By Dave Downie
If everything goes to plan, Everton will announce that Bramley Moore Dock will be the site of their new home later this week.
That sentence alone is something I never thought I’d be able to say in my lifetime.
Previous failures, false dawns both on and off the pitch, and an overwhelming feeling that this would never happen. The thought that Everton would never be able to rub shoulders with football’s elite was a sobering one and a feeling we’ve all struggled to cope with for the best part of thirty years.
That all changes now.
The jokes will stop. The jibes will vanish. The media will recognise. That’s what all this means.
It isn’t just a new stadium. It isn’t just something nice to look at or somewhere to visit on your day off. It’s a new home and a new hope.
As much as every Evertonian loves Goodison Park, the old lady has stunted the growth and Everton’s potential to grow as a football club.
Hearts will be broken when we see our team play its final game in L4 and it’s a very sad reality that Everton can’t hope to function as a leading force from the place which has overseen all of the glory on which we’re built.
But think of taking your seat in a place which that’s been constructed to breed success in the modern game.
Think of your kids, their kids and their families. They get the chance to see things that none of us thirty-something’s have ever seen. They get to see an Everton that can compete and an Everton that can hope again.
None of this ‘seventh is a good season’ or ‘can we break into the top four?’ This is going to be a place built to house trophies. This will be a place that will house trophies.
For decades, people in, around or who follow the club have forgotten what our motto means. They’ve used it as a quirky strap-line or a cheap marketing tool, but they’ve never believed it. They’ve used it to highlight a time gone by and what it used to stand for when it’s literal meaning was the standard that every Evertonian lived by.
We all need to live by that again.
‘I’d take a point away at the big clubs,’ ‘we never play well at Anfield,’ ‘EVERTON THAT!’
It all has to stop.
Being a big club needs big thinking.
‘Everton that’ needs to mean something else. Dreading trips to Anfield and the rest has to stop. That small mindedness and poisonous narrative need to be cast aside and replaced by the genuine belief we can achieve.
We’re all guilty of it to some extent. I interviewed Neville Southall at the Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port a couple of days before Phil Jagielka earned us a draw at Anfield with one of the greatest strikes we’ll ever see in a Merseyside derby.
Naively, I asked the great man what Everton should be looking to do in that season with it only being late September. I expected a typical response that I’d usually get from interviewing most former players. ‘Qualifying for Europe,’ or ‘maybe a late push for the top 4’ was the reply I was used to.
I should’ve known my audience…
‘Win the league,’ he replied casually.
I laughed a little before replying ‘Really?’
‘What’s the point in playing in the league if you don’t think you can win it?’ he said.
It was a genuine moment in time for me. One of the greatest players to ever pull on a football shirt had firmly put me in my place, yet so many even to this day will scoff at what he said. But he is undeniably right. What is the point?
Why do we bother if we don’t think we can win? I know we’ve become accustomed to heartache with Everton over the years, but that has gradually become an all encompassing inferiority complex that has infected almost every single one of us, in some way.
When Everton move, our mindset simply has to go with it.
We have to shed the skin that’s seen us downtrodden and blighted our hopes and expectations for more than a generation.
A shadow of our former selves which some of us have never seen.
It ends now.
Nil Satis Nisi Optimum? It’s time to stop saying it and time to start living it.