One Day, Goodbye will be Farewell


This week, Everton beat Manchester United, got knocked out of Europe, and announced their season ticket prices for next season.

And, the couple downstairs had another almighty, seemingly final row.

Meanwhile, a man refused to shake another’s hand and we had a celebrity marriage split.

Seeing similarities between football support and a relationship between strangers is tricky to describe, however, sat here listening to Everton losing two nil at Tottenham, those links appear obvious.

As I said the week started with a marvellous victory over the Champions. Rooney irrelevant, it was a joy to watch, especially Rodwell’s Ferguson-esque celebration. Of course, I would have rather attended in person, it was a timely reminder of what might have been: that is, had I kept my season ticket this year, what recent joys I might have experienced. However, I have become used to being an armchair fan this year, and, with prices now released for 2010-11, should I choose to rekindle this particular love affair with a plastic seat from which I once watched mundane bi-weekly fixtures, I will have to pay considerably more for the privilege.

Ok, so we lost at Anfield (more of which later) and we were knocked out of the Europa League, but thanks to a combination of Sky, ESPN and a dodgy foreign website, viewed from my sofa, a bar stool and my laptop, I’ve seen three great victories recently, all of which I probably should have been present at.

When the whistles blew against City, Chelsea, and United, I felt a pang of regret, and had to immediately remind myself of why I had not renewed my season ticket last summer. Back then, the disappointment of the FA Cup Final was fresh in my mind; the pre-season not entirely promising; and of course, on the first day of the season, seemed to vindicate my decision completely. However, since the return of several key players plus the arrival of Landon Donovan, we have (mostly) looked like our ‘old’ selves, and that includes some abhorrations between some real highs. The City game was particularly pleasing because of their ‘lack of class’ and Fellaini’s pirouette, whilst we hadn’t beaten Chelsea for something like ten years.

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But then, we lost once again to the worst Liverpool team I have perhaps ever seen, and really let ourselves down against Sporting Lisbon. Often performing well in cups, that has not been the case this year, and given I have chosen to attend home cup games all season, personally that is a shame. Maybe I’ll make it to a league match before May…

As time has gone on, then, this season has encapsulated the frustrations and joy of being an Everton fan, disappointment followed by incredible high. The inconsistencies have often been caused by injury, yes, but why this should be is another issue – surely the excuses are not down to bad luck? Whatever the reason, it has been a rather up-and-down affair: we fall out when they let me down, but it’s never long before they make it up to me rather spectacularly.

Which brings me to the domestic disturbances that have sporadically taken place downstairs over the last few months. Walls shake, screams pierce eardrums, threats are made, and it all makes rather uncomfortable hearing. We have been very close to ringing the police on a couple of occasions, but decided not to as they clearly make up quickly after a slanging match to rival anything you might imagine taking place between WAGs and England internationals up and down the land. But, on Monday night, John – a taxi driver – started loading up his Hackney with clothes and has not been back since. He it seems is accusing her of stealing large amounts of money from him. Meanwhile, she – not sure of her name, but would recognise her deranged yells of “your MOTHER” – also packed her bags and is there now but has made no noises…

I wonder at what point Everton might make me leave, and never return. Could this happen? Surely, some fans do give up, have a break, or a terminal separation. Maybe that will happen to me. Perhaps one day it will be more than just a hiatus; I too could pack my bags and end things completely, whether it be down to yet another derby defeat, or due to my own impending marriage or potential fatherhood. However, humiliation, relegation, administration, they often seem to bring fans and their teams closer together, as if their relationship becomes stronger for it.

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And, as if by magic, we arrive at yesterday’s events. Now I am not in a position to comment on events from over the past few months, or indeed wear a TEAM WHOEVER t-shirt, but I have been intrigued by the diverse responses to the individuals involved. The lack of a handshake seemed morally questionable because throughout this seedy scenario, Bridge has been credited as the good guy and JT the villain of the piece. However, it would seem that Terry’s wife still stands by her man, and the idea that texts of support would somehow be a surprise went against the belief that “everyone in football knows what Terry’s like” as Craig Bellamy took pleasure in telling everybody after yesterday’s fascinating match. This of course, the guy who is allegedly no stranger to text messages, and is rumoured to prefer to threaten team mates with golf clubs.

And therein lies the problem. Not many footballers, or even fans, can take the moral high ground in these situations, because we never know exactly what the story is, whether it’s the stories of superstars or the couple in Flat 4. Trying to teach about relationships as I do, it is no wonder that our young people’s role models behaviour is mirrored by their heroes’, because neither really knows what the other’s lives are like so make assumptions. Similarly, the naive / bigoted views of some of my twelve year olds yesterday, during a homophobic bullying awareness workshop, is perhaps reflected by – or reflects – the PFA’s apparent unwillingness to get involved in a similar campaign recently.

As football and ‘real life’ seem to travel further away from each other, who knows what will happen next. Maybe I need to get back with Everton and get another season ticket, to rekindle our romance, and get to know each other again.

After all, Yakubu’s just scored.