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Thursday, August 08, 2013


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Monday, May 23, 2011


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Edward Bottomley
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Greater Detroit Area

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Over the past few months Man City striker Mario Balotelli has been portrayed as a blight on English football. The levels of opprobrium (despite sensible articles documenting Balotelli’s horrifically troubled childhood penned by people like Gab Marcotti) have become ridiculous.

Look closely at what Balotelli has done (smashed his car, thrown darts at the training ground, generally foisted his ego on anyone close by) and he’s not exactly the worst person in the world. Is he?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The new Everton website Dixie's Sixty has launched, it comes from the writing team of Ed and Peter Bottomley - looks pretty nifty - and promises to provide a positive counterweight to moany kvetch-filled sites like ToffeeWeb...

To celebrate the launch of new Everton Website Dixie's 60 we'll be covering the Top 60 Everton FC players. Ed Bottomley's previous Top 50 Toffees written for the Times Online caused quite a bit of controversy - we'll see if this one does the same when it is published.

Monday, October 05, 2009

This was published on the Times Online's Fanzine Fanzone Last Week...

The Four Sides To Goodison Park

At the mere mention Goodison Park, my mind spins like a roulette wheel. Goodison has created a mountain of moments and her wingspan touches three separate centuries. Monarchs have strolled through Goodison's stands, and its fans have crowned blue legends on Goodison's green turf. The architect Archibald Leitch gave Goodison its shape, and hundreds of players painted memories onto the blank canvas.

My first memory is of grappling with a tight Le Coq Sportif shirt in the mid eighties. It was annoyingly restrictive, uncomfortably itchy, but still had my child's heart drumming staccato beats with excitement. The shirt gave me a taste of what it was to be an Evertonian.

I remember too some of my favourite games: Duncan Ferguson rising head and shoulders above everyone to score, Danny Cadamarteri, a roadrunner of a player, scoring an adrenaline encrusted goal against Liverpool, Limpar diving, Farrelly shanking, Southall stretching, and Rooney scoring against a death proof Arsenal. The one common factor, the glorious backdrop to all of these memories, is Goodison Park.

Only a few weeks remain until what will probably be the most important event of our season - a decision on "Destination Kirkby" and with it the possibility of leaving Goodison. Here are four moments, not definitive by any stretch, but all very different, showing four sides to Goodison Park.

I. Dixie’s Sixty
May 5th 1928, Everton 3-3 Arsenal

"The crowd invaded the pitch and I got more whiskers on my face from the Scotland Road lads than Soft Joe." Dean on scoring his record breaking 60th goal in one season.

In May 1928 Bill Dean, one of history's most ravenous goal scorers and an Evertonian to the marrow, was at the end of his greatest season. Dean was a spluttering, roaring muscle-car of a player and by the time the final game against Arsenal came hurtling around the corner he was on 57 goals, a hat-trick away from breaking George Camsell's record of 59 (and Camsell had set his record in the division below).

Everton had already won the league by then. All eyes were on Dixie. He had sustained a muscle injury in the previous game against Burnley, and Everton's trainer Harry Cooke kept a bedside vigil; waking Dean every three hours to apply a new warm bandage to make sure.

Arsenal managed to take the lead after just two minutes but Dixie equalized quickly after and then scored just before half time. One can only imagine the blue throng squeezed into Goodison, and how they must have exhaled as one, screaming for their hero when he got his hat-trick with just eight minutes to go. The goal was courtesy of Alec Troup, who according to Dixie "was so precise with these corners that he could have laid the ball on one of the hairs on my head." Dixie, ever modest for a man of such talent, claimed that he "just butted the ball in."

It was the perfect denouement to a season of compulsive goal scoring. In 39 League Games Bill Dean - on eight pounds a week - scored 60 goals.

Although his goal tally that season was his crowning achievement, Dean's entire career is a blizzard of impressive numbers won during an era of tough physical football. Dean had 15 major operations in his career, he even lost a testicle after a rough challenge whilst at Tranmere. Dean once spoke of 42 professionals on Everton's books in one season, such was the number of serious injuries. Dixie rattled up 100 league goals before he turned 21 and 349 League goals in 399 games. Amazingly, Dean scored 37 true hat-tricks during his career - and he scored with a smile - showing the kind of sporting joie de vivre that links Dean to people like the racing driver Fangio - who used to chirrup, sing, and bounce on his seat during races.

Dixie went from 0-60 in one season, and no-one would ever do it quicker...

II. Garrincha at Goodison
July 12th 1966, Brazil 2-0 Bulgaria

"BRAZILIANS DELIRIOUS OVER YOU STOP KISSES IN THE HEART STOP CRIOULA" – Telegram sent by Garrincha’s wife Elza after the Brazil's win over Bulgaria at Goodison.

Elza was - of course - toying with the truth a little. Brazil were not convincing against Bulgaria, they were eleven men that had never played together before. They won thanks to a Pele and Garrincha free kick; Garrincha's corkscrewed toward goal-net; these two legends never lost a game for Brazil while playing together. Garrincha’s first and only loss came against Hungary in their next World Cup game and it was to be his last game for Brazil.

