Blue Nose

Book Review

Ronny Goodlass – Blue Nose

I have a huge collection of Everton related books – autobiographies, biographies, club histories, stats books etc. Must be around 150 of them. They vary in their quality, from the engrossing biographies by the likes of Rob Sawyer and James Corbett, to autobiographies that are sometimes quite self absorbed, smug, often ghost written affairs that often carry factual inaccuracies. I know Graham’s views on autobiographies – he is not generally a fan! But in my hunger for anything blues related, I still buy them and display them with pride. In the case of ‘Blue Nose’ I have a vested interest as I have spoken to Ronny many times and see him as a great ambassador for our football club and an all round good guy. And there is the added bonus that in buying the book, I am helping his worthy ‘Health Through Sport’ charity.

This book is an autobiography of a footballer but could equally be classed as the memoirs of an Everton fan. His love for our great club is evident all the way through from the first page to the last. I don’t think I have read a book by an ex Everton player that speaks more lovingly of the Toffees, or is spoken through the eyes of a fan as this one, not even those by other ex players who grew up as Everton fans. Sometimes when reading the match snippets of games he played in you aren’t entirely sure if Ronny was playing or watching – it is a real labour of love. For a man sold by the blues as a player and ‘relieved of his duties’ as a youth team coach at the end of the Joe Royle era, there is no bitterness expressed, just a ‘c’est la vie’ attitude.

For younger readers who don’t know much about Ronny, he was a flying winger who provided a lot if the crosses for Bob Latchford (before we signed Dave Thomas). Ronny came through the youth system at Everton alongside the likes of Mick Buckley and George Telfer, scoring 40 goals in 185 games at all levels. He played 51 times for the first team, scoring twice, including playing all three games in the 77 League Cup final and providing the cross for Bryan Hamilton to score only for Clive Thomas to disallow it in the infamous 1977 FA Cup semi Final. After leaving Everton, Ronny was pretty much a pioneer of playing on the continent for NAC Breda and ADO Den Haag in Holland before returning the England to play for Fulham, Scunthorpe, Tranmere and Barrow, as well as a short spell in Hong Kong. After hanging up his boots, he coached at Everton under Joe Royle, with the likes of Michael Ball, Danny Cadamarteri and Richard Dunne under his tutelage. Since then he has been heavily involved with his charity ‘Health Through Sport’ and works on Radio Merseyside as a pundit, known for his honest opinions.

As you might expect from an autobiography, it starts with tales of Ronny’s youth and growing up in Everton, before his family moved to West Derby during the times of the ‘slum clearances’ (a term Ronny is not overly fond of). This part of the book particularly strikes a chord with me as my dad always regaled me with stories of growing up in Rupert Grove and the surrounding areas and always makes me wish I had listened even more intently to his stories. It may not have been the most glamorous of locations but held great memories for my dad, as it does for Ronny.

We learn of Ronny’s progress through his school teams, playing for Liverpool Schoolboys and eventually England Schoolboys and I was amazed to learn that one game had an attendance of 75,000. There is a lovely story about the day he was presented with his England Schoolboys cap at school – the previous boy from the school to have received a cap being David Pegg who sadly lost his life in the Munich air crash.

There is a great tale of how Shankly and Paisley visited his house and tried to get him to join the dark side. But his dad was having none of it saying ‘he’d never be able to watch a football match again’ if Ronny went to the Reds! Perhaps if the fathers of the likes of Carragher, Owen, Rush and Fowler had adopted the same attitude then there might have been a Reds loss and blues gain!

Ronny of course joined Everton and the book is full of stories of the great characters at the club like Labone, West, Ball and King.. His fellow apprentice, Stan Osborne, related similar tales in his superb book ‘Making the Grade’ which was a great insight into the life of an apprentice footballer and Ronny’s stories are no different- funny, engaging and slightly eye opening! Throughout the book we hear little stories, some of which have been rumoured previously, some are new to me, but nearly always related in an affectionate way – even the infamous Mr Bernie Wright! Though Ronny has a less than positive viewpoint on a certain Samuel Allardyce!

