More Than This…


It’s not just me that has been enduring the beginning of the season for Everton.

Others, mainly strangers, have been involved in my melancholy.

Before we continue, let me re-iterate: football is irrelevant.

The past month, more than any other, has reminded me of this. The popular claim, often expressed by frustrated females, is just twenty two men chasing a piece of pigskin, should instead be adopted by any pragmatic individual who realises that there is no design for life, there’s no devil’s haircut in your mind, there is not a wonderwall to climb, or step around… And Shankly was completely out of order when he suggested football was more important than life or death because it is simply not.

However, for now it still plays a part in our lives, and so some of us choose to get over that fact and deal with it, as a form of pathos, by writing about it for a football-related website full of interesting and insightful journalism written by better men than I, and so to feel a bit better about Everton’s plight but more importantly the fact it is clearly still bothering me, despite everything that is going on around me at present, here is a description of those characters who have shared certain moments with me:

Blackburn Rovers (Away)

I watched this game with a couple of friends in a weird little bar in the city centre. We wandered round a handful of regulr haunts in search of somewhere with a signal; looked all over, through the rain, for somewhere showing it, and thankfully we found just the place, infact immediately after the stupid winning goal so were spared the embarrassment of watching it live.

The bar man was clearly an Everton fan but was pretty blase about the result and anti-climactic performance. Then there was a long haired fellow Blue with a purple Bilyaledtinov shirt asking who we supported. And presumably a resident artist whose paintings adorned the place, letting on to us and divulging uninteresting anecdotes about his oeuvre when I asked about a painting of Duncan Ferguson.

I left already disappointed, and thinking this would be a long hard season – not just in terms of finding somewhere to watch the game.

Or, having to watch it with weirdoes.

Wolves (Home)

I only saw the second half, in the local. There was a guy always there who’s a bit nuts, I think he’s a Blue but can never be sure.

Either way, I was stood by the toilets, so got a few funny looks myself.

Basically, rubbish.

Huddersfield Town (Carling Cup, Home)

We won 5-1 and it should have been more.

I got served at the bar by an ex pupil who must have asked herself, why on earth is my old teacher stood there drinking expensive pints of Chang on his own, clearly wanting a meaningless victory to kickstart the season?

Aston Villa (Away)

I watched this behind time – I’ve advocated the merits of sky plus before – having paused the programme and then tried to catch up for real time, because I was busy discussing wedding arrangements with the Mrs.

And regardless of the disappointing result, that was more of a priority than us missing yet more chances on the way down to the bottom three.

Manchester United (Home)

The neighbours complain, about the noises above…

Such as the bang on the floor – normally reserved for  when Arteta scores in the 93rd minute and Jonathan jumps up and down loudly, despite his thinking he’d broken his right foot in a five-a-side game the day earlier, thinking the season has started and forgetting the pain for a moment.

Upon landing he wished he’d not turned down a ticket that day.

Newcastle United (Home)

Back to the pub, surely a continuation of last week?

Instead, Sky Italia failed, a pub groans its discontent, then thanks the satellite system for denying them the torture of what should have been a watershed moment for the campaign…

And all the while, my attention is diverted to a couple who come in and sit under the screen with their kid. Evertonians around me are all agog at the unfolding ‘action’ but watching their language given the present company; whilst I am more bothered about the Irish pair, him with his ‘captain’ polo shirt and nautical tattoos, watching Little Lord Fauntleroy play with his transformers, wondering why they’d choose to bring the family on an outing to watch this rubbish.

And all the while I’m updating my uncle up in Newcastle , remembering days gone by and wishing things were as simple as they were back then.

Like when we saw this guy at the Metro Centre.

Brentford (Away)

I listened to this game in a nice little bar in our village, whilst somewhat bizarrely watching the Arsenal Tottenham game. So, both ears on the mobile listening to the woefully inadequate penaly defeat. The radio commentator made a joke about Angela Lansbury and kept referring to ‘gay’ on our left wing.

I drank with one eye on the big screen, and one eye on the sparse population of the place, a variety of hardened men presumably with little better to do, plus a couple who sat near me, both on the large side, who were clearly on a first date.

Bless ‘em.

I wonder, did that pair, later on in the evening – the mind boggles – stop their frantic fumblings for a moment and ask each other:

What was that guy doing sat in the pub listening to his phone nervously?

Because I ask myself the same question.