Everton through to Quarter Final: Bounce, Back, Ability: More Important Things

Jonathan GreenbankCorrespondent IFebruary 22, 2009

Greetings once again. Before I go on, please understand that this article is not just about the origins of this title (another attempt at a humorous play on words, before anyone comments) as the media over-used it in Iain Dowie’s heyday a few years ago.

Rather, it concerns the ups and downs of my life on Feb. 15, 2009 (the bounce), the resulting pain I am currently in (my back), and—given this is after all a site more bothered about football than the trials and tribulations of my stupid little life—the skills shown by certain individuals (their ability) on the pitch.

Explanations over with, then. Now, Sunday was a funny old day; let me tell you all about it.

My day started well, following as it did a romantic and enjoyable Valentine’s Day. Hope you all had a good one, too. I’d chosen not to attend the FA Cup Fifth Round match against Aston Villa—it seemed a good time to save a bit of money, plus I was still recovering from the derby replay and, to be honest, a very impressive performance at home to Bolton when Jo looked a world beater.

football and love - not always a good mix

Football and love—not always a good mix

So, the plan was to drive up to my folks’ house and watch the Blues in the comfort of a pub, perhaps with like-minded individuals but probably not—one of the perils of growing up in a non-league town was that most of my generation are of the Red persuasion. Liverpool no longer being in the FA Cup, the pubs would not at least be totally empty—some would of course be tanking up to prepare for United against Derby later in the day. I was kind of looking forward to it; I didn’t feel wholly confident, but did expect a good match.

It wasn’t a bad crash. Certainly the worst (that is, first) I’ve been involved in. I can’t really say too much, as the police are now dealing with the matter.

It put things into perspective anyway. I stood on that roadside; fellow Blues on their way to the ground stared and pointed, not knowing I was one of them and longed to be warm, safe and about to watch the game, with none of that having happened. My only concern was the safety of my love, not whether or not Leon Osman was fit. I was simply glad not to have gone to the match for once.

Still reeling from the impact, a couple of hours later it was decided we should continue with our journey, and a couple of texts from concerned relatives and friends also gave me updates. The car radio tried to inform me what was happening, but the whole afternoon didn’t seem real.

“Sorry love, this would have been a good game to go to wouldn’t it?” she said.

“No. I couldn’t have had that happen to you and you be on your own, me be there oblivious,” I replied.

I meant every word, and immediately recalled the man in front of me at the last match who came back to his seat after halftime, proudly announcing his wife had given birth to a baby girl.

When will we ever learn? Bill Shankly was wrong.

Anyway, I was relieved when we got to the house safely, and the immaterial result gave some comfort. However, I couldn’t believe what I heard from reports of the game—that the chants that had recently emanated from the "best fans in the world" had been adapted by the Villa following regarding Joleon Lescott. This presumably because he had had the temerity to start his career at Wolverhampton?

Joleon started out at Wolves, having overcome childhood trauma
Joleon started out at Wolves, having overcome childhood trauma

Then worse was to follow. Maybe I was being over-sensitive, but hearing Derby fans chanting "you should have died in the tunnel" made me embarrassed to be a football fan. OK, so some people are riled by Ronaldo’s over-elaborate acts at times, but wishing he had been killed in a recent car accident seemed incredulous.

Those of you who have (been unfortunate enough to have) read my previous offerings will know I am intrigued by coincidence and timing. Merseyside Police rang me for follow-up information just as the afternoon’s goals were being shown and the quarter-final draw was about to take place. Of course, I will soon be discussing in details the possible opponents; I vividly recall losing quarter-finals to both West Ham and Middlesbrough in my lifetime, so I will remain cautious.

As the initial shock subsided, we both began to feel the effects on our backs and shoulders. I don’t want your sympathy, I realise we were both very fortunate, but a couple of hours ago I returned from a doctor’s examination which suggested I may have symptoms of whiplash. My only experience of this word previously was a sex scandal I didn’t understand during my childhood, not involving me, of course, but some dominatrix or other.

Needless to say, I was a little sore and dazed on Sunday evening, but thoroughly enjoyed the Inter v AC game we were fortunate enough to be offered on a freeview channel. To be honest, it made a mockery of the recent derbies I had endured. A rocking Guiseppe Meazza watching great play by both teams, men like Maldini and Zanetti fully deserving of the description "world class," and humorous banners courtesy of the Ultras that, as far as I can understand, simply used the term "merda," not murderers. You see, when I comment on the upsetting behaviour of other fans, I know that Everton fans are far from innocent, and I will be tarred with the same brush by some.

Milan fans and Inter fan showing their true colours
Milan fans and Inter fans showing their true colours

But again, I reiterate we have to do something about the attitudes of some, before the very real threat of violence and ostracization becomes real. The emotional intelligence of us as a collective community will soon be questioned if such chants and songs continue.

The rollercoaster day ended on a high. Watching the Derby della Madonnina set me up nicely for the highlights of the Everton match, which I could finally enjoy. Everton looked good, not quite on a par with Mourinho or Ancelotti’s men, of course. But at least they showed a spirit akin to "bouncebackability" after injuries and the behaviours of others.

Which I guess I will, too.

But, regardless of all this, on Sunday I think Tim Cahill said the same much better, simpler, and more effectively than I ever could, with his celebration.