The book uses press cuttings as well as Ronny’s own commentary on games. We get an insight into life in Holland and the differences in the preparation for games and the cultural side of things at that time. The time he spent in Hong Kong is very interesting, including the time he spent a night on the lash with Bobby Moore, George Best and his (and my) hero, Alan Ball. Sadly, in those pre smartphone days, he has no photographic evidence of many of his fabled encounters – including meeting a young 18 years old destined for greatness called Ronaldo! Or the time he and his dad spent an evening with Alan Ball Junior and Alan Ball Senior, the stuff of dreams for any true blue.

Ronny has spent the past 22 years working for Radio Merseyside as a match summariser and there are many tales of his life on the road including one incident where it was nearly RIP Ronny! He clearly views this post as his dream job being able to make a living out of watch his beloved Everton.

The book also includes contributions from his former team mates and friends that he introduces as if a speaker as a meeting “thanks for that, Willo”. One lovely testimony for him is by the Everton Chaplain, the Rev. Harry Corbett who talks about Ronny’s time as youth coach at Everton and him wanting the young players to be good people as well as good players – a ‘concern for the whole person’. Ronny clearly is a man with a good heart, as evidenced by ‘Health Through Sport’. This is a registered charity that he founded in 2005 ‘to deliver football coaching to vulnerable and disadvantaged youngsters across Merseyside’. Ronny believes that every child matters and whatever their background they can make a positive contribution to society and achieve economic wellbeing. The work that this charity has done and continues to do is remarkable and a credit to the man and all of those who are involved.

Blue Nose, ultimately is a love letter to Everton written from the perspective of a fan and an ex player & coach. It achieves its aim of being his ‘football story from every angle’( terraces, dressing room, radio), it is open, candid but not bitter (not even towards our rivals!) it is an enjoyable read. If there is any criticism it would be that it isn’t always sequential- it does jump back and forth a few times – but that did not affect the pleasure I got from reading it. I wish Ronny every success with the book.

Trevor Edwards



Love See No Colour

Love See No Colour

Racism has reared its ugly head again recently. Hot on the heels of the wonderful two part documentary by Ian Wright ‘Out of their Skin’, there was the row sparked by the Chelsea fans abusing Raheem Sterling, followed by his comments in the paper, Stan Collymore’s ill advised comments on Twitter and then the Daily Mail’s pathetic attempt to drag Everton’s name through the mud again.

The documentary by Wright was wonderful and a great homage to the pioneers of black football since Viv Anderson made his England debut in 1978. It could have gone further, perhaps, and made reference to those who went before him (including our own Cliff Marshall) but all in all it was a great piece of television albeit a little tough at times to watch, especially when Everton’s name was mentioned, mainly in relation to the abuse dished out to and banana thrown at John Barnes. The shame of those times and the behaviour of a large percentage of our supporters cannot be defended. We were as bad as most clubs, worse than a lot of others. Anyone who was a match day going fan from those days will remember the chants and gestures made towards players of colour and I have no desire to spell them out here. Amongst the glory of those great days of watching a football team that swept all before them lurks that deep shame. It was such a sizeable proportion of our support that few dared to speak out against it. I remember the chants clearly and feeling embarrassed but powerless to do anything about it. But one such group that did are the people behind this very fanzine you are reading. When Skies Are Grey made their stance against racism clear from the off, and one of the classic t shirts created was the ‘No Al Racisimo’ one, a t shirt I am proud to wear still and was modelled in the very pages of WSAG at the time by none other that Neville Southall. The last time I can remember any particularly loud racist chanting – and I may be wrong – was in the 1988 League Cup semi final against Arsenal. A friend who was an Arsenal fan came with me and stood on the Street End whilst the likes of Paul Davis and David Rocastle were racially abused. It was almost poetic justice when those players were involved in the goal that won the game for the Gooners. Incidentally I remember the West Ham player, Clyde Best scoring a wonderful goal against us in the early 70’s down at the Street End. I think there had been some racist comments directed towards him but his sublime goal was warmly applauded.

