Category Archives: Everton

Meet the men behind Fans Supporting Foodbanks

By Euan Burns

Every football fan knows what to expect when you’re lingering outside the ground waiting for kick off. Burger van’s, pop-up bar’s, maybe a bit of music and an abundance of people selling you every type of merchandise you can possibly imagine.

Outside both Anfield and Goodison Park however, you’ll find two truly inspirational men doing everything they can to help their local community. These men are 61-year-old Everton fan Dave Kelly, and 46-year-old Liverpool fan Ian Byrne.

Dave, Ian and their team spend a few hours before every Everton and Liverpool game collecting food from match-going fans, and taking it to local foodbanks. The two men’s footballing allegiances formed the basis for their project, and spawned the fast-growing hashtag #HungerDoesntWearClubColours.

What is immediately striking about Dave and Ian is how genuine and honest they are. They don’t speak and act like people who know they are doing a wonderful thing. As far as they are concerned, what they are doing is a necessary thing. They dress in the way you’d expect any casual football fan to do so, jeans and dark jackets. Dave was wearing a beanie hat with his Fans Supporting Foodbanks badge attached to the front. Nothing about them suggested they were the leaders of the steady crowed surrounding the van situated on Anfield Road. Their strong scouse accents add a level of credibility to their comments on the state of their community.

The project has gained huge recognition over recent months, meaning I had to wait for Ian to finish his chat with another journalist before he joined Dave and I. I met up with them both during a food collection outside Anfield, prior to the Liverpool vs Huddersfield match. After chatting for a bit and telling me whom various people dotted about the area were, Dave introduced me to Ian in a manner that suggests he doesn’t see himself as news-worthy, by saying: “This lad’s a journalist, bizarrely wanting to find out who we are and how we do it.”

This led Dave onto the first interesting point about how the organisation is run in regards to leadership: “No one’s really in charge it’s a bit of a free for all. In my day job I work for a trade union, so the thought of being in charge of something or a manager is a bit of an alien concept.”  The project is run with a strong socialist ethos, which has clearly been engrained in Dave for his whole life. Dave told me one of his anecdote that became very regular during the chat: “My son said to me the other day, I used to love coming out of school on a Friday afternoon and going out with you because we’d put a loud haler on the van and we’d go and collect food for the miners during the miners’ strike in 1985. 35 years later, you’re still out collecting food. You never feel like you’ve wasted your life.”

Interviewing Dave whilst in his natural requires a level of patience, because every passer-by knows who he is and wants a chat. One volunteer at the van said to me: “People usually have neck ache after talking to Dave because you’re turning here there and everywhere”. It epitomises the community spirit both he and Ian are so desperate to highlight.

Collections have been carried out under the Fans Supporting Foodbanks title for three years now, with the idea coming to the two men whilst on the train back from London after a meeting with the Premier League. Dave said: “Our first collection was after we’d seen a huge queue outside a community centre and we found out it was a foodbank queue, and it was basically a food bank without food. We thought we better hit the ground running. Our first collection was out of a wheelie bin, we got more chip papers than food.”

There is clearly a very down-to-earth and pragmatic way about how Dave thinks, as shown by his attitude towards political labels: “People accuse people who put their head above the parapet and get involved with community initiatives of being a Communist, a Marxist, you name it I’ve been called it. I always say to people, I am not that political, but I know what’s right and I know what’s wrong. I would actually suggest that I’m a community activist, I’m immersed in what goes on in and around my community, and I’m not happy or comfortable with what I see going on in my community, or any other community.”

The idea of mobilising football fans all over the country to help those in poverty is something that Ian and Dave are very enthusiastic about. Ian seemed to fill with pride when he said:  “That’s probably one of our proudest achievements. Making fans focus on the bigger enemy and not each other. We always say our enemy is not someone in Salford, Newcastle, and Huddersfield whatever. They are helping us collect food because our communities are starving. That is one of the most enjoyable parts of it. We’ve got the Huddersfield supporters trust coming down tonight and they’re bringing a donation of food, we’ll go to Newcastle, Dave’s going to Manchester. There’s a cross-pollination now where we’re all helping each other out. It’s quite ground breaking to be honest when you’re bringing food to Old Trafford as a Liverpool fan.”

