I’d imagine a question that preys on the minds of those walking circles on the 7th floor of the Royal Liver Building might be along the lines of “Where’s the next generation of bluenoses (aka customers) gonna come from???”  If it’s not, well it probably should be.

Long gone are the days of a weekly trip to the ground of your local side, with an occasional away day if you were lucky, being the only way to see decent footie with any regularity. In that bygone era, exposure to other sides was limited to sparse TV coverage and MotD highlights unless seen from your home stand, where flexibility in allegiance was not exactly an option. 

Perhaps a little more in the way of choice was afforded kiddos born in cities with more than a single club but, as a rule, you supported the side of your dad and never wavered.

I wasn’t born, nor manufactured, but rather chosen by Everton stickers on a banjo case that my dad had made to look used to avoid VAT bringing the instrument back to Ireland from the UK. He let me peel them off and that was that. Having grown up in the border county of Monaghan, he was a Man Utd fan by virtue of a certain George Best but never pushed me to be the same. 

I worked delivering furniture with him from a young age and convinced him (in lieu of wages) to take me via a 13-hour bus and ferry trudge to Merseyside in 1987 to watch us dismantle West Ham Utd 4-0 with my hero Peter Reid bagging one just to sweeten what remains the most memorable event of my childhood. 

Nothing can erase the memory of my first exposure to Goodison Park. My Dad nipped into the Winslow while I lingered outside the Main Stand to catch a glimpse of players who arrived one by one at the main entrance. The smell of chippies, fag smoke, ale… and then Dettol from the steps leading up into the stand and finally, the glorious site of E V E R T O N emblazoned across the seats of the Bullens Road stand. Magic. And then to add to the smells and the sights, the sound of “Champions, Champions, Champions” booming from the Street End after our 3rd goal. Something of dreams. 

The bus to the ferry didn’t leave ’til 2 am so we strolled the streets of Liverpool, a city very much down on its luck but with a lot of pride, attitude and fight, and with a people of generosity and wit. The club embodied all that the city exuded and, to me, the club’s identity was a continuum of it and this was reflected on the pitch.

Times have changed, a lot very much for the better – both for the city and the supporter experience, but that’s not what I’m writing about. The game is almost unrecognizable from where it was in the 80s and is consumed in very different ways and on a worldwide stage. Kids can now watch any team they wish on demand and feel liberated to go against the family grain and choose to support teams they actually enjoy watching, or sides that even win trophies!

My lad is seven. We live in the USA where all Premier League games are televised live and also available for replay. He loves the game, mostly the playing of it rather than spectating, for which I’m grateful. I’m also very happy then, when it comes to watching, he’s not a glory hunter. 

I can tell he wants to be a Blue but finds watching us dull and sees the negative way in which results impact me. “Papa… they’re terrible… they don’t seem to want to win.” That was his last comment when we watched together.

Unfortunately, he missed the Arsenal match and fortunately was at school for the derby. I don’t tell him when we lose and he now rarely asks how we did. I had the Royal Blue Podcast playing on the way to school this morning and, before any commentary on the result, he said, “They lost to Liverpool, didn’t they?”

His first game at Goodison will be Spurs in April, followed by a trip to Old Trafford the week after. I can only hope that Goodison will grab him as it did me because, despite how agonizing being a Blue can be, it still holds a pride like no other to be part of its family.

But we’re running on the fumes of a past to which we so dearly cling. My lad has little interest in folklore. He wants heroes of his own. It feels like I’m throwing rather than passing the baton and hoping he’ll catch it.

Despite being instrumental in the formulation of the Premir League, we allowed ourselves to become left behind on all fronts not least in expanding the fanbase internationally. Instead, it seems we’ve been in ‘managed decline’ for decades, tempering expectations and without ambitions above the lofty heights of ‘best of the rest’.

And then arrived Farhad Moshiri with sights set on buying our way to the top but alas, without a plan or a clue. Years of mismanagement have led us to where we now stand, on the brink of relegation with no identity and no unity.

And so, from where will the next generation of blues come? Expansion internationally will likely only follow some success on the pitch and that seems like a very distant proposition.  On Merseyside, passing of the baton will likely continue as it always has but scouse kids too will want to see success, or at the very least an identity and a path that offers hope that next season we’re in with a shout at something. 

