Like the sentimental brute who batters his girlfriend black and blue, then slobbers over her with protestations of love? A bit unfair…but Greg O’Keeffe*, who has an Everton website called Gwlad Tidings, was there to watch his boys maul Sunderland last season. And he enjoyed it. But he also has a real soft spot for SAFC – a “proper club” and much more appealing than the Mags to boot. We knew that, of course, but it’s nice to hear someone else say it. He also reckons we’ll get a draw at Goodison tomorrow, and we need one – or better – after dropping points against Blackburn…. For Pete Sixmith’s report on that game Click Here
Irrational hatreds are one of the many enduring things that make football fun.
I can’t stand Aston Villa, for no real reason, and Tranmere Rovers make my skin crawl.
But just as there are some clubs I loathe for reasons I’d struggle to explain, there are those, like Sunderland, I just like.
They are a “proper” football club and I mean that without the patronising cliché tone it could be mistaken for (Everton often get the same verdict from neutrals).
Maybe it’s the long-suffering yet knowledgeable, humorous fans. Maybe it’s the recent Irish link, whatever, I always like to see them do well.
I often meet people who tell me they feel the same way about Everton. Neither club could be described as flashy or arrogant. Sure, you’ve had a few quid to throw about of late but it’s hardly Champions League mega-bucks.
Anyway, I enjoy Sunderland visits to Goodison and as someone who lived for a short time in Gateshead I can fully understand your dislike of the mind-set of Newcastle fans. They definitely have a shared sense of arrogance based on very little substance.
Good luck for the rest of your season. And now the questions…
What did you make of each club’s prospects at the start of the season and has your view changed?
After the turbulent summer we had in the transfer market and Moyes’ dithering over his contract, I really didn’t know what to expect from our season and, even now I still don’t. We are capable of rattling the big sides but then losing abjectly at places like the JJB.
I thought Sunderland would do well. They looked to have spent big and should have benefited from a Premier-League battle hardened Keane. Who knew?
Were you surprised that Keane walked? What’s your own take on it and him?
Amazed. I always admired him as almost the complete central midfielder and thought he was as mentally tough as he was on the field. Seeing him disintegrate after a few dodgy results was sad. I think he’ll regret leaving the way he did. It would have gone right for him given time.
Is it a pain living, in recent years, in the shadow of Liverpool (especially with Liverpool hardly overachieving)?
I live in Liverpool and in terms of locality; neither side is in the shadow. We give as good as we get, and have never felt in the shadow in terms of local fan base and history. The banter and intertwined fates of the clubs at times make it seem like red and blue define one another.
Of course we are in the shadow in wider terms of finance and recent silverware but there has never been a moment, and never will, that I wasn’t glad I was born blue rather than red.
What memories do you have of previous Sunderland v Everton games home or away?
I recall the odd dreary draw or narrow home win but nothing vivid until last season’s 7-1 demolition at Goodison Park. It was as well as I’ve ever see a David Moyes’ side play and the afternoon was only marred in hindsight by the news that Everton legend Dave Hickson took ill during the game.
Have you been to the Stadium of Light, or before that to Roker Park? What did you make of it/them/the place?
I never went to Roker Park but I’ve been to the Stadium of Light and was impressed. It is one of the better new build stadia. Obviously though, a ground is nothing without the fans and Sunderland fans are superb. They remind me of Evertonians.
What do you make of each club’s signings?
The only signing of note we made was Marrouane Fellaini and, given time, I think he’ll become a world-class player. Whether he was what we needed in the summer is another thing…
Of Sunderland’s buys I’m not very fond of Chimbonda but I always rated Cisse when he played across the park. So much pace and even though his finishing is dodgy he’ll always get in positions.
What about all the players & staff linked to both clubs? Kilbane, Reid, Bracewell, McCann all spring to mind but there are many more
Yes there’s a fantastic shared heritage. We called Kilbane “Zinedine” and really took him to our hearts because of his work-rate in the face of limited ability at this level. Evertonians love hard-working footballers.
Who for you are the Everton greats, either seen by you or from those who saw them?
Far too many to list. Those I’ve seen include Neville Southall, Dave Watson and to an extent, Big Duncan Ferguson (I accept you’ll have no fondness for Dunc after his Newcastle dalliance).
Generally, Dixie Dean. Alex Young, Brian Labone and Alan Ball are the stuff of national legend. We are privileged that they played in royal blue.
Are there reds in your family? Do you think of Liverpool as we think of Newcastle, or are you more grown-up about these things?
My granddad was a red and my aunty is, as are many of my mates. It remains a love/hate thing but sadly it’s been more hate of recent times.
Generally I get on better with Evertonians, but a fair-minded red who knows what he’s talking about (and has been to Anfield once or twice) is fine. If you can find one.
7-1. Were you utterly brilliant, us totally crap, a mixture of both, or were Sunderland just robbed (some people still claim we only lost 8-0 at West Ham because of Geoff Hurst’s dubious first)?
We just hit a rare peak in form. Most sides outside the top 4 would’ve struggled against us that day. Arteta and Pienaar were mercurial, almost unplayable. Sexy football.
In the credit crunch age, is the bubble about to burst on football?
If it could ever mean salary/transfer fee caps and more competition then bring it on. But it won’t, so no. Alas.
Club v country. Who wins for you?
Club every time. No contest.
Will you be there on Dec 28? What will happen?
I’ll be sat in the Gwladys Street and as our home form is dubious I’d hope for a win but settle for a score draw.
* Greg O’Keefe on Greg O’Keefe:
That is a pic of me outside Fiorentina’s Stadio Artemi Franchi before our 0-2 Uefa cup away defeat in Florence last season. Anyway, I’ve been going to watch Everton since I was nine. I’m 28 now and a season ticket holder in the Gwladys St. I was four the last time the Blues won a league title.
Some silverware, any of the stuff, would be amazing soon. Day job wise I’m a journo for the Liverpool Echo and write a blog about watching Everton called Gwlad Tidings