A day of mixed emotions. It started with sad news that a friend I had known since being in training in the Army for over 20 years, served with in various places around the globe had passed away quietly early in the morning after a short illness at 51 years old. Puts life into perspective. Rest in peace Roy. Stand down soldier. Your duty is done.

 

But then quickly followed by the great news that my nephew and his wife were blessed with their second child. Welcome to the world Zachary. His Dad and Grandfather are Kopites, but his uncle, my nephew, Patrick (Paddy) is an Evertonian. There could be hope for the young man.

 

Now onto Everton and the night in west London.

 

We headed in on the new Elizabeth Line, which is very impressive and connected at Paddington to make our way to Putney Bridge. Onto the 8 Bells and greeted with an “Away Supporters Only” sign. Even after all of these years of living down here, I still find that odd. We all have idiots, but the vast majority of supporters are there to watch the match and will gladly mingle and have banter with each other before, during and after the match. I sometimes wonder if the authorities create issues with things like that. Like being escorted to Anfield at Derbies and vice versa when they visit Goodison. Our home city. Most will have travelled together, go home together and debate in their homes or locals. Leave supporters to themselves. That’s just my view. I don’t get it.

 

Anyway, we met with Mark and Mike and a few others. And then eventually got to meet Dave Cashen in person who eloquently graces these pages. It took a while for us to navigate the pub even though it is surprisingly smaller than I remember, so you wouldn’t think it was difficult. But we found each other. In fairness it was heaving with Evertonians and it was challenging to pick people out. We used televisions as reference points. But there were three. We tried corners, but there were four. Eventually the large mirror sorted it out!! A crowd in one of the corners was singing loud and proud, giving Mark a few renditions of his favourite “Marching down the Goodison Road”!! You could feel a sense of optimism. That travelling Blue Army never ceases to amaze me.

 

Off to take the 10 minute walk and into the stadium. I do like Craven Cottage, even though I remember that period under Moyes when we seemed to have countless 1 – 0 defeats on several of my previous visits.

 

Fulham’s new riverside stand looks impressive but was empty in the middle again. It must not be complete as that has been at least two seasons now. I’ve mentioned this before, but talking to a few Fulham supporters, apparently the season tickets for it will be £3000. The highest in the Premier League, surpassing Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal. Talk about matchday revenue. I think our highest is still less than £700.

 

Why didn’t we wear blue? We could have played in all blue but opted for an all Salmon attire. Minor point, but I sometimes wonder.

 

It was an open match, and I was surprised it ended 0 – 0. As has been said elsewhere, it could have been 4-4, but I think a draw either way was a fair result.

 

How that wasn’t a penalty does not compute with me. It was blatant. It wasn’t questionable. The subsequent explanation is a shithouse excuse. I’ve never been a conspiracy theorist, but this is starting to turn me into one. A few weeks ago, we had one given against us for the ball hitting Onana’s armpit from about 50cm. At Craven Cottage, the Fulham player practically patted it away with his outstretched arm. Once again, we suffer from poor officials. You didn’t need VAR to decide that. We could see it from the other end of the ground. Watching the replays and highlights doesn’t help as it rubs salt in the wounds.

 

I was convinced that Beto had scored. I was just about celebrating. Head it down and that’s in. Basics. Height and distance as a defender, head it down as a forward. And as for that sequence of events in the dying seconds, where we seemed to have about seven attempts (exaggeration but felt like it!!) at their goal in what was the final sequence of play. It just wouldn’t go in. Some sort of magnetic shield must have been present.

 

That Pickford save right in front of me was just outstanding. Along with our defence, and the recent good performances from Virginia, this is an area of the pitch we are relatively strong in. Aside from the odd collapses, most of our games are close and even when we get beat, it’s usually by the odd goal.

 

That said, I understand wanting to get on the front foot, but sometimes, I wish the keepers would refrain from quickly punting it forward and take their time on occasion if it’s not on. There was a moment I commented on when Jordan did play short to Branthwaite only for Jarrad to play it straight back for the keeper to belt it forward. What was the point? He could have done that in the first place. Although in fairness, maybe we were trying something different and Fulham did press well.

 

On the other players, Mykolenko was solid. As always, first over to the crowd. I was right near the front and close to the pitch and to see the delight in the young girl’s face he gave his shirt to was brilliant. Tarkowski must be our most reliable and consistent player right now. Absolute rock and leader, blocking one off the line. I spoke to the person next to me and we both commented that at times he was the only one talking. Harrison and McNeil looked shattered. The outcome of having a wafer-thin squad.

