Maybe it was the addition of the siren to ‘Z-Cars’. Maybe it was Marco Silva’s system finally taking root. Maybe it was some supporters’ groups frustrated by the poor home environment. Maybe it was sworn enemy Liverpool coming to Goodison that set it all off.
Whatever it was, Everton went from becoming regular top six fodder to suddenly destroying the ‘Sky Six’ on their trips to the Grand Old Lady.
Since the 223rd Merseyside Derby when Everton arrested their midseason slump with a gutsy performance holding Liverpool to a 0-0 draw, the Blues have certainly turned a corner with their on-pitch performances, and in parallel the fans have responded in full voice cheering the team on and restoring the ‘bear pit’ that we’ve seen in the past.
Sample this from our writer Tom Mallows who was at the derby -
The dark, brooding sky caused by the passing of Storm Freya added to the febrile atmosphere as we edged closer to kick off. The introduction of an air-raid siren prior to Z-Cars – inspired by Tony Bellew’s ring walk – pushed things to a crescendo as the players entered the field.
It was a clear signal to the team that, despite all the disappointments this season, the fans were right behind them once more. They responded to that olive branch by going toe-to-toe with Liverpool, helping to sustain the atmosphere, the best I have witnessed at the Old Lady in a long, long time.
The air raid siren has certainly played its part, changing beloved anthem ‘Z-Cars’ into more of a premonition of nightmares for opposing teams.
Funny how it took a terrifying memory for millions from World War II to galvanize and reunite a fractured Everton fanbase. 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.
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.
The negative atmosphere that made playing at home such a burden on the Everton players has been well and truly changed, thanks to the efforts of supporters groups like ‘The Originals 1878’ who are actively working with the club to improve the overall experience for all.
After the big win on Sunday over Manchester United, Silva thanked the fans for their support -
“We showed some very good moments of football, good quality and some nice goals, good goals for our fans to enjoy also.
“We had to prove our quality at home in front of our fans this afternoon against a really strong side and we did that. It was a good answer, it’s how I want them enjoying.
“It’s fantastic for me to see the fans like this, supporting the team. The environment in the stadium was fantastic and they were enjoying, our players were enjoying.”
Captain on the day Seamus Coleman was equally complimentary -
“The fans and players have really been coming together at Goodison and it’s making it a very tough place for teams to come.
“The atmosphere has been great and confidence is high. It was a very good performance against United. We expected to win, maybe not by that margin, but we expected to win.
”Our home form has been great and we’ve got a lot of confidence. It’s a bonus to win so convincingly and we played some very good football. We’ve just got to keep fighting and believing in ourselves.”
Even on-loan defender Kurt Zouma was thrilled by how well things went, calling it one of the best wins of his career -
“Of course [those wins against Chelsea and Arsenal] gave us a lot of confidence and we knew that against top teams we can beat them. We are at home, it’s difficult to beat us and we just need to keep going like this.
“It was a good job from the team, from everybody. You could see the crowd, how happy they were, they were loud today, singing a lot, so they gave us our motivation and I think on the pitch we did everything good today.
“We knew that when we play at home we are very difficult to beat and also that we can have a lot of chances to score.”