Steve McNanamoon is in his shed at the bottom of his Cheshire garden. Outside only the bats are moving, all is quiet, just the gentle purr of another footballers 100k Audi R666 rumbling across the misted fields. His garden is littered with expensive LED lights and abandoned kids toys. Within the shed there is an unholy ethereal light. McNotherloons face is lit by a phone screen. His face is excited as he tries to get blood to flow to his withered member within his pummelling sweaty hand. He is watching something on the phone…on the screen is an old bent man in his garden. There is a smouldering fire in front of him. He pokes it with a stick. He is wearing a blue tracksuit. Around the old man the landscape is dim and dark. In the distance it looks like a body is hanging from a tree. But the phone screen is small, it’s too grainy to tell. The old man is saying something, snarling and guttural…
‘You have to get the Mother Hedgehogs Steve…they will have babies, about five of them’. McNattercack leans closer, his jeans puddled around his ankles as he watches the old man flick another baby Hedgehog onto the fire. The hedgehog screams as the flames take hold. The face of the old man comes closer to the camera…
‘You see Steve…hear them scream, hear them suffer’ McGnadsacka sighs as he pummels away at his balls. The old man on the screen smiles…’We don’t like Wolves do we Steve?’ and we see it is the snarling face of Colin Wanker. The Hedgehogs carry on screaming…’No Uncle Colin..’ McNackajacker says, ‘We don’t’.
Everton are a strange one aren’t they? They have spent 200 Billion dollars on their team. That’s a lot of money. They enter the stadium to a roar of Molineux madness, fire, smoke, somebody leans over bodies in the Southbank and screams into my ear. ‘I love your podcast you cunt’ I laugh as the ghosts of the many beers he has killed that day vapourise from his gob into my face. I am sure he has spit a bit of crisp into my hair. I don’t care. I’m back in the Southbank. Thank God. Somebody stinks of sweat. The bloke in front of me says he’s having a heart attack. Some doughnut violently jabs a flag in my ear. It might have been on purpose. Horace pretends to look at the pitch. Wolves. Premiership football. Fucking hell. Everton. Freemasons. Where is the town of Everton? Is it near Liverpool?
It’s the new school isn’t it? We have a new sports bag with a new pencil case, a protractor, ruler, pens. We look like dickheads in our new uniforms, the sleeves hanging down because there’s no way Moms going to spunk 50 quid on another one for a couple of years. Everton are the kids that have been there a few years. Their blazer sleeves are stiff with snot and have shrunk halfway up their arms. They have a sneeky and hardened look to them this Everton. They look like they are resigned in some way…to re-enact their existence on a football pitch time and time again like Groundhog day. They are dispassionate about their football. As slick and as sexual as it looks it lacks anything to define it. Evertons football looks like it should spend a few years in an isolated hermitage to ‘discover’ itself.
As we walk down the proverbial new school corridor, our team are a little wide eyed I suppose. Jostling and the speed of which these Evertons run around is confusing. We get an elbow in the neck but it isn’t the Cardiffian Warnockian elbow. It’s more like ‘get out of my way while I do my job’ kind of elbow. They score. It’s a lovely cross they put in. As the scorer celebrates two of his team members kind of tut because they have to run twenty yards to celebrate too. It looks like they can’t be arse. Everton fans go wild, but the jollity seems a little forced, a little too loud. It smells of pantomime.
I am enjoying Boly and Coady getting to grips with this whole school corridor thing. They did seem a little confused at times. Boly wont get bullied here. He’s a massive man striding around, bumping, shifting and pulling Everton attacks apart. But sometimes Mr Bolys attention is caught by a colourful school poster or a window to the outside. Coady is content to wait to see what Boly does and sticks close to him. Bennett is doing what he knows best, blend in, look like you have been there years. But don’t make too much noise. Considering we were faced with a 50 million quid striker they did bloody OK thanks very much.
Little Jonny Otto wasn’t taking any shit at all. He’s got that gnarly carved out of granite look to him. Low COG and a wiry thing. He had a few chops at Everton attacks, dealt with most of them, got up a few times to bung a few crosses or passes in. There wont be any trouble from Jonny but don’t pull his fucking string or he will be chewing your throat out probably. Jonny is the kid you leave alone to do what he has to do. He still has to get onto the wavelength of the team. That will come. Moutinho too, listening and learning. Starting to get the telepathy going with Neves. Starting to see in his minds eye where people are without looking. Getting the sixth sense on. He throws a few beautiful shapes while trying to keep a lid on this Everton thing. Crisp passes from them and they are running into spaces like we did last year. Spooning sexy passes here and there. Waiting for opportunities.
