In continuing our vein of Football Genesis that has seen a number of ‘first game’ memories written about, my brother George came back with another tale, that of his first… well, I’ll let him explain… enjoy…

We Love our football teams.

We love it best when they win playing well, and we love it quieter when they play shit and still win. We love the weekly ritual, the craic, the meeting with mates, the catch-up, the mounting noise, and for me, above all – The Hope.

Even under Sam Allardyce, I always hoped something mysterious would click and Everton would actually kick on and start to play well.

Though I must confess that as that hope faded, for the first and only time in decades of being an Evertonian, I began to hope we’d lose, badly, so his demise would rush nearer. Awful. Despair. And a weird inner betrayal, I was ashamed.

But the game, we love the game.

For all its faults and unfairness, like the disparity between my wages and theirs, we love the game.

We love our colours, that old scarf, the programme collection. And we love the moaning too, inherent in this marriage we committed to all those years ago.

We love The Best Goal I Ever Saw debates {Fred Pickering meeting Alex Scott’s perfect cross on the volley and the floodlit net at the Gwladys Street end near ripped off its stanchions}, we love the mad shouts {‘Oh, that’s a twat of a ball, Davey lad…’}.

We Love Footy. And we Love Our Team.

We know this is true ‘cos that night I went to watch QPR play Villa, was one of the most boring evenings of my life – ‘cos I simply didn’t care.

We care. We must care. Without Care football really can just be twenty-odd blokes kicking a pig’s bladder around.

And all that Care and Love must, inevitably, have its inverse. Hatred.

Not only the weekly blind, biased ref – but – our rivals. Ooh – good old warming, collective, re-assuring Hate.

First Blue song I was taught and learned parrot fashion –

‘Oh we hate Bill Shankly and we hate St. John, but most of all we hate big Ron, and we’ll hang the Kopites one by one, on the banks of the Royal Blue Mersey…’ etc etc.

No, never mind ‘etc’

’To Hell with Liverpool and Rangers too, and throw them all in the Mersey, ‘cos we’ll fight fight fight with all our might, for the boys in the Royal Blue Jerseys.’

Stirring stuff.
‘I don’t really have to fight, do I?’
‘No, it’s symbolic of our Love, soft lad.’

I could understand the RS rivalry, but, coming each week as I did down the East Lancs from Salford – it was a bit of an act, for me.

For my hatred I looked to the East… I hated Leeds. I still do, no acting necessary whatsoever. I was seventeen when I first clapped eyes on a Don Revie team.

Through all their managers {even Cloughie – though he had the grace to hate them as much as I did – and prove why he was right to, too… Bless him} I’ve continued my passionate loathing, laced with bitterness and a BAD taste in my mouth when they were actually {Just a sec while I spit} ‘good’ and I grossed out like a manic backgammon betting dice as their collapse and chaos began and – Oh glory – continued.

Shouldn’t I pity them, now? NO.

Every season I would cross the Pennines to stand in their rattling, leaking, corrugated iron cowshed of a visitors end listening to those droning, flat-voiced, whining, ignorant, myopic fans {‘You can tell a Yorkshireman – but you can’t tell him much…’}, and we NEVER came away with so much as a point.

Even the last time – League Cup a couple of years back – the hideous bastards beat us again.

Where and how did this rich vein of Hate begin?

November 7th, 1964 – the ‘infamous’ Battle of Goodison…

I was seventeen and my Saturday ritual was hitch-hiking to Goodison, stand on the Gwladys Street terraces with me mates, scream and shout and go home tired but happy, clutching me proey and dreaming of being Alex Young. Simple joys. Leeds that week. That revolting Revie.

Norman Hideous Hunter. Bullying schnidey Bremner. Don’t tell me your favourite footy picture isn’t Dave Mackay threatening the little turd, and him, in his true colours, scared shitless. If you don’t know it – Google it now, you’ll get him in one.

Anyway, this afternoon also featured the return to Goodison, in white, of Bobby Collins.

So, no fan can ever know what tiny details are playing through the minds of individual players or maybe of two whole teams. Maybe Collins had wound them all up – I don’t know.

But it was something of a surprise, to put it mildly when four minutes in, there’s Giles running at Sandy Brown, there’s a meeting and a fist and Giles ends up in a heap and Brown is sent off… Have to say, as the heart sank – eighty-four left to play this lot with ten men – I couldn’t disagree with the decision.

But what on earth had prompted it? We’ll never know. The game got – dirty. We had Jimmy Gabriel after all.

But the next thing I can recall – over half a century ago was wee Bobby Collins racing back to defend a corner and just kicking Fred Pickering on the knee…

The fans – us – started getting real angry. Vocal. The tackles got worse and worse, the ref did nowt – they scored – and a frightening, violent nastiness was on the pitch and the terraces.

And it culminated at thirty minutes when Derek Temple, at full speed, played the ball past Willie Bell, went running around him and received a boot in the chest. Things got thrown at Bell, who had the brass neck to go down himself, writhing.

Everything went white.

Rage, hatred, and as Derek was stretchered off, {at seventeen years of age I thought he might be dead – I’d never seen a foul like that} the ref, after himself being hit by something thrown from the crowd, did the only sensible thing – he sent all the other twenty-one players off.

To calm down. Ten minutes of us standing there, hurling abuse.

Then we were told we had to calm down too and stop throwing things, or the match would be abandoned.

I can easily, viscerally, recall the shock and fury in me at the vilest football team I’ve ever seen, the endemic nastiness and under-handedness of them; Oh here was something worthy of Hate.

It flowed from the character {sic} of their manager and would find its full fruition in their total and utter charmlessness, the cynical toadying of throwing ‘gifts’ to the fans, and above all, his – Revie’s – wonderful incomprehension as to why they were hated, why their bizarre brand of skill {Eddie Gray, anyone?} and sporting mean-ness – Hunter, Bremner, Giles etc made them a touchstone of all that can be negative in the beautiful game.

By.Any.Means. was their – his – philosophy, and I believe it sickened and disgusted every romantic notion – without which Football is bereft – in fans of every other club.

That’s why I hated ‘em.

And the snarly bastards, when they came back out that November afternoon, had calmed down, and they won.