Sunday, November 11, 2007

Everton - New Dawn or False Dawn?

I've been watching Everton for many years now, and it's been more 'thin and thinner' than 'thick and thin', although I do remember the glory years of the mid-80's as well as the 'School of Science' days of the late 60's.

Recently there's been a real yo-yo period, with one good year followed immediately by a mediocre year. This season, however, I am beginning to feel that, for the first time in a long time, we have a team (and a squad) that has real depth and potential to snap at the heels of the big boys.

Even in recent seasons, when firstly we saw the emergence of the Boy and later, when we broke into the top 4, there was always the nagging doubt that there was any real substance there. Wayne was an absolute joy to watch when he broke into the first team, and the goal he scored against Arsenal that season is, and will always be, one of my finest moments in a football ground. But the rest of the team was so far off his standards at the time that, with hindsight, it was inevitable he'd move to one of the big boys. The season we finished fourth, that had as much to do with the failings of the teams around us as our own ability, although the team spirit that season was unbeatable - the whole being much, much more than the sum of the parts.

This season though - despite a few results where we have not had the run of the green (or the support of the officials, Mr Clattenberg) - things are beginning to feel a bit different, for two reasons.

Firstly, we now have a number of first team players who would grace any team in the league - the likes of Lescott, Cahill, Arteta, Howard and Johnson would enhance the squads of any of the big four and would be guaranteed a start in all the others.

But more than that, the strength in depth is incredible in most areas - up front, for instance, we have five (yes, five) forwards - Yakubu, Johnson, McFadden, Anichebe and Vaughan - which must represent the strongest group of any team in the league - including the Big 4.

And in addition to that, the team spirit is still there, coupled with fantastic fitness levels. Three times in the last ten days Everton have won, or rescued, games with goals in the last five or ten minutes - testament to the team's ability to play right through to the final whistle and to impressive strength off the bench.

Yes, there are areas that still need strengthening - the midfield is massively skilful, but too lightweight to challenge at the highest level, and we need another centre-back to cover for Yobo and Lescott as Stubbs inevitably draws to the end of his career. And there is always the danger of being left behind as other clubs attract the foreign investment that we desperately need to compete (and as I have said elsewhere, a knocked-together shed in Kirkby is not the answer here).

But for the moment, just after a battling draw at Chelsea (due to a wonderful goal from Tim Cahill) and a sparkling win in midweek (thanks Victor!) the future feels bright, and Royal Blue rather than Orange.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Catch a Fire

And so to the MEN Arena in Manchester at the weekend, to catch the Arcade Fire. I'd seen them at Glastonbury this year, where they were very, very, good - but you did feel the open air dissipated the intensity somewhat. The MEN is hardly what you'd call intimate, but you felt the enclosed space would suit the 10-piece ensemble better.

And so it proved. Starting with the double whammy of Black Mirror and Keep the Car Running, they delivered a set of measured passion for an hour and a half, taking in all the highlights of their two albums and also finding room for a cover of The Smiths' 'Still Ill', played on stage for the first time, recognising their (local) influence on Win Butler and in oblique reference to his poor health this year.

With so many people on stage, swapping instruments and roles every song, and a series of somewhat unsettling projections, it was difficult to know where to look, although William Butler was always a good bet.

The Arcade Fire seemed to come from nowhere, delivering a noise unlike any other, making a refreshing change from the indie boy-by-numbers currently everywhere. They should be cherished and loved by all.

Trick or Treat, Trick or Treat, the Bitter and the Sweet...

So tonight, parents up and down the country, are allowing their kids to don disguises, knock on strangers' front doors and demand goods with menaces.

I was brought up in a happier, safer time, when Hallow'een was celebrated by playing 'duck apple' and 'bob apple' with my little friends, in the warmth and comfort of my own home, watched by doting parents ready with a tissue when the water ran up my nose.

And in a few day's time, the little darlings will be playing with fire and explosives, and burning effigies of Catholic martyrs as well.

The country is rapidly going to the dogs.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Not posted for a while, but...

..can I just point you in the direction of this blog, and this particular post...

Bit of a 'me too', although my mum rather than my dad probably.

Davy H - you bring a tear to my eye. But a good and happy one. Bless you man.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Libertines - the verdict!

