Everything You Wanted to Know About Everton (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Everton have achieved a lot. Since first emerging from a kickabout by the parishioners of St. Domingo Methodist Church in the late 1870s, the club has amassed more stats and stories than you could probably contain within one book. But Everything You Wanted to Know About Everton (But Were Afraid to Ask), my new book released this week, gives it a go. Within the pages of this miscellany (of sorts) is pretty much everything you could probably need to understand about our great club, the highs, the lows, the ‘good times’, the Mike Walker times.

To whet your appetite, and hopefully drum up enough sales to keep me in biscuits for months, here are a few excerpts from the book…

Goodison’s Greatest Night

It is, according to those who were there, Everton’s greatest single game.

Before the 1984/5 campaign, Everton’s record in Europe had not been the best. In contrast to other big clubs, such as Manchester United, Spurs and Liverpool, all of whom had prospered on the European stage, success for the Blues had never been remotely close.
As victors in the 1984 FA Cup, the club had been England’s entry into the following season’s UEFA Cup Winners Cup. After an early scare against University College Dublin, when Everton made hard work of beating the Irish part-timers, progression to the semi-finals had been relatively formulaic, following straightforward victories against Inter Bratislava and Fortuna Sittard.

Between the Blues and the final now stood Bayern Munich; European royalty at its finest. Having gone away to the Olympic Stadium and ground out a vital 0-0 draw, Everton welcomed the Bavarians on a balmy night in April, with nearly 50,000 wedged inside Goodison.

‘We were in great form, playing well and on course to win the title. But that didn’t mean we were necessarily fancied in Europe. Nobody gave us a prayer and it is understandable why. This was the mighty Bayern Munich playing against a bunch of kids and a few old pros like me and Reidy. We were a bit of an unknown quantity I suppose, and so the question for those watching was probably whether we would rise to the occasion or buckle in the face of a more experienced opponent?’, remembers Andy Gray.

Despite Howard Kendall naming his strongest side, Everton being the better team, and the ground at its intimidating best, Bayern took a 1-0 first-half lead. At the break, a calm Kendall informed his players that they just needed to keep doing what they were doing and when attacking the Street End in the second half, the fans would suck the ball into the net.

Within minutes of the start, figuratively, that’s just what happened, when Graeme Sharp levelled the scoreline. The atmosphere, which had been electric all night, appeared to become more charged. When added to Everton’s physical approach, it tipped the balance in the side’s favour.
Even though at 1-1 Bayern were still in the stronger position (benefitting from the old away goal rule), it only ever felt like one team would emerge victorious and that it was a case of when, rather than if another Everton goal would arrive. When it did, on the 73rd minute, it came courtesy of Andy Gray, who managed to get onto the end of a Gary Stevens long throw to sweep the ball into the net.

Wilting under Everton’s physical approach and the roar of Goodison, Bayern deflated. Their manager, Udo Lattek protested to the Everton bench, shouting, ‘Kendall, this is not football’. The response from the bench was a loud and unanimous, ‘F**k Off’.

The third goal, delivered courtesy of Trevor Steven in the closing minutes merely cemented what had already seemed certain. Everton were in their first European final. The Blues had arrived on the European stage.

Everton True or False?

Theo Walcott thinks his Sanskrit wrist tattoo translates as, ‘Beautiful, Blessed, Strong’. But really it’s Sanskrit for, ‘Disappointing Final Ball’?

Rondon was mostly paid in chow mein?

Bernard, the diminutive Brazilian winger, was unable to play night games for the club because he was so small that Carlo Ancelotti feared he might be taken away by owls?

James Rodriguez never actually played for the club?

Anthony Gordon and Clare Balding have never been seen in the same room together?

Mitch Ward used to DJ at the 051?

According to NASA, the layers of our atmosphere go: Troposphere, Stratosphere, Mesosphere, Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Exosphere, and last of all, Top Balcony?

Cenk Tosun was unable to feature more frequently because his spray on hair contravened Goodison’s fire safety regulations?

Mike Walker wasted most of his transfer budget on carrot oil?

Neal Maupay won a competition to play for Everton?

Everton Mascots

Back in the mid-1990s, when Peter Johnson came in as chairman it was decided that Everton, a club whose commercial arm was run with the same energy as a charity shop in a fading seaside town, needed hauling into the age of modern football. Part of this revolution included the creation of a new mascot. The result was Dixie, a giant foam boy. If the idea was to tap into the family market that was growing in the game, the design choice was an interesting one. Dixie looked like a kind of homunculus Nicky Tilsley (Coronation Street circa 1981), possessed with soulless black eyes, a rictus grin, and an overall energy that could be best described as ‘stabby’. He didn’t last long.

Changy the Elephant
As part of Everton’s sponsorship deal with Chang Beer in 2004, Goodison saw the arrival of a brand new mascot, Changy the Elephant. Whether having a mascot with an enormous trunk who also had a name synonymous with cocaine was necessarily a good idea when chasing that all-important family market, didn’t seem to harm his popularity. Changy ended up becoming a well-loved addition to the Goodison backdrop, amongst young and old. It probably helped that he had two faces, a smiley one and an angry one, the former better suited to the kids, the latter more akin to the average adult Evertonian’s standard match-day experience.

Mr Testicle
A special mention here to a fleeting presence that briefly graced Goodison during the Moyes era. Introduced to promote the Male Cancer Awareness Campaign, Mr Testicle was a giant pair of bollocks with a happy face. Imagine Ian Dowie on a bender and you get the rough idea. Mr Testicle briefly became famous in 2010 when John Terry refused to be pictured alongside him after Chelsea’s game at Goodison, probably reasoning that two cocks in one photo would be more than the public could stomach.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Everton (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Paperback available here: https://amzn.to/47JyQnU
Kindle version here: https://amzn.to/419rUO4

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