01/2020 at 18:30:04
Loved your story Matt, right up to your short stay in India, wanted to hear more about, especially the love you found with the family you stayed with, really and truly loved that part.

The love we have for Everton, is unyielding, even though some of us say now and again, “ fuck this, I’ve had enough” we can’t even kid ourselves that we mean it.

As regards to the hate we have for them, as football fans not people,is more than matched by the hate they have for us, and it doesn’t seem to stop the positive energy that they give to their team, plus the fact that as football fans the bastards are completely, and utterly unfuckinlovable, European champions and running away with the league and they still hate us so much that if we win on Sunday it will hurt them ten times more than it will hurt us if they win.

Tony Hill
2 Posted 03/01/2020 at 18:54:12
Enjoyed that very much, Matt.

Interesting that Ancelotti was gracious and complimentary about Klopp and Liverpool today but in an adult way which spoke of the confidence he has in himself.

You may well be right that we need to relax and expel the poison. I think this may prove to be one of Ancelotti's main contributions to us.

Stephen Brown
3 Posted 03/01/2020 at 19:02:28
Great article!! I really enjoyed that and I’m with you !! Come on Blues!!!
Dennis Stevens
4 Posted 03/01/2020 at 19:15:59
Crikey, that takes me back! I remember going to the Pompey match, it was a rare night out just two weeks after the birth of my daughter. Sad to think she's now 25 & our only success in all that time was when she was less than 8 months old. Hopefully, that's all going to change under Ancelotti.
Matt Woods
5 Posted 03/01/2020 at 19:28:04
Dave I completely understand your comment mate. I was psychologically damaged in the 70s and 80s by them! Yes they are what they are and it’s an almost impossible task to not hate them. I have been to so many derbies where I have just been so unbelievably anxious to beat them, absolutely desperate. It’s not so much the hate, it’s what happens with the energy you create through it. We haven’t won at Anfield for over 20 years. Even through law of averages we would have had a few flukes no?? I think they get off on how much energy we waste hating them. We will never change them, so we need to start beating them. Anyway, appreciate your comment and where you are coming from, I am getting the feeling exciting things are coming around the corner. COYB!
Tony Abrahams
6 Posted 03/01/2020 at 19:44:32
Great story Matt, and I agree with you most when you talk about the essence of your story mate.

I fuckin hate Liverpool, but I love Everton more, and it doesn’t matter how much they hate us Dave, it’s up to our team, to bring that hatred out in them, just like Joe Royle used to do.

I loved Ancelotti before at the start of his press conference, he’s very clever, “how many of you support Liverpool? was his words to the waiting media” then “a lot”, with a little clever smile, after a few of them must have raised their little hands. I took that, as a write what you want boys, especially because I now know which way your allegiance lies!

Let’s hope they are screaming that we only beat their reserves, but I’d sooner take a draw and beat their first team in the replay, because Liverpool don’t scare me!

Dave Abrahams
7 Posted 03/01/2020 at 20:17:04
Matt (5), Yes Matt, fair enough and I understand and appreciate the logic of both your posts. I hope we are both happy on Sunday along with thousands of Evertonians on Merseyside and all around the globe.
Jerome Shields
8 Posted 03/01/2020 at 22:27:19
Enjoyable story. At this stage we all prepared to try anything.
Dave Williams
9 Posted 03/01/2020 at 22:42:34
Enjoyed that!
Now lets stuff those red gits on Sunday.
Paul Birmingham
10 Posted 03/01/2020 at 23:06:38
Great story Matt, me and a few lads were working in London at the time and went to the game, and straight back, on the train from Waterloo.

We’d done the preseason tour to Stadlon in Germany, Sweden etc that summer, and Mike Walker, was the most unfriendly, and most un natural football manager, Ive come across.

Total opposite of Howard Kendall, but also provided some great laughs, for the laughs, on that preseason. He didn’t get Everton.

I pray this time in Carlo, we have found a true leader, and with the guile, nous and experience to build a new successful era for EFC.

A great story of your adventures to Pompey and to India, and a great philosophy on life.

Let’s hope EFC, can find a winning philosophy and be consistent, starting this Sunday, and smash the RS curse, for good.

Les Graham
11 Posted 05/01/2020 at 23:26:14
I'm writing this after the Cup humiliation.
What a fantastic read, thank you for that.
We all now know what needs to be done.
Pride needs to be restored into those Everton shirts.
We need battlers..
Once again...Great read...Cheers..

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