 

A special mention to Ben Godfrey. I’m still trying to figure out his best position, but he played very well last night. Probably our man of the match. Hopefully he has found his confidence.

 

Dominic put in a great effort against another land of the giant’s team pretty much up there on his own. Their number 31 centre back looked like he was 7 foot tall. DCL works incredibly hard but is continuously a forlorn hope. He’s getting a lot of criticism, but he just needs a goal to break his duck. Don’t dismiss the effort he’s putting in. It will come.

 

The tactics are not pleasant to watch for the purists. Long hopeful balls. It’s a good job we almost have no midfield as we don’t use them anyway and those in the middle must have sore necks as they watch the ball flying high above them. I know the manager is working with a thin squad but sometimes, just change it and get it on the deck more often. Get back soon Idrissa and Doucoure. Garner needs help. He also worked hard.

 

There was a period in the second half of a seemingly endless sequence of corners, but we defended well even if there were a few nervous moments. There were some very anxious people around me, but I am relatively confident in Everton’s defence right now.

 

We demonstrated resilience if not guile and earned a very good away point with a clean sheet. At the end of the season, it will be a good one. Without the 10 points deduction, we’d be happy with that.

The players came over and even Dyche, who, is always appreciative came closer than usual. Maybe that’s the nature of Craven Cottage as they walk past the away section towards the tunnel in the corner.

 

So regardless of what is about to happen, a resilient performance. The Blues never gave in on the pitch and in the stands.

 

It looks like the trains are going to disrupt a lot of people’s plans at the weekend. But there is always a way.

 

Onto the appeal. I don’t care about other results. We have to take care of our own. And there are a few clubs who can still get dragged into the mix.

 

Thanks to Mike as always I really appreciate the help in being able to get to the match. Evertonians all support each other as much as they do our team.

 

Our team. It’s not done yet.


Reader Comments (20)

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Mark Murphy
1 Posted 01/02/2024 at 08:02:31
That nonsensical dirge is definitely not my favourite song, Danny! Sets my teeth on edge that!

It was great to meet Dave too. “What does he look like and
where is he?” I asked?

“He's silver haired with glasses and he's sitting in the corner under the telly” you replied.

There was a telly in every corner of the pub and at least 50% of the 300 or so in the pub had silver hair and glasses – including me! Perhaps it might have been easier if Dave had added that he had a great bushy beard and looked like Captain Haddock!!

Great to meet your boy as well Danny, he's a good lad and does you credit!

Regarding the game, I was disappointed with the result and ranted how it was shite and another good night ruined but, having seen the full replay on the members' app, I feel better.

We're two teams on the pitch – a sound solid defensive one and a useless and toothless attacking one. The sooner Dom finds his scoring touch, the better we will be and I hope Sean Dyche is making it a priority to address that.

On the night, I didn't think that was a penalty but, having seen the replays, I'm becoming more and more convinced we are the victims of a weird vendetta. I'm not paranoid but they're out to get us!
UTFT

Dave Abrahams
2 Posted 01/02/2024 at 10:32:52
Glad you had a good night, Danny, before the game with a few Bluenoses and a decent result later. As you say, that point could be valuable at the end of the season, although I think we will be given what is rightfully ours – a few points ack after the appeal.

Tarkowski, I can't praise him enough, he makes mistakes now and again but he's in the game that much, he's bound to. What a captain: talking and urging the rest of the defence on continually. No mad rages, just talking to them quietly.

Fans talk about Pickford's saves getting us the points sometimes; well, Tarkowski puts his body on the line every game and some of those tackles he makes should inspire the rest of the team to give a bit more.

I hope you make it on Saturday, Danny, I think you might have a happy journey home Saturday night.

Dave Cashen
3 Posted 01/02/2024 at 10:33:34
Still seething over that "penalty"

I don't subscribe to conspiracy theories, but I don't subscribe to the "These things even themselves out over the season" nonsense either. They don't.

We desperately need officials to start seeing some things in our favor. We are just not getting the the decisions lately and it's really damaging us. This one wasn`t even close.

Mark,

I did tell Danny to look for the most handsome man in the bar. You'd have thought... Perhaps not. Maybe a tad misleading

Good to meet you guys, and thanks once again for sorting my ticket, Danny.

Danny O’Neill
4 Posted 01/02/2024 at 10:34:24
I knew you would bite, Mark! Tongue in cheek.

A good night out.

Thank you for the compliments to my son. As I always say, he is the sensible one. Despite my years, I'm the Everton village idiot who can't stop himself.

See you at the next one, friend.

