Replica Memories – By Mark Ellis
[quote]As I grew older, my brother Ben always insisted on having the home kit and being a twin, I was fed up with us wearing the same clothes. An Everton away kit was my chance to break free.[/quote]
This week I saw the new kits unveiled on Twitter of each of the competing teams for the much-anticipated World Cup in Brazil, now just 99 days away. Very exciting. Lets hope the football is as stylish and eye-catching as some of the kits on show this year
It got me thinking of all the various shirts I have worn supporting Everton. Since I started going in 1986, the excitement of getting an Everton shirt for my birthday, just in time for the start of the season, has made my early memories the most vivid.
With these images as vivid as they ever were, here a few that stand out – for good and bad reasons:
As a kid I used to put my Everton shirt on as if I was making my debut at Goodison Park. Adrian Heath was my first hero, I’ll never forget his diving header against Man Utd; a goal that literally took my breath away.
I’ll never forget Heath guiding a Kevin Langley cross into the Gwladys Street net past a sprawling Chris Turner with a header about 2 inches off the ground. Sending the Gwladys Street into orbit.
The amount of times my brother and I tried to replicate that goal should have been worthy of a place in the Guinness book of records. No Norris McWherter around but my mums back garden took a pasting. Along with a dozen pair of Trackie bottoms.
86-87 was a great home shirt. Sadly the last one in which we won the league championship. With Roberto and Umbro working on our style on and off the pitch, we have a huge chance to write our own history under our heaven-sent manager!
As a kid, I was lucky enough to have a new kit every time they came out. I always favoured the away kit for some reason, despite wearing the home shirt in my early years.
As I grew older, my brother Ben always insisted on having the home kit and being a twin, I was fed up with us wearing the same clothes. An Everton away kit was my chance to break free.
1989-90 was the season I received my first away kit. I’d asked my mum and stepdad for the grey and blue striped shirt, the third kit. I’d only ever seen us in yellow away from home and thought this shirt was first class.
I got all of 3 months wear out of it before I made the catastrophic error of watching the blues travel to Aston Villa on the 5th November. I was made up to see us finally wear the shirt that my mum couldn’t get off me and it became the first time I cried watching Everton. Never recovering from a Gordan Cowans goal on 5 minutes, we were 6-0 down by the 67th minute. It was horrendous.
Ian Ormondroyd and Ian Olney wreaking havoc with Tony Daley looking like Eden Hazard, making full use of Everton playing Ratcliffe at left back. Never anything but a disaster; oh for a Leighton Baines back then.
I could never wear the shirt again. It would have looked like I was made up with a 6-2 defeat The stain of that defeat meant an early bath and wardrobe retirement for my once untouchable away shirt.
The 1991-92 season saw Everton sign Peter Beardsley in a surprise deal from Liverpool who signed Dean Saunders as a replacement. No sniggering, delusion was rife once more across the park.
Everton started the season poorly, winning only 1 of our first 8 games; a memorable 3-1 thumping of Arsenal with Mark Ward playing like a man possessed on his home debut.
It was a forgettable season, no standout moments, except for 3 back to back appearances on ITV’s the Big Match. With 3 dreadful matches against Forest at home (1-1), Chelsea away (0-1) and Villa away (0-0). The score-lines really do tell the whole story. It seemed we had a shortage of footballers at the club
Everton finished 12th that year. Without Beardsley it could easily have been 20th.
The away kit we had that season, at least in my 12-year-old eyes, was a thing of beauty. I remember Chelsea had an identical kit to us apart from the sponsor. The blue shock line won it for me. Looking back it was a terrible kit but I was made up with it back then.
We went to Stamford Bridge in the 4th round of the Cup, a totally forgettable match was awoken when Clive Allen put Chelsea ahead in the 72nd minute. Everton woke up and Tony Cottee hit straight at Kevin Hitchcock when it was easier to score.
A few minutes later Beagrie was brought down in the box and Cottee fluffed his lines once more with a shocker of a pen hit tamely straight at Hitchcock.
Even my Step Dad, usually calm and grounded in such moments, lost it for a second. It was a stinking penalty and with the team enjoying mid-table mediocrity in the league, our season ended about 3 minutes later.
Mid-table was suddenly home for Everton. Never a place for a club with our history.
I think the fact that two of the three experiences in this write-up were negative sums up my time growing up supporting Everton. We had been on a downward spiral since winning the title in 1987.
The decline though, was witnessed through excited eyes. Thinking we could win every match and taking years to realize we were on our way to mediocrity.
I’m grateful for the fact I was so young. If I had been my age now I would have been devastated to watch such a great side fall apart in the way that it did. The start of the Premier League was upon us and we were barely considered for ‘The top 6’ despite only winning the title 5 years previous. Such was the decline.
It’s memories like these that make this season under Roberto all the more rewarding. 28 years of following the blues has offered up more than a few false dawns. With Martinez it simply doesn’t feel like that.
A golden era is upon us, I just hope were dressed right for it!
Follow Mark Ellis on Twitter @Markthablue