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’.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.