Guest article – “I would prefer” by George Costigan

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RITA, SUE AND BOB TOO!, GEORGE COSTIGAN, 1987, © ORION CLASSICS

Today’s guest author is George Costigan actor, author, Evertonian and now known to many Blues as one of the three presenters of “Talking the Blues” podcast.

In his own inimitable way, George talks through the emotions of being an Evertonian ………

One of my favourite bands, Pure Prairie League,  have a song containing the lyrics, ‘Falling In and Out of love with you – don’t know what I’m gonna do – I keep falling in and out of love – with you…’

This, as imprecise as love can be, pretty much mirrors my feelings about Everton, project re-start, and professional football in England. 

Like most/all addicts my drug can get me well high, and deliver me into the pits of despair. When the latter is by far the more common you have to question whether it’s time to give it up, don’t you? I’ve never tried before and the obvious question is, ‘Can you really give up football? Not even watch Everton?’ I suspect, after so many years the answer is probably no but I am sorely tempted to try.

Not because we’re twelfth. Not because there’s no ‘team’ there to support. (At the moment. Carlo Ancelotti must be all too frighteningly aware of the weight of desperate hope and expectation invested on his shoulders. Nothing but the best, Mister) Certainly not because Liverpool are where they are.

Personally I could stomach anything if we did but play! I do not question individual effort, but collectively – it doesn’t exist. (Another big BIG job for CA) And also not because of the glaring irony that having finally got the manager we’ve needed since Moyes’ ambition defeated him, we have wasted the money this man and Marcel Brands would know how and where to spend! That’s life. 

We can rake over the coals of the errors, and we do, endlessly, as fans. If there were some evidence Higher Powers at Everton did the same one might have that most precious of things to a fan – Hope. Finally, the appointments of Ancelotti and Brands are the only reasons. And set against the backlog of grief soaked up during the latter days of Bobby Brown Shoes, Raincoat Koeman (and let’s only single out Ramirez as the most hideous example of his profligacy) and the tumbling chaos of Rhino, Man chewing a wasp Allardyce and the pitiful Silva – and the Hope bank is – low on funds..? Yes, Big Dunc did as big Dunc always did – heart and soul – and now Carlo – but, be honest, have you ever seen a weaker Everton squad? A side with no middle. And now no funds to quickly change it. 

All of which gives me the feeling I won’t stop watching – because of the cliché about rats leaving a sinking ship. But watching (only the Everton games ) Project Re-start brought a gloom deeper even than how naff we were.

The piped crowd on the telly soundtrack depressed the shit out of me. We are football fans. We know, better than any telly director/sound engineer, what noise a crowd makes – because we are the ones who make that noise! So, trust me, there is NO simulation could convince a single solitary soul who ever put his or her money down at a turnstile to go watch his or her ‘lads’. It wasn’t even honest! When Iwobi or Sigurdsson were substituted there should have been huge relieved ironic cheers and applause! The only aspect of silent soccer I was looking forward to was hearing what the players and the coaches said – and as I won’t pay for Amazon Prime (he’s already richer than Greece) I never heard it.

The fact that no fans were allowed into the stadiums depressed me. I kept thinking how little care and effort it would have taken to allow even just the clubs’ wheel-chaired fans in. To make that effort. A symbol, of a regard for the public. Zilch.

Just save the giant handbag of the telly money. The giant wages. The giant jaw-dropping transfer fees.

The Getting back to Normal of the separation between the doers and us watchers. 

And then the statistics that display how little our presence actually affects turnover…

If I’m not needed – do I really need? Crumbs from an indifferent table. 

This is a rant now – and a giant moan, but hell, that’s what watching footy (professional footy) has got me to, so stop reading now cos there’s more. I’m sick of players cheating.     ‘Gamesmanship’ is a word that disgraces the concept of ‘man’.

The authorities could address this issue – and they don’t. I’m tired of asking why. I’m tired of wondering why a public clock doesn’t keep the time and stops when the ball is not in play? Why not? I’m tired of the fleecing and cynical rinsing of the loyalty of fans by the obligatory re-design of each season’s shirts.

The sponsors, the sponsors. The almighty cash-providing sponsors. Their money. Because of money we are all now involved in a league where every single one of us, in denial of the overwhelming majority of our hopes, could make a pretty safe bet of the top 6 next year. The richest and maybe one rogue team who have been superlatively coached. (Will it be us? Not this season, my friends) This is an inevitability. So, what are we watching?

What are the over-paid pundits inviting us to celebrate? The triumph of capital.               

Again it is super-ironic that we, Everton, have wasted ours and will languish in the recovery room – hoping to survive.

My point here is would we still watch if there was movement to level the playing field so we did not know the season ahead? YES! Is there any movement of any kind at any level to suggest anyone is even thinking about this? No! So, the final question – does it matter if I/we watch? No. 

It would be preferred, of course – The Extra Money – oh, and the atmosphere. But footy’ll be fine. Us, the sheep, will feed on the transfer rumours and the gossip and some of us will even buy our season tickets we can’t use, bless our loyal blue and white socks…

Football is a team game played by individuals. A football club is an organisation made up of individuals.

I would prefer the club, the team I support, to be individual in its manner of doing its business.

I would prefer it took a moral stand, from time to time. If it stood up for whatever “The Everton Way” is supposed to be.

(I would prefer it if we were champions).

 I would prefer to watch a team playing positive honest football and I would prefer for the club to be run all for one and one for all. Instead of quoting that after, and only after, we’ve won a game.

I would dearly prefer us not to be a bit of a joke, Carlo aside, right now.

I would prefer other teams to expect a game and not think, ‘Get a goal in front and this lot just don’t come back…’

I would prefer not to be having these thoughts.

But, ‘Once a Blue…’ as someone once said. 

COYB.

by George Costigan


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