The club also played its part in trying to eradicate this disease and slowly but surely things improved. I always believed that the fact that Everton did not have a star player who was black focussed unwanted attention on us and also seemed to encourage those fans with their narrow minded views to glory in the fact. I always thought that things would change once we had that black star in the side. Sadly our reputation probably played a part in discouraging players joining us – Les Ferdinand for one. Things had improved greatly by 1994, but needless to say there was still apprehension in the media and amongst some fans about how Daniel Amokachi would be greeted. The concern was unfounded as Ammo became a cult hero, even if he didn’t quite live up to our expectations as a star performer. His two goals in the semi final v Spurs will forever be etched in blue folklore. Ammo embraced our club and is loved still. We have had many black players since and I would like to think that they have never experienced any racist abuse from our supporters, which goes to prove the belief that I held before we signed Amokachi. Likewise, I have thankfully not heard much from my spec in the Street End in terms of racial abuse directed to black players in many years. One funny incident, involved Ian Wright. Wright always scored against us and in this occasion he was baring down on goal, and about to slot another past us. But he woefully miskicked. The fans were starting to give him a barrage of abuse, not racially motivated, when he started laughing, pulled his shirt over his head and mocked himself. This totally defused the situation and earned him a round of applause .

Of course, that is not to say there are no Everton supporters still holding racist views. I have occasionally heard unsavoury comments at the game and there was that appalling Heskey song that some fans used to sing. But should any fan shout anything remotely racist now, I would feel able to challenge them, whereas I would not have risked it in the 80’s. The work done by the club and the likes of WSAG has eradicated that ‘racist club’ tag from all but the most blinkered in society. Which is why Stan Collymore bringing up the ‘Everton Are White’ chant in a tweet recently hurt and annoyed me. We cannot ever forget those days, they are a shameful reminder of less enlightened times, and we should never get complacent that racism has been eradicated from our fanbase. But it is a chant from over 25 years ago and Stan tweeted it in response to a relatively innocuous tweet by a blues supporter. I can only assume he was feeling highly sensitive about the subject as, to be fair to him, he is usually quite complimentary about our club.

The Sterling situation raised several issues. Was the word ‘black’ used in the abuse aimed at him or was it ‘Manc’? I don’t think it has been fully established yet. I am personally not in favour of yelling abuse in a players face, be it our own players or the opposition. I am not a fan who sits and politely applauds, and I have been known to abuse opposition players from afar, but I think there is a line. That said, yelling ‘Manc Bastard’ and ‘Black Bastard’ are on different levels. Of course, a couple of days later we played Watford. Isaac Success, who just happens to be black, wound up our supporters with some shocking simulation. Our reaction was the same as it would have been had it been Jamie Vardy who had been diving. But the Daily Mail decided to post a picture of fans yelling in Success’ face, with the barely disguised insinuation that he was being racially abused. If he was, the fans would deserve a hefty punishment. But there is nothing to suggest that there was anything of the sort.

Sterling’s article in the paper took aim at the different ways players are portrayed by the media, and suggested that the media have fuelled such situations. Phil Foden and Tosin Adarabioyo both bought their parents expensive houses. But both situations were presented in different ways in the press, with Foden looked on favourably whilst Adarabioyo quite the opposite. Certainly, I have noticed that there does seem that there does seem to be a difference and colour does seem to be an issue. Whether fans or media, in the World Cup the only player who seemed to receive as much bad publicity and criticism as Sterling was our own Jordan Pickford. I don’t think either deserved the level of criticism they received. Thinking back to past England players and one player always on the wrong end of fans abuse was John Barnes. It would be hard to prove if there was an agenda, and there have been white players targeted also – Rooney for example, probably for the crime of being Scouse, Baines and Jagielka, for the crime of playing for Everton. But there does seems to be substance in what Sterling said.

