You’ve probably read everything and watched all the footage of Sunday’s game by now, so it’s difficult to know what to add really.
It was an occasion alright, and one that no one who was there will forget in a hurry. Everton were superb on the pitch, overwhelming West Ham completely, while the send-off for David Moyes and Phil Neville that could have easily been mawkish and a bit cringey ending up feeling spontaneous, spot-on and just very ‘Everton’.
Kevin Mirallas started the game up front with Victor Anichebe, prompting the tongue-in-cheek observation that the future Manchester United manager was already trying to show the world that he is in fact all about swashbuckling attack, despite his rather conservative reputation.
Whatever his motivation, the line-up certainly worked as the Belgian – an example of the sort of player that perhaps Moyes has always longed to have at his disposal at Goodison – scored both the game’s goals.
The first, on six minutes, was a brilliant team effort. Leighton Baines left a defender on his arse before feeding Marouane Fellaini, who in turn shuttled the ball to Steven Pienaar – both ignored the crowd’s pleas to shoot but that’s not really Mirallas’s style; he picked his spot in the bottom corner of the Park End net.
The rest of the half was typical of much of the season as the Blues played lovely stuff but failed to convert their chances. The ever-excellent Jussi Jaaskelainen made several great stops throughout – one from Leon Osman in the second half was astonishing – making the home crowd slightly twitchy when Kevin Nolan twice went close before the break. However, Tim Howard’s low save from the first effort was arguably as good as anything the overworked visiting keeper produced.
The part of the Everton mindset that always half expects bad luck and cruel twists of fate conjured images of Andy Carroll or archetypal Kopite Nolan scoring the equaliser that would enable the Reds to finish above the Toffees in the table, but it wasn’t to be this time – this was a day when everything went according to our script.
On 60 minutes, with the atmosphere and the noise at almost Fiorentina levels, a dodgy-looking throw out by Howard found Darron Gibson – the player who always looks like the chunky fella who comes to play seven-a-side with you who ‘used to play for Northwich’ – and he took one of those heavy-looking touches that somehow seems to find loads of space before clipping a through-ball into the path of Mirallas. The weird-eyed winger cut inside and had a dig that clipped off the leg of the otherwise heroic – in football terms – James Collins and left Jaaskelainen grasping at raindrops as the Gwladys Street net bulged.
Carroll, who rather delightfully fouled himself to win a free-kick at one point – you had to see it to believe it – hit the post with a late header, but this was Everton’s afternoon all the way.
The lap of honour was emotional, although as one woman commented walking away from the ground, ‘Not quite as bad as when Duncan left – I didn’t cry that much when my marriage broke up’.