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Back in the early 1990s, sartorial discipline amongst certain Evertonians reached a level of stripped-down asceticism more akin to a Benedictine order. No edict ever came from on high, but the maxim that wearing colours was frowned upon permeated through elements of the fanbase nevertheless. After a certain age, sometime in your early teens, it was made known that coming to the match in anything more club-orientated than a WSAG t-shirt would be considered an ostentatious infraction, one that would mark the wearer down as exhibiting that most damning of characteristics, ‘Kopite-behaviour’.

Gradually, over time, the maxim’s strength began to dissipate and as the 1990s rolled into the 2000s and beyond, it became more commonplace to see your Da wearing an overly-stretched home shirt in the Park End. Blue is very much the colour as you cast your eye around Goodison today, the restrictions of the past a largely forgotten footnote in Everton’s history, a bit like Rob Wakenshaw or ‘Dixie’, the horrifying foam boy who once haunted the pitch in the name of club-endorsed fun.

But its memory comes to mind in light of recent developments, namely the attempts by the club and certain fan groups to challenge the growing library-fication of Goodison.

There is no doubt that when the occasion demands, like Derby day, big cup games or the visit of one of the ‘elite’, Goodison still retains its power to intimidate. The capacity of the fans to get the ground to shake has never diminished and in recent years there have been any number of occasions when that famed Goodison atmosphere of lore has reared its head to bite and chase opponents away.

But what has changed, what has become more of a concern are those times when the Shite aren’t visiting, when it’s just a routine cup tie, when the rest of the Premier League are in town.

There have always been occasions in the past when the atmosphere in the ground has lulled. You cannot sit through as much mediocrity as the average Evertonian has over the course of the past 30 years and not expect the fans to occasionally view the turgid, joyless display in front of them with a shrug of indifference.

But those lulls have stretched of late, a yawning chasm of indifference that has turned the ground from a bubbling cauldron into a barely simmering pan.

The efforts by the club and fan groups, specifically The Originals 1878 to do something about this last season, marked a long overdue attempt to solve the problem of Goodison’s shortcomings. Whether it’s the siren, the proliferation of flags or the proposed singing section, there now appears to be a concerted effort, and a definitive movement to create a different kind of atmosphere at the match.

Although there has been support from the wider fanbase, it’s fair to say that not all quarters have welcomed what has taken place so far. The recent home game against Watford acted as flashpoint between those hostile to change and those willing to try anything to restore Goodison’s once mighty atmosphere.

To some, the flags that were handed out before the game and the presence of fireworks on the pitch was a step too far. For them, these moves got filed under ‘Kopite-behaviour’, that most damning of labels. And it’s the appearance of that term on social media, accompanied by Orwellian-like grumbles of ‘un-Everton’ behaviour that brought back to mind those far-off days of sartorial discipline.

Evertonians for so long have defined themselves by what they are not. In the 1990s, other fans, specifically those across the park, embraced club merchandise with the fervour of the recent convert. You showed your love by how much you spent. If the club could stick a crest on it, you bought it. But not for us. We wore our support more discreetly. Maybe a hat or scarf in the winter, a WSAG badge all year round. You knew you were an Evertonian. There was no need to advertise the fact to everyone else.

Although there was a certain dignity in that, perhaps it went too far. While there is everything wrong in turning up to the ground bedecked, head-to-toe in your club’s colours, there’s nothing wrong with wearing the home shirt. Over time, our sensibilities have shifted, accommodating the changes that have taken place in the game without completely going over to the dark side.

But that sense of positioning ourselves in opposition to everyone else has not gone away. It’s at play here again today with the debate surrounding Goodison’s atmosphere (or lack thereof). As fans, we associate club sponsored flag waving, pyrotechnics on the pitch and organised singing sections with clubs who are particularly un-Everton (that term again), the kind of clubs who have to manufacture their own narrative, tell their fans what to feel, conjure up an atmosphere where one would not exist. We see ourselves as different from this, a cut above, a fanbase unsullied by such nakedly desperate attempts to create something tangible from nothing.