Goodison saw Garrincha well past his prime, his bent legs - the cause of his unique balance, were also the reason for his bad knees. The CBD only picked him for the Brazil squad out of a combination of pity and blind hope. Study video of the Bulgaria game though and you still see more than a glimmer of this prototype for all wide boys; he was the original card shark. Despite his knees, despite his liver, he was still tabasco and black coffee, and still torturing defenders with his cute but devastating skill.

Garrincha's journey stalled at the junction of catastrophe and brilliance. The man kept his earnings squirreled away in the back of the sofa, stuffed under urine soaked mattresses, and in fruit bowls – forgotten about until they were worthless rotten paper...Garrincha clearly loved the ball, but he was indifferent about the game swirling around it.

As for Pele, he never played at Wembley, even in a friendly, but he played at our Goodison. Biographer Ruy Castro says that “For Garrincha, sex was a sport that gave him as much pleasure as football.” He must have been licking his lips and tapping his feet at the prospect of combining his two loves on landing in England, the epicenter of the Swinging 60’s. Tragically for Garrincha, Brazil's home base was Lymm – 188miles away from London's lascivious swinging bell bottoms.

The man with bent legs was a reluctant star, but the best... His unfinished career was beautiful, like the half completed Gaudi church. Predicting which way he was about to turn was like predicting a Jackson Pollock paint dribble, and Goodison had the privilege of meeting him.

III.Escape on the last day - Barry Horne
May 5th 1994, Everton 3-2 Wimbledon

Really? Did he REALLY score that goal, the goal that pulled us out of the relegation mire on the last day of the season?

Somehow, dog of war Barry Horne channelled Graeme Sharp and Marco Van Basten as he lashed the ball in. He was a mongrel painting the Sistine Chapel. More skilled players can take a lift to elite football but Barry Horne had to take the stairs to become a top level professional.

The match itself was craziest of all games; we were an own-goal and a penalty down to glass-chewing, route one Wimbledon. We managed to scrape our way back through a penalty earned through a dive, and equalized with a Barry Horne's wonder shot, a goal that had been gestating inside him for his whole career. Miles out, Horne bounced the ball of his thigh and thwacked the ball, clipping the ball round the ears and sending it scurrying home. Graeme Stuart scored the winner, with a shot that Hans Segers could have saved in his sleep, but no keeper stood a chance against Barry Horne's equalizer.

It was the first time I tasted Champagne, but we were celebrating an awful season. There is a dash of Dunkirk about all relegation escapes, they are glorious failures, and this was a wonderful end to a woeful season.

IV. A Gift from Joseph Yobo
August 13 2005, Everton 0-2 Manchester United

Against Arsenal (like Dixie), Wayne Rooney became a household name by chucking a football shaped fist through televisions and into living rooms up and down the country. Clive Tyldesley may have sealed the deal by whinnying "Remember the name!..." after Rooney scored his first, but Wayne put his name in lights when, moments after chipping Seaman, he had the tried do it again.

The young Scouser was bouncing around like a videogame character, somehow transplanted into a world of professional footballers, and his feet did what legions of teenagers with their XBox thumbs could only dream of doing. To chip Seaman once at that age was precocious, to chip him twice, and see the ball stray just a pixel too high, was amazing. It was AUDACITY with the Caps Lock on. After Rooney left Everton I was haunted by his cheeky brilliance, he was a baby Hercules, thumping defenders over the head and using them as rattles. I was scared stiff that his first goal against us would be as wonderful as his first against Arsenal. As it turned out, his goal was a gift from a former teammate; Yobo played Jeeves to Rooney's Bertie Wooster - handing him a goal on a silver platter.

There is a small sign that hovers over Joey Yobo's head that notes the number of days since his last accident, against United his sign re-set to zero. Yobo, a lanky quick defender, has always been prone to occasional lapses and navel gazing. It was an unfortunate accident, an ooops of a pass that wasn't so much defence splitting as condom splitting. Yobo literally slid the ball square to a free Rooney, Seeing HIM score for THEM enraged Goodison, and they won that game 2-0. Goodison's stands creaked, the fans groaned and seethed - but his first goal could have been worse. Maybe Joey Yobo did us all a favour by taking the sting out of Rooney's first goal against Everton.


Goodison is comfy and old, but it is easy to forget what a cutting edge stadium it once was. Splitting from her will be painful – if only because we need to get to know and love the new ground all over again…

We may be mixing with cold-blooded billionaire run teams with Hollywood smiles, but I'm proud of our tousled hair, our snaggletoothed grin, and of our Goodison....

Friday, August 21, 2009

Toffeeweb, always first off the mark with any juicy gossip, reckon that bishop basher extraordinaire Ever Banega's work permit has been denied. Everton will have to now lodge an appeal.

UPDATE: The above is a load of gubbins, the Daily Mail brings us the real story:

But Manchester sports lawyer Chris Farnell successfully argued for the permit to be approved during a hearing at the Premier League HQ.