Funny how it took a terrifying memory for millions from World War II to galvanize and reunite a fractured Everton fanbase.
Last Sunday at Goodison Park was positively electric. Even before the game as the faithful filed into the Grand Old Lady, there was a buzz going around. Part of that was because it was the 233rd Merseyside Derby which is always a special occasion. But with the Blues not having won this fixture since Tom Davies was yet to hit puberty, you could have been forgiven for assuming that the Toffees weren’t thinking this would be the day it happened either.
Goodison has been a difficult place for the Blues to play at times in the last few years, with there being a sense of dread permeating the old arena whenever the referee blew the whistle for kickoff. The initial noise would die out and a hush settle around the ground as fans waited with bated breath to see which player would be responsible for making a monumental error that would lead to an inevitable goal against, and then the conversion to Goodison Library would be complete for the rest of the game.
The club has been working with the fans through the excellent efforts of the Fans Forum, and changed up their announcement routine for the Derby, and that made every bit of a difference on Sunday.
Best atmosphere @Everton for years. Loved the throw back ‘Everton are magic’ flag. Well done lads. #EFCVLFC @LivEchoEFC @EFCHospitality @ALANMYERSMEDIA @ToffeeWeb pic.twitter.com/aPNp8mbKsc— John Cook (@cooklawyers) March 3, 2019
Listen to how ‘Grand Old Team’ peters out.. then the air-raid siren kicks in and there’s a murmur, what’s going on here, and those who know are already cheering.. and then the snare drum of ‘Z-Cars’ kicks in and here we go!
That one small clip sparked the crowd, lighting the blue touchpaper that set off the powder keg as the fans roared their team on incessantly for the whole game. It was just unfortunate that the Blues were unable to find the winner or else the bedlam, limbs and scenes would have surely brought the ancient stands down.
That siren, by the way, was used to precede ‘Z-Cars’ by diehard Blue and now retired boxing champion Tony Bellew (often seen in the stands at Goodison too) for his ring walk and it’s retained that ability to get hearts pumping.
Manager Marco Silva has commented a couple of times since that game about how much of a difference the atmosphere and the crowd giving their full-throated support to the players has made to the squad’s morale.
“The atmosphere started being fantastic from the moment we were in the dressing room.
”We started feeling it in that moment. And of course in the tunnel and then coming in. I felt it would be different and it was.
”I think our fans were fantastic, it was amazing the atmosphere in our stadium - it was everything people said about the Goodison Park atmosphere.
“I knew about the siren, and if the fans like it, then of course why not keep it?
”They want us to give them good feelings and it is our obligation as a team to show the ambition and desire to be Everton.
”That connection they showed with the team, even during some not very good moments, they were always there for our team.
”With their support, things will be really difficult for our opponents.”
The effect of the siren has brought up another debate - should Everton use it for every home game now before ‘Z-Cars’?
On one hand, it’s definitely got the ability to get the crowd going, but was that also because it was the Derby. Realistically though, taking on Huddersfield (no disrespect to the Terrier meant) at home on a weeknight is unlikely to rouse the sort of emotion that playing Liverpool will. In that case, should the siren be saved for ‘big’ games, like the derby, a visit from the top six sides, and European nights (soon, hopefully)?
While all Blues recognize that we won’t always win at home, it’s the effort they have found to be lacking at times. That said, even for well-paid professional footballers, it’s easy to get down in the mouth when you make a mistake and have indifferent home fans sit silently or even worse, jeer you.
The Toffees have almost always used up their full away allocation when traveling, and should continue to show that same passion and fervour when at home too.
So, this definitely goes both ways - as fans we have a responsibility to support the team no matter what, and as players the squad has to live up to their end of the deal by giving it their all whenever they step onto the pitch.
Should Everton use the air-raid siren before ‘Z-Cars’ for every home game?
This poll is closed
Yes - all home games
No - ‘big’ games only
No - never want to hear it again