That positioning would not be so bad if the alternative was an authentically generated atmosphere. But it isn’t. The alternative is patchy at best. We could afford our lofty stance in the past because Goodison was a great place for the home side to play and a daunting place for other teams to visit. But when long spells of the game are greeted with muted silence, is defining ourselves by what we are not a luxury we as fans can afford?

Pre-organised flag waving and fireworks on the pitch might not be to everyone’s taste, and I’ll admit that the sight makes me feel slightly uneasy. But in the fight to get the ground rocking again, surely it makes sense to try all the tools in ’the arsenal?

Like a fifty-year-old wearing an Everton shirt to the game, embracing what is happening at the club right now might be something we all just have to get used to.

  1. I disagree, it’s supposed to be a symbiotic relationship, both are supposed to gain from each other. Football players can’t do anything to get the crowd going before they step on the field, therefore it’s upto the crowd to start the atmosphere and hopefully the team feed off it and encourage it to get louder. The team and fans perform better when they act as one.

    I disagree, the players can do plenty to get the crowd up before they go on the field. They can have put in a preformance in the previous game that has the crowd anticipating more. It can be a symbiotic relationship players can feed of the atmosphere and raise their game and the crowd can improve that atmosphere by getting behind something that is deserving of support. This can be carried on to the following game, if fans feel they have something to cheer about then they do so. If they are turning up to watch flat preformances then it would be very hard to creat a genuine atmosphere.

  2. Atmosphere doesn’t make a good team, a good team creates the atmosphere. While certain things can help create a better feeling within the stadium get a good group of players on the field giving of their best and you will have an atmosphere second to none.

    I disagree, it’s supposed to be a symbiotic relationship, both are supposed to gain from each other. Football players can’t do anything to get the crowd going before they step on the field, therefore it’s upto the crowd to start the atmosphere and hopefully the team feed off it and encourage it to get louder. The team and fans perform better when they act as one.

  3. That’s mostly because American sports have timeouts and breaks in play that allow for such nonsense. Thankfully soccer is different. A few MLS teams have confetti or horns or pyro when the home team scores a goal, but by and large the over-the-top elements are nowhere to be found in our league.

    I know.
    -an American

  4. Atmosphere doesn’t make a good team, a good team creates the atmosphere. While certain things can help create a better feeling within the stadium get a good group of players on the field giving of their best and you will have an atmosphere second to none.
  5. Just don’t American-it all up, with exploding scoreboards and insanely loud music and kiss-cams and all that nonsense.

    That’s mostly because American sports have timeouts and breaks in play that allow for such nonsense. Thankfully soccer is different. A few MLS teams have confetti or horns or pyro when the home team scores a goal, but by and large the over-the-top elements are nowhere to be found in our league.

  6. Thought provoking article, but wrong for me.

    The atmosphere has to be authentic and organic.

    Murals, mini-flags, fireworks, plane-banners are alien. So too are all those minty national flags behind the Park End goal. It’s so ‘kin Great Yarmouth FC it’s unreal.

    While we’re about it: minutes silences/applause and maudlin Remembrance Day ceremonies should all be expunged too.

    But when you’re crying
    You bring on the rain
    So stop you’re sighing
    Be happy again.

    And keep on smiling
    ‘Cause when you’re smiling
    The whole world smiles with you.

  7. Just don’t American-it all up, with exploding scoreboards and insanely loud music and kiss-cams and all that nonsense.
  8. The fair play handshake took some of the atmosphere away IMO.

    Players running out of the tunnel straight to the Gwladys was always better.

    But as I’ve moaned about for years, it’s the season ticket holder allocation that’s done the atmosphere in, with a dose of apathy.

  9. The new stadium, and that large bank behind the goal, will give us a chance at ‘reinvention’.

    It’s up to the young Toffee hipsters to how this will manifest itself.

    It’s an opportunity for boss flags and banners.