Well, as promised, I had a good old listen to them over the past couple of days, and here are a few thoughts...

1) They're actually pretty good, aren't they? There are a couple of songs in there that do have the stamp of genius - Time for Heroes, Can't Stand Me Now, Likely Lads etc.

2) That said, quality control isn't all it could be and some of the more 'charming' tracks are actually a bit weak, really.

3) They came along at the perfect time, at the arse-end of Britpop - no real competition for them as their generation's 'spokespeople' - only The Strokes in the States offering anything other than retrodden Beatles/Kinks licks or nu-metal posturing from boys short on trouser and long on tattoo.

4) They kick-started a new wave of white-boy indie rock which is sometimes a good thing (Arctics, Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand) and sometimes not so good (Razorlight).

5) There is always a need for 'bad boys' in rock to keep it slightly edgy, and Doherty played (and plays) that role to perfection.

So where does this leave them in the overall scheme of things? I think they were so lucky in their timing - they really did have the field to themselves. Had they some real competition at the time, they might not have been so lucky.

From my generation, the band they remind me of most is The Only Ones - a touch of heroin chic coupled with a clutch of really good songs, burning out after two or three album's worth of material. Ironically, the two kids of Only Ones lead man Peter Perrett played with Doherty in an early incarnation of Babyshambles.

The Only Ones came through with a whole host of other bands at the back end of the '70's and remained a cult band throughout their career. With no competition, they could have been massive. Which might not have been too good for Perrett's health, admittedly.

So overall conclusion? Good band. But not as good as The Only Ones!

One of my pet hates...

Who was it who decided that, on live albums, any spoken introductions to tracks should be tacked onto the end of the previous songs rather than at the beginning of the songs they are meant to introduce? When did this start? I don't recall it ever being the case on vinyl, but on CD/digital tracks it seems to be ubiquitous.

I know in the overall scheme of things it's a tiny thing to get upset about, but it pisses me off every time. If I'm listening to 'A Quick One' by the Who, I want to hear Townshend's little story before the song actually starts. I don't want to hear it after listening to 'Substitute'. This is especially annoying when you're listening on 'Shuffle' mode - after a long introduction from Bruce or Jimi or whoever, your iPod then sweeps you off to something completely different.

I can only assume it's a radio/DJ thing, so that songs can be easily cued up at the start of the music, but I don't care. I want introductions where they belong - introducing things!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A thing of rare beauty

Ok, so it's got less memory than a forgetful goldfish, and it's nothing more than a crippled iPhone - but I happened to be in the Apple store yesterday and there are no two ways about is absolutely gorgeous.

Gorgeous in a 'I know there are a million reasons why I shouldn't buy this (and I won't) but I really, really want one, just to hold and look at and feel happy about' kind of way. Please, please let them find a way of cramming 160 gig into one of these things - and quickly!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Likely Lads?

Have to say The Libertines completely passed me by at the time (stopped reading the NME a long time ago you see), only really became aware of them after the split, when "peteandkate" became this gross media monster - and so basically assumed the worst - talentless druggie makes reputation via the tabloids, not through the music.

But is that fair? The esteem with which The Libertines are held by many, many people of a certain age does make me think I must have missed something - are they truly the voice of 'their' generation, following in the footsteps of Cobain, Curtis, Strummer, Lennon, Dylan and Presley - or is it a triumph of substance(s) over form - and the lack of a better alternative? And what's Barat's role in all this - is his contribution is in danger of being completely overshadowed by the Doherty media circus?

I'm going to have a serious listen - is there something I've missed or has it all been done before, with more passion and belief and with better drugs? Find out here in a few days' time.


...not my phrase, but one of Alun Parry's, a Liverpool singer/songwriter who sells his songs via his website for whatever customers want to pay - or whatever they think it's worth. A very noble and trusting concept, and one which I hope is not abused by too many punters. Visit Alun at for some excellent tunes

Well bugger me, but Radiohead have only gone and done exactly the same thing - their new album is now available at for anything from a notional 45p up to £99.99, depending on the depth of your pockets and the extent of your conscience. Me? Well, sad stamp collecting trainspotter that I am, I signed up for the forty quid box set, with the original download (that I could have had for nowt), a vinyl double album (that I'll never play) and a second CD with some extra tracks on (that no doubt will be up on a dozen blogs within half an hour of release).