In the early days of WSAG, articles about racism were fairly commonplace as the fanzine took their stand. The fact that it is rarely discussed these days in the fanzine is an indication of how far we have progressed. But we cannot rest on our laurels. As a white man, I can only observe and speak out as I find. I have no deep understanding of how it must feel to be the victim of abuse simply because of the colour of my skin. But we all must try to educate others and ensure that this scourge of society is eradicated once and for all. How we do it, I do not have the answer. We can try to educate from a young age but when there are racist views held within the home, in the school, in the pub and subtle racism in the right wing newspapers it is an uphill tasks. But we must try. Things have improved but recent events have proved there is a long long way to go.

Trevor Edwards


It’s only Banter, la


The following piece was something I wrote for When Skies Are Grey a couple of years ago. It’s still relevant today, the day when blues and reds go head to head again. I thought it appropriate, so have a read.

‘It’s only banter’ We have all heard it and most of us have said it. ‘It’s only banter, no offence mate’ We say it when we indulge in opportunities to have a dig at people but don’t wish them to be offended by it. The dictionary definition of banter is ‘to ridicule good humouredly’ . Many abbreviate it to ‘bantz’ nowadays. But when is banter not banter? When is the line crossed and it is no longer good humoured? The recent Derby match at Goodison Park gave some excellent examples of what is, and what is not ‘banter’. Historically, Liverpool has a history of being a city where people have survived through their wit. The phrase ‘you have to be a comedian to come from Liverpool’ refers to the fact that the inhabitants of the city are sharp, quick witted, and enjoy a good gag. Many famous people who have made a living through comedy have come from the city – I will leave you, dear reader, to decide if people like Jimmy Tarbuck, Ricky Tomlinson, Ken Dodd, Tom O’Connor, Stan Boardman or John Bishop are funny (we all have our own viewpoints). But they are the tip of the iceberg – it could be argued that there are much funnier people from the city who have never made it famous. The city has become famous for the Scouse humour – part of the worldwide attraction of the Beatles, especially in America, was for their loveable Scouse wit, as well as, of course the music. And that Scouse humour has always been evident on the terraces of Goodison Park and Anfield – though the press have always made a bigger deal of goings on at the Kop rather than the Gwladys Street. Tales of the Kop singing ‘Careless Hands’ to Gary Sprake of Leeds when he made a mess of a cross in the 60’s, of those loveable Kopites presenting Gordon West with a handbag or the Evertonians who greeted Bruce Grobbelaar dressed in clowns outfits have gone down in folklore. Blue Kipper collated stories of the humour of us bluenoses in their ‘Me Arl Fellas Shouts’ series which was put together in book form in the excellent ‘Turning the Air Blue’ (Guy at St End shouted at the keeper with a colourful goalies shirt ‘Oi Keeper – you look like an accident at a felt tip factory’ (Hoogie 26/09/01) The Merseyside Derby was always known as the friendly Derby and we are all aware of the stories of fans travelling to the matches together. Although many will attest that they were maybe not as friendly as people would have you believe – there were the odd punch ups – my experience was that, yes, Derby games were different than any other game. There was a healthy dislike of each other, but you could hate the redshites and abuse their players on the pitch and fans at the other end of the ground whilst stood next to one of them! And there was always lots of abuse flying between the two sets of fans but generally, in my eyes anyway, not really overstepping the mark as to cause real offence (not sure about the ‘Lyons is Shit’ flag in the Kop, circa 1976) However, in recent years the ‘banter’ has become more vitriolic and has definitely overstepped the mark. Greg Murphy wrote a brilliant set of articles in WSAG a few years back, outlining many issues in this breakdown of communication between reds and blues and where this nonesense about us being ‘bitter blues’ stems from. Suffice to say, some reds believe we have been bitter blues as a result of the ban over Heysel, and because we are apparently jealous of them. In Gregs piece, he talked about how there was no animosity shown by blues towards reds post Heysel, indeed the ‘friendly Derby’ was still in evidence in the 1986 FA Cup final 12 months later. And then with our unanimous support for them over Hillsborough. Greg related how this ‘bitter’ accusation only really surfaced after the spiky ‘McAllister’ Derby of 2001 when the minutes silence broke down when a blue voice questioned why there was not also a remembrance of the victims of Heysel. Post 2001 relations