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Tea and Crumpets with Royal Blue Mersey

pub drinking painting

Tea and Crumpets has always been a fan of taking the opportunity to talk to opposing fans in an effort to learn a little bit about their strange, quaint ways. To perhaps build a bridge, find a common ground, or if all else fails simply indulge in some good food while snickering at them from behind our hand. Everton, though, is a different kettle of fish entirely; an opponent we know all too well. Still, there are always new facts to learn and new tidbits to uncover. And so, fighting off the flashbacks triggered by proffered packets of toffee, we sat down with Brian of Royal Blue Mersey to see what was left for us to discover about Liverpool's inaugural rival…

Last season I heard that during the previous season there might have been three buyers interested in purchasing Everton from Bill Kenwright, only nothing much happened and the club headed into the transfer window with a budget of three balls of leftover pink yarn and a brochure from the temperance league. What are the chances anything's going to change by next summer, perhaps even to the point of the club having access to actual cash money with which to purchase goods, services, and an improved playing staff? And if nothing happens as it seems to every summer for Everton these days, will the supporters look to divert all proceeds from the sale of collectable afros outside the stadium to Marouane Fellaini in an attempt to stop him following Artetta to London?

fellaini wig
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Until Kenwright has cleared out his office no Everton fan is going to believe there is a new owner. With an aging stadium and just enough debt to be inconvenient, most potential owners are going to walk right past Everton to other clubs up for sale. After Kenwright's comments about begging the banks from calling in their loans, plus using next seasons EPL television money to secure a loan to pay off some of our other loans, it looks like things are going to go one of two ways. First way is the dreaded administration, and it isn't out of the realm of possibility, especially with a poor season. The second way is a fire sale next summer, which seems to be pretty likely. Tim Cahill, Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka, Marouane Fellaini, and Jack Rodwell would all be prime candidates to be sold. The positive part of a sale is that even just a few of these guys should be enough to pay down the debt, which is always something. As for collectable afros, we're selling them for 5 pounds a piece, and they come in random colors including red, black, blue, brown, and gold.

Did Jack Rodwell come good yet, or is he still on the books at Everton?

Rodwell seems to have finally settled in although the season is still young. He tends to play best when deployed as a defensive midfielder, which allows Fellaini to venture forward a little more. Although many pundits bemoaned Everton's chances for success with Mikel Arteta's sale to Arsenal, his departure has arguably resulted in an improved Everton midfield. Arteta and Fellaini often played similar roles, and Fellaini rarely shined when Arteta was his partner. With Rodwell focusing on a defensive role, Fellaini is free to attack and create. If Rodwell keeps this up, Ferguson is going to be lodging that 20 million pound bid any summer now.

If the club is in such bad shape financially, why do they keep releasing such hideous shirts? After the horrible, burning pink monstrosities it seemed as though there was nowhere to go but up—if only because it appeared impossible for things to get any worse. But then along came this season's army surplus goalkeeper kit that looks more suited to Moscow, Idaho and a fourth tier American college football team on homecoming than the Premier League. I suppose there's always room for bragging rights if Tim Howard has the most worn football shirt amongst Tamil Tigers, but they probably aren't wearing official club merchandise anyhow so it's still hard to see how it would help the bottom line.

everton army kit howard
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Well according to Bill Kenwright, Everton lost money on merchandise until they signed a deal with Kitbag a few years ago. I'm not really sure how you lose money selling merchandise, but that tells you everything you need to know about the club. As for the kit design, that's what happens when you have some random french company designing your kit. I mean seriously, who has ever heard of Le Coq Sportif unless they're Everton fans? Maybe it explains why we retreat and bunker down during games.