Raul Jimenez is a thunder. Darting here and there like a predator. He is moving people out of the way with his presence. Pulling Everton defenders out of position. Jota sees a gap, moves, awful Evertonian tackle and boom. Red card. Phil JaggedElkKa. Free kick right on the edge of the area for Wolves. I turn to Horace. This is going to be 1-1. Smack. Ruben. He is everything to me. Despite having a little less spark he has positioned the ball beautifully. Back of the net. Crowd erupts. Flag smashed off my head. Glasses are off. My bad leg is booted. Pain and ecstasy. Fucking hell. 1-1. Ah, The Premier League. Everybody looks smart in their new Wolves tops. I hope nobody notices I am wearing a Primark pyjama tshirt. It starts to rain. Pickford is running towards the Southbank. People applaud him. I tell him to ‘fuck off’.
A few people around me are cussing Boly. I am not listening. There will be attacks that split us apart, there will be goals scored by ‘them’ whoever they are. These opposition aren’t the mucus addled senseless kick the shit out of it football from last season. Everton are dynamic, they are skilled and they are not averse to falling over dramatically, with much groaning and moaning after a Wolves tackle that wouldn’t have broke the skin of a rice pudding. Richarlison you absolute doughnut. Shame on you. But they play, of course they do. We in response learn. Everton sit deep and Jota-Jimenez axis revolves constantly looking for spaces to play people in, to move them, to score maybe? There are half chances I suppose. We never break tactic or idea. Our movement is constant and dynamic as Evertons. It is perhaps more beautiful because it has an inner glow. Our shirts are shining under the new floodlights. It looks like a sexy Instagram photo filter. We shine and press. We look like we belong here and we do.
Patricio is a Godsend. He’s a good looking sod for sure and tall too. Stretching here and there around his goal. I like it when he comes out for a cross. He is assured and solid. He needs to find his voice within the team and to learn who Boly and Coady are. We move upwards always, it’s always learning and teaching as Nuno and his staff cajole and inform their players of ‘the way’. Richarlison gets his foot on a good shot. 2-1 to them. Bollocks. Fuck off. Everton fans are voicing their joy. I had forgot about them to be honest. Quiet bunch. Let’s sing the signing on song. Throw a few ironic xenophobic slurs about Scousers in the hope that they see it in the spirit it’s meant….no? Oh. ‘With a pen, in your hand, and you’ll never work again’. I’m laughing but they are not. One of them waves a five pound note at the Southbank…we laugh.
But…yes we continue to press the game. The ten man thing, well, I dunno. It does make it tough to move when all they want to do is obliterate our movements and wait for a chance to break. We posses the ball a lot. But movement down the wings is lacking. I think Doherty and Jonny had Everton deeply on their minds instead of Wolves. Doherty stand on the touchline to receive a ball dipped from a long way away by Neves. He collects superbly. Runs into two defenders then the ball is back. None of that physical Doherty who runs at people. Not today. He has one eye on getting back.
But we are getting the ball into the box. Jimenez waits. Stumbles, physical madness and yes. Neves floats a Neves ball in. The fucking thing is singing in the air. Jimmy peels himself from a sticky Evertonian defender. He gets a head on it. 2-2 Jesus Christ. Leveller. Jimmy Jimenez you fucking beauty you. He is massive. He celebrates and is loved already. He reminds me of Bully. Brave and angry to score. There is a hunger in this man I like.
Morgan Gibbs White and Bonatini come on. I love Bonna. His new hair looks scary. I wonder if he has been looking at the whippy trims around him. Morgan of course starts to throw some beautiful shapes. I would love to see him start a game but what do I know. Vinagre comes on for Jonny. There is all of a sudden movement down that side. More pressing down the touchline. It all looks balanced all of a sudden. Perhaps that youthful excuberence was exactly what we needed. Ruben V wanted to wax some important lyrics for sure and he was jinking shapes here and there to get past his man and make a cross or a chance. I like him too.
I liked everything I will be honest. I got wet through walking back to the car. But there was happiness. Yes, I know it’s a new school and we need to learn where everywhere is but we must remember where we have come from. Last season. Barnsley, Bolton, Cardiff and now this. Teams who at least attempt to play some football. We deserve to be here and test our ideas against these teams. When we next play Everton they will stand back amazed at what we have learned and found out about this strange Premier League thing. We will learn under Nuno everything this division has to offer us. Learning curve mate and we nearly aced the first exam.
…on the video screen Steve MunMunnon watches his Uncle Colin stir the ashes of the Hedgehog massacre. Inside the chasm of his existence our Steve mulls over the sad dichotomy of his hatred for Wolves and the perverted wiles of his Uncle Colin. Uncle Colin was right about those Wolves of course. Coming here, playing nice football, with a fantastic Coach, vibrant dynamic ownership. Yes, Steve doesn’t like it…but he knows other people that don’t like the Wolves too. Steve fastens his trousers back up and stares at his reflection in the shed window. He looks ghoulish and wrong especially when he smiles. ‘Don’t worry Uncle Colin’, he thinks. Now down the garden, in last years brown and dried leaves there is bound to be a few Hedgehogs all snug and warm, I will make them a bit warmer…he picks up a can of petrol. There is maybe half a gallon. It was for the Lawnmower. There are a few cobwebs on which he brushes off with distaste.
Don’t worry Uncle Colin.