Ordinarily, I would have very few qualms about downloading a blog copy - I have poured (and continue to pour) enough funds into the legitimate music industry to balance out the odd 'evaluation' download - but in this instance, I would gladly put my hand in my pocket to support the principle. Good on you chaps.

There'd better be guitars all over it though, that's all I'm saying.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Here Are The Young Men

21st October 1979.

Not a day that is burned into many people's consciousness, indeed I had to look up the actual date myself, but in a life that's been littered with bad decisions, that was the day I made one of my worst.

Picture the scene. A grey autumn night in Sheffield. A row with the then girlfriend had put me in a foul mood, the sort of mood that needs a few pints to put right. Having those few pints sat in a pub in town with a few mates, we had a decision to make. We had tickets to see Buzzcocks at the Top Rank we have a few more beers in the pub, or do we get ourselves off and catch the support? Sod it, we're settled, get the ales in.

So we missed the support band. Not normally a big deal, except tonight the support band was Joy Division. They never came back to Sheffield, and I never got to see them.

As it was, I came to Joy Division quite late. Probably early 1980, I picked up a copy of 'Transmission' and thought yeah, this lot are worth watching out for...but then it all ended suddenly and all too abruptly, on 18 May 1980.

All that remains is Joy Division's recorded legacy - Two studio albums followed by a number of attempts to sweep up the remaining odds and sods through compilations and box sets.

The two studio albums - Unknown Pleasures and Closer - and the initial posthumous collection of unreleased and live material - Still - have just been re-released as collectors' editions, each paired with live recordings from different stages in the band's career.

Much has been written about Unknown Pleasures and I can't help but echo much of what has already been said. For me, no other album is so evocative of the time and place in which it was made - whilst remaining completely and utterly timeless. Again much has been written about Martin Hannett's role in forming the sound of the album and it is interesting, in the fascinating articles that accompany each album, to read just how much tension there was between the group and the producer and, to this day, to read about the level of dissatisfaction the group still has with the final sound of the album. Grudging acceptance that Hannett might just have been right is as good as it gets! Anyway, what do the band know. What I know is that this is, for me, unquestionably the finest debut album ever recorded and maybe one of the finest albums ever made, period.

Closer is, if anything, a better album than its predecessor, but one that is inevitably interpreted in the context of Ian Curtis's death - the lyrics, mood of the album and (most obviously) the cover design all point, if you are so minded, to Curtis's impending death. To my mind this is a lazy way to view the album - Curtis was very much alive while the album was being recorded and had a hand in the choice of cover. Who really knows what his state of mind was at the time? It is impossible to listen to Closer without the benefit (curse?) of hindsight but, if you try to remove that context and hear it solely on its merits as a body of music, it still has the power to move and uplift. Reflective and sombre, without being miserable or self-pitying, the album has depths that allow it to sound fresh nearly thirty years on.

Still inevitably suffers by comparison with its two predecessors, and for the omission of the non-album singles and the majestic 'Atmosphere', which would have been better use of the vinyl originally taken by a sloppy live cover of 'Sister Ray'. The studio tracks that were included, however, do not dilute the group's legacy and in certain cases actually enhance it. The live concert included with the original release has historical significance as the group's last concert, but it is not the finest gig the group played.

All three concerts included with the re-releases do go some way to demonstrate the claims of Sumner and Hook that they were a far better live band than they were in the studio but from where I'm sat, nothing they produced live comes anywhere near to the majesty of their two studio masterpieces.

But then, what do I know? I never saw them live.

John Butler Trio

So last Wednesday night it was off to the Carling in Liverpool to see the John Butler Trio, who were making a brief visit to the UK as part of the 'Grand National' tour. Makes Liverpool an obvious place to visit really (Grand National - Aintree - do you see? Ah well).

Can't say I went into the gig as a massive fan. Son number 2 - generally an excellent judge of these things - saw them first at Glastonbury 2005, and had told me how good they were so I'd picked up a few CDs that I'd played intermittently but not really given them the attention they deserved. That said, I'd liked what I'd heard so was really looking forward to seeing the band up close.

Didn't know what to expect in terms of the crowd - whilst they are relatively rare visitors to these shores, the trio don't seem to be that high up the critical radar. Mind you, the country is crawling with expatriate Aussies, so maybe the ranks of visiting supporters would swell the ranks. As it was, the band were performing in the main Academy, which was probably 3/4 full of a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic crowd. One or two Aussie twangs in evidence, but mostly home supporters of variable age and sex.

First up was Kaki King, an American guitaress playing solo. Technically she was absolutely fantastic, but it lacked a bit of passion for me - all a bit soulless. The crowd were polite but distant and the constant undercurrent of chatter didn't help the music cut through. Nice support but don't think I'll be rushing down to Fopp anytime soon.

Anyway, check Kaki out at

To the strains of Nina Simone's 'Feeling Good', the trio strolled out to a warm reception at around half eight. Then proceeded to play their socks off for the next two and a half hours - time that seemed to pass by in minutes. I can't remember the last time I went to a concert that lasted that long - if you get an hour and a half from the headliner you seem to be doing well. The passion so missing from the support flowed out of every pore of the Trio, the quality of the musicianship was phenomenal and the sheer joy of being there, performing, was self-evident. The pacing of the show was spot on, and the time just flew by. Many highlights, including a passionate and flawless 'Ocean' played solo by JB. Oh, and we had a bass solo. And a drum solo. Involving the use of hands as well as drumsticks, a la Bonham circa 1975. There was a time (around 1977) when I would have sneered at the drum solo but I loved it.

I wish I could describe the music to you but it defies categorisation. 'Roots' is as near as I can get, with a hint of folk and reggae in there, but that sells it short. All I can suggest is that you hear the trio for yourself. Go to and listen/download. From there go to and download one of the many live shows that are there - JBT is one of those fine groups that encourage taping of live shows and there are many that you can (legally) download and enjoy.

And enjoy you will, I'm sure.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The other best song written about Liverpool...

...etc etc, is of course 'Heart as Big as Liverpool' by The Mighty Wah!, one of Pete Wylie's various alter egos (and variations on the Wah! theme) and one of the great anthems connected with the 'pool (has any other UK city had so many great songs written about it?). Despite the red shower over the park adopting it for themselves, I refuse to let the song be associated with them (unlike that dirge from Carousel, which they're welcome to). For me, it encapsulates all that's good about 'Merseypride' and is free of the victim, us against the world mentality that we are often accused of.

God bless Peter Wylie, as Mr Prowse once said.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Does This Train Stop On Merseyside?

The best song written about Liverpool since Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever.

I can bore the arse off anyone talking about Amsterdam but I don't care. Ian Prowse is one of the best, most genuine musicians ever to come out of Merseyside and is a truly lovely, nice guy to boot. It is a crime that he is not embraced by the world when gimps like Blunt, Martin and Chaplin are treated like rock aristocracy - none of them are fit to tune his guitar.

A live Amsterdam CD is out imminently - buy it now. The new studio album will be out in the New Year - seek it out and cherish it. (Feels Like) Growin' Up will melt your heart. But 'Does This Train...' will break it.

McKenzie's soul lies above the ground in that
pyramid near Maryland (Street)

Easyjet is hanging in the air
takin' everyone to everywhere

See the slave ships sailing into port
the blood of Africa is on every wall

Now there's a ley line runs down Mathew Street
it's giving energy to all it meets

Hey does this train stop
does this train stop on Merseyside?

Alan Williams in the Marlboro' Arms
giving his story out to everyone

Famine boats are anchored in the bay
bringing in the poor and desperate

Hey does this train stop
does this train stop on Merseyside?

Boston babies bouncing on the ground
The Riggers beamin' out to every town

Can't conceive what those children done
guess there's a meanness in the soul of man

Yorkshire policemen chat with folded arms
while people try and save their fellow fans

Why don't you remember?

Why indeed. Remember. Remember the 96. Remember little Jamie. Remember Rhys and Madeline. Remember.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Major reappraisal needed

I gave up on the Stones sometime back in the late '70's/early '80's, not long after Some Girls, and in the context of the 'year zero' mood that surrounded the birth of punk - why did I need the Stones in my life when I had The Clash?