I’m going to get pelters for this: I used to dislike Jamie Carragher simply for being a red, and not just a red but a turncoat. When I’ve heard him comment of late on Everton being the worst-run club in the country, a soft touch, having no identity and a side that will roll over in the derby, I’ve simply had to agree (granted, over here I don’t have to listen to his commentary during the game). 

He’s said if we want to be treated like a big club, we’ve got to be able to take such hard criticism. He grew supporting Everton in the '80s & '90s in Bootle when both clubs were killing it. He knows what this club and the rivalry mean to the city and I believe he and many other Reds of his generation and prior would be gutted if we were relegated and the derby lost in its wake. I think he’d love nothing more than the two clubs duking it out at the top like in the ‘80s. 

Currently, I don’t believe he hates us because we’re Everton; I believe he hates us because we’re not Everton. I think that’s something we can all relate to. 

And so we now have a new dawn under Sean Dyche. Aside from the obvious priority of attempting to keep us in the top flight, I believe restoring the cub’s identity as a no-nonsense, grafting unit who can also play some footie when required and who will go toe-to-toe, no-quarter-given with any side, especially Liverpool, should be his and Thelwell’s mission.

Our identity should not be ambiguous and should run from the very top, through coaching, playing, medical staff to the tea lady and the kitman. Supporters, whether current or prospective, need something they can identify with in order to get behind it. I know my lad does… I just hope it’s not too late. 



Share article:

Reader Comments (14)

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 ()

Lenny Fisher
1 Posted 15/02/2023 at 17:15:13
Good Article, Paul.

Sums up my feelings exactly. I have been a blue since about 1980; however, I and my brother vowed we would not go to
Goodison again if Benitez became our manager...

He did, and we ain't been back since.

I still read ToffeeWeb hoping to see that the fat slug and the rest of the board gave departed. Until they do, I have a growing dread that we will go down, and stay down.

Dave Abrahams
2 Posted 15/02/2023 at 17:54:57
Liked your article, Paul, and wish I could give your young boy some good reasons to follow Everton FC but he wants something from the present or from the very near future and I can't offer anything.

The club has been virtually destroyed by one man's vanity and lust for control of the club while doing nothing in return to enhance the club's chances of doing so.

Wait ‘til he's 10 then maybe we will be on our way back, but don't hold your breath!!

Jack Convery
3 Posted 15/02/2023 at 18:08:53
Paul, you have summed up the feelings of all Blues evertwhere.

Sometimes, I wonder if we are deliberately being rundown, so Liverpool the city becomes a one-team city as per Newcastle and Leeds for example. A managed decline is certainly an accusation you could throw at the club Board and Owner.

Maybe some bright spark has concluded and sold the idea to the powers that be, that to generate enough money, one team only has to exist. Who knows, maybe one day the RS will take over Bramley-Moore Dock or rent it off Moshiri as we are sure to do when it's finished.

Your sentiment that "We're running on the fumes of a past to which we so dearly cling" is wonderful and right on the money.

Mike Gaynes
4 Posted 15/02/2023 at 18:37:48
Superb article, my friend.

Wish I could have joined you and your little lad for his Merseyside debut this spring as planned, but my family immigration issue has taken precedence.

I just hope with all my heart that Liam, as a child of 7, reacts to Goodison the same way I did as a child of 60 with wonder and goosebumps and roaring for a victory.

And may the goosebumps return soon for the rest of us.

Tony Abrahams
5 Posted 15/02/2023 at 18:37:55
Everton, and the great Evertonians, are tired… but this is only natural when you look at the pictures from Anfield the other night.

An inept and bloated fraud who decided he would not sit in his own Directors Box because he didn't want to listen to the people who are demanding change, actually perpetrated a lie and even used his friends in the media to portray these lies, and also felt safe enough to sit in our rivals Directors Box just 1 km away?

Kenwright has built his whole Everton existence on a lie and, little by little, has slowly sucked the lifeblood out of our club.

The parasite was nearly there, he had nearly succeeded in drinking all of our blood, and this parasite loves blood, because deep down in his soul, he is a red.

It's very hard right now, but it's been hard for a very long time, imo, and simply because of what you wrote in your last paragraph, Paul, mate.

Our identity for a very long time has been nepotism but, very soon, the last drops of this poisonous regime will be flushed away, and a new beginning must surely be waiting for the Blues.

(I stopped writing this and went in the kitchen for a minute, and when I came back, the words “soon he will be gone” were written underneath what I had already posted... I hope this is an omen, because Bill Kenwright is the fucking omen!)

Tony Everan
6 Posted 15/02/2023 at 18:49:05
Thanks for the article, Paul.

I have the same thoughts as Jack, even though I know it's ridiculous. The way the club has been run has been rotten beyond belief. So far beyond belief that these spurious thoughts of an intentional managed decline somehow surface. It's all rubbish of course, it just highlights the extraordinary level of incompetence we have witnessed for too long.

Everton fans have been prepared to suffer because they have a belief and hope, but those qualities are now in short supply. A financially ring-fenced European Super League will finally put belief and hope out of their ailing misery.

And now the good news, Calvert-Lewin is going to get fit, we'll beat Leeds on Saturday, we are going to stay up, Moshiri is going to sell to a very wealthy buyer who will immediately sack the incumbents and install a board who will run the club well.

Hopefully these dark times will make the successes more enjoyable, it's the only selling point I can offer.

Dave Abrahams
7 Posted 15/02/2023 at 19:10:00
Dave (2),

I accidentally and an unintentionally wrote a wrong prediction in my earlier post

“Wait ‘til he's 10 and then we maybe we will be on our back “ Jesus, it should have read. “Wait ‘til he's 10 and then maybe we will be on our way back”!!

Brent Stephens
8 Posted 15/02/2023 at 19:43:17
Nice read, Paul. I can just see you inside the Winslow now while your lad of 7 lingers outside the Main Stand. Like father, like son.

Great stuff.

Brian Harrison
9 Posted 15/02/2023 at 19:45:11

Let me say that the one thing that gladdens my heart going to Goodison is the number of young fans attending the games.

I sit next to my grandson, aged 13, and my son in the Upper Bullens and there are a number of other young fans around us.

I know this board rightly come in for some stick but, when my grandson got his first season ticket 6 years ago, he was only charged £92 for the season.

I was talking to a mate who supports the other lot and he said he wished his grandsons could get a ticket for their games, so maybe on that point we have less to worry about where the next young fans are coming from than the other lot.

Obviously the successful teams will always attract the young element from outside the city, and Liverpool and Man Utd and Arsenal probably have more fans living outside this country than in it. But, in Liverpool's case, it was their success in the 70s that was responsible for that, as, to date, they have won the Premier League once in 33 years.

Barry Rathbone
10 Posted 15/02/2023 at 20:01:45
It's all about success and we haven't had any since Adam was a lad so support evaporates.

The original "Merseyside Derby" was Everton against Bootle but they were so shite they vanished and we went on to be founder members etc.

Paul Columb
14 Posted 16/02/2023 at 03:46:32
Don't worry Mike (#4), we'll be perched in the new Everton Stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock together in a couple of seasons wondering what we were ever worried about.

Brent (#8). I still owe you that pint. Maybe in the Winslow while Liam's loitering on Goodison Rd.

Cheers. COYB

Danny O’Neill
15 Posted 16/02/2023 at 06:54:40
I liked that, Paul. Great read.

I was at that West Ham match in 1987. On our way and we new it. Norwich away a few weeks later will live with me forever. Champions. Hand it over Liverpool!

I wouldn't worry about the young supporters. I stand there amongst the supporters a lot and it always strikes me, not just that there are many young supporters, but their passion is something to behold. And this is in difficult times. It was easy for me as a teenager. Those boys and girls show the same commitment and desire despite what is served up in front of them.

I understand you will have to convince your lad to be blue. I can't relate to that because all I knew from since I can remember was Everton. But he won't take much convincing. It's like a marriage, we fall in love, we argue, we make up and we will ride the rough with the smooth. There is no going back and the good times will come.

I know it will be a long trip, but once you get him to Goodison and take him to The Brick or The Winslow, he'll be hooked. Maybe, given your location that will be The Bramley Moore pub.

Thank you, Paul. Still coming down from Monday and getting ready for Saturday. That article cheered me.

Jerome Shields
16 Posted 16/02/2023 at 22:30:39
Thanks, Paul, a great read.

Real Evertonian stuff from the heart.

Phil Wood
17 Posted 18/02/2023 at 02:13:21
Thanks, Paul.

Resonates with all Evertonians. It's been a tough many years for a club with a rich history. That richness is wearing thinner by the season. Respect to the youngsters who continue to follow the tradition. It is a hard watch.

Add Your Comments

In order to post a comment, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.

» Log in now

Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and Talking Points submissions across the site.

How to get rid of these ads and support TW

, placement: 'Below Article Thumbnails', target_type: 'mix' });