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RBM Roundtable: Everton chairman Bill Kenwright passes away

The crew at Royal Blue Mersey recollect memories of the late diehard Blue and his time on the Board

Everton FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Everton announced yesterday that club chairman Bill Kenwright had sadly passed away surrounded by friends and family on Monday. Thousands of tributes from all over the football and theater world have been pouring in for the boyhood Blue who grew up supporting the Toffees and made his way onto the Board of the club, before coming into a position where he was able to buy Everton.

Since his appointment as chairman in 2004, Kenwright’s long-lasting dream was to move the club to a big new stadium, and despite a couple of false starts, the move is close to materializing with the Bramley Moore Stadium close to completion.

The last couple of years of his tenure were marked by supporter unrest as dissatisfaction with how the club has been run since the takeover of Farhad Moshiri settled in during two consecutive relegation battles.

The crew here at Royal Blue Mersey got together to chat about Kenwright, recollecting stories that have been woven into Toffee lore over the years.

Peter

On an aspirational level, the life of Bill Kenwright has to be up there with the best. A young boy, who started watching Everton from the boys pen, and eventually owning and running the club. Sounds like a movie. It is this theatrical history that he should be remembered.

During his tenure as chairman of the club, nobody could question his decision making as it was always based on his blue heart. Let that blue heart rest in peace. He can now have a kick around with his idol Dave Hickson in the blue skies above.

Bill Kenwright tributes at Goodison Park
Everton captain Seamus Coleman and manager Sean Dyche lay flowers by the Dixie Dean statue outside Goodison Park in Liverpool in tribute to Everton chairman Bill Kenwright
Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images

John

An Evertonian who ended up running Everton, and veey few people can say they ran the club they loved. Dedicated to the Everton cause and, while I didn’t agree with everything he did, could never question his commitment.

Above all else, a husband, father, friend and Blue has passed on. My thoughts are with his loved ones. RIP.

Geoff

I will always be grateful for Bill Kenwright joining the board when he did and especially during the tense months when he wrestled control from the hugely unpopular Peter Johnson. He allegedly secured the finance to do so partly by remortgaging his own home. Personally I have never doubted his love for the club and if his biggest crime was letting his heart rule his head then let’s remember it was a massive blue heart. Bill often referred to being a youngster in the part of Goodison known as the Boy’s Pen. It was called that because it was exclusively for Boy’s and it was indeed a Pen, kids segregated from the rest of the Gwladys Street by a wire netting. That section often raised a smile around the ground when they could be heard singing football chants the same as their adult counterparts except about an octave above the men.

Bill was part of that environment then and to the day he passed. I will not remember the toxic last days he visited Goodison or the responses he gave, I will remember the story of the young teenage fan who sang his heart out before becoming our Chairman. RIP Blue Bill.

Liverpool FC Hold 24th Hillsborough Anniversary Memorial Service
Bill Kenwright addresses a Hillsborough memorial at Anfield
Photo by Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Tom

Bill Kenwright was an old romantic who loved the club dearly and wanted nothing more than for it to succeed. Reading the tributes from those who had met him it was clear he had a warm heart and was generous both with his time and money, with stories now emerging of all the various charitable donations he made during his life. It is desperately sad that his relationship with the fans could not be repaired before his passing and that he will never get to see the club in its new home at Bramley-Moore Dock.

As well as being a proud Evertonian he was also a proud scouser who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Liverpool after the Hillsborough disaster, including a rousing speech at the 24th Anniversary Memorial Service in 2013, reminding us all that there is more that unites Everton and Liverpool fans than divides us.

But there is no doubt he leaves a complicated legacy. The rapid development of the game meant he soon became a relic of a bygone edge. The local man made good simply cannot cut it in the age of oligarchs and petrodollars. But Kenwright, whose other passion was the theatre, still craved that happy ending in the final act, retaining his grip on power in the genuine belief he could bring back the glory days, even if that clashed more and more corrosively with reality.

Everton FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Everton owner Farhad Moshiri with club chairman Bill Kenwright
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Kevin

Sad to hear of his passing. I believe his heart was in the right place, but his tragedy was in the overwhelming need to be at the centre of something he loved, and the tighter his grip the more it slipped away. Should unquestionably have stepped aside when Moshiri bought Everton. I’m sure he felt that he could control Farhad, but if anything, his continued presence added to the sense of confusion endemic within the club’s upper echelons. He’s probably ended up being blamed for some things that he had no involvement with, in truth. People are complex and can do what are perceived to be the wrong things for ostensibly the right reasons. Maybe the full story of what occurred during the Moshiri era will come out in time.

Yesterday, the local news mentioned that last spring Kenwright made a non-public donation of £50,000 to help an Everton fan who needed funding for an experimental treatment in Germany for her terminal brain cancer, which was unfortunately unsuccessful. Maybe I’m being sentimental, but he won’t see the new stadium that he had a major hand in making a reality; for any Evertonian, that’s pretty sad. RIP.

Everton v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League - Goodison Park
Bill Kenwright in the stands with fans
Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

Calvin

Say whatever you want about the man, but there’s no doubt that he was and always will be a true Blue. Often wearing his heart on a sleeve, Kenwright’s undoing in the end was what happens to many successful men and women in history when they take over the running of something they love, and when their passion often overrides sense and sensibility.

Things might yet take a turn for the worse for Everton football club with this season poised to be a third straight relegation survival fight and all sorts of threats of points deductions, transfer embargos and other fiscal penalties still possible for the club, but that should not cloud our opinions of Kenwright the fan.

While the long-tenured chairman unfortunately has also presided over the longest trophy drought in the club’s storied history, under his watch the Blues have also become one of the best organizations in the country when it comes to social causes and supporting the local community.

We might all have different opinions on what is the right way to run Everton football club, but we are all the same in that we carry Blue beating hearts in our chests. For that, I am sad that we have lost ‘Blue Bill’. Sincerest condolences to his family, friends, wellwishers and the Everton community worldwide.