Why indeed? To be fair to myself, the Stones didn't help themselves - apart from the odd track here and there, there was nothing coming out of Rolling Stones Records to make me think my view of them was fundamentally flawed. And yet...

Back in the '60's, I was a Beatles boy. No surprise really - growing up on Merseyside, left-handed and called Paul, there could only ever be one band for me. And the Stones were a bit dirty and smelly anyway. But then the '60's turned into the '70's, The Beatles were no more, and Sticky Fingers and Exile... began to make an impression on me. I remember buying Tumbling Dice on its release and playing it to death - despite being unable to make out a word Jagger was singing. Still can't, for that matter.

But it seemed like things were winding down for the Stones. I bought Goat's Head Soup, which was good (but not great), as was It's Only Rock 'n' Roll. Black and Blue was pretty average, and it started to go downhill from there. Some Girls upped the ante for a while, but was in hindsight a bit of a 'dead cat bounce'. And anyway, the world had moved on.

So that was that, really. but recently I chanced across a few bootlegs on t'internet from the golden era and thought, actually, they weren't a bad little band, really. On the back of that, I shelled out for the 'Biggest Bang' DVD set and.....well....they've still got it really, haven't they? Probably never lost it.

When you've been around for 40-odd years, you're going to have built up a bit of a back catalogue and by Christ, what a catalogue! But what really impresses is the energy and passion that still drives the live show. On DVD the sheer spectacle is inevitably scaled down, but this is a good thing, because what comes through is the actual tightness of the band - especially Charlie and Keef - and if I look half as good as Jagger when I'm his age, well, I'll be doing alright.

So - 40-odd years live band on the planet? Yes, the old gits probably still are. So much for me dismissing them as rock dinosaurs/boring old farts thirty years ago!

Sorry chaps - you were right, I was wrong.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Anthony H Wilson

Being born and bred in Granadaland, I grew up knowing Tony Wilson through the seventies as the slightly edgy but essentially straight reporter on Granada Reports, the local news 'magazine' show on after the national news at six. The first time I realised he had any interest in music was in 1975, when I spotted him at a Who gig at Manchester Belle Vue strolling in like he owned the place. As 1976 turned into 1977 Tony slowly began to subvert the local news through his presentation of the 'What's On' slot on Granada reports, beginning to highlight gigs by the new 'punk' and new wave bands and occasionally showcasing these bands, no doubt to the general bemusement of the audience and, no doubt, his fellow presenters. I remember one evening when, apropos of completely nothing, he produced a copy of 'Two Sevens Clash' and urged his teatime audience to rush out and buy a copy. I doubt the region's housewives did rush out in their droves to investigate the latest dub grooves but he certainly ignited a spark in at least one 17 year old boy, who was thinking there must be more out there than Hotel California. Somehow on the back of all this he persuaded Granada to give him a late night slot to expand on this theme and 'So It Goes' was born. Famous now for giving The Sex Pistols their first TV slot, this show alone must take huge credit for igniting the spark of creativity and innovation that gave rise to the punk scene in both Manchester and Liverpool in the late 70's/early '80's. And if that wasn't enough, he then conceived, launched and ran the creative triumph/commercial disaster that was Factory. Whilst Joy Division/New Order may have been talented enough to have made it without help from him, without Wilson's extraordinary self-belief and indulgence of his bands, we'd never have been able to appreciate the beauty of The Durutti Column, the anarchy of the Happy Mondays or the sheer eclecticity(!) of the rest of the Factory roster. Twat? Probably. Prat? Almost certainly. Most important shaper of the pre- and post-punk musical landscape outside of London? Definitely. Take care Tony - the Hacienda may be an apartment block now but it'll always be FAC51 to me.

Fan or Fool?

So next week the 'Deluxe Edition' of Elvis's first album will be in the shops. Me, I've got the original vinyl album from 1977, the extended CD re-release on Demon from 1993 and the two-disc Edsel re-re-release from 2001.

So no real need for me to own a fourth version of the album, you might think? Well, no, I'll be there in the newly re-opened Fopp (hurrah!) in Manchester when it comes out, and no doubt I'll pick up the Deluxe Too-Rye-Aye as well, plus anything else that catches my eye in the five quid section. Which is all as it should be.

