Everton 1 - 3 West Ham Utd

Up at 5:50 am, put the dogs out to pump ship and gather breakfast, lunch and dinner together before leaving for Taunton. As usual, a magnificent turnout of 70 die-hards some who had already driven for getting on three hours to pick up the coach!

Ten minutes in and it was 4 inches of snow restricting the motorway to two lanes. We got through that with only minor delays and rocked up at Keele services still with time to spare. Then the trouble started! 

We had already had problems with the doors of the coach failing to close and now they had totally given up. After around 20 minutes, it was becoming apparent that, if we were to get to the match, it wasn’t going to be on this coach.

In times of crisis, someone has to step up and take charge – enter Mike Williams, no relation, long-standing committee member of West Country Blues, ticket and travel secretary, and a man with (clearly) excellent communication and organisation skills. Within a further half-hour, we had a replacement coach – a double-decker – so quite how Mike found one going spare complete with driver, I do not know.

Anyway, we piled on board and off we went. After a while, someone realised there was no loo on this coach and we still had an hour and a half or so to go. Legs were crossed (I congratulated myself on having pumped ship at the services) and the grandson of a lad sitting opposite me was suffering. He must have been around 8 years old and granddad gave him sound advice:

“When you get off the coach stand in the park, point yourself at the stadium opposite (you know where!!) and let it all go!" Classic stuff and what a well-behaved young man he was.

Article continues below video content

No time for a beer with the ToffeeWebbers at the Harlech – we got to our seats at 14:50! For only the second time in my 62 years as a fan, I was in the Upper Bullens and it perfectly illustrates why we have to move to the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock. Nuff said!!

We started well for 10 minutes and, as they came into the game, our first touch was awful. I can only think that this was nerves as it is such a basic skill. McNeil, who I really liked last season, was not in the game at all and seemed to be wandering around aimlessly.

Harrison looked very busy but does not have the pace to get beyond his man, so checks back rather than driving for the line, which results in him being surrounded by three men and of course he loses the ball.

Once we settled down, I thought we were playing decent enough. Onana in my opinion was passing the ball well, looking to move it forward, as was the mostly excellent Garner. Beto was battling well and unsettling their defence whilst also looking ungainly and not particularly controlled.

The penalty was ridiculous – no one around me thought he should be taking it – Doucouré or Garner should surely have taken responsibility and it was no surprise to see him miss. He redeemed himself with a very good headed goal off an equally good cross from Garner.

It all fell apart when they equalised and we chased a winner at the expense of leaving ourselves wide open. People moan about Sean Dyche shutting up shop and this might be why – we are more likely to offer up decent chances to the opposition than we are to score again?

Their first goal was a good header, similar to some we have scored ourselves. Their second was one of those that the player will never score again, and their third was a result of committing everyone forward in search of a point. Unnecessary boos at the end, I thought – it was a good game to watch, gut-wrenching to lose but the players gave their all against a team 8th in the Premier League table.

To heap more misery on us, we had a thorough soaking on the walk back to the coach and I finally got home at 23:20 after a pretty miserable day. Hoping for better when I travel for the Burnley game. 

My ratings are below; thanks again to Mike Williams for ensuring we did not miss the game — top man, Mike!!

Pickford: not much he could do about the goals, 6

Godfrey: solid defensively but so limited going forward, 6

Tarkowski: tried to move forward with the ball whenever he could and rock solid, 7

Branthwaite: given a tough finale by Antonio but played well, 8

Mykolenko: same as Godfrey, 6

McNeil: better second half but overall poor, crossing awful, 3

Harrison: crossing appalling, 3

Garner:  mostly very good, a few stray passes and at fault for their third, 8

Onana: played well, 7

Doucouré: getting back to form, 7

Beto: missed some, poor penalty, scored, tried hard, no long-term answer but I do like his application, 7

Thoughts for next week: we need Seamus Coleman back to provide some threat down the right. Need to have bodies in midfield and give our wingers a break as they are not in the zone. I’d play a midfield of Onana and Gana (if fit) with Gomes, Doucouré and Garner ahead of them and Beto up front. No width but we don’t have much anyway and at least this team would clog up the midfield. Sean Dyche has to stay for now at least.

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 ()

Paul Kossoff
1 Posted 03/03/2024 at 00:06:27
Dave, well done for the travel and weather bearing, thanks for the report, always nice to read about a fellow blue and his match day. We really need to change tactics before it's too late. We can't afford any more slip-ups at Goodison, especially against teams we should be beating.

We certainly don't need two wingers every game who just seem to try and keep possession at all costs, oh for the gung go approach. I've said I think we will only get around 14 points in our remaining games, finishing with 39, 33 if the Premier League stick it to us again.

