So long Alex Young.
Many of us never saw him play in the flesh, and indeed footage of the Golden Vision is also pretty scant. It’s probably more what he represented then that will be missed by most. He was the embodiment of that certain, almost indefinable something that we think of as Everton.
Now fans of other clubs will no doubt roll their eyes, as everyone thinks that their history and identity is unique – as well they should – but this is about Everton, and our self-knowledge, and the values passed down from one generation to the next. And as we say, more than any other player, among legions of legends, including recently departed icons like Alan Ball, Howard Kendall and Brian Labone, Young represented the ideal.
This excellent article in the Football Pink talks about the famous Ken Loach film featuring Young, and about the parallels drawn between the grind of the ordinary working lives of the supporters and the players themselves. However, you always get the impression that Young wasn’t idolised for his kinship with the Evertonians, but for being so different. The photos of him, so pale and delicate, are almost ethereal, haunting even, and his style was said to be effortlessly elegant in an era of infamous hatchet-men, heavy pitches and a football that could break your feet off. You paid to watch Young not because he was some hairy populist, but just the opposite, because he was eerily otherworldly – like stumbling upon a skittish grazing deer on a misty morning in a war zone.
Unlike Wayne Rooney, the swollen-bollock-headed footballing equivalent of clearing insurgents house-to-house.
Like it or not, and even the people who don’t want him to sign do want him to sign really, because it’s just fucking showbiz, Ronald Koeman is giving out genuine ‘oh it’s on, baby’ vibes regarding the chances of Manchester United’s greatest ever player signing for Everton in the summer.
Koeman’s hardly known for giving his opinions lightly, or skirting around questions, so if the freshly-scrubbed free-kick expert is saying that Rooney would improve the Toffees then he clearly fucking means it.
Bumbling sitcom desk sergeant Steve Walsh, who is often inexplicably pictured wearing Everton training gear, also added more grist to the mill with his comments about Rooney, and how he’s still got plenty to offer. This clearly contradicts the opinions of United supporters and the the huge media apparatus that follows them like an oil slick, because if you listen to them, Rooney is ‘shot’ and ‘finished’ to the point that it’s a shock to see him not stumbling around the field like Albert Steptoe.
When you listen to other players though, and, most importantly the people who count at Everton, that may not be the case.
And does anyone really think that Everton would be some sort of easy option for Rooney? A chance to dick about and pick up a wage packet? Because you have to think that just about any move other than to Goodison carries far less pressure and expectation than what would be heaped upon him should he take up the mantle of ‘prodigal son’.
He must know that there are plenty of Blues who, with some justification, will never forgive him for the way he left. He will also be coming to a team who, under Koeman, are expected to work like absolute bastards. So he will need to graft and perform while being under incredible scrutiny.
The Chinese Mountains of Cash Mega League or the MLS it certainly isn’t.
And yet, if we’re interpreting all the signs correctly, he still fucking fancies it.
Insert rubbing your chin emoji here.