But I'll still feel more than slightly ripped-off by the whole thing.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

If You Know Your History...

The Grand Old Lady. Goodison Park. Everton's home since their departure from Anfield in 1892. The first purpose-built football stadium in the world.

And now, destined to be vacated in a few years' time in favour of a brand new stadium in Kirkby, outside the city boundaries. A move 'validated' by a positive vote from a selection of the Everton fanbase.

Hold on - bit cynical, those inverted commas around the word 'validated', Paul? Do we have a problem with this?

Well yes we do - a whole heap of problems, as it happens. And not just with the vote, with the whole concept.

Firstly, let's challenge the assumption that Everton need to move at all. Granted, it costs a fair sum of money each year to maintain the Old Lady, but that needs to be set against the financing costs that would be faced by a move, however much that move might be subsidised by a third party. But would a new ground generate higher revenues than Goodison? Yes, a new ground could be built to accommodate more fans - but realistically, how many more fans can Everton attract? Apart from probably four games a season, there are empty seats in Goodison. If we move to a larger stadium - especially one out of town - will we attract significantly more new fans to the ground (bearing in mind the need to replace a number of current fans who will not go to Kirkby). Is there an untapped population of football fans in south Lancashire who will replace the lost fans and fill the empty seats? Corporate facilities - Goodison is woefully underserved compared to comparable clubs and a new stadium could certainly be constructed to accommodate significantly more corporate customers than is currently the case. But - to paraphrase - if we build it, will they come? What is the market for corporate facilities on an out-of town retail park, competing with the likes of the New Anfield, Haydock Park, Aintree, The Reebok, Old Trafford and any number of purpose-built hotel and conference centres?

I think the case that a new stadium - especially one out of town - will generate significantly more revenues (and incur lower costs) is at best unproven, and at worst unlikely. But it is difficult from the information thus far provided by the club to make any educated assessment of the business case for (or against) the move - the financial projections just aren't there.

But for the sake of argument let's assume that the club has to move. But where? And why? What options are there?

Well the club would have you believe that the only option available is the Kirkby option - move or die - there is no Plan B. But perhaps there are other options that would merit consideration - Liverpool City Council would appear to have (finally) managed to identify one or two other options that the club could consider. The Loop, for example, in Everton, at the mouth of the Wallasey tunnel on Scotland Road. Maybe the finances don't stack up against Kirkby - maybe they do. We just don't know. What I would say is that there are other options out there that should be seriously considered before commitment to a single, out of town option.

Everything so far has been based upon financial considerations - but these cannot be the only factors to consider. What about the emotional issues here? We were the first club in Liverpool - the club that bears the city's name grew out of our club - ironically, as a result of an earlier ground move from Anfield to Goodison. We are 'The People's Club' in Liverpool. Do we really want to desert our city for the suburbs, leaving the city of our birth to the other lot? Gleefully, they have already started to exploit this - One name, one city, one club...distortion of the facts but an easy sell to young kids currently growing up in the city. Do we really want to hand over the natural support of future generations to that other lot, by simply upping sticks and moving out of town?

Let's also look at the practicalities of the situation here. We are looking at a move to Kirkby, a small sink estate on the edge of Merseyside. The population of Kirkby is less than the new stadium's proposed capacity. How will they cope with the influx? Public transport links can't currently cope with the projected inflow of supporters. 1,000 parking spaces will apparently be made available in the vicinity. 1,000, to support a 55,000 capacity stadium. It just doesn't stack up.

But never mind all that - the fans have voted for the move, so that's all right. And this is the most saddening aspect of the whole sorry affair. The club would have you believe that allowing 'the fans' to vote shows what a democratic, caring, listening club they are. But no. what they have done is abrogated themselves of responsibility - responsibility for the biggest, most far-reaching decision the club has had to take in the last hundred years. They have pushed that responsibility onto a small element of the total Everton fanbase. If it works - fine. If it doesn't - not our problem, the fans voted for it. And worst of all, they have made the fanbase take that decision with the flimsiest information imaginable - a few soundbites and some pretty designer mockups of a new stadium. Pictured at night, with no local context or any sort of business case whatsoever. In the real world, a decision like this would be made by hard-nosed businessmen in full posession of the facts and a robust, fully costed business case with all assumptions clearly articulated and justified. With alternative scenarios fully appraised and contrasted with the preferred option. In the Everton world, we've been given a few pretty pictures and no Plan B (or C, D, E, or F). We've also given the vote to seven year olds, by virtue of the season tickets their dads pay for. So if it all goes tits up - which it may well do - it'll all be our fault. For making a decision that was never ours to make, with no information to inform or challenge that decision, made by people who (with all due respect) were never qualified to make that decision.

