Drinking all day, horse and carriage and bizarre pop star incident – when Everton celebrated Liverpool Cup final defeat

A Grand Old Team to Report by Dave Prentice was published last October – and is still ranked # 1 best seller in the Everton FC section on Amazon.

It is rated 4.7 out of 5 stars and reviews include: “Fantastic reading. Made me laugh along the way and even made me shed a tear as I described the last hours of the legendary’s life. Dixie Dean. “,” A terrific, easy read for all blue “and” The most interesting book on my favorite subject, Everton Football Club, that I have read, excellent read. ”

Even the most successful captain in club history, Kevin Ratcliffe, tweeted: “Great relaxing read Prenno, great inside stories, I would say a must read for Evertonians.”

This week it is available in pocket size.

We posted a selection of excerpts when it was released last year – but to mark the paperback release on August 12, here are a few more sneak peeks …

Many writers have written about their adoration for their favorite team before – but none have had the access and insight that Liverpool Echo sports editor David Prentice has enjoyed for three decades and more. It gives you unprecedented insight into the machinations of one of England’s oldest and most successful football clubs, starting as a fan sitting on a crushing barrier in the 1974/75 season.

A Grand Old Team To Report traces nearly half a century of Everton Football Club history – from a unique insider’s perspective. It’s a fan-fare and a report. A travelogue and a social commentary – and a poignant reflection on how football and journalism have changed forever.

Buy the hardcover book here for £ 5.99. saving 60%.

Posted by Reach Sport.

Everton chairman Peter Johnson could be an entertaining company.

On the day of the 1996 Cup final, we enjoyed a long lunch together in Dublin. I say lunch, it was all Guinness, and we were brought together by accident rather than intention.

Joe Royle had taken his team to face Home Farm in an end-of-season friendly on Friday night – then allowed them to relax on Saturday, watch the Cup final that day between Liverpool and Manchester United and make generally what a group of footballers would do at the end of a long and difficult season.

And in 1996, that meant drinking. Drink monumental amounts of beer. And drink some more.

I had traveled with the team and had in mind to join them on a Saturday all day. Peter clearly had the same idea.

Joe had booked the players into a separate hotel for the staff, perhaps as a reward for finishing sixth and perhaps to allow them to relax without the bossy eyes of the coaching staff overseeing them.

So I had walked the short distance between the staff hotel and the players hotel at 10:30 am on Saturday morning – to find Peter having done the exact same thing.

Except that each player had taken the expression “all day” literally.

They had come out on the eyelashes at 10 in the morning and were already hard on it. No lies. No late breakfasts. They were nowhere in sight.

So Peter was reluctantly forced to watch the Cup final prepare with me – in a Dublin pub.

The conversation was pleasant enough. We limited our intake to about four or five pints, and then Peter said wisely, “I have to get back to the hotel or I won’t go out tonight.”

We therefore returned to our respective rooms. The lack of significant incident in the White Suits finale was such that I fell asleep on my hotel bed until the sound of Barry Davies screaming, “Cantona …….” came to me. wakes up with a start.

In action, I called Joe Royle’s room to see what the plans were for the night and Big Joe replied, “Come on! We’re having a party to celebrate United’s victory!

So I did. It was the start of a long and while I would like to say a night to remember, the events are understandably sketchy.

It was a nightclub called Lillie’s Bordello. This included the sight of Dave Watson in sneakers and jeans – only FA Cup-winning captains were allowed to wear such casual attire at a nightclub in the capital in 1996 – still standing, drinking and having a coherent conversation afterward. , by rough consensus, to have consumed something approaching a loaded barrel of Guinness.

And that also included a bizarre incident that included pop star Lisa Stansfield.

Joe Parkinson was a lively young man in 1996 and he had spotted the Rochdale singer in the club. So he strolled several times in his general neighborhood, sang the first chords of his hit single: “I’ve been around the world and I, I, I …..” in broad Lancaster, then disappeared.

He repeated the trick over and over again.

When you’ve been drinking Guinness all day, those high jinks are hilarious.

Lisa spun each time, but Joe was in his prime in the Premier League and his off-mark speed was deceptive.

He hasn’t been caught once and I still wonder what poor puzzled Lisa had to experience.

Joe, his roommate Matt Jackson and I then hired a horse and carriage to take us to our hotel to watch Lennox Lewis beat Ray Mercer in a heavyweight boxing contest that turned out to be infinitely less entertaining than previous events. of the evening.

The trip was barely 100 meters and cost around 30 euros, but it was not a night for rational behavior.

Matt has since told me that his dominant memory of that evening was of me leaving their room around 4am, filling my pockets with the Club Sandwiches they had ordered for their room – “for the trip back to my hotel” .

Looking back, everything seems so normal, so ordinary.

But that was probably the highlight of my time as an Everton correspondent.

Everton were the FA Cup holder, I had a close, albeit strange, relationship with the club president, the manager was one of the most engaging and honest people I have had the chance to work with in football and I could describe some of the players on the team as personal friends.

I was allowed to travel, mingle and engage with pretty much everyone at the club, the football club that I had grown up supporting.

So delivering stories for the newspaper I worked for, the Liverpool Echo, was like shelling peas.

Looking back, I entered journalism just before the football club’s drawbridge started to rise.

Everton had no official press secretary at the time. Now they have a media department of almost a hundred.

At the time, I visited Everton’s training ground every morning for tea and toast with the manager, and came back at lunchtime to try and persuade a player to be interviewed. Now, a gate and a security hut bar access to Finch Farm, access to which is by invitation only.

And before the turn of the millennium, I wrote the manager’s notes, an assistant manager’s page, the captain’s column and I wrote the Youth Academy reports for the match schedule. The program for the first game of the 1997-98 season contained 40 pages. I wrote 18.

Today, a team of ten people produces Matchday magazine.

I was an Everton reporter, program editor, gamer friend, and former classmate of the president’s girlfriend.

Everything was going to change. And not always for the best.

About Paul Cox

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