15 September 2021 (distilled)

Seven minutes of mayhem turned a dreary game into a memorable Goodison occasion.

I’m going to level with you, an afternoon sampling the standard Monday book bedlam in Coopers meant a lot of the details are sketchy, but we can still attempt something of a ‘mood piece’ here.

Sean Dyche’s paintball stag-do squad are becoming increasingly tiresome and it stuck in the craw when Ben Mee converted their steady pressure and put them ahead early in the second half with a close range header.

Everton, playing with a back three of Michael Keane, Yerry Mina and the returning Ben Godfrey struggled to find any rhythm or cohesion – or any of them flowery words that mean ‘play well’ – and a way back into this match looked unlikely as the excellent Dwight McNeill dominated the midfield and Richarlison, deputising at centre-forward for the injured Dominic Calvert-Lewin, looked increasingly frustrated by a lack of service and some distinctly fruity challenges by the visitors. 

With Dyche already fantasising about getting in the dressing room, turning The Killers up to full blast on the stereo and telling ‘the lads’ that crate of Coors Light won’t drink itself, Andros Townsend took matters into his own hands and the wind right out of Captain Powerpoint’s sails. 

Only six minutes after Mee’s goal, the shipwrecked-looking ex-Palace man stood the fullback up, bought himself an easy yard of space and then picked Keane out at the near post to nod past Nick Pope.

But that wasn’t the end of it. Oh no.

With James Rodriguez at home feeding the peacocks, Rafael Benitez withdrew Godfrey and turned to Andre Gomes to add some measure of control to the midfield, and the Blues immediately looked more cohesive (played better). 

It was Townsend again though who stole the show with a truly stupendous goal. 

Despite looking like someone who has had a cartoon bomb go off in his face, Townsend collected the ball in the middle of the park, shifted it into space, gave the whole ground ‘the eyes’ and then fucking larruped a shock and awe effort high into the night sky. Cape Canaveral had it on their big screen for a moment before it re-entered Walton airspace and the Park End net.

Goodison was shit-your-kecks frenzied by this point, like when all them mad bumper-sticker cunts stormed Congress, and with the ball still glowing hot and covered in ash, they only went and scored again. 

Abdoulaye Doucoure – on course to become a bona fide Everton icon – took the ball out on the right wing with the whole ground pleading him to slip a straight ball down ‘the channel’ for Richarlison. He ignored that though – because he’s good at football – and swept a pass into the centre. Demarai Gray had spotted the yawning gap, took one assured touch and did what Demarai Gray does. 

Boom. 

In the words of Vyvyan’s mum: ‘Up yours, ugly.’

On a wider footballing note, Radio 5 Live were covering Cristiano Ronaldo’s goalscoring return against Newcastle at the weekend and the commentator described the Portuguese as ‘the ultimate predator’. The ‘Beeb’ then chose to ignore my email, bemoaning the declining standards of journalism and pointing out that there are several potential court cases to be settled before we can start handing out those sorts of awards.