between the two sets of fans broke down considerably to the point where you would not feel comfortable standing on an opposition terrace as I and many other blues did during the ‘good old days’ So why are we accused of being ‘bitter’, and where do you draw the line between good natured banter and the more insidious exchanges between fans? I am of the belief that Everton fans are no more ‘bitter’ than Liverpool fans. Yes, we have grievances which stem from the Heysel ban, but what is ‘bitterness’ anyway? Historically, two teams close to each other have been termed ‘bitter rivals’ – and Everton and Liverpool are certainly that. Are Everton fans bitter because we want every team that plays Liverpool to beat them? But surely Liverpool fans want Everton to lose every match as well. Or maybe not every match. Because there is a team just up the East Lancs Road that could be accused of unknowingly causing a division between Merseyside fans. Man Utd have, generally, always been despised on Merseyside by a lot of fans, red and blue. They still are. But Liverpool’s hatred of them, I would suggest, runs much deeper than ours. When Utd play Everton, our local rivals are torn, and many would rather Everton win, such is their hatred of the Mancs. Why is this so? It couldn’t be anything to do with jealousy, even bitterness over the Old Trafford team having been so successful over the past 25 years could it? Whereas Evertonians, whilst having no particular liking for Utd, would prefer the Mancs to beat our crimson cousins. And we use Utd’s successes as a weapon to verbally mock Liverpool – leading to the accusation that we are closet United fans! Nothing could be further from the truth but many blues do have a sneaking respect for United’s successes at the expense of Liverpool. After all, but for the dominance of the Ferguson led United, Liverpool’s trophy cabinet might have even more silverware and their smug arrogance at an even higher level – if possible – than it is now. And don’t let reds kid you that they always want Everton to beat United. When we played the Mancs in the 85 Cup Final, most of them wanted United to win. When we beat them 2-0 at Castle Greyskull in 86, when the title looked all but sewn up for Everton, I was stood on the Kop and I had them saying to me ‘I hope United win the title now’ as Liverpool seemed out of the race (sadly they weren’t and won it on the last day). Do they think we are bitter because they have been more successful than us over far too many years? Man Utd level the same ‘bitter’ accusation at City fans. Yes, I would say I hate that fact, I hate so many things about that football club and the arrogance and smugness of so many fans and if that makes me bitter then so be it. I am bitter, twisted and proud of it. I was not always this way. I am from a mixed family of blues and reds and we sat down to watch games in the 70’s cheering on both teams. I suppose for me, like a lot of other fans, a defining moment was Emlyn Hughes and his ‘Everton Are Tragic’ jibe when celebrating their first European Cup triumph. Even my red supporting mum was disgusted. In their hour of triumph he chose to mock Everton whilst there were many blues at the parade celebrating their success. Not obsessed with us though, are they? So yes, I am bitter but so are they. But I have gone off on a tangent here. The original question was what is banter and what isn’t? Our red brethren paraded a flag ‘commemorating’ our 21 years without a trophy, and had balloons in their crowd (real ones, as well as human ones). I took that as banter. Piss taking yeah, but not malicious. The ‘sock robbers’ nonsense at the Derby a few years ago when we were looking like moving to Kirkby – cringeworthy maybe but still banter, in my opinion. There are many more instances like this from both sides, that are all good humoured. However, the Steau Bucharest flags and scarves – no, that is more sinister. They are using a tragedy (that they caused) to mock us. You get the impression that some of them were happy to sacrifice their European place to deny Everton – that’s the implication from that flag. It is a reaction to blues fans saying that we would have won the European Cup in 86 but for the ban, and the fact that Bucharest- at that time a very average team in comparison to Kendalls boys – lifted the trophy instead. And yes we were denied the chance that year of a crack at the European Cup by the ban but we were denied so much more. Here is where I get all bitter again! We were denied a minimum of five European campaigns following the ban, as we qualified each year. We lost players like Steven, Stevens and Lineker who left us to play European football. More importantly we lost our manager in 87 who needed to test himself at a higher level. We lost the chance to establish a profile in Europe. European success increases revenue streams, makes the club more attractive on the market, makes the club able to attract the best players, increases the fan base, elevates awareness of