Mind you, I like kippers… bloody good job, because that's what we are being stitched up like.

Alan J Thompson
2 Posted 04/03/2024 at 05:48:26
Come on, Dave, we're all on tenterhooks. Where was the double-decker parked, did you get it back all the way or just to the open-doored one, and how many pit stops did it have to make or was it large bottles of brown for emergency empty use?
Danny O’Neill
3 Posted 04/03/2024 at 06:26:25
What is the phrase from a war film I can't remember the name of?

Improvise, adapt, overcome.

Respect and total respect to the West Country blues, overcoming mechanical challenges and the elements.

Safe and hopefully better travels on your next one!

Dave Williams
4 Posted 04/03/2024 at 10:03:17
Alan, sorry, rushed the last bit not wanting to bore you all with the detail!

We took the replacement coach back to Keele where we started with it. The driver had moved all our bags – quite a job with so many on board – on to the second replacement coach and we arrived there having to dig through a mountain to find our bags which of course contained our food supplies!

Happily, this coach was equipped with a loo though with having missed the pub it wasn't in that much demand!

Hoping for a smoother trip for Burnley!!

Paul Kossoff
5 Posted 04/03/2024 at 14:17:49
Danny 3,

Improvise, adapt, overcome.

Heartbreak Ridge, Clint Eastwood.

Dave Williams
6 Posted 04/03/2024 at 14:50:37
If it’s good enough for Clint…….!!
Dave Abrahams
7 Posted 04/03/2024 at 15:51:54

I can't praise you and your fellow Blue travelling fans enough, amazing, so much time, cost and problems to watch the team, so much love for the club and yet very little reward or joy for your troubles.

Give yourselves a pat on the back from me, I wish I could offer you more – you truly deserve it.

Maybe next week, favourite last words!

Jay Harris
8 Posted 04/03/2024 at 16:34:48
Dave, traumatic trip, traumatic day, I keep telling myself it has to get better and that I shouldnt care so much but I do.

I totally agree with your summing up of the game. I thought Dyche's tactics of being well organized and keeping it tight would work well against the Hammers but somebody gave them the wrong script and told them to go at it which is exactly what West Ham wanted as they are one of the best counter-attacking sides in the Premier League.

Unless Dyche and the players get smarter, we are in for a tough run-in as confidence and unrest is starting to build again.

Squeaky bum time beckons so we all need to be as one again for one of the most important periods in the history of the club.

Paul Ferry
9 Posted 04/03/2024 at 19:35:54
Blue bobbles off to you, Dave, and everyone else on the coach(es). Are most of the lads and lasses you travel with in exile from our city or West Country bred?

Thanks for your magnificent support.

Dave Williams
10 Posted 04/03/2024 at 20:20:35
Thanks, Paul, much appreciated!

Most of the West Country Blues are exiled scousers like myself and it always warms the heart to listen to the broad scouse accents on the coach. I've been away now for 45 years but will always regard Liverpool as my home.

What's your story – how did you end up in Chicago?

Paul Ferry
11 Posted 05/03/2024 at 17:59:41
Cheers Dave. I bet you look forward to those coach trips! Education mainly mate. Undergraduate at York, PhD Cambridge, couple of teaching jobs in England (Warwick) and then crossing the ocean, crap, almost 24 years ago.

Wish I could hop on a coach to the Old Lady every other week or more.

Thanks again for your brill support,

Paul Tran
12 Posted 05/03/2024 at 18:24:04
Paul F, can't believe you missed out Hugh Baird College, Bootle, in your impressive academic journey!

Hats off to you Dave, and all the West Country Blues, for your brilliant support and matchday stories! The team owes you one – no, make that a few!

Jon Harding
13 Posted 06/03/2024 at 09:52:57
Re your last paragraph, Dave.

I read hundreds of comments on here after the game at the weekend and there was a strong theme that the wingers are hopeless at the moment and should be dropped.

I was thinking about an alternative plan and came up with very similar to yourself – our 4 senior midfielders, if fit, all playing.

Where I'd differ from you is by excluding Gomes. I'd play a pacey forward up there alongside our "Number 9" – Dobbin or Chermiti probably. Beto or Calvert-Lewin stays up and central and that other forward does the chasing. It would probably be a position for use of an early sub!

We could use Gomes off the bench to help with game management, should we ever be in a winning position again.

I'd be interested in other ToffeeWebbers' opinions here as my experience apart from spectating is limited to coaching kids' football.

Paul Ferry
14 Posted 06/03/2024 at 19:24:36
Ha ha, nice one Paul T, and you're right mate, Bootle Tech did much more for me than St Mary's in good old Crosby. I also forgot to list you as a mentor.

Spot on, those West Country lads and lasses are a real credit to the club.

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

© ToffeeWeb