To Hate Everton Or Pity Them?
An existential question as a Liverpool fan
When I first became a Liverpool fan, a lot of the culture of the club and its fans came easily to me. The depth of the meaning behind “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and a haughty “Scouse, not English” was not lost on me. There is an aloof belief that to be Scouse was to be part of something higher. I have an unabashed pride in being European royalty and lording it over Mancs and Londoners. We have an intense rivalry with Man U that manages to be Sox/Yankees and Celtics/Lakers rolled into one. I admire the proud defiance of how the rest of England views the North. We will never forget the 97 and continue the fight for justice for them. These traits fit my personality like a glove. But hating Everton? That’s always been a hard one.
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I fully understand Merseyside Reds despising Everton. It’s the crosstown rival and there is a century of heated history. Generations of hard matches, bad blood, split homes, and taunts from your closest friend or bitterest enemy are commonplace. It’s Yankees/Mets, Lakers/Clippers, BC/BU (college hockey) level fire. It’s only natural to crave and cherish six points against Everton every year the way I insist on two wins over the New York Jets annually. But having grown up 3000 miles away from England in New England, I don’t have that history. I look at Everton and think “they are none of our business.”
A Lifetime of Neglect
I’m serious. In the time I’ve been supporting the club, Everton’s best finish in the Premier League is 7th. They haven’t won a trophy since 1996. The Toffees last finished above our beloved Reds in 2005 and the instance before that I was in utero. The thought that they once won the league is as alien to me as the Islanders dynasty or the idea that the Colts once roamed Baltimore. I know it is true, but it just seems a bit off. They are just another mid-table team we need to take three points off of to reach our end goals.
Don’t get me wrong though, I love beating Everton. There are no words for Origi at 90′ + 6. The 5-2 win in December 2019 was a rollicking good time. But, I don’t spend the whole week psyched for a clash with the ancient enemy the way I do with either Manchester club, either Madrid club, or hell even Harry Kane and Spurs. I don’t respect the road point because I don’t understand Jurgen Klopp treating Everton or Goodison Park with respect. They are a fly to be swatted, not a rival to be feared or revered.
Everton’s Lone Time In The Crosshairs
The closest I ever came to hating them was in October 2020. Jordan Pickford virtually assassinating Virgil van Dijk and Richarlison doing the same to Thiago made my blood boil. It ruined my weekend in a way sports haven’t done in years. My wife had never seen me so angry over a game to the point she was concerned about my mental health. (See the year, she wasn’t far off) I didn’t want justice. Revenge was needed. Everton needed to lose and lose and lose and lose and never know anything but the agony of defeat and folly.
Yet, when I was rooting for their relegation last season, it wasn’t because I was still nursing that grudge. It was because it would be funny. A club that thinks it should sit at the big kid’s table eating snack packs in the Championship represented the biggest relegation opportunity since the peak of Leeds United. Men In Blazers having only one host who roots for a Premier League team would have been bloody hilarious! They could have had a new Deluded Derby with Sunderland whose fans genuinely told Netflix cameras “I can’t imagine a Premier League without Sunderland.”
So as Everton wallow on the brink of relegation again, I am bemused. Amused even. I’d thoroughly enjoy watching them go down and have QPR, Milwall, and Rotherham come to their fancy new park as well as going away to those sides. But I don’t hate them. I probably should pity them. All in all, I’m entertained by them. After all, they are none of our business.