Stephen Vincent
5 Posted 01/02/2024 at 13:16:34
Danny, sorry to have missed you beforehand, I was in the Temperance just up the road.

I was in the Riverside stand and I can tell you that it is all superficial, underneath is a mass of coiled up wires uncovered ducting and lots and lots of bare concrete. The concourse along the Thames is good and in daylight the views across the river must be amazing. Lots of really good food outlets and I had the best hotdog I have had outside the USA.

I went to the Eight Bells after the game and it was packed until well after 11. Great to see Andy Burnham in there enjoying the company of fellow blues. He really is a top bloke.

Went back to the crappy god awful Premier Inn and sat up in the bar with Karl and friends, again top top guys. If you are reading this, I will be touch about Brighton. Eventually got to bed about 4 am. Trouble on the trains took 5 hours to get back.

What of the game? Well it was good to play with 11 men, Onana not being available. Calvert-Lewin is becoming a problem.

I watched the Everton - West Brom game from the Ancelotti era and compared it to Luton last Saturday. Against WBA, he is facing the opposition goal 90% of the time; against Luton, he is facing his own goal 90% of the time, his starting point is 5 yards further up the pitch in the earlier game and of course he has James Rodriguez just behind him and Richarlison along side.

Alan J Thompson
6 Posted 01/02/2024 at 14:15:29
I sometimes think we perhaps should try something quite daft like Beto as target man and Calvert-Lewin in midfield in the Doucoure role, partially helping back but mostly making those late runs into the box.

Never mind flummoxing the opposition for 20 minutes or so. But I don't think Mr Dyche does daft, so it'll be Gana and Young until the injury list lessens.

Tony Abrahams
7 Posted 01/02/2024 at 14:26:35
Interesting point about Calvert-Lewin's starting position, Stephen. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing getting a big strapping lad like Dominic playing with his back to goal but, if it's to be successful, then he needs good service and he needs people running off him – he his not getting either of these things right now.

He also looked totally lost playing in a tandem with Beto last Saturday but it's still something I'd be trying to work on every single day if I was on the Everton coaching team!

Danny O’Neill
8 Posted 01/02/2024 at 15:16:05
Yes, shame to have missed you, Stephen.

Andy Burnham is a top man and Evertonian. Very personable and easy to talk to. Great what he's been doing to fight for the cause.

And it isn't just his political position. Season ticket holder and follows the Blues away too. Sorry I missed him as I've had a good discussion with him recently.

Yes, the Fulham stadium is in a nice setting on the Thames. As is Brentford's too.

Anyway, Goodison on Saturday and we get County Road! But when we move to the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, we will have the best river view of any football stadium in the land!

Stephen Vincent
9 Posted 01/02/2024 at 15:52:08
Tony, Football is all about opinions I suppose.

I don't think Calvert-Lewin is 'a big strapping lad', certainly not when compared to Beto. What Calvert-Lewin does is be angular, he is hard to get around, his backside is always in the midriff of the opposition centre-backs, but it must be soul-destroying for him week after week when the only player chasing his knock-downs and flick-ons is him!

I really believe that, if Calvert-Lewin played for Arsenal, he would be a 20-goal-a-season striker because they have the personnel and the desire to play to his strengths.

Tony Abrahams
10 Posted 01/02/2024 at 16:48:32
Football is definitely about opinions, Stephen, and I wouldn't disagree with you about Dominic scoring a lot of goals if he was playing in the right team but I definitely think it's also about the lack of real quality that our own players possess in the opposition half.

I was genuinely dismayed on Saturday, watching what I believed to be really good possession constantly getting wasted, especially when our four midfield players had two centre-forwards to hit.

Are they tired? Or do they lack genuine quality? Where the two questions I kept asking myself. When people were screaming at Beto and calling him shite, my own thoughts were that at least he's trying because Dominic went totally missing imo, instead of trying to carve both an understanding and sharing the workload with his striking partner.

I feel for Calvert-Lewin because he's been battling injury for a very long time and, now he's finally getting a good run of games, he has suddenly but understandably (to me) lost his form. Dominic badly needs a goal and Everton are absolutely desperate for someone to start scoring.

I hope Dominic's drought ends soon and I hope Beto can relax and start scoring but, with a few hours left in this transfer window, I believe both of them would benefit if we signed a player with a bit of craft.

Danny O’Neill
11 Posted 01/02/2024 at 16:54:13
He looked tired Tony.

Quite a few of the players do.

Tony Abrahams
12 Posted 01/02/2024 at 17:13:28
For the first time in years, it was nice to see some Everton players beginning to play with real confidence, Danny, so I think it's safe to say that the points deduction has definitely put a lot of pressure on our very small squad.

