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FootballNewsMichael Foot: political giant, lifelong Plymouth fan . . . and the bard of Goodison

Michael Foot: political giant, lifelong Plymouth fan . . . and the bard of Goodison

by

By John Roberts

4 March 2010

Michael Foot, the former leader of the Labour Party who died yesterday at the age of 96, was famously a lifelong fan of Plymouth Argyle, but perhaps less well known is the affection he developed for Everton when he was a resident of Liverpool in the early 1930s.

Foot worked in the city as a shipping clerk, and his first-hand experience of Liverpool’s poverty, unemployment and deprivation – not something he had seen before – helped to inform his politics in later life.

One period in Everton’s history made a particular impact on Foot; the club’s ultimately unsuccessful FA Cup run in 1935. In the third round they beat Grimsby 6-3. Then they drew 1-1 at Sunderland, and in the fourth-round replay at Goodison Park, they won 6-4 in a match considered among the greatest ever seen, certainly to that point.

Derby County were the next opponents, and Everton won 3-1 before losing in the sixth round at home to Bolton, 2-1. After that match, Foot wrote a poem, entitled ‘Ode to Everton FC’, which was published in the Liverpool Daily Post.

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Ode to Everton FC

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When at Thy call my weary feet I turn

The gates of paradise are opened wide

At Goodison I know a man can learn

Rapture more rich than Anfield can provide.

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In Coulter’s skill and Geldard’s subtle speed

I see displayed in all its matchless bounty

The power of which the heavens decreed

The fall of Sunderland and Derby County.

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The hands of Sagar, Dixie’s priceless head

Made smooth the path to Wembley till that day

When Bolton came. Now hopes are fled

And all is sunk in bottomless dismay.

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And so I watch with heart and temper cool

God’s lesser breed of men at Liverpool.

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– – – – – – – – –

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Foot-notes:

Albert Geldard was a right winger, described at the time as “so fast he could catch pigeons.” A Bradford lad, he’d first played football for his home-town club aged 15 years, 156 days, then a record young age in the Football League.

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Jackie Coulter was a Dubliner, an outside left.

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Dixie Dean the most prolific goal scorer of his era, famously netting 60 league goals in one season, 1927-28, still a record.

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John Roberts wrote Everton’s Official Centenary History, published in 1978. In a forthcoming column for sportingintelligence, he will recall the day he spent with Dixie Dean, as Dean talked him goal-by-goal through that 1927-28 season

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1 comment

  • Brian Sears:

    This is the real stuff of football history. I’ve immediately copied it to show a number of friends. Thank you,John.

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