  10. Really well written article. Anything that improves the atmosphere at home is fine by me. Opposition teams should fear coming to Goodison and we should make it a hostile environment for their players whilst making it a supportive one for ours. The last few games at goodison with the siren/ singing/ flags & pyrotechnics have been far more enjoyable than the last few deathly quiet seasons. Well done to all involved in trying to lift the atmosphere.
  11. We just need to make more noise. Doesn’t seem hard to me, but I’m only going 3/4 times a season so I’m always game for getting involved…but everyone round me is just seems to be over trying. I find it frustrating but perhaps I’d be same after a full season.
  12. Thought provoking article, but wrong for me.

    The atmosphere has to be authentic and organic.

    Murals, mini-flags, fireworks, plane-banners are alien. So too are all those minty national flags behind the Park End goal. It’s so ‘kin Great Yarmouth FC it’s unreal.

    While we’re about it: minutes silences/applause and maudlin Remembrance Day ceremonies should all be expunged too.

  13. They should never of brought in colour tv either, we were much better in grey and white, bah humbug to all this modernism
  14. When the RS play in big European games across the park, they employ this tactic where they boo and whistle the opposition whenever they gain possession of the ball, and it works, BIG TIME.

    Seeing as we are without doubt the best boo-ers on planet earth, I’d love to see us employ this tactic one day, as I think it would affect the opposition in the same way it does for them lot.

  15. I think a lot of fans didn’t buy into it because it wasn’t "cool" or "forcing" an atmosphere or they were doing something they once formerly mocked that other teams did but something needed to change, All you have to do is check the record since the siren introduction, Little things like that can add up and give a boost the players so I’m all for it, Hats off to everyone involved with the changes.
  16. That’s a well written and convincing argument. I hope it gets the reception it deserves.

    I think one way of approaching this is for those who don’t like the orchestrated stuff not to block or put down those who do, especially if they’re a bit younger.

    No-one should feel pressured to behave a particular way but likewise, no-one should be made to feel less of a supporter because someone else doesn’t share their views on how to support the team.

    Spot on!

  17. That’s a well written and convincing argument. I hope it gets the reception it deserves.

    I think one way of approaching this is for those who don’t like the orchestrated stuff not to block or put down those who do, especially if they’re a bit younger.

    No-one should feel pressured to behave a particular way but likewise, no-one should be made to feel less of a supporter because someone else doesn’t share their views on how to support the team.

    Spot on mate ;)

  18. That’s a well written and convincing argument. I hope it gets the reception it deserves.

    I think one way of approaching this is for those who don’t like the orchestrated stuff not to block or put down those who do, especially if they’re a bit younger.

    No-one should feel pressured to behave a particular way but likewise, no-one should be made to feel less of a supporter because someone else doesn’t share their views on how to support the team.

  19. I always put the lack of shirts in the 90s down to our fans still really not being able to justify spending the cash on something they’d only wear every other week. I know as a kid you’d see people in blue and white, but few replicas. As the years wore on and there was a bit more prosperity (and a higher number of non local fans) the replica shirts picked up.
  20. I personally can’t believe their is scorn on a few lads trying to create a better atmosphere, I think its great what they are trying to achieve. Keep doing what you are doing it is having an effect, we sit in the top balcony (young children so better views for them). But the end of last season was great knowing that there would be an atmosphere inside the ground, it certainty improved by us. Keep doing what you are doing lads!
  21. I have never owned an Everton scarf, nor bought an Everton top. But whilst I cringed a little when I saw all the flags stuck behind our seats, when the team came out to the sirens, the sea of blue and white and the bouts of flame, it looked utterly brilliant!

    I don’t know how we each got some Grinch DNA in us, but we have, and any attempt to purge our systems, to squeeze those misery glands, must be supported in my view. Goodison was a truly horrible place to be in 3 of the last five seasons, that is not good enough, I don’t pay good money to sit in the ground being miserable, I want to be entertained. Not all of that entertainment I’ll be to my liking, just as not all music is to my liking. But to have a good party, you must mix it up! So enjoy the bits you enjoy, but don’t pour scorn on the bits you don’t enjoy, if we do that we may as well be koppites,

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