Climbed over mountains
Traveled the sea
Cast down off heaven
Cast down on my knees
I’ve lain with the devil
Cursed god above
To bring you my love…
Something in addition to my side hustle as an hour-a-week radio host has drawn me to the work of PJ Harvey more than usual of late. The title track from one of her truly great albums—1995’s To Bring You My Love—is stuck firmly in that rotation these days. It’s a great song and even a bit of an earworm. Also doesn’t hurt that I’m binging Peaky Blinders at the moment and that song in particular and her music in general has been regularly featured—along with an arguably successful effort to ruin Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand” by hammering into oblivion. My lord. But anyway, it’s a song about the depths of our desperation for the people and things we love—and how that pursuit isn’t without its darker bargains. But alas, we persist because to give up on that which we long for at our core feels like the end of all things that make life worth living. We chase hope mercilessly with the belief that such hope will eventually be rewarded in a way that feels liberating and maybe even slightly transcendent. Or at the very least worth a solid weekend of joy.
We’re all well acquainted with the “It’s the hope that kills you” mantra. It feels truer for us as Evertonians in these last couple decades, but we’re certainly not alone in this world of sporting misery. Every story has its unique fingerprints, but ultimately, the majority of humanity with an affection/abusive relationship with sports spend but a minuscule percentage of its existence supporting a team or club who are celebrating a championship or trophy of some kind. We’re not alone. We may think our misery is special, but the misery itself isn’t unique. It’s the details that lead to said misery that make it special. Even sometimes affectionately so. Because we’re masochists, many of us.
Yet the one thing that unites a wide swath of us with the bad bug for these games of ours is, in fact, hope. Even if it’s keeping quiet and still in the back of your mind as it pertains to the shirt you follow, it’s there. Taunting and teasing at times, but in general fulfilling its role in making you a human being. But it can be lost. And worse, it can be surrendered on your behalf.
To get to the point of all this philosophical musing, any scenario which sees Sam Allardyce remain as the manager of Everton after the summer is an abject surrender in the war for hope. Retaining Allardyce takes the last precious thing that many of us still have between ourselves and Everton, and that is hope—faint as it may often feel. No matter the jokes or memes we’ve all grown to grudgingly embrace, there’s always been this little part of you that held on to a speck of hope about our Blues. Yes, despite so much evidence in the contrary, we’ve believed to varying degrees that Everton could, at some unknown time, catch that special fire and break the curse and find water in this nearly generation long exodus into the desert. But any scenario that sees Sam Allardyce retained is the shocking concession that merely preserving Premier League status and cashing checks is enough for Everton Football Club in 2018.
And while I could never turn my back completely on Everton for a thousand reasons—most notably due to many of the beautiful people that make up this family—a numbness I’d never been certain was possible could actually begin to erode one of the great loves of my life. That very tangible possibility frightens me. And I’m left with all these questions. How has it gotten this bad this fast? What is the difference between average support and passionate support? And what would an Everton that isn’t characterized by a passionate support look like? How does that possibility make you feel?
Our motto is our standard. Our motto is the lighthouse we can never lose sight of on this often comically cruel journey through dark waters. A leader bereft of the ambition to reach excellence—who cares only about existing—will give the club the level of life it deserves for employing him. Everton may have always been mostly a commodity to many of its wealthy caretakers, but it’s hard to accuse the club and its supporters historically of not giving everything it had at its disposal to break through—even if the execution has often been abysmal. To keep this man in charge of our club on the pitch is an affront to its history, it’s long line of great players and staff, but most importantly the people who have invested a giant chunk of their soul into supporting it.
The season ticket holders have responded with record breaking gestures of faith in the form of renewals in recent weeks—all because there is that bit of light that still burns and yearns for the promised land. It is time for some of that faith to be repaid with a quality plan and endeavor befitting them and the rest of us so hopelessly in love with the club. There is no faith without hope. And without hope, there is no Everton like the one we’ve known up until now.