Every Evertonian arises an optimist on a Saturday morning. Some will deny this, but they are lying.
It is the hope, even expectation that at 4:45ish you will be witnessing eleven heroes in blue walking off Goodison Park to a rapturous ovation from 35,000 likeminded Saturday morning optimists which keeps the legs moving in a Goodison direction every week. Even those who protest they have long since abandoned any hopes of witnessing Everton glory on a Saturday, squeeze through the turnstiles harbouring secret imaginings of a thunderous Cahill header, or a last-gasp Bainesâ€™ free-kick nestling in the top corner. Nobody goes to a football match to witness their team losing, the ticket prices ensure that.
The game more often than not follows the same pattern. An early spell of promising domination from Everton, with a few half chances sprinkled throughout, only proves to whip the morningâ€™s optimism into a frenzy of expectation – then against the run of play, the inevitable invasion of Tim Howardâ€™s goal. This momentarily arrests hopes of a jubilant afternoon, but after a few minutes you convince yourself, citing the promising early spell as evidence, that an equaliser and subsequent winner are a case of when, not if.
Half time comes, and goes.
As the game progresses, so the hope dwindles, each impotent long ball chips away at the dayâ€™s optimism until somewhere between the 70th and 80th minute you concede that a draw will suffice, and file away all hopes of a win for another Saturday. In the last five minutes the sick realisation that losing is possible sets in, and the dayâ€™s hopes switch focus to a large figure displayed on the fourth officialâ€™s board. Even now a defiant voice somewhere deep inside reminds you that the day is not yet lost, the voice whispers: â€œRemember Manchester United at home last season.â€ But Saturdays such as those do not come along often, and sure enough the referee calls halt to another week of expectations, and instead of 11 heroes in blue being cheered off the pitch, Goodison is vacated to a chorus of displeasure.
Walking away from Goodison, the morningâ€™s optimism now just a distant memory, a feeling of betrayal sets in. The feeling is worse, because after all youâ€™ve been here before, youâ€™ve been fooled into believing a glorious outcome was possible again, and the reality is so much more frustrating. False promises rebound about your head now: â€œIâ€™ll never go again!â€ Social media sites should be avoided at this time, for the sake of guarding against future regret.
A period of gloom ensues over the next few hours, one that is usually punctuated with either alcohol or Match of the Day, or both. As Saturday stretches closer to Sunday, taking you ever further away from those two hours spent at Goodison, the despair gradually ebbs away and one by one thoughts of hope begin to bubble back to the surface. Before you know it you have convinced yourself that next Saturday will be different and are already expectantly looking forward to that rapturous ovation for 11 heroes in blue. The cycle begins all over again.