Blue rare; black and blue; still mooring. Regional variations in nomenclature aside, a steak seared while the inside's left completely raw. Sometimes, before searing, the steak will be placed in an oven at an extremely low temperature to warm it throughout without cooking the meat, in which case it can take longer to prepare than a well done steak. Though many would blanch at eating what is in essence a chunk of raw red meat, in reality it's an entirely safe practice as in all but the most unsanitary conditions the bacteria that commonly lives on uncooked beef exists within one millimetre of the surface, and so as long as that millimetre is heated to the point where the bacteria is killed the meat becomes safe to eat. Conversely, many who would be uncertain when faced with a blue rare steak might ask for a less than fully cooked burger in order to avoid facing down a dried-out patty. They would, however, be running a far greater health risk in doing so, as even in generally sanitary conditions there will be bacteria living on beef, and though one only needs to heat to a fully cooked temperature meat that's near the surface, once ground every millimetre is within one millimetre of the surface—and once the bacteria's in that deep, it can take an awfully long time to get rid of it.

In any case, David Moyes has by most accounts done a fantastic job getting Everton to punch above their weight since stepping in to save the club from a string of ineffective managers, but with each passing year he seems to be given less to work with, and it's hard to imagine that on the club's current trajectory there won't come a day when he's either unable to grind even decent results out of what's been left to him or when he will simply tire of waiting for investment that never materialises. How much patience for the situation do the fans really think he has left? And would even significant investment from new owners be enough to overcome the years of financial neglect and mismanagement permeating the club at this point?

There is no doubt Moyes is frustrated with the lack of transfer funds, but his track record when spending money isn't exactly good. Yakubu and Bilyaletdinov are two of his most expensive purchases, and neither is exactly setting the EPL on fire. Andy Johnson is also another expensive signing that didn't live up to the hype. That said I think Moyes stays at Everton until Sir Alex Ferguson decides he's opened up a big enough lead on Liverpool in league titles, so there isn't a whole lot to worry about. In reality the fact that Moyes wasn't even tempted to leave for Aston Villa, a club that had a similar level of success over the past few years but infinitely more money, says everything you need to know about Moyes. He's here until he can secure an infinitely better job.

Speaking of Moyes, is he still experimenting with playing Cahil, Fellaini, Baines, and any other non-striker he can get his hands on as a lone striker? Or does Liverpool have to worry about facing an actual proper centre forward this time around?

Strikers are extremely overrated and the 4-6-0 formation is the way to go in the EPL. But in reality Moyes has enjoyed deploying Tim Cahill up top with limited success. Also Greek youngster Apostolos Vellios has been impressive in limited action so far and there's speculation he may get the start this weekend. Louis Saha is also fit, and you guys still like to play old slow guys in defense right?

everton toffee lady
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We have been known to occasionally play a centre half with a walker, yes. Which reminds me: In my younger days, my grandmother would often give me toffee. It was always old, brittle, and not especially pleasant, and it seemed as though I would spend the following week picking little chunks out of my teeth—but I was a child, it was candy, and in any case it's never much helped me figure out why anyone connected to Everton thought going with "The Toffees" as their primary nickname made sense. Did Everton founder George Mahon pay the players in toffee when they didn't have the money for rent and had to move out of Anfield in the early years? Was Goodison constructed on the site of a nineteenth-century sweets shop against the wishes of the shopkeeper, who can still be seen late at night haunting the stadium, trying to finish one last batch before being evicted? Is there something about the anti-septic, faintly sickly smell of thirty-seven types of cleaning solution smothering a faecal base as one would find in a long-term care facility that turns Evertonians on?

Well, way back before your grandmother was even a thought in her parents' mind, there existed a toffee shop named Mother Noblett's that sold the Everton Mint right across the street from the lock up that exists in Everton's quest. This is why the Toffee Lady walks around the pitch throwing Everton Mints into the crowd before each match. And let's be honest, who doesn't want free candy. There was also the Ye Anciente Everton Toffee House near the hotel where Everton used to hold committee meetings, but that tale doesn't sound as exciting so forget about it.

Really, no ghosts and curses? No grand, continent-spanning adventures? Far be it for me to give advice to Everton, but somebody at the club might want to come up with a more captivating tale—maybe even one that could make them a couple of quid. In any case, once again we have to give a round of thanks to Brian of Royal Blue Mersey for taking the time to give us a bit of insight ahead of Saturday's match. And let's all hope that Moyes sticks around at their club for a long, long time.

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