By Nigel Flanagan
Having spent the last 20 years living in Liverpool I feel in a privileged position, one that allows me to shed some light on this famous old club. Famous for sure, a history to be proud of and support that matches all but a few - but troubled by the presence of the other club.
I think on the whole we Leeds fans like Everton. Not flashy (like some) not over successful (like some) and certainly not a prawn sandwich club. But they are a bitter crowd, to their core. The idea of the `friendly` derby is a myth and despite recent genuine warming because of the Hillsborough disaster, there are a number of recent reasons why it is so. It is a Cold War and Everton are very much the Soviet Union.
Everton are the older club and played at Anfield before Liverpool FC. They left and Liverpool became a new club. The 1985 Heysel disaster led to a ban on all European competition for English clubs. The Champions who never got to play in the European Cup that year? Everton. Do they blame Liverpool? Completely. There are numerous games and cup matches that add to the hatred. Emlyn Hughes is universally hated. Which is where we start to overlap, as most Leeds fans remember his claims that Don Revie was a cheat and Leeds bribed their way to trophies.
I remember Leeds fans at Goodison in the 90/91 season, 3 -0 up at half time and Neville Southall sitting down in his goal mouth whilst we are singing `There`s gonna be a diet` at him. I also remember losing 2 - 0 when Everton only had 10 men. I remember that little twerp Harry Kewell miss-hitting a cross into the Everton net and then sliding on his knees as though he had meant it. What a game at 4 -4. I remember watching Peter Ridsdale coming out to the Leeds fans at half time to try and stop them singing abuse at Brian Kidd who had just replaced our beloved Eddie Gray as O`Leary`s number 2. A 0 – 0 draw that also had the most sustained abuse I ever heard as Dom Matteo was howled at because he used to play for the others. I fully anticipate that Neville will get the same treatment from us.
I also remember the 1985 FA Cup 3rd round game, the first ever televised life on the BBC. For 20 minutes our little team of John Sheridan, Scott Sellars, Terry Phelan, Andy Richie, Dennis Irwin and a 38 year old Peter Lorimer looked like we were doing marvellously well against one of the top clubs. Until Kevin Sheedy got a free kick. By the end a 2 -0 defeat was honourable enough for us.
Bobby Collins left Everton for Leeds and really launched Don Revie`s new team. Nigel Martyn joined Leeds instead of Everton because he was left waiting in the Everton lounge for an hour with his kids. Ian Snodin left Leeds to join Everton and we bought an entirely new team with the money. Gary Speed wanted to play for Everton before he retired because they were his team. Alan Ball played for Everton but didn`t take the move to Leeds because he thought he would win more with Everton. He truly was a football genius. Beckford? We`d have him back. In 1973 they tried to lure Don Revie away from Leeds but couldn`t afford him. Although he did go talk to them ….
They have a very good team. Quick and robust, efficient and energetic with a tendency to become disorganised on substitutions. They have players that the rich clubs would buy. The squad is too thin for them to compete for the Championship - although they have been able to press into the top 6. I imagine they will rest players against us, but doubt that they realise what an animal we now have in the middle of the park in Rudi Austin.
Their fans travel in numbers and they have an old fashioned working class air about them, which is impressive in that they are there for the game and none of the other Sky type distractions. No inflatables, no embarrassing Poznans, no painted faces, just football supporters.
The only problems are that Z Cars theme and the nickname `The Toffees`. Davy Moyles coined the phrase `The Peoples Club`. They should stick with that.