Today, there’s a guest article by Everton fan John Hoyte
“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs”
So the Rudyard Kipling poem goes. Written, in fact, not too long after a familiar football club was founded on the corner of St Domingo Vale. Everton are no strangers to looking to the past to fix the problems in the present, but in this case there may be some wisdom we can heed.
In recent weeks, it will come as a surprise to no one to hear that Everton are a club in disarray both on and off the pitch. The chaos within is more recently mirrored by increasing unrest and division between long suffering fans; with each contributing to the other almost in a feedback loop. There are countless articles about what, who, how and why, so I won’t eulogise too much about the situation we find ourselves in as a club, but the question we still have yet to find an answer to is: what do we do next?
“If you can wait and not be tired by waiting”
As fans we have waited. And we are tired. For a whole generation, one of the most decorated clubs in the English game has stood stock-still. If the club’s current trajectory is any indicator, we’re on course to reach three decades without any legitimate reason to celebrate. Patience can only last if it is eventually rewarded, but in the case of a much maligned fanbase, it is almost abused.
“Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken”
Frustration borne out of a lack of accountability for the club’s reckless decision-making has given rise to fan groups organising themselves into campaigns for change. The most prominent of these fan movements that has surfaced is the 27 Years Campaign, which has itself been the subject of debate and, at times, dispute amongst Evertonians. At one end of the spectrum, some would argue that protests, gatherings, demonstrations are necessary to enact change that will secure the survival of the club. At the other, many feel an ominous form table means diverting our focus to off-pitch matters puts the club’s top flight status in jeopardy.
The disparity in public opinion on how fans can influence Everton’s on and off-field performance, and the passions that arise from these conversations, have gradually begun to spill over into increasingly tense exchanges. The 27 Years Campaign has garnered some self-inflicted controversy, with some organisers arranging a small gathering outside the Everton HQ at the Royal Liver Building that wasn’t publicised to the wider fanbase as a form of ‘PR stunt’ to attract media attention. Accusations of perceived exclusivity and a lack of transparency risk alienating sections of the fanbase that may already have needed a certain amount of persuading.
“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch”
The 27 Years Campaign at its source has a cause that can unite Evertonians – a mutual love for the club and a desire for a prosperous future. I fear as an entity it risks overthinking the issues and becoming almost too cerebral to succeed in its stated aims. It seems inevitable that as a fanbase we will continue to bicker about the means of protest, what progress looks like and how to achieve it. In-fighting just serves to convolute the issues at hand and undermine the purpose of the campaign. There seems to be more focus on who the fan groups or personalities are organising the campaign and what the next event, stunt or Twitter Space will be than there is on incentivising the majority shareholder to engage in discourse.
In light of the recent communications by Farhad Moshiri, both through the official channels and his parting message to Jim White, the club have demonstrated they are largely aware of fan sentiment (which you may or may not attribute to the fan-led campaigns). To now successfully engage Farhad Moshiri and have any influence on the direction of the club from this point, we need to be united as a fanbase. That means appealing to fans who may feel differently about methods and motives and finding a message that brings them along with you. To gain any lasting traction, support behind a message must grow organically. Not through targeting media outlets for coverage, but through sincerity and authenticity. We all care for this club and we all want better. Let’s show them that and build together from there.
“If you can fill the unforgiving minute ; With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”
In terms of the future of the club, there’s no guarantee the path ahead is any easier than what’s come before. Whether one day we lift a European trophy or we play in a minnows league, and no matter who holds the reins, it’ll still be Everton. The one thing that will always remain is the fans. If we can come together now, there might be some good times for us left yet.
Courtesy of John Hoyte
Categories: guest article