On the face of it, when placed alongside some of the more storied decades in Everton’s history, the 1990’s will struggle to standout.
After all this was a decade that witnessed mostly trouble and torment, as the club lurched from one crisis to the next. The contrast is particularly stark with the decade that preceded it. The 1980s was arguably the greatest period in Everton’s history, yielding two league titles, the FA Cup, the European Cup Winners’ Cup and four Charity Shields. Fast forward a few years and the storm clouds loomed over Goodison Park with a grim sense of foreboding.
But in his book ‘Highs, Lows and Bakayokos’ Jim Keoghan takes a fresh look at a much-maligned decade. It did, after all, deliver us our last major trophy - the 1995 FA Cup –as well as two of the most memorable games in the club’s history – Wimbledon ’94 and Coventry ’98.
‘High, Lows and Bakayokos’ wonderfully reminisces about these matches with the help of fellow Evertonians who were there on the day. The beauty of watching football is that it’s both a shared and deeply personal experience. ‘High, Lows and Bakayokos’ gives a glimpse of what other Blues went through during those fateful afternoons.
The joy of winning the FA Cup is obvious, but the intense emotion generated by the last-gasp escapes against Wimbledon and Coventry arguably drew an even more emotive response. By edging so perilously close to the brink Evertonians become more ferociously loyal than ever. The events of the 1990s have helped to shape the character of the fanbase today.
Before we get too misty-eyed it can’t be denied that the decade also witnessed a lot of struggle. Everton spent the majority of the ‘90s battling against relegation and an ever-deepening overdraft. And while the Toffees were on the slide the rest of their peers were racing ahead of them.
It was a period of rapid change within the game. The impact of Heysel and the Hillsborough disaster forced a period of intense retrospection. The Taylor report, published in the wake of Hillsborough, recommended all major stadiums become all-seater. Meanwhile, off the pitch, BSKYB’s purchase of live TV rights for the newly-formed Premier League transformed the footballing landscape.
‘High, Lows and Bakayokos’ examines Everton’s role in this period of intense change. The Toffees were one of the ‘big five’ clubs who pushed for the formation of the Premier League in 1992 but within two years they were within 90 minutes of dropping out of the division of their own making.
Everton’s failure to keep up with the pace of change during the 1990s is still being felt today. David Moyes spent a decade trying to build a team on a shoestring budget due to financial problems caused during the previous decade.
While the much-loved but crumbling Goodison Park is a symbol of Everton’s failure to move with the times.
‘High, Lows and Bakayokos’ asks just who was to blame for Everton’s ‘90s inertia, whether anything could have been done about it at the time, and what impact it had on the team as we entered the new millennium.
As a fan who grew up and first started watching Everton in 1990s this is a wonderful nostalgia trip and will be for any fan who watched the team during that era.
But ‘High, Lows and Bakayokos’ is more than just a highlights reel. It’s a refreshing take on an era that delivered little tangible success but whose legacy is still felt today. Making it, on reflection, one of the most significant decades in the club’s history.
Thanks to Jim Keoghan and Pitch Publishing we have a copy of ‘High, Lows and Bakayokos’ to give away. All you have to do is the following:
1) Follow @rbmersey on Twitter
2) Like Royal Blue Mersey on Facebook
3) Head over to Facebook and answer the competition question
You have until 11.59pm GMT on Thursday November 24 to enter with the winner picked at random.