I keep repeating myself, but it's sickening the way the league, have worked in tandem with Everton, knowing that with us trying to stay within their rules, then this has definitely begun to weaken our squad, and then just when we have started to act in a much more professional manner, they have decided to punish us, twice.

The players look very tired because the squad is stretched to the limit, right now, imo.

Danny O’Neill
13 Posted 01/02/2024 at 19:52:08
They gave their all, Tony. That is all you ask for and they didn't give in. Once again, young Branthwaite and the more experienced Tarkowski stood out.

You are on the mark. We complied to their so-called rules and negotiated with them only for them to shift the goalposts.

We have done more than most and, as you say, weakened our squad as a result. The boys will keep going, as will the supporters. Defiance and fight in adversity.

Keep believing blues. On the pitch, on the terraces, and if necessary in the courtroom.

David Bromwell
14 Posted 02/02/2024 at 08:42:53
Meant to write this earlier in the week, but lovely report, Danny, it did bring a smile to my face and a nice alternative to all the no hope transfer speculation.

I happened to be staying in London for the New Year, so I, my son and his children went to the Fulham - Arsenal game. What a lovely little stadium. Anyway, as you remember, Fulham won 2-1 and they deserved their win with all 4 of us cheering and celebrating with them.

Just two reflections from that game: they are very strong down their left side, with "our" Anthonee Robinson one of the very best full backs in the Premier League. At any other time a 0-0 draw for us would have been a very good result. So hoping the early start tomorrow will bring a change of fortune, God knows we all need it.

Paul Ferry
15 Posted 02/02/2024 at 20:08:52
I'm sorry for the loss of your friend ,Danny (way too young) but congrats on the birth of your grand-nephew.

Good write-up and meet up with some familiar names. I've been meaning to ask Mark M for a while now: what is it with you and "Marching down the Goodison Road”, what's wrong with it, it's a grand old tune?

Agree about the Elizabeth Line. I used it for three months over the summer when I was in Limehouse: 40 minutes from Heathrow to Canary Wharf!

Mark Murphy
16 Posted 02/02/2024 at 20:29:26
Paul I guess I'm just a lyrics snob. I hate crap lyrics and Toto's Africa, for example drives me up the wall, especially the line that crams in Mount Kilimanjaro…

“We've got no manners,
We spend our tanners
We are respected, wherever we may go, oh
Walking down the Goodison Road, all the windows open wide…
When you hear the copper shout,
Ey, put the candle out!
We are the Goodison Gang”

It's shite! (In my opinion)

My favourite is "Everton, Everton, Everton"
Followed by the now obsolete "Everton are Magic!" Now that was a song! UTFT

Paul Ferry
17 Posted 02/02/2024 at 23:17:33
Definitely agree about Toto's Africa, Mark!
Mark Murphy
18 Posted 03/02/2024 at 11:15:51
Glad you agree about Toto's Africa, Paul. My missus thinks I've got lyrics Tourette's as I rant about certain songs every time I hear them – ABC's “The look of Love" being another – “if you judge a book by its cover, then you judge your look by your lover…”??? Errrr, yer wha???

Anyway… after the Villa game, I was in the Brick discussing the Goodison Road song with a mad Northern Irish guy and an American couple. There were also a pair of auld guys with a cockney friend who overheard me ranting about the song and acted hurt.

Turns out the two auld fellas are in the opening scenes of “The Golden Vision”, exiting Euston and singing the said song, so they claim it as their own. I did say it probably suited the sixties but I still think it's shite.

They had memorabilia from the show and were fascinating company once they got over their little sulk. The cockney geezer was a blue and must practice his accent as he still sounds like Ray Winstone, even after 17 years in Liverpool. His son is behind the bar in the Brick.

Alan McGuffog
19 Posted 03/02/2024 at 11:48:46
Funny one, that Goodison Road song. I watched (again!) The Golden Vision and was surprised to hear it sung. I'd never heard it at Goodison in the sixties.

I kind of associate it with earlier times... the fifties or indeed the blackout years during WW 2.

Hoping for enlightenment, as Van M might say. Talking of weird lyrics.

Dave Abrahams
20 Posted 03/02/2024 at 11:53:04
Mark (16),

That song you quoted should be “ We know our manners — We spend our tanners” etc etc sounds like Holy Cross parish song, the first part anyway, no wonder the two auld fella' s were upset.

The only song I like they played before the Luton game and two oldish ladies danced their way to their seats singing “ We shall not be moved” Lovely, better than the bleedin' game!!


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