It isn’t just food collections that Ian and Dave use the vehicle of football for. They want to integrate everyone in their society, and make sure no one is left behind. They have gone to great lengths to make the Muslim community in Liverpool feel as welcome as possible, especially given the current political climate. Dave told me a story which highlighted a key problem in society: “You’ll be aware of Mo Salah receiving racist abuse at West Ham’s ground the other week. That’s obviously of great concern to all of us. What you probably won’t realise is that a few weeks ago, Fans Supporting Foodbanks and West Ham Independent Supporters Association went to Mo Salah’s mosque, and they offered a hand of friendship. The Imran at the mosque at Friday prayer time conducted the whole service with a West Ham scarf on because he accepted the hand of friendship.”

I was aware of the racist abuse, but not the heart-warming events that followed. I pointed out that that may well be part of the problem. This prompted Ian to say: “Well yeah let’s be blunt about it, that was a massive failing of the footballing authorities that what happened there wasn’t highlighted. It was one of the proudest moments we’ve probably ever had because it was really touching when he put the scarf on. We always get a lot of warmth from that congregation. There was a 75-year-old guy there praying and waving his Liverpool scarf at Dave. It’s using football again to lighten the tone, unite people, break down divides. It’s a hugely powerful tool.”

I pressed Ian on the idea of football being a powerful tool, pointing out how it can be so effective in both good and bad ways. He said in response: “Absolutely, we’re domestically opposed to what Tommy Robinson and Football Lads Alliance and all that garbage do. They see the value of football the same way that we do, so they see football as an opportunity to create a division. We see football as an opportunity to unite communities. Its dead interesting when you sit down and you look at their modus operandum and you look at our modus operandum because footballs the national game, and it’s amazing that me and Dave can use football as a vehicle to walk into a mosque and integrate with their communities.”

Their work with Mohammed Salah’s mosque stretches back further than that. During the 2018 World Cup, they screened the Egypt vs Russia game at the mosque, and about 250 people attended from the whole community. Dave described it as: ”One of our proudest moments”. Ian elaborated by saying: “A lot of people haven’t been to a mosque before, and it’s an opportunity to break down that barrier and put some of those mistruths that you might read in The Daily Mail and the right-wing propaganda to bed really.” With a smirk on his face, Dave added: “It’s funny how no one’s ever tried to radicalise me isn’t it? There’s an ignorance isn’t there, what happens behind that door there.”

I asked Dave how rewarding it is to know he’s helping so many people, but his answer suggested he feels their work in mobilising football fans is more impressive. Food bank collections is something that should be happening regardless. He said: “Well I think it’s more rewarding knowing how we’re helping to change the narrative about football fans. That lad over there has just bought a lodge for disabled and sick children in the Lake District. Football fans believe it or not are just like anyone else.”

It was at this point a very wealthy looking man arrived, shook hands with us all and started having a casual chat. This was the Chief Executive Officer of Liverpool Football Club, Peter Moore. Politely, Dave immediately explained whom I was and what I was doing, to which Mr Moore said: “It’s a great story here isn’t it. Careful though you know what side of the park he’s from.” He went on to ridicule me about Manchester United’s recent form, and then rushed off to get something to eat. In fairness, he had just flown in from China and hadn’t eaten. Incidentally, it was Mr Moore who bought the van that Fans Supporting Foodbanks use for their collections out of his own pocket. It was testament to the relaxed, social vibe around the collection that such a prominent figure can turn up, have a chat and continue with his day.

Ian and Dave have a really impressive mind-set, and are doing deeply impressive work. They are changing the stereotype of what a football fan is, and helping those in need along the way.

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FA Investigating Barkley Coin Throwing Incident

It has been confirmed today, that the FA are investigating an incident, with which a coin was thrown at Chelsea Midfielder Ross Barkely, during the Premier League match on Sunday.A match which marked the Chelsea Midfielder’s first appearance back at Everton since his transfer to Chelsea over  a year ago.

The match which Chelsea lost 2~0 saw Barkley, until he was subbed midway through the second half of the game, subjected to a constant barrage of boos from the Everton fans, to which he responded in a very professional manner, by making good passes, creating chances and appearing to thoroughly enjoy showing his former employers, how much he has improved since his move to London.

It is understood that the FA were made aware of the incident after the game and have written to both clubs for their observations, before making any further comment. This incident comes on top and hard on the heels of the alleged rascist abuse of their players during their recent away trip to Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League.

One thing is certain,should the offender be identified, then they could face a lifetime ban from Goodison Park, as a response to this incident.

What do you think needs to be done to help prevent incidents like this at football?

Brexit: How will it affect the Premier League?

It comes without surprise that all 20 of the current Premier League clubs were against Brexit in the first place. With Britain set to leave the EU on March 29th, and a ‘no deal’ Brexit looming closer by the minute, what will happen to The Premier League and English football in the future? 

 

The first likely outcome of Brexit on English football is the restriction on the movement of players from Europe to the UK, and vice versa. Players will most likely have to acquire work permits when transferring from The UK to Europe. It is estimated that only 60% of all players in the top flight are UK nationals, so there is major potential of future issues within the league. The clarity of movements in the transfer market may be completely hindered, with it being harder for Premier League clubs to sign European talent, and harder for players with UK citizenship to move to European clubs. Furthermore, with the Champions League quarter finals set to take place just two weeks after the March deadline, and four out of eight teams being from the UK, how will the final three stages pan out?

 

Another potential issue Brexit may reveal regards the 1995 Bosman ruling. The Bosman ruling has made a vital development to football around Europe, allowing players to act as free agents once their contract with the club has expired. The ruling came after three separate legal cases between Jean-Marc Bosman and UEFA, The Belgian FA and Bosman’s club at the time – Royal Football Club De Liege. Bosman won his case at The European Court of Justice in 1995. With the UK departing European jurisdiction, and it no longer being a requirement to follow EU law, UK players could potentially be at risk from a lack of free movement. 

 

The FA has already made a pre-Brexit statement regarding all teams in the Football Leagues. Back in November, they stated that every roster must consist of a minimum of 12 players from a UK background. This could have a positive and negative effect on the league; forcing managers to train with a more ‘British’ based team, leading to further player development and possibly lead to a stronger English, Welsh and Scottish national teams. However, it could lead to a lack of European talent in Premier League teams. Talented players such as Van Dijk, De Bruyne, Sane and Hazard may aim to look at joining major clubs in Europe, to mitigate against the uncertainty that Brexit may bring. Premier League scouts will most likely put their focus on British talent, and the number of European players brought to the top flight could be dramatically reduced. Furthermore, more pressure may be weighted on football academies, as there is an increased need for young English talent. This would lead to the increased development of young English players, the likes of Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Callum Hodson-Odoi all generated their success through excelling in their respected football academies. Could Brexit result in a breakthrough for unseen flair?

 

The main question on everyone’s mind is “Can Britain beat Brexit?” Although the outcomes still remain indistinct, it is clear that it could be rough. Lets just hope that it doesn’t tarnish our league and restrict the luminous football we are all so familiar with. 

American dreams: Top 5 MLS to EPL signings

Not really known for it’s exports, Major League Soccer has been more accustomed to big named stars from European football Gracing their presence in the twilight of their careers, players like Andrea Pirlo, Kaka, Thierry Henry and most recently Zlatan Ibrahimovic and our own Wayne Rooney. However with Newcastle United signing Miguel Almiron from one of the MLS’s newest outfits Atlanta United its changed this trend. With the MLS being back underway this weekend we take a look at the top 5 signings to make their way across the Atlantic to these shores.

  1. Clint Dempsey

Signed by Fulham from the New England Revolution in 2007, Dempsey went on to score 50 goals for the Cottagers in his 5 years in West London where he helped guide Fulham to the UEFA Cup final in 2010, which ended in a 2-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid. He still remains the club’s highest Premier League goalscorer ahead of fellow American Brian McBride. In 2012, the Texan was transferred to Tottenham where he scored 7 goals before he returned home to the U.S. the following season with the Seattle Sounders. In 2014 Dempsey returned to Fulham on loan but failed to add to his goal tally in England. With 57 goals in England, Clint Dempsey is the highest scoring American in any of Europe’s top leagues and showed that American players could be relied upon to score goals, something that hadn’t been seen at that time.

2. Brad Friedel

The American moved across the pond after he was signed by Liverpool in 1997 and had a tremendous 18-year stint in the Premier League also playing for Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa and Tottenham, where he collectively racked up 479 appearances. Friedel originally had 3 failed transfers to the Premier League with Nottingham Forest, Newcastle United and Sunderland due to work permit issues. He was finally cleared to move following a successful appeal to play for Liverpool after signing from Columbus Crew. Blackburn’s League Cup victory against Spurs in 2002 was the only trophy Friedel won during his time in England, that same season he made the PFA team of the year. While at Blackburn he also scored a goal in a 3-3 draw with Charlton, which he remains only 1 of 5 keepers to do this in the league. One of Friedel’s greatest attributes was his fitness, the keeper went on to play 310 consecutive games in the Premier League, which is still a record to this day.

3. Tim Howard

Another goalkeeper on this list, something the United States has had great success with over the years. Tim Howard signed for Manchester United from the New York Red Bulls (formally known as the New York/Jersey MetroStars) in 2003, winning the Community Shield and the FA Cup in his first season and adding the League cup in 2006. With the addition of Dutch master Edwin Van Der Sar in 2005, Howard’s chances became limited. This provoked a loan to Everton before he completed a transfer to the Toffees in 2007, where he made 354 total appearances. Like his compatriot Brad Friedel, he also scored a goal in the league, against Bolton Wanderers. Howard ended his career as the highest capped U.S national team goalkeeper of all time.

4. Brian McBride

In the 2000/2001 season, while at Columbus Crew, McBride was sent out on loan to Preston North End, then managed by David Moyes. Moyes took the American born forward with him when he moved from the Second Division club to Premier league Everton where the striker scored 4 goals in 8 appearances. The following season McBride secured a move to Fulham, playing 140 games and scoring 33 goals making him the club’s second highest Premier League goalscorer behind fellow American and Fulham legend Clint Dempsey. The striker’s no-nonsense play and maximum effort made him a fan favourite at craven cottage.

5. Miguel Almiron

The Paraguayan only moved to the Premier League in January, breaking Newcastle United’s transfer record with his move from Atlanta United for £20m, the highest fee paid for an MLS player. With only a small sample size of just 4 games so far it’s premature for Almiron to make this list but the potential the attacking midfielder has is breathtaking, his pace, running quality, passing and eye for goal will delight the Geordie faithful and help the club push on to better things in the future.

Almiron is just one of a host of exciting MLS players developed in the league who could find their way to the Premier League very soon. Can Almiron live up to the hype and reach the potential set by his predecessors?

Wayne Edge @oasis1711

Number 200: is this the biggest Merseyside derby yet ?

Everton have won only 2 of their last 7 games in all competitions and manager Marco Silva is already said to be under pressure in his first season with the toffees. Despite the poor form, Everton are still in 9th place and outside of the ‘big 6’ only Wolves and surprise package Watford are ahead of them.

The Blues won their last game 3-0 against Cardiff City so come into the 200th Merseyside derby with confidence. Last time out only a 96th minute winner from Divock Origi separated the two teams in December, and this time Everton would love nothing more than to get the victory and derail Liverpool’s title hopes.

The Toffees have no fresh injury worries, with defenders Kurt Zouma and Phil Jagielka both included in the squad last time out, Leighton Baines is also back in training and could be in contention.

Liverpool’s race for their first Premier League title is in the final furlong, the Anfield club has wobbled recently winning only 3 of their last 7 games, drawing 4 and allowing Manchester City to cut the gap down to just 1 point. Now any slip up could see Guardiola’s side swap places at the top of the league.

The reds smashed 5 past Watford on Wednesday in a fantastic display, showing their doubters that the pressure won’t hold them back. They will also be buoyed by the fact that it’s now 8 years since Everton last won against them, also no club has won more games at Goodison Park than Liverpool.

The Reds defence has been vital to their form this season and in arguably the world’s best defender Virgil Van Dijk they have a threat at both ends of the field with the Dutchman scoring twice last time out, this is ominous for an Everton side top among the teams that have conceded the most goals from set pieces.

Liverpool will be without defenders Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez, forward Roberto Firmino should return after his injury in the Manchester United game.

With all these stats in mind it looks like a hard day at the office for Everton but keep this in mind that 5 of the last 10 Merseyside derbies have ended in a draw, couple this with a chance to potentially knock their City rivals off the premier league summit the old cliche rings true, all form goes out the window in a derby.

Wayne Edge @oasis1711