When you’ve worked with singers from Mary Black to Charlotte Church, and been in charge of the music at George Best’s funeral, the phrase “I’m a musician” seems a touch inadequate. Frank Gallagher*, a man who therefore seems to add modesty to his boundless charisma, energy and talent, is our Evertonian ‘Who are You?’ previewer. Frank has a great turn of phrase which, judging by her description of Billy Hughes on FA Cup Final night, he may have inherited from his mother …
Salut! Sunderland: Deep in debt, back in the shadows of your neighbours and struggling to hang on to key players: is this Everton for the foreseeable future or will a sheikh or Russian billionaire ride to the rescue?
It’s clear the only way to compete significantly in the Premiership is with a mega-wallet so I fear a billionaire might be our only hope…Russian, American, Libyan…we’ll not be fussy just as long as he’s loaded. The irony is that we were the original tycoon team, when John Moores of the Littlewoods Pools dynasty looked after us in the 60s and 70s.
And David Moyes – does he need to move on, for his own sake, and where would he go?
That’s his dilemma…lots of earnest endeavour and the respect of his peers is all fine and dandy but success is what counts. He’ll not get a bigger gig until he wins something and he’ll not win anything until the billionaire comes down the chimney.
You’re from Stroke City (Derry/Londonderry for the uninitiated). Why Everton and why not Derry City?
Well, whilst not wishing to mention the war…Derry City were unable to play senior football in the Irish League from 1971 due to the troubles. So following them wasn’t an option. It’s interesting about N Ireland soccer fans…there were the normal Celtic/Rangers allegiances, and some just followed the team their dads had supported, but a lot of fans can trace their attachment to an English club through FA Cup final appearances. We watched Match of The Day religiously (it’s always about religion there) and the cup campaign and in particular the final always captured the imagination, so I think I followed Everton from 1968 , even though they lost that final.
Due to the Sky and big 4 dominance, added to the lessening importance of the cup most kids in Derry now support Man Utd. as that’s what they’re bombarded with. It’s a shame a lot of the variety has gone out of the choice.
How much of the Everton glory times were you aware of and following back in Stroke City?
I was a total fan by the age of six in 1969 and never missed a match (on TV) through the wonderful Championship winning season 69-70. I still have a club rosette and team pendant from that year, both bought in Derry. By the time of the mid 80s resurgence I was all grown up and could read the newspapers.
Who are your all-time favourite players of the club, and who should never have been allowed near the blue shirt?
Alan Ball was my hero: red hair, white boots and squeaky voice. I was once reading a book on him and asked my uncle what “per-pet-u-al mo-ti-on” meant. I was so disappointed and confused when he transferred to Arsenal.
Who shouldn’t have been allowed near the blue shirt..? Why, Andy Gray of course. And Richard Keys.
Peter Reid, Howard Wilkinson, Paul Bracewell, Kevin Kilbane (unless my memory is playing tricks) and doubtless many more I simply cannot recall while sitting in Soho internet cafe. Which Everton-Sunderland links, or games, do you remember?
You mean apart from the 7-1 drubbing in 2007, ahem? There weren’t a lot of games between the two in my formative years because Sunderland were in the old second division, sorry to mention it.
I remember the ’73 final of course..I was 10 so I was the perfect age for all that wonder…the Stokoe hat, the Montgomery double save, the Kerr moustache…I also remember Billy Hughes being interviewed on Match of The Day that evening at the team party in their hotel and my mother commenting that he was “as full as a Lord”.
And what thoughts if any do you have on Sunderland and its Irish connections?
Well, I say fair play to big Niall…
An additional Irish connection was that Dennis Tueart played a few games for Derry City when they returned to senior soccer, joining the southern League of Ireland…so they are a northern Irish team playing in the southern Irish league. That’s right. Dennis was basically parachuted in to add to the gate and guarantee victory for a few games, though we all avoided the word ‘parachute’ in Derry.
Who will finish top four, in order, this season and who will go down? Assuming neither Everton nor SAFC appear in either list, where will each of our clubs end up?
Man Utd., Arsenal, Man City, Tottenham…
Sunderland should hope for top ten, Everton would be lucky to get there.
This was the Eduardo Question, should be the McAllister Question (most accomplished dive in history) but is now the Walcott Question: young Theo admitted recently that he dived in the vain hope of winning a penalty and that other players had told him to go down at the least contact. Refreshing honesty that might help stamp out cheating, or confirmation that it is established and here to stay as part of the modern game ?
I hope the former but I suspect the latter. You didn’t see Joe Jordan going down at the least contact.
World Cup: how bad was it for you and what did you make of Russian and Qatar being chosen as venues for 2018 and 2022?
The Irish didn’t really deserve to qualify but we do like a good moan to preserve our persecution complex so Thierry Henry obliged with deft handiwork.
It’s always disappointing when the gallant English boys fail to deliver but increasingly predictable.
Russia and Qatar..? who’d’ve thunk it..? it’s the economy stupid..
How do you keep tabs on Everton games and how often have you managed to see them at the ground?
It’s a default setting for any soccer fan developed over many years that no matter where you are in the world or what you’re doing you start getting itchy around 4.50pm on a Saturday and seek out the results.
Shamefully only ever saw them once at Goodison and twice in Ireland in pre-season friendlies.
What will be the score in our game?
Everton 1 Sunderland 1
* Frank Gallagher on Frank Gallagher: I’m a musician… I’ve produced and arranged records for Shirley Bassey and Charlotte Church, and toured and recorded with Mary Black and Katie Melua.
I was musicial director and producer of the music for George Best’s funeral in 2005.
Currently I’m working with a wonderful young classical crossover singer, Mairead Carlin (pictured), that I’ve discovered…and have been lucky enough to collaborate with legendary producer Tony Visconti on his latest project.
Interview: Colin Randall