How Tim Breacker broke the heart of this little Bluenose

How Tim Breacker broke the heart of this little Bluenose

It was New Year’s Day 1994. Only my second ever trip to Goodison Park, and Tim Breacker’s early header was enough to secure all three points for West Ham in front of 19,000 hardy souls on Merseyside. It was around this point the superstitious side of me started to wonder whether I was a curse, given Everton had lost the last game I had attended and would do so in the next three. Thankfully the innocence of youth was quickly ground down by the depressing realisation that Everton were just rubbish.

However, there is a blurred line between reality and superstition in football and that is where you will find the bogey team. Every club has them. A certain side that no matter how well or badly you are doing always seem to trip you up.

A lot of it is down to bad luck, a key player is suspended one year, you’re in the midst of an injury crisis the next, but I also believe players and supporters go into certain games fearing the worst. I suspect some West Ham fans will get that feeling heading back up to Merseyside this month, with Everton currently holding a bit of a mark over the Irons. Indeed Everton’s recent record against the Hammers is pretty astonishing. The Toffees have not lost since April 2007 – 14 games ago – and have won the last four.

A lot of it is down to bad luck, a key player is suspended one year, you’re in the midst of an injury crisis the next, but I also believe players and supporters go into certain games fearing the worst. I suspect some West Ham fans will get that feeling heading back up to Merseyside this month, with Everton currently holding a bit of a mark over the Irons. Indeed Everton’s recent record against the Hammers is pretty astonishing. The Toffees have not lost since April 2007 – 14 games ago – and have won the last four.

If you take the record from that New Year’s day defeat at Goodison in 1994, Everton have won 21, drawn 10 and lost just six. It isn’t even as if Everton have been a great team over that time, West Ham have finished above Everton on several occasions yet still struggled to beat them.

As a supporter, I have always enjoyed watching Everton games against the Hammers, and not just because we often win. West Ham have always tried to play football so they have generally been good matches. There is always a healthy away following from both sides too, making for a good atmosphere among knowledgeable supporters who have seen the highs and lows of the game.

The Hammers fans have always been great value on Merseyside. I remember when Everton won 6-0 in 1999 the away supporters, resigned to their defeat, began cheering imaginary West Ham goals. When the ‘score’ reached 7-6, the whole away end erupted, louder than we had cheered for any of our goals

Goodison and Upton Park are also two of a dying breed of stadium. Tight, compact and intimidating; they form a key part of the character of the team that plays there. As I travelling fan I like the healthy allocation Everton get behind the goal at the Boleyn Ground, rather than being shoved high up in the top tier somewhere. It will be interesting to see what happens when West Ham move across to Stratford and indeed when Everton finally wave goodbye to Goodison.

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