Bio: Stephen Maunder is a journalist and writer from Shropshire. He has been attending Goodison Park ever since a freezing 0-0 draw with Leeds United in December 1996. He has completed a thesis about the tabloid presentation of the England football captain in the last twenty years and has written feature articles for BBC News and various football blogs. You can follow him on Twitter @SlideShowsSteve.
It’s always been Everton and always will be. That’s how I was brought up. Sure, it’s a blessing and a curse but sometimes, just occasionally, they really surprise me and that makes it worthwhile. If for some reason I don’t go to a game, I have to sit on the computer watching questionable streams and refreshing BBC Live Text. I’m stuck with it for good, but there are definitely worse things to be stuck with.
Q2. I remember standing amongst a glum chain gang of fans at Kirkdale train station in the late 90′s, we’d just been beaten at Goodison, the rain was pissing on us, and some cheeky Liverpool fans were laughing and mooning us from the top of the stairs. That was the lowest I felt as an Everton fan. What is your all time high/low as a fan?
Despite our relative underachievement in my twenty-two years, there have still been some special moments. I remember my Dad and Uncles heading off to Wembley in 1995 and me watching at home as a six year old kid. So naturally our return to Wembley in 2009 was my first experience of actually seeing Everton there and it was just a brilliant day in general. Watching the penalties from between my fingers with the bloke in front of me crying will live with me forever.
Other than that day, it has to be my first Merseyside Derby when Cadamateri scored and we won 2-0 in 1997. I can remember that jinking run and the Gwladys street roar. 1997-1998 was the first season I had a season ticket, and I’ll always remember that day alongside our last day escape against Coventry and that Gareth Farrelly goal.
My all time Everton low would probably be post-Villarreal in the Champions League. At the time it felt like with investment we could have really smashed through a glass ceiling and progressed. Instead we bombed out (Collina) and then what happened in Bucharest afterwards summed it all up. I was used to Everton playing terribly, but that was like losing a huge opportunity to change our future. Tearing the Rooney poster off my wall and Kings Dock are both up there too. But less about all them!
Q3. What player from the past would you sign for our current team?
Andrei Kanchelskis in his prime. We could really do with someone direct with an eye for goal on the wing, someone who’ll run at players and get the crowd on their feet. He would be like the superhero version of Drenthe.
Q4. Who is your favourite all time player?
Duncan Ferguson. Watching him as a kid he typified everything Everton Football Club should be about but was miles away from at the time. He was such an icon in an otherwise poor team that was consistently struggling against relegation. Big Dunc was my first Everton hero, and despite the long balls, red cards and injuries, he was a top player and it really meant something to him. And that was what mattered (along with all those goals, of course!).
Q5. What’s your take on our motto Nil Satis Nisi Optimum?
Like all mottos it bears little resonance in reality, sadly, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t remain symbolic. It pinpoints an almost unachievable benchmark that we should always try to live up to and always believe in. And beyond that, it’s just a great little phrase in general, especially compared to the mottos of Spurs, Villa etc.
Q6. How long can Everton survive with their subsistence transfer policy?
Only as long as we keep producing top youngsters through the academy system. There is a huge mark-up on English talent and the kind of sums being touted for Rodwell underline where the money is. Rather than Rodwell, I think Barkley will end up being the one, and we’ve just got to hope we can keep him. Without investment, however, that will be impossible. Ideally, we should be building teams around Barkley, Fellaini, Rodwell and even Duffy, but in a world where even Manchester United have to sell their best player, the reality outweighs the ideals.
Q7. The press often peddle rumours about bids for Everton players like Rodwell, Jagielka, and Baines. What are your thoughts on selling some of our bigger names?
Again, it’s the way of football in the twenty-first century, sadly. Only a major takeover or the floor falling out of football finance can prevent it. As I say, we should be building a team around our young players, but if the only way we can stay afloat is to trade then that’s the unfortunate reality. As a fan, it would really irk me if Barkley, Fellaini or Baines were sold though.
Q8. What do you think about the possibility of a shared stadium with Liverpool?
Obviously nobody wants it and it’s not ideal, but it might be the only feasible option for both sides. If it will increase income significantly and make the club a more attractive proposition to buyers then its what we need. Also, if the area is selected properly it will be great for the city. It’s the absolute least Liverpool City Council could do….
Q9. Where do you think the majority of Evertonians lie, with “Moyes Out”, “In Moyes We Trust” or somewhere in the middle?
I think the majority swings pro-Moyes, even now. I’m somewhere in the middle. Moyes has done a good job, particularly in the transfer market, but I feel at times he is still stuck in the “underdog mentality” of relegation struggles and that some of the players he has brought in have outgrown his defensive tactics. That’s how I feel anyway, and anybody else spending four hours getting home in the snow after Wigan away this season after watching Phil Neville toil in midfield whilst Drenthe sat on the bench probably feels the same. Moyes has done well, but football is supposed to be entertaining. I want to see the exciting players on the pitch.
Q10. Bill Kenwright: scheming General Secretary or blue hearted fan-chairman?
I’ve written a lengthy blog about Kenwright, so I won’t try to hide my feelings on the matter. He’s a blue, of course he is, but so am I and I wouldn’t fancy my chances of running a business with an £80m turnover per annum. He is completely deluded, clueless and embarrassing and has shown a startling lack of business nouse that has left the club in the mire. He has to go.
Q11. Where do you see Everton in ten years time?
In a stadium suitable for this great club (not some Bolton or Wigan retail park disaster) and challenging at the top of the league and in Europe. That’s the eventuality we should dream of, however remote!
Q12. We have a lot of players at the club on loan (LD, Stracqualursi, Drenthe, Pienaar) , who should Moyes look to try and keep?
Donovan isn’t going to happen, so sadly, he’s out of the running. I’d keep the other three if at all possible. Straqualursi has grown on everyone. When he first joined I thought we had signed a Sunday morning park player, but he’s becoming a cult hero. Put it this way, I still probably wouldn’t want him as our first choice striker, but he’d be a really good option to have in certain games. Oh, and playing for Everton means something to him. He’s got rough edges but he’s a delight to watch, in his own way.
In terms of Pienaar and Drenthe, I’m in the minority saying this but if it were a choice of one or the other I’d rather have Drenthe. One is an young unpolished entertainer capable of exciting and frustrating in equal measures (I love flair players who can win games), the other is a reliable, hard working, but aging ball-player who links very well with Baines. Ideally we will keep both. It would be nice to have options for once!