the club on a European and global scale. By the time the Premier League started we had slipped down and were a mid table side. The chance had gone. In the pre-PL era, football was cyclic, and teams had good spells and lean periods. Nowadays, money plays a bigger part and teams can maintain success by buying the best constantly and the gap between the haves and have-nots has widened. Liverpool suffered to a certain extent as they have not enjoyed the same level of success in the Premier League era. But their successes in the 70’s and 80’s on the European stage, like Man Utd before them, established them as a very big club with a worldwide fanbase and global attractiveness. I maintain that Everton could have achieved that but for the ban. Using the Bucharest flags and banners to mock us over our denied success and decline is one thing, but they are also using a tragedy to mock us. Thirty-nine people lost their lives on that fateful day as a consequence of the violent actions of the Liverpool fans who caused the tragedy. It is sick and beyond simple ‘banter’ to do this – and I would also state at this juncture that I despise the ‘murderers’ chant by Evertonians for the same reason. It was a minority of reds responsible – they were guilty, but it is wrong, in my opinion, to use a tragedy as a weapon. Some blues who sing it also talk happily of the violent tussles they were involved in during those dark days – when it was precisely that sort of behaviour that led to the ban. The fact that Liverpool – the fans and club – have never accepted true responsibility is shameful. Their fans will never accept this and many laugh at the suggestion that Everton’s decline started as a result of that ban. A ban that they contributed to – England’s poor record of violence in Europe, Thatchers distaste for the working class and football in particular, the inertia and stuffiness of football officials and finally the events at Heysel- led to that final decision. That unwillingness of reds to accept responsibility and to blame others – such as Chelsea fans at Heysel – has led to another chant that crosses the line away from pure banter, ‘Always the Victim, it’s never your fault’ one. I know that most if not all blues who sing this do so because of Heysel, Suarez, etc. Whereas Everton fans castigate players who dive, reds fans defended Suarez. When it was clear he was using racist language towards Evra, they defended him. There seems to be an inability to accept culpability on the part of reds. Of course, in the case of Hillsborough they not to blame, as has been proven in a court of law and both reds and blues have steadfastly proclaimed since day 1. Everton fans have always and will always stand side by side with them over Hillsborough- so it would be pretty stupid to sing the ‘Victims’ song about that. Maybe Man Utd fans reference Hillsborough when they sing it, as part of the horrific tragedy mocking exchanges between the two clubs which goes far and beyond past banter and is incredibly distasteful. Everton fans don’t reference Hillsborough but it is naïve to think that reds wouldn’t perceive it as such, and they do. So I shudder every time any blue starts to sing it (plus, if they sing it about Heysel it is using a tragedy as a weapon again). Yes, the sentiments in it do carry a ring of truth but it is very murky and dangerous waters in my opinion so best leave the waders at home. There have been other unsavoury episodes in the recent derby past. Detractors of Everton mention the Gerrard ‘babies not yours song’ but more distasteful were the songs about Phil Nevilles daughter, or the children of Lee Carsley and Kevin Kilbane. In the end it becomes almost a competition to see who can sing the most offensive song. The internet postings from reds that suggest Everton fans beat up their wives, with the picture of the battered female, was an incredibly distasteful example of overstepping the lines of good banter and I was appalled by that. I am not saying don’t abuse the opposition and I am happy to chant ‘f off to Norway’ as I believe this is still within the confines of ‘banter’ whereas many other chants are not. I doubt we will ever get back the ‘friendly derby but I would love to see the less savoury songs absent in the future. So in summary, ‘those lot’ should really get their heads out of their backsides. We are no more or no less bitter than they are. We want our team to be successful and our bitter rivals to suffer humiliating defeat after humiliating defeat. There have been great verbal exchanges between the fans and long may there be so. But there has to be boundaries. I would love to see an end to the distasteful songs, whether between Everton and Liverpool or the hate fest indulged in by the red teams either side of the M62 where they verbally joust using the tragedies of Munich and Hillsborough. I cannot see the return of the old ‘friendly’ derby, and I am quite happy to remain a ‘bitter blue’ whilst they will always be the arrogant, deluded reds!