I love my club. And wherever they play, be that Walton, Speke, Kirkby (God help us) or even bloody Timbuktu, I'll be there supporting them. But the club, not the Board, who are unworthy of this great club.

Nil Satis Nisi Optimum - Nothing is good enough except the best. The Kirkby option is not 'the best' by any stretch of the imagination.

So what next? The vote is lost, but dialogue must continue. Whilst never underestimating the ability of our Board to screw things up, we must assume that Kirkby is going to move forwards. We have two options, both of which must be pursued at all costs - firstly, to continue to push for the consideration and exploration of other options, with other partners - for a redeveloped Goodison, or for city centre sites that will keep our club in its true home - or, if it has to be Kirkby, to ensure that Kirkby delivers a stadium, and a home, that lives up to our motto, with the transport links it needs to support our existing fanbase and, yes, to extend that fanbase into the wider Merseyside/South Lancashire area.

Whatever happens, this is a black period for the club. The vote has only served to introduce divisions amongst the fanbase - divisions that will take a long time to heal. Ironically, on the pitch we are stronger than we have been for almost twenty years - off the pitch, we are tearing ourselves apart.

On the road and getting high....

The band I've been listening to more than any this year is The Hold Steady, a Minneapolis band who've been touring their latest album, Boys and Girls in America, all summer. I have to admit I'd heard nothing of them until this year, when they started getting a bit of press on the back of the new album and their allegedly excellent live act. They were playing the John Peel tent at Glastonbury this year, so I thought I'd check them out. The fact they were playing in a tent, under cover, out of the rain and mud, was also a factor in my decision.

Anyway, they completely blew me away. I have to say they're not the prettiest bunch, or the youngest, and the combination of singer Craig Finn's somewhat geeky looks and keyboard player Franz Nicolay's Daliesque moustache, waistcoat and cloth cap doesn't really work on paper, but in the flesh it all just comes together perfectly. At Glastonbury, their performance glowed - gallons of enthusiasm and sheer joy at being there performing. Finn's engagement with the audience was total and the songs' subject matter - one variation or another on 'getting high' - fit perfectly with the (albeit slightly damp) festival vibe. Also saw them a month or so later at the Academy in Liverpool, where they were equally entertaining, although constant gigging in the previous month or two has perhaps taken a bit of the edge away from the enthusiasm. Or perhaps Glastonbury was just perfect.

So thought I'd best invest in a few CDs. The third and latest album, 'Boys and Girls in America', has been getting the bulk of my attention and rightly so, eleven slices of indie pop perfection centred around the joys and perils of getting high in the Twin Cities area, coupled with a few Kerouac references for good measure. Add some Springsteenesque (actually 'EStreetBandesque') keyboards and one or two 'Woah-oh-oh-oh' singalongs and you have the perfect blend. Highly recommended.

The band's other two CDs haven't had as much attention thus far, although the second ('Separation Sunday') currently edges it over the Nicolay-less first, 'Almost Killed Me'. I have also downloaded a couple of albums from Finn's previous band, Lifter Puller - will report back when they've had a bit more airtime.

Lord, to be 33 forever.....

Second posting

So, ten months after the first post - at which time much was promised - I finally get around to post number two. Bit crap really isn't it? Well, no matter - over the last ten months I have been diligently researching the blog community (actually, slumped in front of my computer reading loads of stuff posted by other people with more talent and time than me) and now feel the time is right to inflict my own thoughts, prejudices and opinions on the world at large. Be warned - I shall inevitably post most stuff on here in the early hours following the consumption of rather too much alcohol so logic, sense and grammar may be in short supply on those occasions. Apologies in advance for any and all offence caused. Unless it's intentional.