Some things never change do they? The fashions might be different the rewards are vastly different but the fans remain mostly the same, with similar expectations and similar demands today as they always have had, particularly at Goodison Park or similar previously trophy-laden clubs...
It was early September 1956 and Everton had failed to win a league match in only their third season back in the top flight. The attack was not quite functioning and the defence was leaking goals. The season had got off to a bad start with a 1-5 reverse at Elland Road, then Everton lost their opening home game to Blackpool 2-5, and their latest defeat, a 0-4 drubbing by Aston Villa, had started to see the patience of the fans stretched to the limit.
Six defeats and a single draw in their opening seven games saw the Blues languishing at the bottom of the table and the pessimists were anxious that Everton were headed for a relatively quick return to the Second Division a league that they had only barely two years earlier escaped from.In light of this state of affairs, Rangers Notes in the Liverpool Echo had the following to say on the matter:
Give the Players A Fair Deal: Barracking Will Not Do Any Good
Most football clubs at some time or other suffer, from the thoughtless actions of an un-sportsman-like section of alleged supporters who vent their spleen upon certain players when things are going wrong. While sincerely hoping we shall see a vastly improved display tonight from the reshuffled Everton team, even if we do not I thrust there will be none of the jeers and slow hand-clapping we had from a handful of spectators on Saturday.
The players can give of their best only if they have the crowd’s tackling. They may not all be successful. But remember that they did not select themselves and that several are young and inexperienced lads. The latter are facing a big ordeal coming into a side which has struck such a lean and unlucky patch. Give them a fair sporting chance to show what they can do.
Barracking destroys confidences more quickly than anything. The bating of players is no credit to those who indulge in it. To say it is the only way that spectators have of showing their disapproval is fallacious. Every player knows only too well when he is having a bad game. There is no need to rub it in. Express your approval at the end of the game if you must, but not while it is going on.
People who barrack are no higher intellectually than a lot of the modern rock-n-roll kids who are hitting the headlines just now. They remind me of schoolboys that throw fireworks among the girls and drop stink bombs in class or the bullies who twist the arms of kids a lot smaller than themselves. It isn’t sportsmanship.
There have to be successes and failures in football as in any other game. One season your favourites may be on top of the world; the next down in the dumps. Most people who indulge in this malevolent pastime doubtless claim to be “supporters” of the team they criticize. They would do well to ponder what the word implies.
The clubs most in need of support are those passing through such a time as Everton are experiencing. Supporting a winning team is easy. But winning teams don’t need support in that sense. It is the side which is having a sticky time and finding nothing going right which most needs encouragement.
Many so-called supporters are nothing of the kind. They do things which adversely affect the welfare of the club which they mistakenly think they are honouring by their attendance.
I don’t want to say too much about this matter. To do so would put it in the wrong perspective, for Saturday’s outbreak was comparatively mild. I am passing these comment solely with the idea of trying to nip in the bud any extension of what happened at the Villa match, if it should unfortunately happen that tonight’s display does not measure up to our hopes.
It is a fact that many a young player has been checked in his career – some have even had it ruined – through the cruelly and thoughtlessness of a comparative handful of over-critical and vociferous spectators. Not all footballers are thick-skinned. Some can be badly knocked off their game by the crowd, particularly those younger ones who are not yet hardened.
It is no justification of barracking to say that those who pay the piper have the right to call the tune. The mere fact of having paid to go in does not confer freedom upon every individual to mercilessly revile and abuse any player he dislikes.
What about the vast majority of people who are content to watch in painful silence if matters do not please them? These are entitled to see the best display possible from the men who have been chosen. They cannot get it if the heart is taken out of the team by people with the mentality of a school kids who scrawl "I hate teachers" on the blackboard when his back is turned.
Having got that of me chest, here’s hoping that for a change you have something solid and encouraging to cheer tonight and that plea proves unnecessary.
As it happened Everton won that evening's game at home to Burnley; Lesley Edwards reports on the game for the following morning's edition of the Daily Post:
Everton won this, their first victory of the season, the hard way. Not only was the penalty award by which they won disputed, there was doubt for a moment whether Tom Jones's scoring shot from the penalty spot would stand. The crowd behind the goal cheered; they saw the ball cross the line between the posts but everyone else round the ground saw the ball careering far from goal and outside the net! Referee Pickles of Bradford was called to investigate the mystery and found of course that Jones's shot had passed through the netting.
Trainer Charles Leyfield, of Everton, was left to make running repairs while the new-youth Everton side made the best of the way home with many a Burnley corner to tease them in the final minutes. Everton did more than gain victory; they deserved it. With a team which had youthfulness at every turn they fought hard and for their second half endeavour alone are worth their places again en bloc.
Odd that this duck breaking win should be at the expense of their former manager’s team, Burnley. For one awful moment when Burnley turned out ten minutes before the kick-off time, it looked as though Everton were facing as they did on Saturday the claret and blue of Aston Villa.
One of the greatest benefits of a first victory is the promise of success to come. Here the ancients of Everton linked well with the moderns and, praised be, there was a spirit of resolution all round.
The win didn’t propel Everton on to much greater things that season as they continued to have an uphill battle to remain in the First Division. In the end they managed to do so reasonably comfortably. Ian Buchan didn’t fare quite as well as just over a year later he would be replaced by Johnny Carey in the managerial hot-seat.
Whether it was Ranger’s notes that had influenced the crowd to be a little more patient or whether it was the ‘boo’ boys and their barracking of the players which had caused a positive reaction, we’ll probably never know. More likely it was the players performing to the required level and getting the bounce of the ball which helped to gain the all-important first victory of the season.