“You can’t always get what you want”

But if you try some time, you just might find you get what you need.

Big Sam wasn’t many blues first choice. Hell, I doubt if he was even in the first ten for the majority of our fan base. For some he never will be. Two of our Chorley Toffees swore never to watch the blues again whilst he was in charge. One relented but the other is steadfast in his opposition. Whilst I can understand it to a point, it’s not something I could ever see myself doing. But beliefs are beliefs and I respect his choice.

We desperately wanted a top, top manager who plays attractive, winning football that has a swagger, a style. A manager with class and dignity. A manager we respect and love and loves us back equally. We build this vision up in the pure image of Howard Kendall, who ticked every box. Two failed managerial spells could never diminish the affection we felt and will always feel for him. His light will shine brightly always. And every manager has failed in comparison to him. Even the great Harry Catterick is not held in the same esteem, probably due to his aloofness. The most recent managers had decent starts but eventually failed. Martinez, a likeable guy but prone to hyperbole which was joyful while we were winning, joyless and jarring when we weren’t. Koeman, the antithesis of Roberto, Catterick to his Kendall was welcomed warmly but ultimately left many feeling cold.

Enter Big Sam. We hardly lay out the crimson carpet but the run of disastrous results left many browbeaten and resigned to the appointment. We were informed by many fans this was a sign of the blues acceptance of mediocrity. By others it was our only way out and we suck it up, endure the ride and move on.

Four games later (if we don’t include West Ham) and the world seems a better place. Our blue enveloped world happiness hinges on the results of the boys from L4 4EL. Prior to the Hammers game, how many points did we expect to gain from the four league games to follow? Expectations had fallen so low that those who said 3 would probably be viewed as deluded. But 10 out of 12 points, albeit not won in a swashbuckling fashion has steadied the ship. Suddenly players viewed as ‘shite’ by some supporters are being reappraised. We are looking up and not looking behind us. Even the forthcoming visit of Chelsea is not putting the fear of God into our blue hearts.

Is this all down to one man, the Dudley Doorman? Were we about to turn the corner under David Unsworth? We will never know. But all the hallmarks of an Allardyce team are there: tough to break down, direct, resilient, tenacious, organised. Confidence is flowing through them. The 1-1 at Anfield was not pretty but it was a point gained where we had expected a hammering. The 1-0 at Newcastle was hard fought but there were elements of skill and trickery there – and snide. We are not going to be liked by the opposition but who wants to be liked when you are losing 4-1? Kendall’s side is remembered as a beautiful free flowing football side. But they could do the dirty work too and it wasn’t always exciting 4-0 wins that secured two titles. United under Ferguson were the same. Mourinho too. An Allardyce side parks the bus and it is negative, boring. Mourinho does it and he’s a master tactician. Maybe Allardyce hasn’t had exciting sides because he hadn’t had the players? Just a thought. Who knows if Sam could craft a top side playing exciting football but he did OK in finishing 5th with Bolton.

Could he, after stabilising the ship, launch us into calmer waters and onwards towards the success we crave? Time will tell. Maybe he is merely building the foundations for another more exciting boss to come in and reap the rewards? Who knows.

Sam may be not what we wanted. But maybe: just maybe he is what we needed.


Ok, so this is the first time I have written a blog. Well, not strictly speaking the first but the first on here. I write for When Skies Are Grey and in the past I have written for Satis?, Speke from the Harbour, Blue Blood and City ’til I cry. If you read this and don’t like it, blame Rodger Armstrong. If you do, give him credit for giving me a metaphorical nudge in this direction