Skip to Content

I Love Rooting For These Pieces Of Shit

Jarrad Branthwaite of Everton celebrates his goal with Vitalii Mykolenko James Garner James Tarkowski and team mates during the Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC at Goodison Park on April 24, 2024 in Liverpool, England.
Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

For the third time in three seasons, Everton has escaped relegation in dramatic fashion. In 2022, they erased a 2–0 first-half deficit against Crystal Palace to win the game 3–2 as Dominic Calvert-Lewin's bullet header in the 85th minute clinched survival with one game left to play and brought the home fans onto the field. After the final whistle, the fans returned to the field and stayed for hours. In 2023, it came down to the last day of the season, and it was Abdoulaye Doucoure's belter that saw Everton through to a nervy 1–0 win against Bournemouth. And yesterday, playing a fixture that they hadn't won since 2010, Everton beat Liverpool 2–0 at home to make itself all but mathematically safe from relegation with four games to play.

This season's great escape was the most harrowing and unlikely yet. Having previously struggled to overcome the damage that years of mismanagement had done to the club's position in the league, Everton was put in further peril this season by receiving two separate points deductions for financial misdeeds. A team that had escaped relegation by a combined six points the previous two seasons was tasked with doing so again, not only with a thinner squad, but with eight points docked from its tally. And Everton, somehow, did it again.

As an Everton fan, these last three seasons have, somehow, accounted for some of the best sports-watching experiences of my life. The arc has been the same every time: Cautious optimism in August and September, debilitating dread and seething anger by January, euphoria coupled with the overwhelming desire to pledge my life to every player on the team in April. This is of course the magic of relegation; it's not exactly novel to observe that the threat relegation poses every year to the worst teams in the Premier League is precisely what imbues so many late-season games with meaningful stakes and drama, but even in the context of European soccer, Everton's three-season plight has been noteworthy.

This is a team that has been in the English top flight since 1954, and for which relegation now would be uniquely ruinous. Everton, currently owned by a lame-duck fake billionaire who is attempting (and thus far failing) to sell the team to a sketchy Miami-based investment firm that may not actually have any money, is hemorrhaging cash and probably much closer to bankruptcy than anyone cares to admit. Whereas other crappy teams are designed to yo-yo between the Championship and Premier League, capably weathering the financial hit that comes with each relegation, Everton is more like a wobbling fighter, just waiting for the knockout blow to come. But there's a reason why Rocky is so popular: There's nothing quite like watching someone eat knockout punch after knockout punch and continue to step forward.

I can't go so far as to say that I am happy that my favorite soccer team has fallen into competitive and financial ruin, but I am thankful for the experiences it has allowed me to have. That's all we're really after as sports fans, right? Thrilling moments that can become treasured memories. I can attest to the fact that nothing produces those moments quite like an escape from annihilation. When Jarrad Branthwaite and Dominic Calvert-Lewin both celebrated their goals on Wednesday by sprinting toward the home fans and tugging at the Everton crest on their shirts, they did it because they understood the weight of the moment they were in. Some goals win trophies, others win survival. I don't know what it's like to see my team score the former, but I can tell you that the latter has turned several otherwise unremarkable players into heroes.

It may seem like I am writing from the warmth and comfort of hindsight. It's easy to feel romantic about Everton's ability to survive while it keeps surviving, and there is every reason to believe that more bad times are on the way. You can only claw yourself out of the relegation pit so many times before it claims you, and even if the league table doesn't eventually land the killing strike on Everton, its ongoing financial problems might still do the trick. But I've learned by now that joy is found in the peril, and I'd rather watch a team I love die than not have any reason to watch at all.

I grew up loving the Colorado Rockies, a team that is just as unsuccessful and poorly run as Everton, as much as anything else in my life. I can't remember the last time I sat down to watch a Rockies game. I can't remember the last time I missed Everton play.

Already a user?Log in

Welcome to Defector!

Sign up to read another couple free blogs.

Or, click here to subscribe!

If you liked this blog, please share it! Your referrals help Defector reach new readers, and those new readers always get a few free blogs before encountering our paywall.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter