Well, after a good bit of Fanzine Craic with the Leeds boys from the excellent The Square Ball, we have now caught up with the genuinely superb and long-running Everton fanzine, When Skies Are Grey, which has been part of the independent scene for many, many a year and in this fanzine enthusiast’s opinion, is one of the very best. We should have told you that if we don’t have any Fanzine Craic ahead of a fixture, its usually because the club we are playing, don’t have an operating fanzine. Anyway, Everton, very much do have an operating fanzine and ahead of our trip to Goodison Park this coming Monday night (a match moved for the convenience of the disinterested armchair watching nation) we caught up with Graham Ennis, one of the movers and shakers behind the L4 institution, When Skies Are Grey. Eyes down, this is the craic:
TF: How have the first few games of the season been for Everton?
Graham, WSAG: I think it’s gone ok. The first few games were a bit odd with lots of possession but no real purpose or end product, then we started winning games and suddenly everything looks like part of a masterplan. The full emergence of Ross Barkley was been great.
TF: Missing Moyes?
Graham, WSAG: Not now. Moyes has definitely and indelibly blotted his copybook with us. When he left last May many supporters sent him on his way with only best wishes. His comments – that if he’d have still been Everton’s manager he’d have let them go – during the Baines and Felliani transfer dealings this summer left a real bitter taste. He had no right to say it and it wasn’t true either.
I think that now, in the light of this, many people are reviewing their opinions of Moyes. Perhaps a little unfairly. I believe as a manager his flaws were always there to see. He was incredibly stubborn, he fell out with players, he sulked and he dithered in the transfer market. (Actually the last one followed him from his Preston days.) These flaws were masked when the team was doing well and everyone was pulling together but quickly rose to the surface when things were not so good.
It will be interesting to see what happens at United. I was actually quoted on Radio Merseyside the day before his appointment saying that I thought it was a bad appointment… we’ll see.
TF: What’s your take on Martinez?
Graham, WSAG: I like the cut of his jib. He talks a good game and he is clearly immersing himself in the history and traditions of the club. I think he’ll do well.
TF: What’s your target for the season at Everton?
Graham, WSAG: At least 6th and a good cup run. I’m partly ashamed to type those words but we should be realistic.
TF: I’ve read from afar some murmurings of discontent about Kenwright, what’s the deal?
Graham, WSAG: Football is full of discontent. It’s the default position of most football fans. I heard a Man City fan on the radio complaining about Howard Webb after the recent Manchester derby. They’d won 4-1. What is that all about.
As a chairman I think Bill Kenwright does his best. He’s not the money to bankroll the club and the way the finances are we will always struggle to make ends meet especially if we continue to pay players the way we do – the way we have to.
TF: How is Everton’s financial position?
Graham, WSAG: See above. The debt is being managed, we’re told. To be honest, I go to the match to watch the game. I’m not that interested in anything else. I think it’s a bit depressing that some fans feel the need to question every entry in the club’s accounts. Reminds me of the Billy Connolly response to a heckler “I don’t tell you how to sweep up.”
TF: Is it right to assume Everton will be stopping at Goodison for the foreseeable future? Any plans to redevelop?
Graham, WSAG: Probably. When Kirkby fell through the club said there was no Plan B. There isn’t.
TF: £27m for Fellaini – over-priced?
Graham, WSAG: Not in today’s market. How much did Liverpool pay for Jordan Henderson?
TF: You managed to hang onto Baines – how positive is that for you?
Graham, WSAG: Very positive. The club knew there would be a riot if both Baines and Felliani were sold to United. They judged it correct in determining that Baines was the one supporters cared about. He showed last week at West Ham just how important a player he is.
TF: Where do you think Everton’s strengths and weaknesses lie?
Graham, WSAG: Our greatest strength has always been the unity amongst the team. Our weakness is the size of the squad and the quality of the players beyond the regular first team.
TF: What do you make of Newcastle United – owner down to the tea lady?
Graham, WSAG: It’s hard sometimes to separate you all from the Geordie Nation cartoon. I’m sure you have the problems with us dead good scousers. Now, some people play up to the image but, deep down we’re all the same, aren’t we? I know loads of decent lads up there and, in fact, one of WSAG’s longest serving readers is from Newcastle. And a Newcastle supporter. For some reason he’s just very fond of us!
The club appears from the outside to be a disaster area. The Joe Kinnear stuff is bizarre.
TF: How do you think Monday night will pan out?
Graham, WSAG: We will win.
TF: You’ve recently taken WSAG into the brave new world of 100% digital – how’s that going?
Graham, WSAG: It’s going really well. Subs are up and there’s no more sales in pouring rain. We think the magazine has improved too. We have gone monthly and can now do stuff we couldn’t do when our printing schedule was dictated by a random fixture list. The issues have almost doubled in size as well.
And while I miss the magazine – the feel and smell of it – the iPad version of the mag is fantastic.
In two years time you’ll all be doing it.
TF: What kind of independent scene is there amongst Evertonians (fanzines, websites etc)?
Graham, WSAG: There’s loads of Everton websites and messageboards. I don’t really have the time to do anything other than dip into them occasionally.
There are no printed fanzines – we were the first and the last.