“I am prepared for the worst, but hope for the best.”
For those of you who are uninitiated in the Everton ways, “Nil Satis Nisi Optimum” is Everton FC motto since inception of Everton in 1878 (then St.Domingos). It means “nothing but the best is good enough”. Does this motto still apply or do we treat it with disdain in an age of the throw-away sound-bite.
I have followed Everton since I was a boy many moons ago, and I have passionately defended their honour in many a playground, work place and football park, which whilst residing in a red infested pool of Liverpool and Manure fans, it was never an easy task. Since the beginning of the premier league, my task was made significantly harder by the years of repeated success after success by every other team but ours, 1995 being the exception. I grew up emulating (at least in my mind) everyone from Southall to Sheedy, I followed Wales, England, Scotland, Republic of Ireland, Belgium and anyone who housed an Everton player. Times were good back then. We were the best team in Europe deprived of chance of prove beyond doubt our place in footballing greats, deprived by an over-zealous government with an agenda to bring to heal the ever growing problem of football hooliganism and social unrest, done in collaboration with an equally politicized UEFA.
But that was then, now we live in an era where money is even more a factor than ever. It always has been and it would be naive to suggest otherwise, but never before has it had such a hold on the game. So where does that leave poor wee Everton. Fighting for the scraps of the European league tables, begging for a chance to have a go and prove that our once proud football club is back in place we all know it truly belongs. We go cap in hand for investors to help us build a new stadium, buy new players, all in the goal of achieving what our founding fathers defined in our club motto.
What can we do about it?…realistically nothing. We can bitch, complain, whine and moan, boo on the terraces, create small unrepresentative fan groups voicing far right opinions, seek fans forums, meetings with the chairman, all to no avail. What we need is a miracle. We need to win a trophy, a place in the Champions League, a favourable draw in the cup, a run in Europe. We need to be noticed, we need to be attractive to investors, but in general we just need some luck. There is no doubt in my mind, with a bit more luck, David Moyes would have won a trophy. We are now classed as a team that if any of the “big four” are popped out of the hat against us, they select their best teams, the Swansea, Bradford, Birmingham all manage to get by that problem with having a lower perception in the eyes of these teams(I might be disrespecting Swansea slightly in this). We miss out by finest margins, silly calls (I was there when Collina disallowed that goal, in what was probably the toughest qualifying draw possible in that CL year), league cup semi against Chelsea, somehow throwing away the FA Cup semi-final last year.
Where does that leave us? I don’t know, do we change the benchmark of success to not being relegated and an occasional cup run. I would love to be challenging for top spot in the league (and for a while this season in my deluded thoughts maybe it was possible), final stages of CL each year. We either need a miracle, or all of football to go belly-up and we hold on until money isn’t the driving factor… and we need a bit of luck. Our new motto? “Paravi pessimus, sed spem optimam .”