Much has been said, mainly in the comment section of a Man Utd fan’s Twitter feed after he videoed Megaphone Man from the safety of his pocket (the sound quality would probably have been better if he’d been brave enough to just video him properly) but it has prompted a discussion on the atmosphere at Goodison, and more importantly, can anything be done to improve it.
We’re not at the stage yet where we need a song from a crap musical piped through the sound system, or even worse, actual crowd noise played over the Olympic-sized speakers. But something needs to be done.
The megaphone came about after a conversation was half overheard (on purpose, probably) between two NSNO’ers about whether a megaphone would actually be allowed into the ground. Apparently, said the sneaky listener, it would. But there would be rules. No pointing it at the pitch and no swearing mainly. Luckily Payet had a quiet game and Jags had been dropped, so the temptation for either was taken away slightly.
So, we thought, why not? What’s the worst that can happen? A few people snipe from the safety of their phones? People actually join in the chanting? Kids get a buzz from being allowed to start an Everton chant through it? The operator puts the batteries in the wrong way around? Sound. It’ll be a laugh then. And we were right. It was funny. People joined in. Kids had a laugh. The batteries went in the wrong way at first, and several “dead hard” people typed abuse into Twitter.
But the big discussion is, can the atmosphere at Goodison be improved by the fans? Did anyone else read that in the voice of that ugly bird from Sex in the City? No, me neither.
There are few things open to fans other than actually getting involved in chanting, but there are a couple of options that could be helped by the club / Premier League.
Safe Standing at Goodison Park
Obviously there needs to be a legislation change for this to happen, but there is a whole heap of politics to get through first. Goodison is, whether we like it or not, pretty close to Anfield. We joined Liverpool fans in their fight for justice after 96 people were killed at Hillsborough and the key result of the FA’s probe into the disaster was that standing was not deemed safe at English football grounds.
But that was almost 30 years ago. Football has changed markedly since then, and the advent of safe standing across Europe has also now been adopted in Scotland.
With allocated spots, it’s not quite a return to the frenetic rush of 1970’s terracing, but there are strong arguments that supporters in those sections create a loud atmosphere.
Could it work at Goodison Park? Why not?
A singing section
There have been several attempts over the years to create a singing section at Goodison Park, but all have come up against the same obstacles. Fans have had their season tickets for years, for some it’s decades, in the same seat, and wouldn’t want to be uprooted just so a few young un’s could chant for 90 minutes being the main one.
There is also an argument from some sections of support that the club may not be entirely in favour in case the “singing section” turned against the manager or the board.
The team playing better
Well, that’s an obvious one. The atmospheres harked back to when remembering great times at Goodison have been from when we have been flying high. Bayern Munich in 1985, Villarreal 20 years later. Fiorentina not long after that. They were all generated by European football, and the fact that Everton were playing some pretty decent stuff at the time.
There is still the nervousness left over from the last five years of near-sleep inducing football in the last couple of years of David Moyes and then Roberto Martinez. There’s also the fact that even a 2 goal lead was seen as something we could easily lose last season. Once that nervousness goes, will the atmosphere improve markedly?
Remember in Martinez’s first season when we webbed Arsenal everywhere and Coleman juggled the ball out of defence? That’s the kind of performance that can inspire a truly amazing Goodison atmosphere.
What else could be done though? Do the fans have to wait to be inspired, or can we inspire the players with our own atmosphere?